Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-29-13: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on October 29th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

What’s the secret to moving the ball against this Michigan State defense?

“Uh. Well, the first thing you have to make sure is you don’t give it to them. Same deal, because they’ve done a great job of feeding off turnovers, either creating opportunities for offense or literally scoring themselves, which is amazing how many times they’ve done that. So that’s the starting point. Take care of the football and minimizing the damage, if in fact there is damage. Making what could be a bad play not into a disaster. That’s number one. Number two is getting your bodies on their bodies, making sure your plays get started, so you give your skill guys a chance to do what they do best, whether it be in the open field or around the line of scrimmage. Those are really key points. If you’re getting hit in the backfield as soon as you hand the ball off, you’re not going anywhere, and they’ve done a lot of that.”

What transfers forward from the Indiana game?

“Just efficient play, you know? Having open receivers, throwing and catching in the passing game, getting all your plays started offensively with your run game. Those types of things. You’re going to have a certain amount of plays during the course of the game that are going to be a little ugly, as much as you like to think that everything’s going to turn out exactly as you planned. Make sure those plays, A, don’t put you in such bad down and distance situations that you’re always fighting the chains, and that you’re not creating an opportunity for their offense by turning it over. That’s what we did on that game as much as anything. We had opportunities and we took them. As our offense becomes more and more efficient and understands more and more what to do, I think you’ll see more and more of that.”

Have you picked up any tendencies from their defense after playing them the past couple years?

“Oh, you study all you can, but he’s going to mix it up to where there’s not going to be a true, ‘Oh here it comes.’ You have to, as an offensive coach, make sure you take care of all the things they could do to you. If you don’t call the perfect play, can we still handle what they’re doing. I learned years ago, ‘What’s the contingency plan?’ If we can still handle what we’re not expecting at times – and again, if it’s not perfect, minimize the damage – then we’ll be okay. You just can’t put yourself in bad situations where they disasters, you know what I mean? They’ve fed off that all year. If we do that, they’ll feed off it against us. We had to be smart with the ball.”

You talked about getting run plays started. How have Erik Magnuson and Kyle Bosch stepped up this week?

“They’re developing. But the test is going to be much greater. There’s really to me not a great deal of carry-over from what we just played to who we’re going to play. This team plays a similar style of front and a similar style of coverage, but it’s much more a sic’em mentality where they’re trying to take everything away – short passes, long passes, as well as the run. It will be a completely different test in a completely different environment.”

Michigan State likes to pressure up the middle. What can you do to help your guards and center?

“Oh it’s a huge test.”

What do you do?

“I’d never tell you, but we always have a plan for it. That’s all I can tell you. We’ll have a plan for it. That said, it is going to test the core of our offensive line?”

Is that an area where Devin needs to be conscientious and not panic?

“Oh yeah. Like I said, minimize damage. If someone does make a mistake, just minimize the damage.”

You’ve talked about the battle at the line of scrimmage. What about the perimeter? Their corners are aggressive. How important is it for your receivers to get free?

“Oh that’s huge. You have to, because there’s going to be some instances where you’re singled up, and you’re going to have to get free. If we’re not able to do that, then we’re going to have to hold the ball longer than we want to, and generally something bad happens after that. It’s a joint effort, you know? Yeah it’s offensive line handling the A-gap blitzes or whatever, it’s the quarterback – it’s everybody involved. To beat a team that’s that good defensively, you need a stellar effort from your entire offense. Not just certain positions, because when a team’s good defensively, it’s because they can exploit a lot of different things. It’s not because they’re good at one thing. We have to play well at every position, play aggressively at every position, and handle the adversity of being on the road and all the things that come with it.”

What does Michigan State do to discourage teams from spreading it out and having to force it back up the middle?

“They don’t change a heck of a lot. If you spread or play tight. They’re going to pressure receivers, try and implement their blitz package and do all that, they’re a little further from the ball, but they’re still thinking the same. They’re going to stop the run and take your wideouts out of the game with their corners.”

Taylor Lewan talked about the physicality of this game. How do you ramp up the physicality without taking penalties?

“Yeah. That’s a delicate balance. You have to be smart, but then you don’t want to go in with the idea that you’re going to get pushed around. This is a figurative street fight. You want to go out there and match and exceed the intensity of your opponent. That’s the only way you’re going to play games like this. These aren’t finesses games, to me. There may be a little finesse here and there, but when push comes to shove, the winner is going to be the guy that’s most physical and won’t back down and still be smart and not throw punches when you might be tempted to throw punches. Whatever. It’s easy to get caught up in that stuff, but that generally doesn’t win football games. That loses football games, to be honest with you. There’s a composure that comes with your emotion that helps you win the game. But you do want to play with some emotion. Not going to erase that. Especially in rivalry games.”

