Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-7-13: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko October 9th, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Got any big birthday plans?

“Oh come on. Daggone it. I thought that was a secret.”

Word of the day?

“Uh. Word of the day? ‘Improvement.’ How’s that?”

MGoQuestion: What kind of improvement did you see from the offensive line?

“No turnovers, number one. That’s the offense, not the offensive line. I’ve said it before, when the turnovers go away, a lot of the problems go away. They don’t all go away, but a lot of it, because you get possessions. That’s the key. You get to keep your possessions. You get to take advantage of them, because they’re precious. That’s really as much from an offensive perspective the reason we won the game as any.”

What inspired you to split Devin Funchess out wide?

“Well, a couple of things. We’ve done that all the way through. It’s not totally new. We did a little bit more of it in this game. We got Jordan Paskorz back. He played a little bit. He’s a good blocker. We used him in some situations that we would have used Funch. But just, you know, packaging  him kind of like we’ve done all along. Try to move him around. Still not getting him out of the tight end mode. He’s still playing a lot of that and a lot of what we call the U position or the H back. His role is expanded a little bit but it’s still pretty much in line with what we’ve been trying to do with him since he’s been here.”

MGoQuestion: How did the interior line grade out?

“Not too bad. Taylor [Lewan] was really good. Mike Schofield played pretty well. Graham Glasgow played pretty well. Chris Bryant, for his first start, he had some first start stuff that I think any guys would experience, but he played hard. Kyle Kalis, he got hurt a little later in the game, came out, but I think he was for the most part healthy through the game and he played fairly solid. They weren’t too bad. We were better. We were technique better. We did a lot of things better. The rushing statistics don’t reflect but it’s all a result of only 53 plays run. That’s very deceiving. We were about 60-something percent running efficiency, which means four yards or more or the ability to get a first down in a short yardage situation. So we ran the ball pretty efficiently although we didn’t have any long runs so the numbers didn’t reflect it that much. And we only ran 53 plays. I think there were 56 in the chart with the penalties, but a low volume of plays reflected probably not as good running numbers. But I’ve been saying all along. Statistics can be read any way you want. But that’s a very deceiving statistic. We ran the ball better than it showed in the statistics …

“I think it is an improvement. It’s a point of emphasis. The thing we wanted to do in the off week, Brady said it best. Number one is fundamentally get better at every single position. Offensive line, quarterback, wide receiver, every position. We really did go back and start over with some things that we did during fall camp, because I don’t know if we’d gotten away from it … but we were going to go back and confirm what we felt was the most important. Number two was be cognizant of taking care of the football. That was a number one, I should have said that first. That’s number one, was make sure we took care of the football. That’s really our approach going into the game.”

Was it part of the game plan to keep Devin in safer positions?

“Yeah that was part of the plan. Absolutely. What happened in the UConn game was a playcaller’s nightmare. We were in so many bad down and distances it was just horrible. It was second and long, third and long, whatever. Like I say all the time, that’s not always the players’ fault. I have to do a better job getting them in better down and distances. I told you guys a year ago, when you get a bye you get a chance to look at everything you’ve been doing. That means personnel wise, playcalling wise, game plan wise. As a coordinator I took two days. While a lot of the other coaches were out recruiting, I was allowed to stay in and take two days and just turn things upside down and see what we needed to get better at. The coaches came back, we sat down, and we addressed all those things. Personnel, schemes, all those things. I think we took a step in the right direction. We’re not anywhere close to where we want to be. But part of the thing was we wanted to take pressure off the quarterback without taking the ball totally out of his hands, too. He can be a very dynamic playmaker, and when he uses good judgment he can be as good as anybody.”

Do you think his judgment was better? He didn’t try to do too much?

“I don’t think a defender touched a ball this game. If they did, it may have been one guy tipped one. But in 17 throws, I don’t remember a defender putting his hand on the ball. Or if he did, he barely did. So there were not a lot of high-risk throws. There was one ball he threw off balance, but it didn’t really come close to a defensive player. He stood in there and threw a lot of balls. Devin was adamant about improving his footwork. He was as adamant as I was coaching him through it. He did it. You watch the tape and you’ll see, he’s stepping through his throws. A couple times he wasn’t right on the target, but he’s always around the target, so he gave his guys a chance to make a play.”

