whether Heiko just made up everything prior to "get Fitz off a little more" just to mess with us. I honestly can't tell.
...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
“What’s up. Did you count the bubble screens again?”
MGoRetort: You had two fakes.
“Oh those were actually laser screens.”
MGoABubbleScreenByAnyOtherName: Oh, laser screens.
“They’re different. A little different.”
Your daughter started school last week. How was that?
“It’s awesome. The teacher wants to take her home. [My daughter] is so cool, she’s great. She thinks she’s pretty cool, too. She talks a lot. She talks like four times more than my son. So she’s good at talking because she practices so much more, you know. And then I get home, she’s usually in bed, but if she’s up, she’s got so many things to tell me.”
So she takes after you.
“Yeah. A little bit. I’m going to start giving her like a word a day. ‘Condescending.’ ‘Exasperate.’ Stuff like that, you know. She’ll floor her kindergarten teacher if she throws that one in, if I can get her to say it in context. Pretty cool. What are you guys laughing about? There’s nothing wrong with that. My dad did that. My dad used to all the time give me a word a day.”
You never use those words in your press conferences.
“Oh no. Never. No. Sometimes I do. Okay.”
Did anything exasperate you Saturday?
“Uh, no, not really. Not too much. Not too much. It was -- other than not getting the ball to Fitz. We wanted to get Fitz off a little more. Obviously that didn’t work out real good, but we knew going into the game that they were going to have trouble with Denard because the speed factor in the secondary. We wanted to get our athletes out in space. He’s as athletic as anybody we have. That was an emphasis in this game, and we kind of accomplished that, so the next day what we have to do is we have to get our tailback more involved, working our tails off to devise a plan to do just that.”
What was happening when Fitz did get the ball?
“Very few good opportunities to run if you look back through. And a couple times we missed a couple reads where he should have gotten the ball and didn’t. One of them the quarterback took off for a 79-yard touchdown, so it’s hard to say that he was wrong. But Fitz might have been able to run that one, too. Denard will tell you that. And on that one, he checked a bubble. He kind of a got spoofed on a bubble, and he kind of pulled a defense with it, and by that time he had pulled the ball out and ran right where Fitz would have run.”
MGoQuestion: You featured Devin Funchess a little bit. You seemed hesitant about using the freshman receivers earlier because you said they were still struggling with paralysis by analysis. What about Devin Funchess was different?
“Well our tight end position is not very deep. Our wide receiver position, believe it or not, is a little deeper than we had anticipated particularly with Devin Gardner doing what he’s done. And he is a highly skilled kid, yet he is a not a complete tight end yet. He’ll be the first one to tell you that. He’s got a lot to learn about the blocking phase of it. And just the nuances of the passing game, he’s really highly skilled. He can go get the ball, runs very well for a tight end, and when he gets a little bigger and stronger, I think he can be a complete player, but he’s still not there yet.”
Devin Gardner’s progress from week one to week two?
“Yeah. It was pretty big. As I said last week, it was baptism by fire the first week because of the defense. This week he got a little more room to maneuver and do kind of what he does. He did a nice job. He got a little tired, that was the only thing, but after that, when he was fresh he did a nice job.”
What has to be better in the offensive line in the coming weeks?
“Just working in concert, if that makes any sense. Same five guys. We went through -- and you remember this -- we went through this a little bit last year. Very similar. I got a little déjà vu of getting our guys all working and knowing the calls, working together. But as they do it more, Elliott gets them all on the right page, guys start stepping together and coming off together, you’ll see. It’ll progressively get better and better. But we’ve got a lot more changes there, losing the best center in the country and then losing Mark Huyge, who was a very underrated player. Mark was a very solid football player. Smart kid, and kind of doing the shuffle with moving Mike [Schofield] inside. There are some growing pains that go with that. But I think the more the same five work together, the better you’re going to see them play, and they did some really nice things in this game to spring Denard. We didn’t spring Fitz much, but we sprung Denard. We gave him room to run, so now we just have to take the next step with our tailbacks. Fitz and everyone else too.”
Because offensive line chemistry is so important, are you less likely to play a freshman even if someone is underperforming?
“Yeah. Well, not necessarily. If someone is underperforming on a consistent basis, no. But you gotta give those kids some time to grow, too, unless they’re just getting their butts kicked every play, and we’re not doing that. But I’m not saying you never make a change. You could, and it could be a freshman to replace him, but before you do that you want to make darn sure it’s the right move, because then you’re starting all over again with another guy now. We made some progress from game one to game two. It didn’t result in our tailback running very well, but it did result in our quarterback running well. So we’ll see what happens. We have another week to get better.”