When a game is as physical as this, is that all on the players to take it to them, or is there something you can do as a playcaller that puts them in position to do that?

“Oh yeah. At the end of the day it’s the players. I haven’t hit anybody in 40 years. So it’ll come down to giving them that opportunity, and when they get that opportunity, take advantage of that opportunity. But physicality, particularly offensively, being physical has to be matched with technique. Just coming off trying to kill somebody doesn’t usually work. There has to be technique, there has be fundamental issues that go with your physicality. I think when you do that, you really give yourself a chance.”

How much leeway does Devin have to make changes at the line of scrimmage?

“It’s just like any other game. There will be scenarios when we will. There will be scenarios where we’ll be locked into certain plays. It’s like that every game. It’s not anything different.”

You lead the country in yards per completion. Is that a function of Devin, your recievers, or something else?


Is it by design?

“It’s everything you said. It’s by design, who we have [catching], and who we have throwing the ball. To a degree that’s the nature of our offense. But we’re not a completely push the ball down the field kind of the team. We still throw the ball underneath the defense a little bit.”

Big plays may determine the game …

“Any game, just like Indiana, it wasn’t any different – some of your bombs have to land. But to depend on that the entire game is a little scary. If you’re just trying to heave the ball over the guy’s head all the time, sometimes it doesn’t work out. You’ll be in second down and longs. But there’s got to be some of that just like there is in every other game.”

Will adjusting to the level of physicality be an issue for Devin Funchess when he switches between tight end and receiver?

“Well it’s good for him. He’s been in tight and he’s been out wide. The physicality shouldn’t bother him any. He’s used to it. He doesn’t really – he’s played more tight end in the box than he has out wide.”

Do you need to worry about Jeremy Gallon?

“No. Jeremy Gallon will show up. I’ll promise you that. He’s exactly the demeanor you want for a game like this.”

Are you pleased with the way practice has gone the last two weeks in terms of intensity and execution?

“Yeah. It’s Michigan State. You can feel that. Kids looking forward to playing the game. And they’re going to compete. I don’t have any doubt about that. They’re going to come out there and compete. With all respect for what they do, we’re going to come out and compete.”

Do you simulate a street fight atmosphere?

“We do our best. Heh heh. Sometimes we literally have them.”

How’s Kyle Bosch doing with that?

“Bosch has no trouble simulating the street fight atmosphere. Heh. Taylor Lewan. That’s easy for them. It comes natural. But you know, you play a team that you know you’re going to have to play that way against, and the message is being sent loud and clear by everybody involved. Usually it’s kind of reflected on how you practice, whether it be hitting after the whistle a little bit. As long as it’s during practice. We can monitor that. We have to be smart when it counts.”

Do you and Mattison throw punches at each other?

“No. No. Are you kidding? We’re a little too old for that. I always tell the guys I have one fight left in me, and I’m not going to use it on Mattison.”

Do you like this?

“Oh yeah. I love it.”

You’re known to be more of a finesse guy.

“I don’t think so. I think it just depends. If you look at my background, there’s years we’ve thrown the ball more, there’s years we’ve run the ball more. It’s all been based on personnel. But at the end of the day, I love mixing it up and I like all the other stuff, too. I said this before. I think good offenses are the perfect mix of finesse and physicality. Not too much of one or the other. But as a competitor, as a human being, I love these games. I love it. This is why I coach. Just personally. And I think all our guys feel that way. I don’t think it’s just me. I don’t think everyone feels that way. These are fun games to play.”

What are you looking for from the tight ends who have to make up for AJ Williams’s absence?

“We have the next guy up. You kind of treat it like he got injured, and you just move on. We had that happen early in the year and he missed a game. This isn’t a completely novel concept. Can’t make too much of that. I feel bad for the kid. He made a mistake. He knows he made a mistake – he made a bad decision, not a mistake. And now he’s paying for it, and we’ll move on from there.”

Will you move Funchess inside more?

“I wouldn’t tell you if I was. Would you tell me [if you were me [then I’d be you, and I’d use your body to get to the top]]?”


“It’s fair to ask. But I’m not going to answer that.”



October 29th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

I'm not a big fan of him talking about "minimizing the damage." To me that's him hinting at letting Michigan State bring the game to his offense instead of dictating the flow of the game.