Is that out of the ordinary for you to go into bunker mode during the bye week?

“No we did the same thing a year ago. We do it all the time. When you get a bye, you usually give your coordinators a chance to really do some hard evaluating of where we are, what we’re doing well, what we’re not. It’s not unusual to do it all the time.”

You called only runs during the first drive. Did you script all those to take pressure off the quarterback?

“Yeah. Part of it. Plus the runs were hitting good. We were down inside the red area, and we wanted to get the line a little inertia, get them off, get them going. I think it’s the first time I’ve been coordinating that I haven’t called a pass play in the first quarter. But I think that’s just the result of us not running very many plays in the first quarter. There would have been one called eventually. Yeah, that’s just the way it turned out.”

You were able to give Derrick Green some carries early.

“That was really the plan from the beginning. Here’s the deal with that, when you have a young back. You’re going to play him earlier if you’re going to play him. If the game’s close, you’re going to get scared. This was another thing we evaluated. We had to take a little pressure of Fitz. Fitz was carrying too much of the load. Fitz is in fabulous condition, but even at the end of the UConn game, he was starting to run out of gas -- I think anybody would. So we said we have to get Derrick in the game and get him in early before it gets tight. If the game gets tight then we get scared to put a guy in there that maybe doesn’t understand our blitz pick up as well or maybe is going to do something that any young guy would do. It’s not Derrick. It’s any young guy. We just decided, we’re going to put him in early, we’re going to make sure he gets some pops and hopefully if it goes as smoothly as we want, we’ll just keep playing him here and there and we did. That worked out pretty much the way we wanted, but only because we kind of committed to doing it.”

What did Derrick do to earn that during the bye week?

“Well, he’s a work in progress, so as he does more and understands our offense better like anybody else, he makes less mistakes. You feel more comfortable putting him in there in every situation rather than situations where you’re just going to carry the ball. One time he did a great job. We ran a play-action pass. We lost a guy at the point of attack. He stopped and picked the guy up. He saw color flash through the hole and he blocked it. A lot of young guys say, ‘okay, I got this guy. If he doesn’t come, I’m going to slip out for a pass. He didn’t do that. That’s awareness now. But I’ll bet you anything he wouldn’t have done that if we had put him in the first game in that situation. So it’s all a matter of just getting some experience, getting your feet underneath you, and getting comfortable with everything at the position.”

What’s Derrick’s biggest asset? His size?

“Yeah. He’s a load. I mean, he’s a big strapping kid that can run. He has great feet for his size, and he’s not easy to tackle. He’s just a powerful guy. But he’s a good athlete. He’s big. You have not seen the best of him yet. The more he carries the ball, the more comfortable he’ll get. You’ll see why we recruited him more and more. I think you’ve probably seen flashes of it already. He’s a highly skilled kid.”

Is part of it just figuring out how the game works at the college level?

“Yeah. Where to run. Because the first thing with a running back when they get here – it’s every guy, not just Derrick – they think they can do something that they got away with in high school that they can’t get away with here. So they start trying to cut back prematurely or race for the sideline. Those are the two most common things that young running backs do. In high school they can outrun the defense or they can get the defense to flinch a little bit and take it back a little bit. College defenses are much more disciplined. If you don’t give the point of attack a chance and then see how the cracks develop in the front and then hit the crack when you see the crack. If you run away from it before that time, you’re not going to succeed. People are going to get you. As he learns more and more how to do that – he’s still learning how to do that – he’s gotten better and better. He will. He doesn’t have bad vision. He can see where to run with the ball.”

He had two longer runs and the rest were pretty short. Were you pleased in general with his production?

“Oh yeah. He didn’t have big numbers. He had a couple of nice runs. He powered the ball in there inside the two-yard line, which was good. It was a good starting point against a Big Ten opponent where he got a few carries. It wasn’t like playing the first game when you put him in there and the game was still kind of – there was no real pressure. In this game there was pressure and this was a good starting point for him. He’ll just try to continue to build on it. It’s just a shame. We had a couple three and outs that if we could have kept those drives going a little more, we could have gotten more carries for our backs. We lost some turns in there, and that hurt us a little bit.”

If the game is going the way you want it to, is 10 carries what you want to see?

“Yeah, but I don’t commit to that. I don’t know. Sometimes – if he’s rolling, you might give him more than that. I’ve always liked the feature back, but problem is we were almost over-featuring Fitz because of the way games were going. To get another kid in there and see what he can do, particularly a talented kid like that, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I won’t put a number on how many carries he’s got to have.   

Does Graham Glasgow grade out better when there’s more on his plate at center?

“He’s a smart guy that plays very, very hard. That helps. And the fact that he had been playing center – I won’t say this was a seamless transition, but it wasn’t a tough one. He’s been playing center all the way through. He and Jack have been battling at that position and playing left guard when it was alternate reps. For him to jump in there and play center was not a big deal for him. But he’s a kid that’s kind of a self-made lineman. When he came in I wasn’t sure he’d ever play here, but he’s worked his tail off and he’s earned everything he’s got, and he’s become at this point, knock on wood, pretty solid.”

Why didn’t you think he was going to play?

“Well he was a freshman. He was running into people, not knowing who to block. A walk-on kid, he’s got to get your attention. That’s what’s unfortunate about being a walk-on kid is to get in the lineup, you have to get the coaches’ attention. We’re always looking at the guys we recruited first. It’s a credit to a walk-on kid to get into the starting lineup because he’s done something to really get you thinking he can play.”

When did he first get your attention?

“I think spring football after his first year. And it wasn’t like he was going to take the world by storm, but he had made some drastic improvement in so many ways. He worked hard in the weight room. It’s important to him. That’s all a coach asks. If it’s important to you you’ll do all the right things to get you where you need to be. If that’s good enough to play, then great.”

How do you coach confidence back into a quarterback?

“Well I know this coaching Jason Campbell when I was at Auburn. When I came in there everybody wanted to replace him. They said, this kid, he’s not confident, he makes bad decisions, let the other kid play. Same old deal. The backup’s the best player until the backup plays and they don’t want him to play anymore. But with Jason, I said I want you to go out there and let it rip and I’ll correct your errors. If you make any mistakes, we’ll just fix the mistakes. But I don’t want you to be scared. I want you to use good fundamentals. I want you to use good judgment. These are all things I told Devin Gardner. You can’t go out there and think, ‘Oh my God, if I throw there I’ll throw an interception.’ Just know what your references are. Don’t throw the ball late over the middle. Don’t dangle the ball when you carry it. You’ll be fine. Don’t go out there and be apprehensive, either.

“I learned with Jason that if you showed him that you believed in him and that if he did what you told him to do, that he would succeed, he had the best year of his career. I don’t think it was any earth-shattering coaching deal. It was just making the kid believe that he was still the answer when a lot of people didn’t think that. I think at this point with Devin going through a rough patch -- I promise you after [the first] two games, yeah he had thrown a few interceptions, but people weren’t thinking he wasn’t the answer. But after [the second] two games, people started having their doubts. The guy coaching him is the same way. Start scaring him and he’ll go out there and play so guarded you won’t get anything out of it. There’s got to be that delicate balance between keeping him aggressive and using good judgment and making sure he understands what you want but not turn the ball over.

“That was a hell of an answer, wasn’t it? That’s the best I’ve done. I didn’t even think about that. I just pulled it -- I thought it was pretty good, okay? Say what you want. Chantel, what’d you think?”

It was good.

“Thanks. Okay. Ask the women, they also confirm.”

What kind of growth have you seen from Jehu Chesson?

“He’s getting more and more involved. I think the quarterabck’s getting more and more confidence in him, getting more balls thrown at him. He’s made a few more plays. I like him . I think this kid can really be a good player. He’s still counting his steps on his square outs and doing some things … you talk about letting it rip. When he lets it rip, he can run with the wind. He’s got good hands. The best is yet to come with him, I think. But it probably won’t happen overnight.”

