Denard and Borges on the NFL and Denard's Senior Season

Denard and Borges on the NFL and Denard's Senior Season

Submitted by hart20 on March 14th, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Denard did a short interview with an AP sports writer. I'd suggest clicking on the link at the bottom to read through the article as a whole. It has quotes from both Borges and Denard. For those who don't want to leave MGoBlog, here are a few of the quotes from the article:

Denard on his position in the NFL:

“I’m planning on being a quarterback,” Robinson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “We’ll see what happens.”

Al Borges on Denard's future:

“It’s a big spring and it’ll be a big season for Denard in that regard,” offensive coordinator Al Borges said. “If he can take the next step as a passer, there will be a team that will tailor an offense to his skill level, just like the Denver Broncos did with Tim Tebow. But Denard’s got to improve in the passing game and he knows that.”

Denard on what he wants to improve:

“I’ve got to be a better leader,” he said. “I have to do things on and off the field that help us accomplish our goal of winning the Big Ten championship.”

Denard on attending Michigan basketball games:

“That showed me that it was a great decision that me and coach Hoke made,” Robinson said. “I’m enjoying college life. I’m having fun with it.”

Borges on Denard's second season in the offense

“We should see it with the timing of his throws and him having a better grasp of route structures, audibles and protection checks,” Borges said. “He’ll also improve with decision-making, knowing when to throw it away and when not to run. And if he can get better with his footwork issues in the pocket, it should reduce interception and increase his completion percentage.”

Well, I ended up taking all the quotes from the article, but still read through the full article for some coherency and some fluff.








How Saban is preparing his defense for Michigan

How Saban is preparing his defense for Michigan

Submitted by PeterKlima on March 9th, 2012 at 2:58 PM

An interesting tidbit in an article on about the recent Borges radio interview:


Unofficially, Saban and Kirby Smart have asked new defensive grad assistant Jules Montinar to breakdown every game Al Borges has called plays in since 1986.

While the Bama Coaches Noon-time Basketball Association continues its season, Montinar is reviewing old film from Portland State, Boise State, Oregon, UCLA, Cal, Indiana, Auburn, San Diego State, and last season's Michigan team.


Now, Saban might just be messing with the new guy or getting him prepared for the many film breakdowns that will come during the season.  But, that seems like an awful lot of game film.  I was kind of hoping Saban might be resting on his laurels heading into the game.  Oh well, there is only so much planning you can do for Denard.

Coaching The West Coast Quarterback, By Al Borges

Coaching The West Coast Quarterback, By Al Borges

Submitted by CRex on January 26th, 2012 at 11:04 PM


As you may or may not be aware, our offensive coordinator wrote a book.  I finally got my hands on it thanks to Michigan's ILL Department and wrote up a short summary/review of it.  Take from it what you will.
Title: Coaching The West Coast Quarterback
Author: Borges, Alan.  Borges, Keith.
Publisher: Coaches Choice
Published: 2002
ISBN: 1-58518-341-5
Length: 120 pages
What This Book Is:
This is the kind of book I'd expect a high school offensive coordinator to be reading, along with giving his quarterbacks a copy of it.  It does assume you already know the fundamentals and as such is light on the drills.  The book tells you what kind of stance the quarterback should be in, but doesn't provide instruction for how to correct a quarterback's stance.  That's left for other instructional videos (Borges also made a series of videos that carry the same title as this book).
What This Book Isn't:
This isn't some magical key into the mind of Al Borges. This book is written solely about the West Coast offense, long before the rise of the Gulf Coast offense (see snoopblue's diary on the Gulf Coast Offense).  
Still Borges spent a lot of time on the West Coast and the West Coast offense definitely played a formative role in how Al Borges does things.  Plus the book has value by itself, if you're a coach, it's worth at the very least paging through it.
Interesting Random Fact:
The only copy Michigan's ILL service could find is from the Library of Congress.  So we don't own a copy of the book, nor does any other B1G school.  
Preface and Chapter 1, The Fundamentals of QB Play:
The book opens up with a lot of the stand lines about what you want in a quarterback.  You know standard stuff like leader on and off the field, toughness, etc.  The most interesting part here I found were the quotes:
'Intelligence is important, but a great work ethic can overcome much of what some players lack in natural "smarts."'
'He [the QB] should know exactly how his coach thinks and be able to regurgitate it verbally at the drop of hat.'
The first quotation pretty much sums up Jason Campbell.  At the risk of taking too much from a single sentence in the book, it does show a willingess to engage in development projects with high schools who have the talent and work ethic but no the smarts.  The second quote is fairly standard, as every OC out there wants to mind meld with his QBs, but not ever coach uses regurgitate in their writing.  Another point for Coach Borges.
One interesting comment though that did come out of this section is:
"Keep in mind that the quarterback does not look over 6' 4" and 6' 5" linemen.  He is seeing and throwing through windows in the pass rush."  
In other words, good line play can compensate for a shorter quarterback.  Assuming the line knows where the QB is looking, it is their job to clear guys out of Denard's field of vision.  Clearly it helps if the QB is taller, but in the book Borges specific states he values mobility over the QB standing tall and looking over linemen.  An interesting fact to trot out next time you're stuck around family who want to complain about Denard being a midget.
Also in this section Borges covers the "Sprint Out" concept. Throughout the entire book, he stresses the idea of a mobile quarterback that can add an extra threat with his legs as being desirable.  Although he does seem to be talking about more about a Tate Forcier kind of quarterback: pass first, use your legs to buy time, and then run for a few yards if needed.  Also throwing the ball away is stressed as something that should be done as opposed to forcing the pass.  You can tell the book was definitely written before the rise of the quarterbacks like Denard.  The overall tone of the book though does suggest that even if we get RoboMorris, he'll be running more frequently than RoboHenne did.
We even get a little bit of option ball out in the book.  Although it is merely two pages tacked on to the end of the capture on fundamentals.  The main take away on the option is that "When executed precisely, the option can be low-risk and very productive."  He only covers the speed and dive options though in this book.
Chapter 2, Philosophy of the Passing Game:
One of the concepts that Borges mentions here is that half the passing yards should come through the air and half the passing yards should come via yards after catch.  So who knows, the days of the tiny little slot ninjas with cloaking devices might not be over.  Borges also stresses the concept though of always having a deep threat wide reciever who on any play can be hit for 6 points.  In terms of WRs Borges has three:
Hands Guy:  Dependable at catching the ball.
Deep Threat: Can get six points
Route Runner: Most likely to be open.  
From there the book goes into a review of the Delta, Flood, Option, China, Crossing, and One on One concepts.  Also overthrowing or "putting it where only the good guy can get it" is stressed.  So Denard's overthrows are actually a sign he is learning from Borges, although accuracy would be even better.
As an interesting side, Borges estimates that if the defense rushes six that it is unlikely for them to all remain blocked for more than 3 seconds.  So if you are trying to raise a young quarterback run some drills to make reads and release within 3 seconds.  
Chapter 3, Reading and Understanding
Chapter 3 is the diagram heavy chapter of the book.  Covering reading the defense, hot routes, and the like.  The most interesting part starts on page 40 with the contours of the defense.  The contour of a defense is created by drawing a line from the one side of the field to other, connecting the defensive backs.  So if all the safeties and corners are at the same depth you would have a flat line.  As they move up or down you get peaks and valleys.  The quarterback can guess the style of defensive coverage (three deep, two deep, man, etc) based on how the defensive backs are lined up.  Although Borges does point out that a good defense will always run out of the same contour or change on purpose to bait the quarterback.  A defense will poor coaching will tip its hand by changing the contour of the defense depending on the called play.
A good example of this would be when we'd push Kovacs up and create a contour that suggests we're blitzing Kovacs.  We of course did just that with great success, but other times we'd have Kovacs drop and set him up for a pick.  This might also help shed some light on the whole "Martin drops into coverage" thing we tried.  You blitz Kovacs and then the QB throws in the direction of the blitz reflexively, but Martin is there to swat the ball.  
In this chapter Borges also covers the different defensive aligments (4-3, Bear, etc) and their weaknesses.  A common theme here is Borges seems to view a lot of the defensive sets as vulernable to inside-out.  That is a runningback or tight end moving out and catching the ball, possibly with WRs to block and create a screen.  As mentioned in snoopblue's review of the Gulf Coast offense, Borges likes throwing to running backs.  Here we see the same theme covered repeatedly.  Earlier when talking about receivers Borges stressed that you must have a running back with good hands.
Borges also discusses how a defender who is backpedaling and flatfooted is always a threat because the QB never knows how well he'll jump.  Borges really stresses you have to force the defenders into some kind of lateral movement that creates either a leading or trailing window for the ball.  Consider for a moment on the bubble screen, if the DB doesn't backpedal off the WR (because they plan to play bump, bail or kick), you're left with a defender who is flatfooted, which Borges hates.  Coupled with his love of inside-out, I can understand why he might have some objection to the bubble screen, if that area of the field is weak Borges appears to prefer to send a TE or a RB into it and throw to them.  Take that for what you will and of course keep in mind the age of this book.
If you were lurking around the board earlier in the season you might remember a few debates on how our DBs always seemed to be a step behind the WRs.  Some of the other posters did an excellent job explaining trail coverages.  On page 69 of the book Borges provides a great rundown of both DB and Safety play techinques, including trail and robber.  Someone with more patience than myself and access to the torrents from two years ago should consider going back and checking to see if we were frequently changing defensive contours (thus tipping our hand) and if we altered techinques frequently.  Borges specifically mentions good defensives will frequently vary techinques.  Each techinque has a set counter the WR can undertake, so good defenses will alter them.  Bad defenses will not and thus make it easy for the WRs to adjust.
So a defense that rarely changes contours (or changes them to bait) but frequently changes techniques (bump, bail, engage, kick, backet, etc) is a well coached defense.  Defenses that do the opposite are not.  I think next year I'm going to watch a lot of Michigan games and then Arizona games and see if I can spot the difference and thus prove that Gibson is a terrible, terrible, coach.
Last Third Of the Book:
The last third of the book is a specific breakdown of various routes, the footwork involved in them, and the theory behind audibles.  I'll gloss over it as it is mostly mechanics.  Once again though definitely something to have any future QB you are trying to raise read.
One interesting section is on page 103 where Borges breaks down third down decision making.  He does not say anything like "center it for a punt and play defense", so we're definitely out of the DeBord era for what it is worth.  Here also is where Borges stresses he expects the QB to be able to run for 3 or 4 years and get the first down.  However you only run if you have a clear lane, scrambling is solely to buy time for the pass.  I'd imagine his time around Denard may have made him rethink that last bit.  
The final thing of note is on page 105 where he talks about the 4 minute offense and how to bleed the clock while moving to score (and ensure the other team won't get a chance for a rebuttal).  Borges gets real specific including that the team should unpile as slowly as possible after the running play to further bleed the clock.  Definitely interesting as you never hear the talking heads on TV discuss the 4 minute offense.  
The book concludes with some basic QB drills like scramble drills and throwing from your needs.  Borges does mention footwork is much more important than arm motion.  This helps explain why Campbell had a horrible throwing motion but always was good at planting his feet and aligning his shoulders. 
As I said this isn't like some super deep look at the mind of Al Borges or what he'll do here.  This is a fairly straightforward "Here is how you run the West Coast Offense" text.  That being said I'd encourage picking it up solely for Chapters 2 and 3.  Read those two chapters, understand the diagrams, and you'll definitely increase your knowledge of the game.    It's not that hard of a book to wrap your head around and you'll walk away with a greater appreciation for it.  
By the way if you're a current student, staff, or faculty member, consider taking a moment to fill out a request that the library buy the book.  The book itself goes for 20 dollars on Amazon or takes 3.5 weeks to get via ILL (and I'm holding the current copy of it, so you're out of luck).  If a bunch of us request it, perhaps the library will buy a copy.   

SugarBowl game wrap (with pics!)

SugarBowl game wrap (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on January 7th, 2012 at 1:13 PM

*programming note, got busy during the holidays, sorry if anyone was looking for scouting reports.  Things have slowed down now, so expect a Nebraska game wrap next week, or the week after, depending on if I feel like writing anything about the SEC non-championship exhibition game.

Winners find a way to win.

It started as a joke, but now no one can deny the awesome power that is Brady Hoke's magical golden poop.  Everything he touches turns into roses.  When he walks through a forest, flowers bloom in his wake.  Youtube is sadly lacking in good golden poop videos, so a unicorn farting rainbows of destruction was the best I could find.  I hope it's not too disturbing.

Our ND friends gave us the wonderfully self-fulfilling cliche' "Winners find a way to win, losers find a way to lose."  But we'll just focus on the first half of that, and they can focus on the 2nd half, thank you very much. 

Was Brady Hoke lucky that Tressel was caught lying?  Maybe. Maybe he pulled a Peter Wiggin and dropped a few well placed emails.  Was it luck when we fumbled on the 1 yard line against ND and Denard scooped and scored a walk in?  Maybe.  Maybe Hoke used his secret telekinesis.

I don't know, I don't care. At this point I'm just happy to be along for the ride.  

But how else can you explain what happened? 

How does a sure INT on a fake FG where no receivers went into pass patterns end up in the arms of the long snapper for a first down? How does what looks like a TD to 80% of the twitterverse get reversed in OT?  How have all the great things that have happened this year happen to one team, in one year?  It boggles the mind. 

They say you make your own luck.  They say that "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."  But whether it's luck, or karmic retribution, or a secret plot by an undercover invisible agency from the future, it can't be sustained at this high of a level.  So let's just enjoy it while we can.  

On to the pics.

Al. Al? ALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!

This week's love-hate relationship status with Al Borges is .... .... Love? That's odd, because during the game there were times when the needle was strongly tilted towards hate.  But after a second look at the game film, the final analysis, just like the outcome of the game, is slightly positive.  

Much like the Iowa game, the lack of production on offense wasn't really his fault so much as it was a combination of a lack of execution, personnel limitations, and a darn good defense.  

Oh sure, there's plenty of things he could have done better and a few stinkers that make you want to pull out your hair... hmmm....nevermind.  And I'll get to those in a moment, but overall, we did what we've done all year. And many of the plays should have worked. 

I mean, Molk getting injured and having this


happen on two consecutive plays to kill the first drive can't really be blamed on Al.  Maybe it would have been better to go under center with the backup playing, but after we've been crying all year for more shotgun, you can understand why he didn't.  Luckily Molk came back in, but wasn't at 100% which probably put a dent in our selection of play calls. 


And give VT credit.  They played a lot of Man-Free forcing Denard to make tough passes to the outside, which frankly, we all know is not his comfort zone. 

Yes, the manball mentality is frustrating especially when VT is putting 9 men in the box. 


 (It's 8 because Denard going backwards is not a threat to run.) But it's there to setup big plays.  


With both safeties up like this, the thing you have to do is make them pay for it. 


But with two defenders beating their blockers, Denard has pressure right up in his face resulting in this jump pass. 


It's not Al's fault that Denard threw to the wrong guy.  Roundtree had a step on his man and Jr. was getting interfered with.  Despite the interception, you can't argue that it wasn't the right play call. 

[ED: More after the jump.]


Thank you Hoke, Mattison and Borges

Thank you Hoke, Mattison and Borges

Submitted by maize and brew… on November 27th, 2011 at 11:58 AM
I just wanted say thank you to Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison for turn this football program around. Its really an accomplishment to pull 10 wins out during your first year as head coach. On the defensive side, we where ranked last out of every D1 school. To turn around a defense around so fast is amazing especially when it isn't your players you recruited. I am looking forward to seeing the new recruits that you recruited to come in and make this team national threat. So from my family to both of you, thank you for getting it. GO BLUE! Also I would like to thank Al Borges for the play calling and the success he had with DRob. I think some people seconded guessed some play calls but realized that you are trying to make the best out of what we have on offense. Its pretty amazing that you can still win games without your offensive style. We all know you had to make adjustments to the play calling and you did a great job, thank you!

Denard production v. Defensive Improvement

Denard production v. Defensive Improvement

Submitted by griesecheeks on November 21st, 2011 at 1:16 AM

I would just like to aknowledge several things that have really helped me put things in perspective about this team, this season, and this coaching staff.


(1) I've been vocally hard on Denard this year, as more people have tended to be. He's got some serious fundamental flaws that are being exposed in a system that awkwardly hybridizes (word? word, now.) things that he does well with things that he doesn't do well. This naturally has made for frustrating moments where you want to string up borges, denard, rich rod, anyone tangentially related to this transition, etc. 

Given (1), (2) Denard has accounted for 29 TDs through 10 (11) games, which is 3 short of his scoring production in 13 games-ish last year. That's actually pretty nuts, given his apparent struggles. The point is this: we can handle the reduction in yardage/ per play average if he's getting us into the endzone with that kind of regularity.

(3) Acknowledging that Denard's turnover rate is still unacceptable, and given (1) and (2), if this is a down year for D-Rob, I'm OK with it. I'm more than ready to give Al Borges the benefit of the doubt and see if his Year 2 progression theory holds up. I've been pleased with the job he's done overall, and I'm more than happy to sacrifice the bubble screen for the package deal of hiring Borges and Mattison. The development of Fitz Toussaint has been amazing to watch.

(4) Speaking of Mattison and his defensive staff, holy hell. I'd trade flashy QB heisman-ish stats for this defensive turnaround 3 times over.

(5) I'm ready for 8 years of frustration to be taken out on OSU next weekend. 41-17 M with the coronation of Fitzmonga Biakabatoussaint. 200+. Go Blue. Good times ahead!