Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-25-11: Coordinators Comment Count

Heiko October 26th, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Al Borges

Borges look likey...

How was your bye week? “Good. So far so good. Got a little bit of a jump start in the game plan, which is good. Like every bye week, we had a chance to heal up. We had some kids that could have used a little bit of time, and the bye always gives you that opportunity, so it was a good time to have it.”

Did the bye week give you an opportunity to add to the playbook or did you just work on what you already have? “Well, just to do the nuances that go with any game plan. I think one of the mistakes you make in the bye weeks and bowl games is you have too much time and sometimes you get a little zealous about wanting to do too much. You come up with all these ideas because you have all this time to practice them, and sometimes it’s not a good idea. But we’re not really doing anything more in this plan than we would do in any other one just because it’s a bye week.”

Hoke said offensive line needs to improve. What are the things you want to see out of them? “So much fundamental, you know. Good steps, good pad level, playing with leverage, and then targeting the front, some of those types of things, making sure we’re getting every play started because I think that was a problem a week ago. We had trouble getting some plays started because we didn’t target the front as well as we should have. Most of it is fundamental. It usually is.”

Have those things slipped as the year’s gone on? “They’re getting better. They have improved. Up till the last game I thought we were getting a good feel for it, and sometimes you get a rude awakening and you realize you’re not where you need to be. Sometimes it takes a game like that to realize that, so we’ve gone back and Coach Funk’s done a great job building those kids from the ground up, starting over again and making sure the steps are right and just doing all those things that are fundamental to the position.”

Is there something missing from the running backs that keeps them from being feature backs? “No. No one’s standing out, basically. It’s not something missing. It’s just no one is standing out, and until somebody does, we’re going to operate the way we’ve operated.”

(more after the jump)

Hoke doesn’t want to blame it all on the running backs. How much do you put on them? “It’s like I said before, it’s never one thing. It’s always a combination of things. People always want to blame one player or a coach or whatever, and it’s generally not that. It’s generally a combination of issues. It certainly isn’t all the running backs. It certainly isn’t all the offensive line. Certainly isn’t all the quarterbacks. When you’re not playing well, usually nobody plays well. If you have a bad game, there’s not many awards that get given out. There’s no accolades because generally when you grade the tape, there’s very few guys that played well, and in that game we didn’t have very many kids play well. It’s not the backs. It’s not the line. It’s all of the above.”

Seems like you left a lot of yards out there in the passing game. How do you teach Denard to see the field better? “There’s only one way I know, and that’s to rep. Keep repping, keep giving them the same plays time and time again until the muscle memory responds. Don’t confuse them. As he does it more and gets a better feel for it, it will start to flow. That’s really the way I know. There’s no substitute for experience. I’m telling you. The more you experience those plays, the better you get at them.”

Have you been moving away from that diamond formation? “We’ve run variations of that formation. The nucleus of the play is still maybe diamond-oriented, but it may not be exactly that look.”

Do you think it works better like that -- “It’s just variation. Nuance. Variation. Different looks for a defense. It’s part of playing.”

What about Purdue’s defense impresses you? “They played really well last week. Of all the games we watched, last week they really showed up. They came to play. They were fired up. They were very aggressive, particularly with their secondary. They come down hard with their safeties, they lock up their corners. 21’s a very good corner. They just play a nice, physical brand of football. They came to play. I’m sure right now they’re playing with some confidence. We need to bring our A-game for this one.”

That fourth-and-inches call against Michigan State, what do you see when you watch it again? “It was underexecuted. We don’t design the play for the quarterback to be blindsided. That’s basically it. I’m trying to move on to Purdue. That one I’m trying to forget.”

Molk says the offensive line is an A some days and a B some other days. Do you see it that way? “Yeah, to a degree. You look at the sum total of how we’ve played in seven games, it’s been pretty good. We run the ball pretty good. We’re protecting really good. The one thing you don’t want to do is take one game and let that -- you want to learn from that game, don’t get me wrong, -- but you don’t want to panic and all of a sudden say the offensive line’s no good. That’s simply not true. We have to fix our problems, and we’re in the process of doing that right now.”

What do you think brought about those problems with the offensive line? Was Michigan State just the best team you’ve played so far? “I think defensively they are the best team we’ve played so far. They did a nice job, but some of the things we did were avoidable, let’s put it that way. We’ve made some errors -- we could have done a better job, that’s all I have to say. Michigan State is a formidable defense.”