Do you think Devin lost any confidence in the protection he was getting?

“I don’t know about that. I don’t think so. I think you need to look at the first two games and then the next two games. He was very productive in the first two games, and then the next game wasn’t. Sometimes you feel a lot of pressure. It’s a question better asked to him than me. But sometimes you feel like you need to do more than you need to do. I know Denard went through that a little bit, too. Hell every quarterback I’ve ever coached went through that at one time or another if you play long enough. As long as you play within the realm of the offense, you’re usually okay. But where it really gets a little dicey is when the guy’s a really good playmaker. You want to give him a chance to do it, because some of those plays are helping us win. It’s just where to cut your losses.”


Mr. Yost

October 9th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

GMAT is right there and it's not a knock on him...but Borges sees everything and does a great job explaining what he sees.

During the games I may want to curse him to hell at times, but these pressers always make me want to tip my cap. It's a love/hate thing with Mr. Al.

Al, if you read this...mostly love though!


October 9th, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

there's a fair lot of cunning and foresight in both the insistance on establishing the run through the early games despite the squeakers it yielded and in the vanilla play-calling, both sides of the ball. To some extent, these guys have done it with smoke and mirrors these first few years. 


October 9th, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

Maybe I'm reading into things too much, but does anyone get the sense the both Borges and Mattison recognize the questions that are specifically coming from Mgo and respond to them in a way that defends themselves against the blog's content?  There's the statistics response here (possibly a defense against Mgo's stats-based criticisms of the offense and scheme) and then Mattison's answer yesterday defending the soft coverage schemes (something the blog has been harping on all year).

I usually think it's giving bloggers too much credit to think that their critiques even come close to reaching the coaches, but the consistently long, detailed, defensive responses to MgoQuestions makes me wonder if at least someone has mentioned to them "this blogger that often talks schemes is really going after you guys for xyz," though I still doubt that they ever log on themselves.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:15 AM ^

I highly doubt anyone on the staff reads this blog and feels the need to defend themselves against it.  These guys are professionals who have been doing this 20 something years. They don't feel the need to know how their fanbase feels about what they are doing. I think the MGoblog community takes themselves a little too serisouly when anyone thinks for a minute the the staff cares about their opinion. Between gameplanning, practice, and recruiting do you really think they sit down and go on blogs and read comments?

They answer the mgo questions in more detail because they are normally much better questions that give them the oppurtunity to go into more detail. The questions from the big media outlets are usually your boring old generic questions that the reporter could probably answer themselves but they just want a quote for their pre determined article.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:22 AM ^

Borges is apparently on a first name basis with Heiko, so I assume he has just gotten used to the sort of questions he asks.

And Borges also seems to be willing to respond thoughtfully to criticism regardless of the source - I take that as a positive. It means he's thinking about WHY he does what he does rather than just holding dogmatically onto his opinions because "they aren't coaches what the hell do they know". It might take a lot for a blogger to change Borges' mind (and it should) but he doesn't strike me as someone who will stubbornly hold to something if the evidence proves him wrong.


October 9th, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

I feel Heiko deserves some credit too. Establishing a positive relationship with a coordinator like Borges and showing genuine interest in the process and using it for analysis is entirely different than cherry picking pieces of information to write hyperbolic pieces, whether flattering or inflammatory. Heiko asks great questions in a respectful manner. I'm glad he wants to be a doctor but it will be a shame to lose his ability as a reporter.


edit: homonyms: how do they work?


October 9th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

There's more than a few people on here that hate me, you're in the minority. 

As far as what TwoFiveAD stands for:  When Ernest Shazor played, he would walk out of the locker room and would scream "TWO FIVE ALL DAY"  and only "TWO FIVE ALL DAY" all the way down to the field until they ran out.   He was possessed for that 4 minutes.   I was lucky enough to be around the team back then.  He was my favorite.

The only person I've witnessed more intense than him walking down the tunnel was Hutchinson.   His eyes would be in back of his head and he would speak in tongues.  Quite the site to see.  You could have shot Steve and he wouldn't have flinched.