Is there anything about 3-4 defenses that is giving your offensive line problems?
“Not really. It is a little different, I’ll say that in that regard, but not really. Our targeting, and when I say targeting I mean knowing who to block -- our targeting has been pretty good. It was good in the first game actually. And that can be an issue. If you’re turning guys loose in there because you don’t know who to block, then the tailback never gets a chance, but our targeting has been pretty good. We only had a couple assignment errors, but there hasn’t been anything where you say, ‘Oh my goodness.’ The biggest thing, I think, guys, that you have to understand is that there were only 56 snaps offensively in a game, and that’s two games like that. We averaged 65 or 66 a year ago. You’re losing 10 snaps. That’s another snap somebody could catch a pass, a couple three or four snaps and we can run the ball, can throw a pass, whatever -- you have 10-11 snaps that we’ve lost for two games. And some of that was good because some of it was the result of big plays. I’m certainly not going to tell the quarterback to get to the 20-yard line and take a knee so we can run more plays, but by the same token, the residual effect of that is you don’t get as many plays. But that’s what has cost the tailback more carries and the receivers probably a few more catches.”
Fitz missed the opener and then only got eight yards. How is he handling the slump?
“I think he’s fine. He’s fine. We just have to get him into rhythm. He’ll be all right. He was like this a lot last year. As soon as we get him in a rhythm, he’ll be Fitz again. He’s been practicing. There’s nothing wrong with him, we just need to give him better opportunities. More snaps, you know. More rhythm on offense, not just big plays. All those things.”
How much does it help Denard to have bigger targets to throw to?
“That’s always nice. That’s always nice to have receivers with range. Jeremy did a really nice job on a couple third downs, just working the holes in the defense, kind of playing basketball in there, catching a pass, moving the chains. And then Funchess, who can get a ball in a lot of different spots, you know, doesn’t have to be thrown right at him. As long as it’s in his wingspan, he’s got a good chance to catch it. I think most quarterbacks love it. And Devin Gardner’s the same way.”
Would you consider putting Roundtree in the slot?
“No. No. Not really. For our offense, our purposes, he’s where he should be.”
A lot of people worried about losing Junior Hemingway, but now you have two big jump ball threats …
“Yeah, and we had to supplement what Junior did in some way, shape, or form, because Junior made so many big plays for us. Devin Garder, you’ll see, that catch he made in the end zone, a smaller guy may not have caught that ball. So it helps. It helps and it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, they love those nice, big targets where they don’t have to throw it perfect every time, they still have a chance to make a play.”
You threw on eight of 10 third downs to your bigger receivers. Was that a conscious effort to do that?
“It’s just how we structured the third down package. We attacked certain parts of the third down package with certain players, and it changes game to game. But there was no conscious effort to do that. Just find out what the coverage is, try to get your quarterback protected, work the crevasses of the coverage the best you can. That’s just how it worked out.”
Going back to Funchess, a lot of the other players said they weren’t surprised at all he had that kind of game on Saturday given what they saw in fall camp. Was that one of the things you noticed about him, too?
“Yeah. With the biggest thing when you’re putting together an offensive schematic is you have to identify weapons. Who are your weapons and how can you most effectively use them week to week based on how you’re being defended? Funchess, although he’s like any freshman, he didn’t know the offense very well at the beginning, but he started catching onto it a little bit more, and we just found more ways to get him more and more involved as he understood better. Because he’s a good learner, no struggles that way, and in this game we saw some opportunities to feature him and we took advantage of it. There may be games where he doesn’t catch as many passes and there’s going to games where he catches more passes. But your weapons have to hurt the defense or they have to pull people off other people who can hurt the defense, if that makes any sense. If they’re covering Devin Funchess, then maybe somebody else is open. That’s kind of the point. That’s really why we did what we did.”
Is it fair to say he’s going to get more snaps moving forward?
“Yeah, I mean from game to game it could change. He’s not going to be in there all the time. Here’s the deal -- particularly young players, the more productive you are, the more we try to get you involved. Sometimes that opportunity presents itself the next week, just like it did the week before. Sometimes the opportunity doesn’t. Sometimes you’re trying to give the ball to the guy, and because they’re more conscious of him because he’s been catching passes, you give the ball to somebody else. But the more productive guys are, the more we’ll let them play, as long as they prove they can. But his position doesn’t require just receiving. You have to remember that. It’s a multi-faceted position. It is the ultimate hybrid on the offense the way tight ends play. He’s got to be able to do it all to be in there all the time.”
How is his blocking?