The last four weeks you’ve scored on your opening possession -- “And you guys thought -- at the beginning, everybody asked me, ‘How come you’re such slow starters?’ Well how many games have we had where we haven’t scored in the first quarter? Two or three? And what did I tell you? I told you that traditionally, offensively we’ve been a fast-starting team where I’ve coordinating. We’ve always -- not always, always is a strong word -- traditionally we’ve been a fast-starting football team. And for some reason we weren’t. Well now we’re starting to get it a little more as we go and it’s been better.” Is that just a comfort level? “Yeah, somewhat. Somewhat. Somewhat more comfortable. I think the kids understand what we want to do a little better.”

Do you script plays still? “We script about 15-17. And I don’t necessarily go right by the script, right down the line with those plays, but usually they all get called by the middle of the second quarter or maybe earlier, depending on how we’re playing.”

Hoke said you evaluated players during the bye week. Any players you think deservie more playing time? “Well I’m not going to say if there is or there isn’t, but this is a great opportunity to do that. You have a little extra time, so you can hand the ball to a couple guys, or you can put a couple linemen in there that you may not have been able to get as much time for because of the rush of having to practice and game plan and such. So yeah, I love bye weeks for that kind of stuff, and I love bowl games for that kind of stuff, so you can get a look at some of the kids you haven’t had a good look at before.”

Rawls? “He’s played some, and we’ll see as we go. We’re not committing anything there, but he’s a kid that certainly has some ability.”

Are you amused by fans who want to bench Denard for Devin? “Am I amused? I don’t know if that’s a good word. I kind of have to laugh to keep from crying, I guess. A little bit, but I said the other day, I’m not the smartest guy in the world -- and if you watch that last game you probably would agree with that -- but I’m not dumb enough to take 300 yards of total offense out of the game. That’s ludicrous in my opinion. There is a point with anybody, if the productivity is consistently going down and you have to re-evaluate, but he hasn’t reached that point. Not even close. That’s simply not fair to the kid or to the team.”

Do you like how you’ve incorporated Devin into the game? “Yeah, I do. I think he’s -- we’ve found spots for him and continue to try and do that. He’s getting some playing time and he’s having some fun, and he’s learning how to play the position a little bit, so it’s been good. He’s taken a few licks, so it’s been good for him and it’s good for everyone. And as long as it helps us win, that’s all. That’s all we care about. Everything we do -- every play that I call, every person we put on the field -- everything we do is geared to trying to win the game. Everything we do. There’s nothing where we’re trying to be clever. There’s nothing where we’re trying to be cute. I don’t care about any of that stuff. I don’t call a play, I don’t put a player on the field unless I think it helps us win. Period.”

Is it possible to flip it so that Denard’s quarterback and Devin’s the skill player? “Anything’s possible.”

Seems like Devin’s been getting a few more snaps every week. Is there a target number? “No. I don’t count snaps. We have a plan for whatever we’re going to do. We put them on the field as we see fit, but there’s no pitch count. Nothing like that. We don’t care about that stuff.”

Looked like there were some plays where Denard came off the field and Devin had some plays to himself. Are those plays designed just for Devin? “Yeah, some of that was when Denard got banged up. He got banged up and I think that was what mostly happened. There may have been a play or two, but it was mostly that.”

How much has uncertainty at left guard affected the offensive line? “I don’t think that’s a big deal. Mike Schofield has done a nice job. There’s nice competition there. If you lost three or four lineman, that probably would hurt you.”

How different are Schofield and Barnum? “Very similar. Both athletic kids. They can move, you know. Play inside the box pretty well. Smart kids, both of them. Very similar games. It’s a good question, because they bring about the same thing to the table. Athleticism, some toughness.” Is playing time determined purely by production? “Yeah, it’s like at running back. You have a couple running backs and no one’s standing out, so we make them compete and let them play, and until somebody does, you do it the way you do it. You’d like to get a cast of characters that you’re going to play with in place every week. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work that way as much as you’d like to do that.”