October 9th, 2013 at 11:30 AM ^

than they did the first few years. Whether that harks to specific criticisms here I don't know. But I think that, just as this blog has lifted many people's knowledge base, they have absorbed the fact that there's an increasingly educated fan base. 

Hopefully this places the media in general more on notice that lazy reporting is unacceptable. 


October 9th, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

I don't think it's so much that they're aware of what's being said here as they're looking at games and see everything we see and much more. It's not too hard to guess how your average fan, or even your extremely knowledgable fan would interpret what they're seeing. 

The statistics one is a good example. I'm sure one of the top stats on the summary sheet the GA's prepare for Al is YPC, which was pretty bad. But then they break it down much much further, by carries, by down and distance, etc to get their "effeciency" metric. Al knows fans see the YPC and probably stops right there, so he goes into more detail about how YPC isn't the end all be all measurement of rushing success.

Mattison is the same way. He's not a dummy, he knows fans see teams marching down the field against us, dinking and dunking and we are grousing about it. But he's got a game plan and knows what the assignments are. He knows which plays are guys missing assignments, getting beat, or just the opposing offenses fitting it in a spot you're conceding to them.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

I think that the MGoQuestions usually pack a punch, so to speak. That allows the coordinators to expand more with their answers. I think you are mistaking the coaches trying to thoroughly answer a question that is more specific in nature with "Ooohh, this guy is calling me out, I better cover my ass and appease the masses."

These guys are coordinators for a college football team, not politicians. I know Brady Hoke has his coach speak & Fort Schembechler is a real thing, but you can tell in a lot of GM & Al's responses, sometimes they just can't hold anything back.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

I think it's not related to the site, but related to the other presser questions that they are asked. If you're asked a specific scheme question that goes into how you coach football, you're going to answer that differently than "Talk about how Devin believes in his linemen" or "Derrick Green is a big kid, huh?"

I think the coaches appreciate the football nature of the questions, and answer them as such.


October 9th, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

I don't know how much the running game will improve throughout the year but if they can keep Gardner somewhat unharrassed then I think this offense will be able to move the ball on just about anyone.

Oh yeah, and still keep the turnovers low.

R Kelly

October 9th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

I like the idea of a running efficiency statistic like Borges mentioned.  I'm not sure if I've been living under a rock, but I've never heard it mentioned like that before.  I think that would be an valuable thing for Brian, Seth, or another contributor with time to track.  


October 9th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

In a horrible league like the BIG10, statistics are all we have.

Scoring Offense: 5th

Yds per game: 9th  (397/gm) sandwiched between Iowa and Michigan State. Ugh

Passing Offense: 7th

Rushing Offense: 8th (yes, Indiana has more yards than Michigan ytd)

1st downs/game: 10th

3rd down %: 1st (54% - very nice, I like)

Penalties: 9th (good)

TOP: 4th

I had anticipated much better results by mid year.

Michigan is 5-0, and probably should be 7-0 going into East Lansing. 

But unless there's significant improvement in offensive firepower, I think the last 5 game stretch is going to be brutal, even with great Michigan defensive play.





October 9th, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

What is Michigan in terms of the same numbers defensively?

Total defense: 4th.

Rushing defense: 4th.

Passing defense: 5th.

Redzone Defense:4th.

Talk about a beacon of consistency. One thing I saw is that Michigan has yet to give up a redzone rushing TD so far this year. 

Ohio has given up 10 redzone TDs this year compared to Michigan's 6. I know that Ohio has played 6 games thus far but Florida Agricultural and Mechanical didn't cross the 50 if I can remember correctly. 

So Michigan can remain towards the top of the Big Ten in terms of defense while playing in their cover-2 shell and letting teams dink and dunk down the field. This is good news.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

Yards per game can be pretty situationally dependent, as Minnesota's grinding first quarter and (by my recollection) Akron's somewhat sustained possessions show.  It might be more interesting to track Percent of available yards earned.  This might help account for opponents' pace of play and field position differentials (teams with great punt returners will have fewer available yards to earn per possession) over the course of the year.