“He’s very willing. He’s a tough enough kid, and he’s doing better and better all the time. Dan Ferrigno’s got to just work with him on some of the technique and stuff. I think in time he could be a really good player, but he’s not arrived. That is for sure.”
Is Denard offering more to you in terms of feedback?
“Oh yeah, yeah. And I want it, too, because it helps. You’ll be surprised some of the things he offers me, and they wouldn’t be what you would think, and I’m not going to mention it, but they would not be what you think. But yeah, he’s been great about that. Because he has a pretty good idea. The one thing about Denard that is amazing is if something goes wrong in front of him, he can identify it quickly. He can tell you, he’ll get on the phone and tell you right away, he goes, ‘Blah blah blah missed his block right in front of me, I just couldn’t see the throw. The safety jumped in front, that’s why I backed out and did this.’ It’s amazing how accurate it is. You look back at it on the tape, and it’s almost verbatim what he said. That’s what instintinctive football players do. Sometimes you coach guys and something will happen, they’ll have no idea why it happened. But he’s really not like that at all. And the thing about him this year more than last year is he can identify his own mistakes quickly. As soon as he comes off the field before I’m even ready to yell at him, he goes, ‘Coach, I screwed it up. It was there, I saw it, I threw it bad, or the guy jumped on it and I didn’t see him.’ But he’ll tell you a lot of times even before you tell him. I never assume it because your job is to coach him. I don’t care what he says, I’m still going to say it, but his ability to troubleshoot his own problems is so much different than it was a year ago.”
Is that quality inherent to a lot of players?
“No. In instinctive players it is.”
How many instinctive players have you coached over the years?
“Oh a bunch. A whole bunch of instinctive players. That’s what you want. You want guys to have a feel for the game, you know, that goes beyond just their skill level. The kids call them, uh, ‘Ballers,’ you know? The guy’s a baller. You can say he may not do this, but the guy balls. And I don’t know what that means -- to me that’s an instinctive guy, okay.”
MGoQuestion: At first glance it doesn’t seem like Denard is doing a whole lot of checks and audibles. Is he doing it in actuality, though?
“A little bit, yeah, some. The thing about that is certain games that’s more than other games. You’ve got to understand this, is our check system, audible system is certain games, it’s huge. In other games, it just depends on the defense and trying to get yourself in the best play. Certain games you’re saying, ‘We don’t need 10, 15 audibles. We’ve got what we want basically by the plan.’ And a lot of what we do is built in so he doesn’t have to do a lot of that. But you’ll see as he goes. There’ll be several occasions where he changes plays. It just hasn’t come up now. ”
In a perfect world, do you redshirt all these freshman offensive linemen?
“I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t know. Their parents ask me that question. I never commit to it because you never know. You never know because in a perfect world, you may need one of them -- I can’t say.”
Are you trying to get Norfleet involved in the offense?
“I have absolutely no answer to that question.”
whether Heiko just made up everything prior to "get Fitz off a little more" just to mess with us. I honestly can't tell.
I'd really like to know this too. That's really funny if Al is cool about the bubble screen obsession. It'd be even better if he'd just start running the damn play or empower Denard to audible to it at the line.
When you watch the presser videos, you never see any of the Bubble Screen banter, so yeah, I think so.
and you just let it go?
C'mon Man! Could have asked if that was going to be his daughter's word of the day, or asked what he thinks it means, but you had to go ask a legit, good football question.
If Al was going to teach his daughter to say "bubble screen."
Al is a gruff, middle-aged offensive coordinator. Heiko, a eager cub reporter and scientist. Together, they fight crime.
Six Zero, I trust you know what to do.
What's funny is that would be 50 times better than what's on ABC now.
This was one of the funniest pressers. The buble screen/word of the day start and “I have absolutely no answer to that question” at the end were great!
Heiko, did the presser really start out that way or are you just messing with us. If it truly did, you shall ever go down in MGoLore. That one question (asked numerous times) has made you famous! (or infamous as far as Borges is concerned). Keep up the TREMENDOUS work!
The video posted at mgoblue starts with Borges saying, " other than not getting the ball to Fitz..."
Now, that doesn't mean the great bubble screen back&forth of 2012 didn't occur; perhaps it just wasn't posted. I'm just saying we don't have video evidence (which is too bad, b/c that part was hilarious).
on the twitters Heiko claims it's true. We need confirmation!
YES. It happened.
Heiko you're the man. You make my day so much better sometimes.
Agree. Heiko is my fav.
"I’m going to start giving her like a word a day. ‘Condescending.’ ‘Exasperate.’ Stuff like that, you know."
You know where this leads. . . he's going to start having his daughter handle the MGoQuestions about bubble screens.