You say the running backs haven’t differentiated themselves. Is what we see on the field the same as what you see in practice then? “Pretty much, yeah. I would say that’s accurate. As we go through this thing, we’re going to try and get more opportunities to get them opportunities, if that makes any sense to you. As the season goes on, the quarterback, who’s a runner on our offense, we’re always looking for chacnes to take pressure off him. We’ve been able to do that in a couple of games. It’s been great. We weren’t able to that last game, but we have been able to do that in several games, and that’s been good. We’ll still try to do that if we possibly can. Like I said, when you guys first asked me about this whole thing when I got here, I’d like to take the pressure off Denard Robinson running the ball.”

Greg Mattison

Opening remarks: “Should I start out with something? Why don’t we just go ahead and ask questions.”

Can you talk about key things you tried to hone in on in the bye week? “Any time you get in the middle of the season and you don’t play as successful as you want on every snap, you have to address that during the bye week. For us it’s always been, and we’ve talked about this the first day we all met, when you’re a young team and an inexperienced team, you must be great at your fundamentals. Fundamentals start on defense with tackling. If you don’t tackle, you’re not going to have the success you should have. Along with that, it’s getting off blocks. We’re not a good enough team to have one guy make a tackle. Our deal so far this year has been a lot of guys getting to the football, and when guys aren’t reading their keys like they should, I don’t know if any team is, but we for sure aren’t good enough to take a false step and still get to the football. When you do that you get cut or you get a blocker on you, and now you’re down to one or two guys making the tackle rather than a defense making the tackle, so we’ve worked very very hard on our keys, on our footwork, on tackling, on delivering blows. Our guys have stayed out after they’ve hit the sled. We addressed all the things we want to build this defense on, and it’s the right time to do it in the middle of the season.”

Hoke said at times the defense was tentative and players were more concerned with not making mistakes than being aggressive. Is that something you saw on film? “I’m not being disrespectful -- I really don’t want to talk about the last game that much because Purdue’s ahead of us. In general, any time we play tentative, we aren’t good enough to do that. It could be this week coming up, it could have been four weeks ago -- we have to be a team that goes as hard as it can go, and if it’s being not tentative, that’s right. We can’t. We’re not talented enough to do that. You better be coming off as hard as you can, you better be punching as hard as you can. That’s something we’ll have to address next week and the week after and the week after. That’s going to be our deal on defense.”

What do you see from Purdue’s offense that worries you? “I never say anything worries me. I would rather say, ‘What do I think they’re pretty good at?’ I think the one thing they do a really good job of is they get to the perimeter. I think their backs are fast. They seem very very quick. They have a lot of ways that they try to get to the perimeter with the ball. I think they’re a good football team. I watched them real close and they make plays. They’ve got some guys that make plays, and winning that game they did last week -- that wasn’t a fluke. That was a good job by them. I think they’re going to be a team, just like every game we play, we’re going to have to bring our A game. We’re going to have to play better, and we’re going to have to play better, and they’re the next one.”

Are you going to defend them differently depending on which quarterback is playing? “Not really. They run their offense. They don’t change the offense when Marve’s in there, for example. No, it’s their offense. I think they put them in there maybe because -- up until last week, probably -- they thought, well they’re even. Let’s see which one [does better]. But it’s not a change of pace for our guys. It’s their offense.”

Formationally, do you think their offense is similar to what you do on offense? “I think there’s some components of it. I think there’s some of the read option. There’s some of the read zone. There’s some similarities to it.” Does it help that they’re similar? “Oh yeah. We’re getting fast looks if our offense runs that type of scheme. Instead of the scout team, you’re getting pretty good guys coming at you. So that’s good.”

This team didn’t start the season well, but they’ve gotten better. Do you see their evolution on tape? “I watched their early games that aren’t even on our cut-ups. The Middle Tennesse, the Rice, the real early games. They did some real good things in those games. Those games could have been wins. Middle Tennessee was. And Middle Tennessee is a pretty good team, especially on defense. There’s no lack of respect, believe me. I hope there’s a time when I can sit in here and say, ‘We’re going to be fine.’ Now, we have to play great football on defense. Every time we go out on the field, it’s got to be play after play after play.”

Have you ever said you’re going to be okay? “Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It’s fun, too. It’s really fun coaching that.”