October 29th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

Running Smith into a loaded box sure did open the passing game quite a bit in the game did it not? Did Michigan not have one of the better if not best offensive production against South Carolina as anyone last year?

Did you watch MNF last night? How many times did the Seahawks run into an 8 man box against the Rams with no success?  All night. And Wilson wasn't checking out. I'm sure their OC, Darrell Bevell, is a moron too though right?


October 29th, 2013 at 6:24 PM ^

Comparing what an NFL team does v what we do is extremely weak. They may run certain plays to back off coverage but thats exactly what we dont do. No i dont think we run to setup the pass. 27 for 27 is not setting up anything except the fact that they don't respect our run game and for good reason. I'm sure the rams respect lynch and the Seahawks run game.


October 29th, 2013 at 7:24 PM ^

Ya those 27 runs had absolutely nothing to do with 240 passings yards and 3 passing td's, two of which were bombs over the defense's head.

Running Vincent Smith in the bowl game had absolutely nothing to do with the 214 passing yards and 3 td's againg South Carolina.

The point of the MNF comment was that Wilson WAS NOT checking out of those runs against 8 man boxes that went no where all night. Does that make their OC a moron like Borges??


October 29th, 2013 at 8:57 PM ^

Well, no. They have a good line, a good back, and a QB who is a run threat. We have 1.5 of those 3 things. They don't really pass to set up the run. They run it at you. The thing you like about it is that it works. Nothing wrong with that. Just realize that you lime the results but know very little about what they actually do.


October 30th, 2013 at 1:58 AM ^

That's how you get a QB that already takes shots when he runs the football killed.  We are not a very good pass blocking team on the interior and those things worked against IU and CMU because those are not very good pass rushing teams.  Narduzzi will A Gap blitz the crap out of us in this game because we don't have guards that can block it and DG makes mistakes when pressure comes up the middle and he gets happy feet.  Last year we could maybe o that because we actually were not a bad pass blocking team we just couldn't run at all.


October 30th, 2013 at 9:57 AM ^

Burning downs to set up "better" plays isn't an offensive strategy.  Look at Oregon, OSU, Clemson, FSU, etc. - they throw and run effectively so as to complement each other, not waste downs and create unfavorable situations for the sake of the other.


October 29th, 2013 at 8:21 PM ^

So much as the game plan itself. When you're in a complete dog fight, adjustments need made. Borges and Hoke have both admitted there have been times they have not adjusted fast enough. My problem stems from riding things out way to long and his shitbag remarks at great questions. Heiko's bubble screen and spread questions get laughed off but in reality, they are extremely valid. Ohio PROVED those plays were psu's weakness. This is one example of many of how our stubbornness has lead to poor game planning. Its old and tired and if you cant see these problems you need to wake up.


October 29th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

Ok the PSU gameplan and adjustments have been beaten to death.

As far as Heiko's bubble and spread questions. You don't think that those can come off as insulting at all? A representative of a fan blog with next to zero football knowledge is going to imply a concept opposite of yours is the answer to your problem. Where any MGOBLOG representatives asking RR why he didn't try any Iform power o plays when his offense got its ass handed to them by OSU 3 straight years?


October 29th, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

Al's nephew. We disagree on theory, that much is clear. I do not think any coach tries to tank a game. I do however think our game plan was garbage to begin the year with and we were entirely to obtuse to recognize that. I for sure blame all the coaches for that, not just your uncle. Bottom line, we have been a mess all year save for 2 games. November will either make me eat crow, or make all of the Borges apologists wake up. Time will tell and I'll be happy to eat my words.


October 30th, 2013 at 8:43 AM ^

This is exactly my issue with Hoke mainly, he is the HC and you dont see him strategizing or at least saying to his coordinator, hey this isn't working I want you to do that more.  Not necessarily interfering with the playing calling but give them a vision, if you see things are not going right.  That is why I don’t see Hoke succeeding at Michigan and our ceiling will be big 10 championship once in a while.  Every year, we are falling into a regional program with these kind of results, and saying we are young next year.


October 29th, 2013 at 8:27 PM ^


"getting all your plays started offensively with your run game"


"From an offensive standpoint, you always want to be able to have a running game and count on the guys up front being physical at the line of scrimmage, and getting Fitz or whoever it might be in the backfield started."

Get ready for the Penn State game plan redux ...


