don't owe us anything. Football involves strategy and I certainly don't want the coaches of teams that I root for tipping their hands by discussing their philosophies on strategies and game time adjustments with the media so all future opposing coaches know what to expect as adjustments.
Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-5-13: Al Borges
“Anybody? You guys are always slow on the trigger.”
How hard is it to game plan when your offensive line is so young?
“It’s not hard to game plan. You just need to put the pieces together and hope like heck that under pressure your young players can perform. A couple weeks ago against a lesser defensive opponent, we did a pretty good job. But like you asked me a couple weeks ago, ‘Did you gain any confidence?’ I said, ‘I’ll tell you after this game.’ Well this brings you back down to earth on where you are against teams that you have to play – the margin of error against really good defensive teams is small. We had just too many errors put us in bad situations. And it wasn’t always the younger guys. The middle of our offensive line is young, and things come up sometimes.”
What’s the frustration level when the shots downfield are open but you don’t have time to get the ball off?
“Yeah. That is. It’s really frustrating. When you set it up that way, you know what I mean? And your protections are such that your blocking with seven guys, and in some instances you have six guys. It’s very frustrating you don’t get at least – and they’re going to get you sometimes. I don’t care who the team is. But by the same token some of your bombs have to land, too. Now a couple did, but not enough, obviously.”
You talked about avoiding disasters. But it seemed like there were a lot from the blitzes up the middle.
“Not just up the middle. A couple different spots. We didn’t have the disastrous play that put them with a short field, but we had some disastrous individual plays that put us in terrible down and distances. And again, I don’t care who the defense is, if you do that, that’s just not good. It’s tough on the play caller, it’s tough on everybody.”
Brady said Fitz is your better pass protector of the running backs. Did he just have a bad game?
“He’s always a willing participant knows what to do. With the younger players doing that now, it’s tough. When you put them in that situation – I told you from the beginning, the slowest thing to come for a young running back is protection. Targeting the right player and the right technique that comes with that. Fitz, we just felt like was the most reliable entity in there doing it. A couple times he did a great job, a couple times he didn’t. But for the most part he’s always willing. He never turned it down one time. So we just felt he was the best candidate to do it … I’ve never had a freshman running back be able to understand all the blitz pickups. They usually don’t totally understand it until the second year. And when you have a team like that coming from different angles, if you put a freshman in there you’re just setting him up to fail.”
Do you think Fitz missed any holes in the running game?
“I think he ran when there were opportuniites, he ran well. I think he’ll tell you there were a couple he’d like to run through. But it wasn’t like we were opening huge crevasses he was blind to see. I don’t think that was a blatant problem.”
Devin got beat up pretty good. Is this a game where those running backs really need to turn the corner?
“To a degree. But our plan was to throw the ball on first down more than we had, or at least more than we had against Indiana so we can efficiently run the ball during the game. Our approach was not to throw the ball up and down the field. The idea was to pick your shots and pick them at times that were less pass-predictable downs. What happened a lot of times, we got into some bad down and distances because of that, and the running game, no matter who it was, just never got going. The statistics are just flat ugly. A lot of those sacks, a bad snap, that’s a little deceiving, but we didn’t run the ball well.”
MGoQuestion: What kind of benefit does this kind of game give you moving forward as you prepare for defenses that are similarly disciplined and aggressive?
“Well, it helps the guys – hopefully they learn from a lot of what went on. That’s what helps moving forward, in terms of just the experience gain. That’s the biggest game. This kind of game can help a guy three or four games down the line. Maybe the next game, to a degree, and years to come. Because you’ve already seen something and didn’t do it right, now because that happened, that’s experience. A product of your experience is good and bad. So I think that’s how it will help them.”
Is Devin Funchess strictly a wide receiver now?
“No, I think we’ll just do like we’ve been doing. He’s been playing wide receiver the most, but we still package him in certain instances to play tight end and still use him as a blocker as a tight end in situations we know he can succeed. So we pretty much do as we’ve done. Because Jehu Chesson’s done some nice things in the game. Jehu’s not catching the ball, but blocking, too. Jehu’s a tough guy who’s mixing it up.”
What do you like about Funchess, and what would you like to see out of him?