Is there a battle between Blake Countess and Troy Woolfolk? “I don’t know if you’d say if there’s a battle. I think you’re seeing Blake be what you hope freshmen do, and that’s improve and show that they can help you win, and therefore you have another one. I don’t know if there’s a battle. Like we do up front and like we do at linebacker, you’d love to rotate guys a little more. Blake shows that he can do some things, and he has to continue to play at the level we want him to. A lot of times what happens with freshmen is they get in there and they have a little success and they go, ‘This is easy.’ Well, it’s not. It’s not easy, because there’s somebody that’s going to try and beat you every time you go out there. It’s a good deal to be able to rotate guys like that.”

What’s the main thing you need to do to shore up perimeter defense? “We have to be a lot more physical on blocks. It’s got to be a mindset that when a wide receiver tries to block you, that’s an insult. And you better be so physical that you can’t just shadow him. You have to try to go through him and physically beat him and get off the block. We haven’t done that. It’s been too many times where we’re just kind of caught on it and trying to pull off it rather than attacking it and going through it and getting off.”

Your defensive players said they were out-toughed by Michigan State. Does that mean your group is more eager to improve now because they admitted that? “I think when a player says that, he has a lot of pride. I don’t think he’s going to say he was out-athletic-ed. The bottom line -- football is a very very tough game. I think in any game you aren’t successful at, it’s usually because -- especially when you’re at Michigan -- it’s usually because you didn’t maybe play as physical as you should have. You guys have been following Michigan for a long time. I think you know that. There’s an attitude and there’s a way you have to play here. With the teams we play, you better be phsyical, and if you’re not successful, that’s usually what happens.”

So was that a bit of a wake-up call? “I don’t know if we’re in a position to say we got a wake-up call. We’re scrapping each week to try and play better defense. I hope that they don’t think that they arrived. I know that’s not the case with them. I think it’s more of a reinforcement that you have to do these things to be a successful defense, and sometimes I think a player might say, ‘Now I just get to the ball.’ Well no no. You don’t just get to the ball. You have to do A, B, and C before you get to the football. It doesn’t matter if you’re the greatest player in the world or you’re average. It doesn’t matter, wherever you are in there, you have to go through the proper techniques to get to the football.”

Hoke said Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer might get more playing time. “Yeah that’s the other good thing about an off week. Guys that have kind of caught your eye -- now you’re seven weeks, if they’re ready to start playing, you can kind of spend more time with them instead of getting ready for a team, and you can say, on this defense you need to make sure you do this. When they’re not really in the picture, you’re spending time with the other guys. I think you’re going to see Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark play a little more. Now you’re going to find out when they get in there. They’ve shown some real flashes in practice, but you all know that’s different out there. That little mistake that the coach jumps the guy about on the practice field could cost you the game in a game. You have to make sure they’re reliable.”

Does that change your rotation at D-line or linebacker? “No. Our rotation is our rotation, and the guys that are going to play are going to play. They’re all the same guys. It may allow you to get a little more speed, for example. Jake Ryan played 61 plays last game. I blame myself for that. I think Brennen was ready to get some reps last week and we were getting some three-and-outs, we were getting off the field. If you can find a guy to go in for five plays to get him a little bit of a break, it’s not changing the rotation, but it might get him a little breath. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Hoke mentioned that Will Heininger had a good game. What has his development been like to get to that point? “It’s been technique as far as I’m concerned. He’s always been a big, strong guy. And he was coming off a knee. He probably had a setback that way. I didn’t know then. I’ve seen him buy in to what we’re trying to do, and because of his confidence and the technique, it’s allowed him to use his strength, and he’s become a lot more physical a football player. I think when you’re not sure of yourself, you’re just trying to get through it, where now he sees it all. He’s an intelligent young man, so things are coming together for him a little bit.”

Will Heininger has moved inside and Ryan Van Bergen moved outside. “We just felt that Ryan is a better five-technique than he is inside. He’s a lot more comfortable there, and that’s why he played that last game, but he started out the season that way, too. Will can kind of play anywhere, so that made it easy that way.”

What part of Will’s technique has improved the most? “I think staying low. I think, like we always talk about with our defensive line, they’ve got to be able to punch, and he’s really starting to do that now. He’s a strong, strong kid, so that’s what you need to do to play defensive line, but he’s staying a lot lower now.”



October 26th, 2011 at 7:07 PM ^

I’m not the smartest guy in the world -- and if you watch that last game you probably would agree with that -- but I’m not dumb enough to take 300 yards of total offense out of the game. That’s ludicrous in my opinion. There is a point with anybody, if the productivity is consistently going down and you have to re-evaluate, but he hasn’t reached that point. Not even close. That’s simply not fair to the kid or to the team.”