October 9th, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

Maybe the BIG isn't as bad as people seem to think scoring wise.  Yes, we're 5th in the conference in scoring.  We're also 27th in the nation.  The BIG has 5 teams among the top 30 scoring offenses in the country.  The SEC has 4, The Big 12 has 2, the Pac 12 has 5 and the ACC has 3.  I'll take a top 30 scoring team averaging nearly 39 points per game, thanks.


October 9th, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

I'm really not concerned about yards per game either. Yards depends so much more on tempo (not just yours but also your opponents) than anything else and enough Big Ten teams play uptempo that it skews that quite a bit. Also - winning the field position battle will punish you in yards per game. What's better - getting the ball at the 50 and scoring, or getting it at the opposing 20, marching it to the 10 and kicking a FG?

Julius 1977

October 9th, 2013 at 11:26 AM ^

I watch the videos and use Heiko’s transcripts to read the questions which I usually can’t hear.

It has been interesting to watch the way these coaches have adapted to these press conferences.  Brady, Mattison, and especially Borges were originally very guarded in these situations.  Brady and Mattison still go out of their way to answer in generalities.  However, Borges now seems relaxed and sometimes really lets loose and talks football.  This change seems to me to have corresponded with him warming up to Heiko.

I am sure that Borges couldn’t care less about what MGOBlog thinks, but I do think it’s possible that his relationship with Heiko may have changed his view of these press conferences.


October 9th, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

The entire staff speaks about their pleasure in teaching. They talk about teaching in the context of their young players and making them into better men, but clearly they love to teach and they love football. They respect the desire to learn in others.

The Mgo questions, especially Heiko's to Borges, reflect a desire to learn and the questioner's appreciation of the coach's expertise. Instead of deflecting "gotcha" questions, or suffering sound bite questions, when they are asked a question that offers them the opportunity to teach about the thing they love, they respond in kind. 

Even Hoke, who generally gives as little away as possible, sometimes pauses, reflects, compliments the questioner about the quality of the question, and then gives a pretty informative answer. 

Good questions get good answers. 

Wee-Bey Brice

October 9th, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

Even if the coaches are aware of your comments, 99.5% of them would be quickly disregarded. I've been coaching bball for 4 years now and every coach knows the best coaches are always in the stands. Fans/parents or whoever is watching from the 15th row always has the answers. It comes with the territory and you learn to tune it all out. He alluded to that by saying "The backups the best kid until the backup plays and they don't want him to play anymore". Translation: "I'm aware that y'all don't know shit"


October 9th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

against UM's past 5 games of competition is no reason to radiate confidence. I don't know that Michigan has faced a competent college football defense yet. 

I'm sure my conclusions could be way off and therefore egraph worthy, but at the same time maybe Michigan's future opponents (PSU, Ohio, MSU and Iowa) feature something resembling a defense?




October 9th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

I was thinking about this the other night after seeing Baylor put up 70 points for the third time already this season. I don't think there is a single person who thinks Baylor will go undefeated this year. But their stats (especially offensively) look great. Yes, they beat the crap out of lesser opponents but that does not neccessarily translate to being the best team in the Big 12.

Michigan on the other hand has struggled with teams the fans thought should have been blown out. I'm not trying to sugarcoat the problems the team had, but the coaches made some changes and are working on it. I am much more confident in Michigan's ability to win almost every game on the remaining schedule than Baylor does.


October 9th, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

I have a hard time giving weight to anything said in these pressers.  There is zero chance Jordon Paskorz had anything to do with moving Funchess outside.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

my theory on this team is a lack of leadership.

1. gardner is not a good leader ...yet.

2. the new guys are coming in and playing early but they have no one to look upto.

3. the teams missing guys like molk , van bergen, martin, kovacs who would inspire the young guys and keep them in check.

4. the coaches have been trying to get the leadership thing going but there is no reinforcement from the seniors.

5. lewan is an exception to this theory.

6. there is no accountability on the field...that shows from the fact that the defense and offense are lacklustre for the majority of the games and only get going when things are really critical.

7. obviously this is a theory and not the facts per se