October 30th, 2013 at 2:06 AM ^

who didn't have a problem with the PSU game plan?  We moved the ball pretty effectively after turnover fest in the 1st half and as far as overtimepalooza goes, I would have called it the same way.  The fact is before that point we, and I'm sure the coaches, thought they had a pretty darn good kicker, they were proved wrong as far as that moment goes but I don't fault them for believing in a Gibbons to close that game out just like he had done before. Make a 33 yard FG that Borges set up with a wonderful decision to throw a comeback to Gallon on 2nd down after the 1st 2 debacles in OT.  That should be game, set, match and were 7-0 headed into the MSU game.  I thought it was a good game plan if you have confidence in your kicker, the guy just didn't produce.  And most of the Infamous "27 for 27" runs were in run out the clock mode and OT which were the right calls.


October 30th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

The claim that the 27-for-27 tailback running plays were mostly called to run out the clock or in OT is just wrong.  Here, for example, is a rundown of Michigan's 32 first down plays during regulation:

Tailback runs:  14 plays for 26 yards (with 9 plays going for 1 yard or less, and 2 plays accounting for 20 of those yards)

QB runs:  6 plays for 51 yards

Passes/scrambles:  12 plays for 185 yards (including 4 incompletes, 1 scramble, no turnovers)

This (and not the "narrative of hating manball") sums up my problem with the offensive game plan (no pun intended) against PSU.


October 30th, 2013 at 10:11 AM ^

You missed the comment about going over the top of the defense could bring up a few second and longs. Does this mean Borges will be going for the death blow on first down in this game? I hope that was a subconscious slip...

Shop Smart Sho…

October 29th, 2013 at 5:16 PM ^

You should probably be more concerned with, "There will be scenarios where we’ll be locked into certain plays."  

I'll never pretend to be an offensive coordinator, but I do coach.  I would never "lock" a player in on a certain style or plan.  Especially when playing against an opponent that is your physical equal or superior.  I believe that you HAVE to be capable of adjustment.  

If Michigan isn't capable of adjusting when their QB is a senior who is smart enough to have graduated in 3 years, then what the hell do they think they need to be able to make a simple check at the line of scrimmage?


October 29th, 2013 at 5:27 PM ^

I agree completely. Tired of the lack of experience excuse for everything on this team.

Lets not pretend Gardner is an 18yr old frosh. Btw, last year a RS Frosh QB won the heisman. This year Winston is the front-runner.

You don't need to be a RS senior to be a good QB... sure as hell don't need it to be able to check plays. If the O could get to the LOS before 5 secs on the clock maybe we could give Gardner that chance but thats another thread.



October 29th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Let's not pretend Gardner is an 18 yr old frosh...but let's also not pretend his 87 turnovers didn't happen.  Last year, a quarterback who didn't turn the ball over three times a game won the Heisman.  This year, a qb like that is the front-runner.  In fact, in the history of the Heisman Trophy, with very few exceptions, the award has ALWAYS gone to a qb...who didn't turn the ball over three times a game.  Maybe it's not DG's age that is the most relevant consideration here.  


October 30th, 2013 at 2:11 AM ^

If the turnovers were consistent sack-fumbles I might say yeah but when you can't complete a pitch, that's on the player.  If you spin, spin, spin, spin "oh crap I'm in the endzone" throw a prayer that gets picked off, thats on the player.  If you don't see your throws, thats on the player, if its a tipped ball off a drop, player, off a defender, good play by D.  These aren't play calling errors, these are player errors, fact is DG has been turnover prone and no uber playcalling will solve that.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 30th, 2013 at 8:06 AM ^

I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this debate again, but here goes. 


This is probably more a question than an answer as I really have no a great deal of knowledge about these things but to me, what I'm about to say makes me believe what you stated in your post can't be the case.

DG came into a starting role last year after playing WR for most of the year. In doing so he performed pretty darn good. During the first part of the year he was under a different position coach (the one who to me, is the best of the bunch as the WR's have really developed since he arrived) and if the coaches can be believed (which I think they can) he didn't practice at QB at all.

The unthinkable (see also very predictable) happens and DR goes down and DG needs to step in. Now this is all speculation on my part and I could easily be wrong, but I imagine that for the remainder of the season DG is getting by purely on athleticism and talent more so than anything else, flying by the seat of his pants so to speak. AB hasn't had the opportunity to really groom him or anything, but he's all they've got so he wings it and things turn out pretty good for the most part.

Now fast forward to the off season. Coaches have nothing to do with the players until spring and fall so DG puts the time in on his own with JG and company and then heads off to various camps and gurus to train. At these camps there is a common theme, and that is DG being among the best QB's there. He has all the tools etc. and all the other adjectives that people throw around when talking about great college QB's. Even Peyton Manning had high praise for him after his camp.

Now fast forward to today and all of a sudden he can't do any of those things? I'm not an expert, but I would say that the QB guru that DG trained with and Peyton Manning are and they both agreed, DG should be one of the best QB's in the country. The fact that he isn't, coupled with what these experts think about him lead me to believe the problems don't lie with DG but with someone else. 

Now people can ignore reality if they want, but to me there are two position groups that have failed to develop even a little bit under this coaching regime and they are the o-line and the QB's. I don't care about the youth and yada yada yada, they haven't seemed to improve a single bit under this staff. Youth could be an excuse if we at least saw people getting better, but we aren't. 

So going back to the original point, I can't agree with your premise that the problem has been soley  our QB, that just doesn't make sense when you take into account what outsiders  (unbiased and with nothing to gain by making stuff up) were saying about DG going into the season. 


October 29th, 2013 at 5:28 PM ^

I mean, on 3rd and 20, you're kinda locked in with what plays are likely to get you a first down. I think that's what he's talking about, certain game situations where the coaches are relatively certain with what the defense is going to do and don't want DG to overthink the play (also, that they know better than him what will work in that situation, which I think is a reasonable belief to have, as long as it is very situation specific). I may be giving him too much credit, but that's sure what I hope he's talking about.


October 29th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

Nothing to do with being smart enough.

Borges doesn't want to get in a situation where Narduzzi is showing Gardner something in order to get him to check. He doesn't want the MSU defense to dictate what plays are being run.  They will have certain packaged plays where he can do an either/or. But to have the ability to check out of any given play thats called can lead to MSU getting Gardner to check into something they WANT him to check into.

I know many of you have no trust in Borges anymore, but I'd rather have Borges trying to out wit Narduzzi rather than putting it all in the hands of Gardner.


October 29th, 2013 at 5:42 PM ^

why do you need UM to check into a play you want when you know that they will "establish the run" into your loaded box many many times.

Stacking the box and forcing Gardner to throw is as simple as it gets for D coordinators. No chess match needed.

I have hope that we will air it out more like we tried to in 2011 though. The recent good performance by MSU offense is a blessing bc UM coaches hopefully won't think they can just play field position and get FGs. we should be targeting 24-28 points for the W.



October 29th, 2013 at 5:41 PM ^

If they're trying to get you to call a play that will be a bust vs. their coverage, audible to the play that will beat their optimal coverage.


For example, they're bringing a safety down right before the snap, tipping it almost.  Auto assumption is to run a cover-3 beater.  Seams!   Four verts!  They're trying to get you into a play that quarters crushes (this might be wrong).  Can you not run a cover 3 beater to one side and cover 4 beater to the other?  Or is that too much FPS?


October 29th, 2013 at 5:33 PM ^

Why is it that players from schools that are academic backwaters are smart enough to change plays constantly - yet our Michigan Men are not allowed to make the same adjustments.  This also goes for not changing our defensive alignments/blitzes after the offense changes their play.  Why can't we be the smart guys in the room for a change?  (pun intended)


October 29th, 2013 at 6:28 PM ^

here who know more than Borges for every person who's willing to at least try to pursue his logic. Junior high coaches who are smart enough NEVER to do what our quarter of a milliion dollar offensive coordinator (who has worked at a dozen universities) does because they know better--we bow to your superior intellects! 

BTW, wasn't Cade McNown a QB?

Al Borges

  • Rivals.com Offensive Coordinator of the Year, 2005
  • Finalist - Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award, 1997 and 1998
  • Football Coach Quarterly's Offensive Coordinator of the Year,1997

Line up YOUR resumes, noodles. I'm not defending his every decision, but the fish-stinking hubris here is sometimes beyond belief.



October 29th, 2013 at 7:37 PM ^

You forgot this "Crowning Achievement ". Please stop pretending that we hired an up and coming offensive mind. The brilliance of Borges led him to the pinnacle of collegiate success otherwise known as "Portland State finalist". He would have never been given consideration for his current job apart from Hokes coattails. I dont have the time or desire to address each answer he provided but why is he given a pass for his continuous placing of blame on the players. Please explain how what he said is not simply a more pleasant way of stating........


"Vince Lombardi couldn't help this O-line"

"Vince Lombardi couldn't identify and prepare this quarterback for wide open recievers"



AP article at ESPN.com

Michigan's defense is so young, though, that Rodriguez isn't sure anybody could step into a staff meeting and immediately remedy the unit's many ailments.

"Vince Lombardi could come, too, and it's not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense," Rodriguez said Monday before adding "maybe" the late, great coach could help the unit.