October 26th, 2011 at 7:17 PM ^

What would the running backs get blamed for? They are averaging 5.9 yards per carry as a group and we are more than halfway through the season. That is significantly better than Mike Hart or Chris Perry, even at their best.

If they aren't doing more, it is because they aren't getting more opportunities. When they get the ball they are performing exceptionally well.


October 27th, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

It's true that their average looks good, but I think much has to be said to the statistical-outlier long runs (against bad teams). And, small sample size (none of these guys has many carries). And, again, bad teams. Their average will certainly go down as we get further into  B1G play.

I'm not going to put in the time to control for all of the long runs, but if you take those away, the average is bad. Shaw is averaging 6.6 per carry and he barely touches the ball? Why? Are our coaches retarded? Do we have guys who average 6.7+?

No, you dick. His average looks good becase he has popped a few big runs to go with his other, sub-Hart-and-Perry runs. And those big runs came against bad teams. If you just take away his longest run (44 yds) from his total (139), you're left with 95 yards on 20 carries. Not bad. Not better than Hart or Perry. And, for the record, both Hart and Perry could've scored on his long run, the hole was huge and there was no one at the 2nd level.

Our guys are OK. They'll be better in the future. But to compare this bunch to Perry and Hart is asinine, and I think you know it.

In 2003, Perry carried the ball 338 times (!) for 1721 yards. To date, all of our backs combined have carried 139 times for 824.

It's like comparing CC Sabathia to Mariano Rivera. Rivera's ERA is lower, but he pitches about a third of the innings Sabathia does. Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, but because of the difference in workload, he is probably not as important to the team as Sabathia (which is why relievers never win the Cy Young). [\stupid baseball analogy]

You get my point.


October 27th, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

Every back's average would go down if you took out all the long runs.  LeMichael James looks pretty ordinary if you don't pay attention to those 80 yard TD's.  The longest run any of the backs has is 44 yards.  Not exactly the kind of number that warps the statistics.

Chris Perry's numbers came over an entire season.  These guys have only played 7 games.  It would be impossible for them to have anywhere close to as many carries already.

And you completely missed the point.  Running backs don't get to decide how many carries they get.  They are not in charge of calling plays.  If they aren't being used, they can't be blamed for not producing.  When our guys have had opportunities to carry the ball they have, on the whole, been very productive. 


October 28th, 2011 at 7:14 AM ^

Of course you can't just ignore the long runs. The backs should get credit for them, naturally. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I was just saying that the 5.9 YPC stat cited earlier is misleading. I used the long runs to highlight that point. The backs haven't been as productive as the stat suggests, on a down to down basis. I don't see how you can refute this. YPC looks impressive, but the coaches aren't happy with their backs, so doesn't that tell you something?

Take Shaw. His 44-yard TD accounts for 32% of his total yardage. In his case, that one long run is precisely the kind of run that "warps the statistics". Without it, he's pedestrian, which is why he isn't playing as much as a guy with a YPC of around 6 ought to. It's because his YPC isn't "really" 6, and you know it.

I ask that you don't twist my words too badly. I suggest controlling for a handfull of long runs on YPC, and you suggest I think LaMichael James is a bad player because I ignore 80 yard TDs. Be civil, man.

I know you can't compare Perry's stats over a season to theirs through 7 games. I threw them out there because someone took the cheap knock on Carr teams by saying our current guys have produced better than Perry/Hart. True, YPC is up, but let's not knock a guy who carried the ball 300+ times in high-leverage situations, led his team to a Big Ten championship, and went to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

And, although I didn't make it clear enough, I think those numbers will end up looking pretty similar at the end of this year. I mentioned it quickly, but I think we can all agree that our YPC will come down a bit at we get into the heart of the Big Ten season. We're not playing Eastern, Western, and Minnesota anymore. And part of the reason I think our YPC will come down is -- wait for it -- because we won't be able to pop as many longs runs off as we have.

And, I didn't miss the point. I know the backs don't pick how many carries they get. The amount of carries they get is directly, inexorably tied to their production. If they were doing as well as you suggest they have the coaches would have either picked the best one (Shaw has the highest YPC and barely carries the ball) or would be singing another tune right now, one about how lucky they are that all of their backs are so good that they don't need a feature back. Instead, they are begging for one of these guys to take over. I don't think I missed the point, I think I nailed it. I'm sorry if my last post didn't express that clearly enough.