So my question is. Does the Michigan coaches actually seem to like our super specific football questions, or do they wish you would crawl in a hole and die?
I am going to see if his child is in my child's class. If so, I will push not for "Bring your daughter to work day" but "Bring your daughter and her class and their parents to work day".
It may be easier to push your daughter's teacher to have a "bring your father to class day"...just a thought.
he brings the team! But it would be cool to get an insider's view of the football program. Sadly, they are not in the same class, probably not even the same school.
Shortly after we discuss Sid Finch, Heiko comes out with this... I'm not falling for this one. But I do have to say that it is very well-written and funny.
"exasperated" not "exacerbated" when you put the word back to Borges, no?
A context for "exacerbated" would be somethign like, 'were there any issues in the offense that were exacerbated by AF's scheme?' Or something.
Yeah Im a little lysdexic. I will fix that when I get back to a computer.
It was probably a Drew Sharp question, and thus the wrong word because he's a moran.
The first definition and common usage of exacerbated is as you used it, but it can be used as it appears here ... though it probably shouldn't because its more common usage makes this sound incorrect, and there's no good reason to delve that deeply into the definition just to be able to say exacerbate.
manningham is the new math :: norfleet is the new bubble screen.
I was thinking a similar thing...Borges' total nonanswer gives me complete confidence that Norfleet will be involved in the offense soon.
reassuring. Neither of these guys seems very worried. And they both minimize line-play problems that people have been citing here. Will be interesting to see if they are right.
If I've learned one thing in recent years as a Michigan fan, it is that as a group we bitch and moan more than anybody else in real time, but we are the quickest fanbase on the planet to mythologize the recent past (SEE the "legendary" status of guys like Henne, Hart, etc.). In order to combat the weight of perception, I offer this:
After two games, Devin Gardner has caught as many touchdown passes as Junior Hemingway did in 12 regular season games last season. He is also averaging more yards per game, despite facing Bama's D in one of those contests. Jeremy Gallon is also racking up yards at a faster pace, despite the fact that we've run less than 60 offensive plays in each of our opening games.
Against AFA, Devin Funchess posted 42% of our TE corps' total output during the 2011 regular season.
When the baseline is an 11-2 team that won a BCS bowl, things are looking pretty good.
To me this UMass game comes at a perfect time...we need some rhythm, we need to play a team that isn't #1 in the country or runs an offense we'll never see again. We need stability.
In a lot of ways, the next game is our first game. It'll be interesting to see who plays well, how we play and REALLY disect each play and player after UMass (and ND for that matter). I think these next games will really tell us what to expect for the remainder of the year.
We're already playing a lot of guys, but this gives us a chance to see even more and to play them for an extended period of time. If we can get guys like Pipkins/Ross/Bolden 30-40 snaps that will pay incredible dividends down the road this season and beyond. If Rawls and Norfleet can line up in the backfield together for a quarter or more we can really see a lot against live competition without any risk. Same goes for Bellomy, Darboh, and Chesson.
I'm as big a Dave Brandon critic as anyone when he actually screws up, but this schedule has a chance to work out really well for the season as a whole. If at the end of the day our only complaint is "We aren't a legit top-2 team nationally!" then that is a complaint that could be lodged about almost every Michigan team since the late-1940's.
I think many on this blog are critical, but don't "bitch" about the team. I don't remember any posts stating "Borges has done a horrible job with the offensive line". And as far as what the coaches will say, I don't think you'll ever hear, "yeah these upperclassman just don't have the talent, we're just kind of biding our time until the next two classes start coming in to their own, G Team 135!"
Instead I here both groups saying, "the line play needs to improve to end up in the Rose Bowl this year."
We ran for over 7 ypc this week and didn't allow a sack while the QB put up quality numbers in the passing game. The fact that people are even mildly grumbling about the offensive line is fucking dumb. When the assumption is that our line full of returning starters and 4-star fourth year players just aren't good enough and that this means we've been fucking up in recruiting then things are even dumber. You've just made that same silly assumption.
And this isn't a new thing. John Navarre was treated horrendously until he beat OSU. Losing to USC didn't matter and now he is regarded as a demigod in recent Michigan lore. Ryan Mundy was treated far worse, by this blog in particular. Henne/Hart never beat OSU and won a single second-tier bowl game, yet you'll hear people quote them as the ideal for how our offense should look, while dismissing the accomplishments of Denard/Fitz, etc. And while they were here plenty of people were complaining about them and Coach Carr.
If our victory was so impressive, why did Fitz get only like 1 ypc against Air Force? That's not just a rhetorical question, why were we so much more successful with QB runs than with Fitz? Denard's a great player, obviously, and Fitz is a good player, but what's going on with our O-line?