“Just keep providing us the ability to make the big play, take pressure off Jeremy Gallon. That’s huge. Knowing that certain games, it’s going to be one or the other. Some games, maybe both. But that’s really it more than anything. Provide the type of threat we need to balance out our passing game, because that’s what he’s done since he’s come in. And he’ll continue to learn that. He’s still not quite there, but he’ll get there. He’s a smart kid and he’s tough and he’s very coachable.”
Were you restricted on what you could call because he was getting beat up late in the game?
“Not really. No. He was – let me tell you something. He was a warrior. He stood in there and threw that sucker. Some of the things I think people were ridiculing him for early in the year, the last three or four games have pretty much gone away. And this game more than any game. He stood in there and threw that ball. Defied the pass rush and was unperturbed a lot of times. He got rocked. But as a quarterback, you’re going to have a game like this. You’re going to take hits and it’s going to test your mettle. You’re going to find out if this is really the position you want to play. He came through. I was so proud of him when it was over. You’d love it to have gone differently, but in terms of courage under fire, you couldn’t ask for more.”
Derrick Green got only a couple snaps. Have you seen him progress?
“Yeah. And a lot of the reason for that was because of the pressure. You just put too much on him. He would have gotten more snaps if we had been better equipped to run the ball. But he’s made good progress. He’s going to be a good back. We just have to find a way to get him into games when the game is in balance and put him in a position to succeed. That was not one of those games.”
Would you like to see the backs get more involved in the passing game?
“Oh yeah. Sure. As we progress. And we had it a little bit in the season, where Fitz was getting some balls. You always like to see that, as much as you can. Get everybody involved if you can. But the problem you’re dealing with is when you’re sending backs out, you’re sacrificing pass protection.”
Did you sense frustration from Devin throughout the game?
“Not really. No. Not really. He was good. I talk to him every series. He was fine. When you go in a game, the way it was set up, we were going to take some balls down the field on them. The quarterback was going to take some hits. But we weren’t counting on that. But he was ready. He knew what we had to do to win that game offensively. It wasn’t going to be a clean jersey at the end of the game. We just can’t have that happen to him in that game or any other game.”
How does Nebraska’s defense compare to other defenses?
“Some similarities to MSU but not as tight [with the] safeties, but similar coverage. They’ll pressure a lot, they’ll blitz in certain situations. Their MO is a little different. They play some tight match zone, which MSU does too but not really the same way. So it’s a similar approach but not exactly the same. It’s a little different.”
What allows you to rebound after tough losses?
“Our head coach sets the tone for that. The one thing, working for as many guys as I’ve worked for, I’ve got a pretty good feel for how guys are. The team will react a lot the way the head coach reacts. The head coach sets the tone. The key to not losing a lot of games, in my opinion, or not going into the tank, is not overreacting. Reacting, don’t get me wrong, that game was not played well and there has to be a reaction, no ifs ands or buts. But not overreacting so much that you do something that pulls the team right in the tank. And he’s as good as anybody I’ve ever seen about making sure mistakes are fixed but not dwelling on it so much that the next opponent will beat you, too. That’s all of us. Don’t get me wrong. But the head coach sets the tone. That’s why working with him for five years, I’ve just seen him do this more times, and he’ll do it again. He’ll bring the team back in again. That’s just the way he is, and that’s the way he expects us to be.”
What specifically about him?
“Just his personality. The way he is. Do you want your leader to freak out? Do you want George Patton to go crazy in the middle of a battle and get everyone killed? No. He had a bad temper, and Brady does, too. So do I. But if cooler heads prevail at the end of the day – you can have your explosions – but at the end of the day when everything settles, if your leader shows a leadership composure … then generally they’ll recover. But if you go in the tank or overreact or do something, the players will follow you right into the tank. This job is a lot of ebb and flow. I mean, it is. Last week, what did we have? 700-and-some odd yards. This week? You can count on one hand. That’s this job. That’s how it is. How you react when you don’t do as well will determine how you do next time. If you panic and do a bunch of stuff that isn’t conducive to getting yourself back on your feet, you can lose a lot of games. I’ve seen that happen a lot, too. I’ve been a part of that.”
How did you react during the game? Did you ever despair?
“No. When you’re not protecting, it’s always hard. And then they’re crowding the box, too, so it’s hard to run. That can be frustrating. The thing about playcalling, and again, you have to keep your head as level as possible, otherwise you’ll do what I was just talking about. You’ll start panicking and start guessing at plays. Every series, you have to sequence what you have to do next, see what they’re doing, and hope that the kids are accounted for. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. You can’t lose your head. Hell, everybody gets frustrated. Several cuss words came out of my mouth during that game, but to be honest several cuss words came out of my mouth during the Indiana game, too. But that’s the job. If you keep your head level and not let your judgment get clouded, it gives you the best chance.”
If you could take a game like Saturday’s and take your young offensive line and fastforward two years, how different would it be?
“Oh it would be 100 percent different. A kid that’s played this game two years later? You’re looking at a completely different team. You’re looking at a completely different player. We went into Florida when I was at Auburn and started three true freshman offensive linemen and beat Florida. But they didn’t know what they were doing, they were just playing hard. Those same guys four years later won a national championship. That’s the difference. That position particularly – and all of them, don’t get me wrong – offensive line is so much learning and chemistry. Screwing something up, fixing it, working with the guy next to you. So many things. That’s why as much as we didn’t like having to shuffle these guys all year, you have to find the five that are doing the best job. Until you do, you’re doing the team an injustice if you’re keeping a guy in there that’s not doing the job.”
So you’re still set on those five?
“Yeah. We’re going to approach it just like we’ve done the last couple weeks. We could fire them and start all over again, and you’re asking for more problems. But if the same issues occur, we will put another guy in there. But you have to give them a chance to develop a little bit.”
But didn't Borges tell you (Heiko) he had a plan to counter the A-gap blitzing in a press conference last week? What the hell happened to that plan? If Toussaint is the best blocker and he is not getting it done why not try one of the fullbacks back there? Houma was a running back in High School so he has some ability to run if called upon. Putting Kalis in the backfield as a personal protector would have been better than what he rolled out there.
He had 7 man protections where each person was assignment a man to pick up in the scheme (2-on-2 blocking assignments) that hypothetically would allow the play to work whether or not they ran the double A-gap blitz or their standard defense.
I thought the same thing. Max protection still didn't get the job done.
It didn't get EXECUTED.
Al Borges actually said the last line as part of the answer. I like that version better.
but I thought it was a good question and, frankly, I liked his answer too.
Over at the Detroit News, the headline on Borges' presser by Angelique reads, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges won't second-guess plan in loss to Michigan State
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131105/SPORTS0201/311050088#ixzz2jol4ZgZJ
Was it a bit tense when Borges fielded and "non" answered your question? From my perspective, he really couldn't and shouldn't answer the question publicly, in order not to tip his hand for Nebraska. Still, it is a thought provoking question.
Al can't look back at what he did and figure out a better way to do it so they don't go for -46 yards again in the future?
You're right, you don't get it.
Who cares if Al Borges hates you Heiko, he will be gone in a couple of years anyway. My favorite line was when Al was talking about Hoke and said:
"And he’s as good as anybody I’ve ever seen about making sure mistakes are fixed but not dwelling on it so much that the next opponent will beat you, too."
Brilliant. The last part is right: Hoke doesn't seem to dwell on anything so he's about as good as it gets on that front. Teflon. But Al implies Hoke is also the best he's ever seen at making sure mistakes are fixed. Laughable. The gap between Borges and Narduzzi was striking. Arguably the most thoroughly outcoached I've ever seen a Michigan coordinator, and we've had a few lousy ones in the past. Yet we, and assuredly Hoke, saw it coming.
he's a lot more candid than Hoke, and you can get a sense of what they're thinking about for down the road. I also don't think he called a bad game this time around. They moved the ball early, but after State adjusted there wasn't really anything to be had. I didn't see that as a lack of adjustment issue so much as an impossible position issue.
It’s not hard to game plan. You just need to put the pieces together and hope like heck that under pressure your young players can perform.
Let me translate that: "I am awesome. My players suck." My point is, isn't it his job to put his players in positions to succeed? Not just "hope like heck?"
Exactly... That basically sums up Borges for me. He's basically saying:
"Desplite whether or not the OL is good, I'm going to call a game plan like they're good, and that's that."
If you line sucks it sucks. Since MSU's defense is designed to stop short quick passes it would then make sense to try to hit them over the top. You cannot passes in confied spaces with multiple defenders in the area just waiting for a chance at a pick.
UM's line blows. That is why they lost the game. If they could block UM could throw the necessary passes to defeat MSU's scheme. Alas, such was not the case.
Yeah, Michigan's line, comprised of an all america, a fifth year senior and a 5 star recruit among others, couldn't possibly be coached up enough by this all world coaching staff to not blow right? I guess if it blows it blows, and why even bother trying to coach it. The point is, this line has shown ZERO improvement from the coaching it has received, and that is an indictment on Borges and Funk as much if not more as the youth of the line. Stop sugarcoating the obvious.
He maxed protected. The players didn't block. What, exactly do you expect him to say?
Jeez. Some of the replies in the presser threads are ridiculous.
coaches depend on players to make plays. Dropping passes, not running with confidence, not bursting through a hole or running with authority, fumbling a ball that put the team out of good down and distance, missing open receivers, missing blitz pick ups, not picking up a lineman on a twist stunt, snapping a ball 5 feet over the QBs head...these are not examples of Borges failures....these are examples of lack of execution. I would rather my OC trust his players to make plays than to expect them to fail.
There was someone paid by the university to teach these players how to execute...someone who worked with them constantly to get better and who was paid millions to make sure they weren't terrible....some type of...teacher or...coach?
Too bad we don't have one of those! He would probably be in some hot water after this game
I am sure that your observations are spot on, thanks for clearing that up for me. I'll be sure to not visit your blog for all of your irrational college wrestling blog commentary.
If only the world worked exactly like that.
How old are you? Got any kids? Teenagers, by any chance? Guess what, it's not that simple in the real world. I've spent the last 18 years of my life molding my son and daughter, trying to teach them what to do and what not to do. Lo and behold, they've made mistakes. Many mistakes including some they've repeated.
I was going to reply with the exact same point about raising children, typed the response and decided not to send.
but, Dantonio probably would have been fired after losing 17 games in his first 3 years at Michigan.
I'd like him to say that perhaps he needs to revisit the way he and Funk are coaching the line instead of putting all the blame on them.
No, it doesn't come off like that. It comes off as a coach being honest. Coaches can scheme all they want, but if the players don't execute then all is for naught. MSU's players executed. UM's did not.
I guess I'd prefer a little more coach-speak in that instance and hear him take some responsibility instead of passing it off on the players. It's just one comment and I think the rest of his answers were fine. It's just having him start the interview that way perturbed me.
criticism, not the players. Borges is the one under scrutiny, not the players. Hollow statements about "I having to do better" is a bit insincere as you, me, and everyone else knows that it takes both coach and players to win a football game. It's one thing not to call a player, it's quite another for the players not to take any blame. They AND Borges deserve blame(and credit).
Its not about the X's and O's, its about the Jimmies and the Joes!
Right now, we dont have a whole lot of Jimmies and Joes.
Every damn scheme it works this way. You teach your players and hope that when the game rolls around, you've repped it enough that they can perform even under extreme pressure. What part of that was him saying "I am awesome, my players suck"? Read into it what you will, but I'm telling you I flat out 150% disagree with you, because that is NOT what Borges meant. At all.
See? People give Hoke shit for not giving more candid responses and information...well, lookie here, Borges is being more open...and he's getting shit on too. It's lose-lose with these pressers.
When you field a bad football team.
If you don't do your job well, and you get paid millions to do it, people get pissed off.
Al Borges is the highest paid OC in the big ten, and 5th highest in the country. That is Chad Morris, Kirby Smart type assistant money. You don't pay a guy that much to have -47 rushing yards against one of your biggest rivals. He's the one responsible for making sure the offense succeeds, and people are going to be unhappy with him when it has a showing like last week, especially when with a record as shaky as his.
Are you paying him? Doesn't sound like a reason to get pissed off.
I read it in a completely different manner. If he says, "Yes," he is basically saying that his players are hampering his game plan. THAT would be a case of, "I've got a great game plan but my guys won't let me call it."
His answer, as it is, is a case of not throwing the position group under the bus. It is also truthful in that, because there is really no way to game plan around a bad line, you just have to go with what you think can win (pass early and often in series and go deep regularly) and hope the line can hold up.
Its funny, the guy can literally not win in these pressers. This was a yes or no question, and some people would say that either answer would just be a case of him blaming everything on his players.
do you want him to say? He's not out there blocking or throwing the footballs.
For whatever it's worth there's an AP article that was on Yahoo! about DB watching film every Sunday with the coaches and in the interview he said that this last Sunday he watched the defensive film with Mattison and the offensive film with Hoke and Borges. So, read into that however you want.
Is a pompous incompetant OC. Everyone but him knew going into the game with MSU that they would require short qjuick passes but he insisted on sticking with routes that took time to develop and allowed his QB to get eaten up by the Spartans defense. He continues to defend his strategy regardless of the mulciple incidents on the playing filed prove him wrong time and again. The MSU game is not an isolated incident either. If Brady Hoke does not see this then he either protecting his staff or has no understanding of the game from an offesive prespective.
...those last 2 things are far from mutually exclusive and could very easily both be true. Sadly.
An extremely aggressive press coverage? Let me tell you, that wouldn't have worked out.
when they finally got around to trying it... save for a couple dropped balls. Borges just isn't that smart. 100% agree on the slow developing routes, recipe for disaster
I remember a couple quick slants that were close to disaster both times. Don't remember any hitches but MSU has been turning those into pick 6's all year. Soooo yeah short quick stuff not so much against MSU agressive press corners.
short quick pass. Brian himself has pointed this out. MSU defense forces you to throw the long pass(the lower percentage pass). If you hit on them you then can loosen up their defense enough to throw the short and medium range passes. But that is encumbent on you hitting several deep passes.
Did you notice ND's gameplan vs MSU by chance? A lot of deep balls. Brian Kelly is a pretty damn good offensive mind and even he saw that was the proper way to attack MSU's defense.
Most people who had a clue, including most other coaches, including people who are considered at least borderline offensive geniuses like Brian Kelly, know you don't attack MSU with short, quick passes, but rather, by attacking, you know, where they are actually weak in their defensive scheme, which is deep.
Will they run the same defense or will they mix it up? The deep ball seems to be Miller's strength which is MSU's weakness. I can't believe Narduzzi will run this same scheme vs Miller and co.
I would assume they would drop the safeties back, just rely on the front seven to play sound. If you can keep contain and still get a pass rush on Miller, you can really limit his scrambling, and they are certainly a disciplined enough defense that the option isn't as terrifying a weapon as it would be against a younger D.
Did they show any scrape exchange on option looks against us? I can't imagine they would have to, those LB's get to the ball so well Narduzzi can't be too worried about having them out of position.
Can do though that we can't and state will have to respect is run the ball. If this happens, state will have to sit back a little more or else play action on 1st down will include philly brown streaking deep MANY times.
As someone who agrees with your general opinion and appreciates your analysis, I hope you do not take offense to me asking...could please stop responding to posts in the most dickish way possible?
Should probably step away from the boards for a bit again. Got a little caught up today in some of the nonsense. I do need to be better at that as I've recently been quite snarky.
FWIW, when people do have legit opinions based on something, or do try to have reasonable discussion, or don't act like everyone in the world knows something that is factually incorrect, I haven't been dickish. It's the people that don't do those things that I tend to get fed up with, because they never seem to end. In this case, the reason I came across as dickish, was because the person I responded to called Borges "a pompous incompetant OC" and stated that everyone knew something that was obvious yet our idiot OC was too much of an idiot to even know what everyone else in the world knew, despite what he is making reference to is, in fact, neither true nor valid. That's what set me off.
Still, I admit I should be better and just ignore it.
It's alright. I completely get it based on what "fans" have said recently and like I said I agree with you for the most part. I do not agree with everything I have seen you say about Borges but it is nice to see someone defending his intelligence as an offensive coordinator. The way people are talking about him they act like he's some bumbling fool that just picks random plays to try in games.
I suppose I would just prefer that the person with legit evidence (you) can win the argument without resorting to being well....you know.
Don't stay away from the board for too long if you feel you must take a break! Your insight is needed around these parts to help those who might succumb to the recent doom and gloom opinions plaguing this board.
Calling Borges "incompetent" when the guy doesn't even understand the scheme MSU runs just begs for a prickly response.