Don't know why the previous post was marked as flamebait. Is it because I called myself a dick for asking rhetorical questions? Maybe. I'll clean that up in the future.


October 26th, 2011 at 7:27 PM ^

That fourth-and-inches call against Michigan State, what do you see when you watch it again? “It was underexecuted. We don’t design the play for the quarterback to be blindsided. That’s basically it. I’m trying to move on to Purdue. That one I’m trying to forget. 

Actually, Al you shouldn't be trying to forget that one. You need to remember it always, so, the next time you're in that situation you run the ball. Don't EVER forget that call.



October 26th, 2011 at 7:42 PM ^

Why?  Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he understands football and his own play design better than you or I, it was a problem of execution.  A poorly executed run play is going to work just as badly as a poorly executed pass play.


October 26th, 2011 at 7:48 PM ^

The hell with that. That call was awful.  That combined with the inability to prepare for or adjust for MSU timing the snap count during the game is even worse. He is guilty of poor planning and poor in game execution in his own right.

I hope he never forgets that play call.

I hope he never forgets his lack of ability to adjust to MSU snap jumping.

I also hope that he tries to be a little less obtuse in the future. He certainly appears so in his press conferences.


October 26th, 2011 at 7:50 PM ^

How exactly do you know what remedies he took to deal with the snap count issue?  There are many, many ways to do so - which ones did you identify, and which were missing, and why?


October 26th, 2011 at 8:01 PM ^

Well, given that MSU has been jumping the snap for the past 3 years (Hoke mentioned it in his pregame pressers...heck, even the Detroit media noticed it), they were jumping the snaps in this year's game (obviously due to Molk's pre-snap mechanics), and I saw no reponse whatsoever to that.

None. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

There did not appear to be any "remedies he took" to deal with the snap count issue. Therein lies the problem. 



October 26th, 2011 at 8:14 PM ^

Well I dont think thats very likely.  Your inability to identify steps that he took to remedy the situation speaks more to your lack of football knowledge and/or access than anything else.

Unless you have some stellar credentials I'm not aware of.

FYI you are the only person I have seen giving his presser demeanor anything other than a glowing review.  I think we have identified where the problem is here, and it isnt Borges.


October 26th, 2011 at 11:42 PM ^

I dont know what steps were taken, or what steps were considered and not taken, and why.  Mostly because I dont have 20 years of high level coaching experience, or access to practices and meetings.  Just like you, clearly.  The difference of course being i am not blasting people who do actually know what they are doing/talking about, because i am aware of my ignorance (also i dont really have to be "that guy" who always knows whats wrong and who to blame)

Trader Jack

October 27th, 2011 at 1:20 AM ^

I don't see what your problem is with someone saying that the 4th & 1 call was bad. When you have Denard Robinson and you only need to pick up one yard, doing anything other than running the football is stupid. Obviously the play Borges called wasn't executed very well, but that is part of the risk in making that play call instead of just using the best rushing weapon in college football. Overall, I've been very pleased with Gorgeous Al and am happy to have him on the staff, but that play call was stupid. And I think most knowledgable people would agree with that. 


October 27th, 2011 at 2:06 AM ^

I think you assume too much.  I think youd be hard pressed to find anyone really knowledgeable to call it stupid.  I think some would say it was a good call executed poorly, and some would say it was not a good call, but Ill bet you a dollar that less than 1 in 10 college coaches would, even with full candor, call it stupid.

As for running on 4th and 1, we had just run on a 4th and short and gotten blown up behind the LOS, only converting due to a miracle (i have never seen denard successfully pull that late).

You can say it wasnt the right call, there is certainly an argument to be made.  But for someone who clearly doesnt know any more about football than the average message board poster to call it stupid, contrary to what Borges has said about it, is ridiculous.  Not surprising, fandom is chock full of "that guy"s, people who, thanks to hindsight, are smarter than 20 year coaches, but ridiculous nonetheless.

In addition, this poster has basically admitted to an anti-hoke, anti-borges bias, in this thread and elsewhere.  Seriously - who complains about our coordinators' PC demeanor?

This is not to say college coaches never do anything stupid.  Punting on 4th and 1 from your opponents 40 is stupid.  What I am saying is that it is almost never that easy for the average message board poster to identify which particular calls were stupid, and which were just good or even bad calls that didnt work out.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 27th, 2011 at 8:12 AM ^

some coaches would say that was a stupid play call. The only rewason some wouldn't is because it is about a specific coach they know. If a reporter asked a hypothetical question to 10 coaches (that really wasn't hypothetical at all, but the coaches didn't know about the 4 and 1 call Borges made) about what you call on a fourth and one when you have DR I am willing to bet 9 out of 10 coaches say run DR. I would also bet that the one that didn't say to run DR didn't say to run the play Al ran. If asked if they would run that play, I am willing to bet 10 out of 10 would say "that would be insane given the circumstances."

The only reason people would have to say that wasn't a ridiculous playcall is out of respect for Al Borges.

As to the snap count issue...you don't have to be a football genius to figure out that adjustments weren't made. If you couldn't see that that's fine, but don't start flame wars because you couldn't identify the fact that the entire game Molk would lift his head and snap the ball immediately. That is the snap count and it wasn't adjusted. 


October 27th, 2011 at 12:21 PM ^

I disagree completely, but since there's no way to settle it, i will drop it.  But first consider this: right now, something like 80% of fans think its a bad call.  Maybe as many as that think it was a stupid call.  Now imagine it had worked (which is easy to do - this wasnt Weis calling a low percentage bomb, this was a fairly high percentage play that wasnt executed).  If it works, at least 50% of fans think its a great call.  I doubt you can dispute that but ive been wrong before.  That is a huge swing for *the same exact play call* The fact is that with few exceptions, fans dont know very much about football.  I know for sure if someone off the street tried to second guess the choices I make at work they would be wrong most of the time.  Why do you think football is different?

As to jumping the snap count, you have identified ONE possible remedy.  Do you know why they didnt take advantage of it? Was it because Molk couldnt handle it?  Denard?  Other players?  Maybe they practiced changing the snap count during the week, and it caused problems with false starts.  Or maybe it screwed up denards throwing rhythm.  Not to mention, I'm sure Borges has 20 other ideas for how to deal with teams jumping the snap count.  For instance, he could have put denard under center.  We know some, but not all, of the reasons he would choose not to do that.

Once more, I'm not saying dont second guess the coaches - thats what we do here. I'm talking about limits, and calling a playcall "stupid" that came from a guy with decades of experience, from some guy on the internet with no credentials (and in this case a bias), shoul be very limited, IMO.


October 27th, 2011 at 7:49 PM ^

Even if it works, i still think it's stupid.

The end story is: I think most everybody would be placated if Borges just says "Hey, I probably should have called a different play, that one was on me."

Instead he says the same tired line about execution, aka, a Weisian cop out.  It translates to "I had a brilliant playcall that the players screwed up."

In the end, it's probably a bit of both.  It's probably not the optimal playcall, but will work 50% of the time.  The players didn't execute to make it work.  I just don't like how it seems like he's deflecting and refusing to address any personal shortcomings with it.

Also: just because most fans "don't know very much about football" is not the same as treating everybody as not knowing a lot about football.  That's a dangerous attitude to have on Mgoblog.


October 28th, 2011 at 9:26 AM ^

The end story is: I think most everybody would be placated if Borges just says "Hey, I probably should have called a different play, that one was on me."

Instead he says the same tired line about execution, aka, a Weisian cop out.  It translates to "I had a brilliant playcall that the players screwed up."


Yep. +1 to you sir


October 27th, 2011 at 10:40 AM ^

It's the old thing about play calls being good or bad depending on the outcome.

If that play works, and we get a TD, Borges is a fucking genius! You, me, and everyone else would be on here saying how we have the best, most creative, ballsiest offensive coordinator in the country. We'd be lauding him for having the audacity to have Denard Robinson turn his back to the defense before wheeling around and throwing a dart to the TE for 6.

Let's not pretend to deny that. If it works, it's a great play call.

I don't like the call either, but I am ultra-conservative (I felt Lloyd was a bit of a riverboat gambler), and I think that coaches, in situations like that should never try to "win" the game by themsleves by getting too cute. Your team is fighting to win the game, don't be the dick that loses it for them.

It's like Sean Peyton having the Saints open the 2nd half of the Super Bowl with an onside kick. They recover, they eventually win, and the whole world says that was the decisive play, and that Peyton is a ballsy genius with balls and genius. Nevermind the fact that if it doesn't work he is immediately on the hot seat next season for essentially single-handedly costing his team the Super Bowl. But it worked, and it was cool, and people have all forgotten the fact that they were well on their way to losing that game before Manning threw a late pick six on the Saint's half of the field. It worked!


October 27th, 2011 at 2:24 AM ^

Well, now you have two––cjpops nailed it! None of the coaching staff has admitted any errors or responsibility for what happened, or didn't happen, in the game with MSU. What I've read is basically, the the team didn't execute!

What about the preparation for the game? What about a game plan that featured any number of passes in a whirlwind whistling through the stadium in East Lansing? 

It's time for the coaching staff to belly up to the bar and take some responsibility instead of foisting off on the team!

As for credentials, I certainly have no track record on this site, but I've been watching Michigan football for a few years. My first trip to Michigan Stadium with my grandfather was to watch the Mad Magicians in 1947. My last was the Homecoming game against Indiana in 2009.





October 27th, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

Hoke has stated, on a number of times, in multiple pressers, that he takes the blame for not getting the kids ready to play in such a physical game.

And in this presser, Borges alludes to criticisms about his game plan when he says something to the extent of, "If you watched the game, you can see I'm not too smart".

It's true that they haven't taken the blame for that specific 4th down play, but I think they are correct in that regard: it was blocked poorly. It still might not have worked, but it wasn't executed.

AND, let's not forget that players aren't even allowed to question their coaches on play calling, much less members of the media (most who know fuck-all about football and try to fit everything into a story) and fans (who know less, and only live to cheer the backup QB).

You can't just make shit up. You are wrong.


October 28th, 2011 at 7:32 AM ^

It is on Borges, to some degree. He is the coordinator.

It is also on Hoke, as he is the head coach.

But the real blame for not fixing the snap-jumping problem is the offensive line coach. Sorry, his name escapes me right now.

I played a bit of offensive line in college, and lineman don't typically interact with the coordinator on game day. Maybe a few words at half-time. And that goes for all positions; the position coach is who you talk to. You report him to after every drive on fronts and tendencies and so on. He tells you what's wrong and how to fix it. He gets on the phone with the coordinator to come up with things.

The line coach should have done something with Molk's snap rhythm. It is too consistent. They should have had him vary it, or at the very least do a long count on one early 3rd down, maybe causing an offide penalty and giving State something to think about.

Borges did have a bad game. His 4th down call didn't work. He passed waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to often on first down which forced us into a lot of and-long situations. And let's not forget he broke out this passing attack during a trash tornado. Still, I love the guy.


October 26th, 2011 at 7:45 PM ^

Can we just have a page with the different faces and reactions of Al Borges? It would be.................................................





October 26th, 2011 at 10:57 PM ^

RVB outside and the not-BWC Will inside.  I guess that means I should man up and accept this year is a write off for BWC.  Onward to next year's BWC reclamation project.  


October 28th, 2011 at 1:26 AM ^

hopefully someone smarter than me can answer this question for me.  but ever since campbell came on campus it's been a focus to keep his weight (and pad level) down.  he's been largely unproductive so far.  now, watching NFL games, there are a lot of DT/NG types that are 350+.  so why not take the reverse approach with BWC.  eat boy eat.  get that guy's weight up, so he can be that immovable object in the middle of the D line.  just a thought.


October 26th, 2011 at 11:36 PM ^

This was especially interesting:

“I think defensively they are the best team we’ve played so far. They did a nice job, but some of the things we did were avoidable, let’s put it that way. We’ve made some errors -- we could have done a better job, that’s all I have to say. Michigan State is a formidable defense.”

Can't help but wonder if he's talking about snaps getting timed. 


October 27th, 2011 at 8:34 AM ^

Interestingly, Nebraska just had this little feature on Nebraska/Taylor Martinez's very own diamond formation.  Not sure if it involved two quarterbacks, though.


October 27th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

To the poster that mentioned the Coaches didn't admit to making mistakes...that's not going to happen and should not.  The standand line used for that is 'out coached' whether true or not, and that's all you'll ever get.  Rightfully so.  I believe we were all hoping the game would go down to the wire.   A few more plays on the last possession towards that end would have been nice.  It's all about learning and growing so here's to the next game and improved play.  Go Blue!