For all of those great numbers, we only beat Air Force by 6.
Does anyone here really dismiss the accomplishments of Denard? I don't think so, other than the occasional troll who still thinks that Denard can't throw.
Also, there's not a whole lot of love for late 2000s Lloyd Carr around here, in case you've missed the continual ranting about game theory in the 2005 Ohio State game.
why did Fitz get only like 1 ypc against Air Force? why were we so much more successful with QB runs than with Fitz?
If you read/listened to how Hoke and Borges answered this question, you'd know that it a lot to do with AF's 30 or so run blitzes. Now, I am not sure why the a run blitz would effect the RB more than it would the QB, but it certainly seemed to mess things up. They basically said it was, as always, a combination of what they were doing, and what we were or weren't doing that caused the lack of RB production.
I do agree with your broader point that as a fanbase we tend to be very critical and to then turn the same players that we previously criticized into heroes once they depart. I like to believe that this is only a small, but vocal, portion of the fanbase, but yeah, it does happen.
That said, I do disagree with your point that "When the assumption is that our line full of returning starters and 4-star fourth year players just aren't good enough and that this means we've been fucking up in recruiting then things are even dumber."
Unfortunately, O-line recruiting has, in fact, been subpar for a few years. The fact that aside from our starters, we essentially have true freshmen and air kind of proves this point. Sure, teams are forced to play a true freshman here and there, but for a team with a national recruiting base to have such a thin line is not acceptable.
On a broader point, it is hard to look at our 2-deep across the board and not come to the conclusion that recruiting during the pre-Hoke years was sub-par. Our best WR is a converted QB. Other than him, we have Gallon (who I am actually high on) who is limited by his height and on most top 15 teams would be just a guy. Who else? We already discussed the lack of any depth on the OL. Tight ends? Aside from the true freshmen, we have one (injured) - who I think that we can all agree is far from a stud. Finally, did we have a FB on the roster until Hoke converted Hopkins and recruited Houma?
On defense, the numbers are the same - our DL is paper thin. Lower ranked upperclassmen backed up by even lower ranked uppor classmen, true freshmen and air.
Fortunately, there are many reasons for optimism. The new kids coming in are highly-rated and appear to have much higher ceilings. In 2-3 years. we will hopefully never again have to talk about the pre-Hoke recruiting, but for now, the reality is that that poor recruiting exists and will hamper us.
disclaimer: This is not meant to be a criticism of any one player or any group of players. All of the upperclassmen are owed a debt from all of us for sticking with Michigan during its darkest years. All of them should be commended.
Or is this the greatest presser...EVER?!
Tha last comment about norfleet..borges is so sneaky!...you know he's got something under his sleeve...i think hes just not showing many plays and trying to keep denard healthy right now. I think the end goal is to beat MSU.
Heiko keeps transcribing the bubble screen banter and insisting it's happening, and we keep seeing videos uploaded without that question present. I keep envisioning the press conference ending and Borges running back to the video guy and slipping him a $20 to make sure the bubble screen stuff gets cut out of the video just to troll us all. I KNOW THIS IS WHAT'S HAPPENING.
Word of the day: Baller.
Get off Borges' lawn.
I wonder if the trick plays and Norfleet packages will be unleashed against ND, or not until B10 play? That's a question me would have asked. Just kidding, but I sure hope he opens it up a little more in conference play.
Al's answer to the question about Denard and audibles are interesting. It seems that he prioritizes the game-plan over maximizing yardage. The missed reads might not be on Denard's shoulders but on the play calls, and Denard isn't given free reign to make the right reads.
No Roundtree in the slot? Dang.
I brought that up the other day...I think it would be best for everyone.
Here's what I posted, depth chart wise:
WR1: Devin Gardner
WR2: Jeremy Gallon
Slot: Roy Roundtree
...to me that gives us some depth and truly puts everyone in their best position.
Apparently a "Laser" Screen is used by more that Coach Borges, here you can see Coach Steve Tucker teaching our youngins about the laser screen play (Do a Ctrl+F to find the one line refering to it)
Double post, I failed...
I haven't read the whole presser yet, but the conversation at the beginning made my day. Great stuff.
The following things are true:
1) Al Borges hates bubble screens
2) I [Heiko] am a bubble screen
3) Dennis Norfleet is the new bubble screen
What are we supposed to make of this? Is Dennis Norfleet the new Heiko? Perhaps Al Borges hates Norfleet? Or perhaps Heiko is out of the doghouse because Borges has a new target for his wrath. SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS