Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-9-12: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko October 9th, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Al Borges

file

“How’s it goin’?”

All right.

“How we doin’?”

Great.

“What’s happenin'?”

Not much.

“Where’s your glasses?”

I don’t wear them every day. Yours look good though.

“You’re losing the effect. I’ve gone to all glasses. People started to think I was dumb. Now they just think I’m dumb with glasses.

"All right, you guys. Let’s have it.”

Were you surprised by how Purdue defended you?

“They played a little more 3-4 than I thought. They had -- it’s not like we didn’t prepare for it, but there was a little more 30 front than we thought, but the back end was kind of as we anticipated. There’s always a little nuance to handle Denard, the kind that guys borrow from other teams they watch on tape they think they might have had some success playing Denard, so they take pieces of that, and if they think it fits their team.”

Did you feel like they were trying to take away Fitz?

“Oh no doubt. If you watch the tape, they were following Fitz all over the field. Fitz had very good running opportunities on 17 carries. I went over the whole tape. It was the good news and the bad news though. We pulled a couple zone reads when they were all over Fitz, and Denard was wide open down field. It wasn’t like it was bad. It just didn’t make Fitz’s numbers look very good, but he helped us win the game, you know, kind of like a guy that has a sacrifice bunt. Helps you win the game. That was kind of the way they decided to defend us.”

Has that been happening more this year? The running game hasn’t really gotten going…

“The running game hasn’t gotten going?”

The running backs.

“Yeah, no, yeah. That’s been, yeah, a little bit. What kind of happened a little year is Fitz showed up big, especially toward the end of the season, and people have become kind of aware of him, and because we don’t do a heck of a lot of home position running, you know, under center -- we do a little bit of it, not like we will in the future and like, you know … so in that regard because you’re doing a lot of gun running, you kind of pick which guy you want to defend, and if they’re -- I don’t know, Fitz had big numbers against them last year. Who remembers --”

170.

“Yeah. And I’m sure they hadn’t forgotten that, but they obviously don’t want to -- they know Denard’s a threat, too, but you kind of have to pick a little bit what your priority’s going to be. Last year it was more Denard, I think, and this year it was more Fitz. As long as you come out with something -- and that’s what I say every week -- as long as somebody rushes the ball, you know. Everybody’s coming back saying, ‘Well he didn’t run the ball very well.’ He ran fine. For the opportunities he had to run, there just wasn’t much there, but there was a lot for Denard. Maybe the reverse could happen this week. I don’t know.”

Does it surprise you that teams don’t try to take away Denard first?

“Yeah. I guess a little bit. You know, when we’re -- and you guys saw a year ago, and it hasn’t really happened this year, but I think if we keep going like we’re going at will, we’re best when we can threaten two ways. Now that doesn’t mean necessarily that both guys have to rush for big numbers every game. That seldom happens. But if one guy doesn’t get big numbers and another guy does, and usually it is a result of how they decide to defend you, at least in part, you know. It’s not totally that. You still have to block it. I don’t care how they defend you, you still have to block it, but people will overdefend certain phases of your game and make you play left-handed. That’s how most people defend, is they say, ‘Okay, let’s see what they do best. Let’s take away what they do best or what scares us the most and make them play to their weaknesses.’ I think that happened a little bit. Not that running Denard is a weakness, but from their perspective, because of what happened a year ago, they were just keenly aware of Fitz. ”

Would you characterize the Purdue game plan as a little more more risk-averse? If so, is that sustainable going forward?

“I don’t know. I can’t -- that’s a hard question to answer. I just know this: At the end of the day we just have to have enough equipment within our offense to counter-punch. I’m sure you know what I’m saying when I’m saying that. It’s hard sometimes, and as a playcaller it comes up a lot, too, is you can see pretty quickly what’s being over-defended and what’s being under-executed. That’s where your bottom line is with regard to adjustments and playcalling. If it’s over-defended, you need the counter-punch. But if it’s under-executed, you have to stay with your plan. You have to hope, ‘Okay, we missed this block, but we can’t go south on what we practiced all week, otherwise it turns into helter-skelter.’ So you come back and do what you’re doing and hope like heck it takes, knowing that maybe one play didn’t hit very good. And you get paid to coach. You go to the sideline and chalk it up, fix a little bit, and next time maybe it works better. You don’t want to beat your head against the wall. You don’t want to call it 10 times knowing it’s not going to get anything, but you don’t want to just abandon your plan, but that really is, I think, from a coaching perspective, from a playcalling perspective, from a schematic perspective, the key to offensive football is to discern what is being overdefended and what’s being underexecuted.”

MGoQuestion: Are you surprised that no one has really figured out how to defend the jet read, aka inverted veer?

“That’s an interesting football play. To answer the question, not really surprised. If you can get them in good scenarios, that play always has a chance to succeed because of a littany of options. So uh … I didn’t answer your question. I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised, and it’s just one more play in our arsenal. It’s not the whole offense, but it does present some problems because our quarterback can keep the ball or our halfback can run the ball and you get your two best runners touching the ball.”

MGoFollowup: I know you can’t speak too much to scheme, but is there potential for running play-action from the jet read?

“If there was, do you really think I would answer that?”

MGoRetort: Well you don’t have to say what it is specifically.

“No I’m just kidding ya. We play-pass every run we got. Every one we got, there’s some type of action off it, so yeah.”

Denard seemed like he was making better decisions and just playing a lot smarter. Why do you think he’s settled in all of a sudden?

“You know, it’s such a better question for him than me, but I don’t know. You know, we had two weeks to get ready for this. As coaches and as players, too, we spend a lot of time trying to fix our problems, knowing that we weren’t as good as we could play offensively. You have to identify the problems and admit where your shortcomings are both as coaches and as a player and address those. We had a lot of time to address them. I think that helped him reach a comfort level, okay. Had there been just a week? I don’t know. We probably would have been fine. I don’t know. But having two weeks just helped us get grounded, get back to where we were. I think his passing up to the Notre Dame game from a fundamental perspective had gotten a lot better. He had been doing things so much better, but I said that, and guys looked at me like I have 10 heads because he didn’t play very well against Notre Dame by his own admission, but we kind of went back and said, okay, what got us to that improved state? What are we going to do?’ Well A is footwork and 2 is decision-making. There was a strong focus on those two issues. From a playcaller’s perspective and from a game planning perspective, my job is to keep him comfortable. So all that combined, the long-winded answer to a simple question -- I’ve perfected that art. My mother says that anyway. But yeah …

“He played smart. The whole game. He threw a ball away where I think the Notre Dame game he probably would have tried to make something happen in there because he was trying to get us back. And not just decisions in the passing game, but decisions in our running game because that’s huge with our zone read game and with all that stuff. He graded really well. Yeah I was pretty happy with what he did. And the one turnover, to be honest with you, was probably my fault. We got a hard edge on a power read, and we didn’t show him enough of that. I’m not going to blame that one on him.”

Did throwing more short passes help?

“That helps a little bit, but he can throw the ball down the field. He’s got plenty of arm. He’s proven he can make those throws. No, I don’t think that’s it. I think we got a good, nice lead on them. We didn’t ask too much of him early. And as he got in the groove, things started to hit pretty good, you know. But I don’t think the length of the routes or any of that had anything to do with that.”

Is it still more about him settling down and doing what he can do?

“I think with any quarterback that’s the case. If you experience success early in the game, it’s like anything else. You start feeling good about it and settled in. If you don’t, and you get behind, your sense of urgency can cloud your judgment, you know. With anybody. Every quarterback I’ve coached. Settling him down is critical. Getting off to a fast start’s nice. Really probably the more important thing is if you don’t. Now what are you going to do? What if the first time you get the ball you go three and out? And God forbid the second you’re three and out. Maybe the score’s 7 or 14 to nothing. Now how are you going to react? Those are the times that test the quarterback’s mettle the most.”

Funchess had a pretty good catch.

“Ya think? Holy smoke. Yeah.”

How’s he coming along in your eyes?

“Yeah. Pretty good. Pretty good. He’s -- that was an incredible catch now. I had no feel for it from the booth because, 57 you know. I can’t see like I -- I couldn’t see the little -- I can see the down and distance and I’m fine with all that, but I couldn’t see how good a catch that was until I saw a replay of it later, but he had to reach back and catch that ball and there was a guy bearing down from the right, and just to hold it was a minor miracle. Jeff Hecklinski kind of went crazy, goes, ‘He caught that sucker!’ I go, ‘That’s why we recruited him.’ But to be honest, I was minimizing it. Then when I saw, I would have probably reacted the same way if I knew what a good catch it was. He sees better than I do. He’s got young eyes.”

MGoQuestion: Later in the game when Funchess caught the pass out of bounds, was that an issue with the route or was that just well defended by Purdue?

“No no. that was just they didn’t bite the screen. We had thrown that pass on Illinois the year before where we threw a quick screen on it where he faked and took off. We tell Denard if it’s Devin and a corner, throw it up. He’ll pull it down a lot of times. But Devin got pushed a little wide on it.”

MGoFollowup: So it was well defended.

“That was well defended. It was. That was one for them. It was a bad call.”

He still caught it. Does he ever drop anything?

“Everybody drops it once in a while.”

How good are his hands compared to --

“Pretty good. He can catch. He can catch pretty good.”

Are you detecting a swagger among the offensive linemen? This is according to Taylor Lewan.

“I was going to say, Are you going to go by Taylor? No, no. I mean, they’re gaining some confidence. It’s nice. Yeah. I think a little bit, but you know, they’re realists. I love linemen because they are realists. They know your’e only good as your last performance, and thye’re going to have to work hard. I want to say this, too. And I think this is just so crucial. The week -- the game week, not the bye week -- we had our three best pracitces maybe not since I’ve been here but certainly this season. So much of that tone was set by them. The Notre Dame game was a hard game. The guys took it very seriously, but they’re resilient, and they came back, and we had three good days, and I think they were confident. I know I felt the best as a coordinator, and I think the other coaches feel the same way about our approach to the Purdue game. Now the thing about that, you have to kind of bottle that, you know what I mean? We know the formula to success, and it starts out there when you practice. If we can continue to do that, I think we’ll continue to move, but when practices deteriorate, I think the performances do, too. There’s direct carryover.”

What did they do differently to set the tone?

“I don’t know. They were hurt by that football game. They felt like they should have beaten Notre Dame. They took it seriously. And we as coaches did the same. I don’t know any way to explain it other than that. I don’t know if there was any epiphany or --”

Is that the word of the day?

“There it is. You guys want a word? Maddy didn’t give me that one, though. … We felt that we had a better team than we were showing. Offensively, defensively, everybody did. Again, if we don’t win this next game, I’ll be explaining why we didn’t have swagger next week. You’re only as good as the last one.”

Have you had a freshman tight end catch as well as Devin Funchess?

“Oh yeah. We had one at San Diego State. Gavin Escobar. He could catch like Devin can catch. 6-7. Yeah he was really good. Now he’s not as fast as Devin, but he had tremendous hands, yeah.”

What does Drew Dileo add to the receiving corps?

“Nice, short guy. I love being around him because he’s the only guy on the team -- him and Gallon, they’re both shorter than me. They’ll say they’re not, but they are. I could eat soup off the top of their head. He’s so smart. Drew doesn’t make an error. A lot of times he’ll make sure the other guys line up right. If you throw him the ball, he doesn’t have the range because of his size, but he’s going to catch anything he can get to. Very tough, good blocker, reliable. You need something done? Send Drew. Whether it’s holding for field goals, or being an extra punt returner or running an option route or -- send Drew. He’ll do it.”

Thanks coach.

“All right. Did you count the bubble screens this week?”

MGoObviously: One.

“TWO.”

MGoWhaaaa: Two??

“See, now. Forget it. That conversation is over. There was a bubble to the right with Darboh kind of missing a block. There was a bubble to the left where Jeremy Jackson tried to cut the guy.”

MGoOh.

“If you don’t know what a bubble screen is --"

MGoButIOnlySaw--

"How can you expect --”

MGoOkay. WHATEVER.

Comments

EnoughAlready

October 9th, 2012 at 7:35 PM ^

The reason I love Borges' interviews so much is that he's the football coach version of Columbo.  "Yeah, yeah, I'm kinda not with it...out in left field..." -- But don't blink, because that guy's the smartest guy in the room.

ChopBlock

October 9th, 2012 at 11:22 PM ^

I want so badly for Heiko to be secretly recording these pressers and that someday, perhaps after Borges is done coaching, Heiko to release these Nixon White House Tapes with the Bubble Screen Warz.

Actually, come to think of it, he's gotta be recording them somehow, or he couldn't transcribe them. I suppose, though, that getting unedited presser tapes would be akin to getting unedited Nixon tapes.

/toopolitical?

 

tasnyder01

October 10th, 2012 at 12:26 AM ^

Do those exchanges at the beginning and end actually happen? Strik that, I don't care about that beginning part; did the last part occur?

Heiko? Anyone? (Yes, I know only Heiko can answer that)

dragonchild

October 9th, 2012 at 9:47 PM ^

I like Borges as a personality, but let's all remember this banter has a serious undertone in that MGoBlog is really trying to hold him accountable -- you know, something real journalists did back when "getting it right" was actually a newsroom priority.  I respect Heiko for that -- asking that tough, smart question -- except lately it's kind of turning into an Abbott & Costello routine.  Granted we won and by a lot, but it's not like Michigan has got all its problems solved.  Purdue doesn't have the elite edge defenders you need to shut down Denard, and overplayed Fitz on top of that.

The dude's paid to coach.  Bubble screen isn't a panacea; it's a constraint play designed to open up the running game.  With no audibles, no counters and no constraints in Borges' scheme, the offense still relies almost exclusively on athleticism and execution to get yards.  This works against a defense with glaring weaknesses like Purdue that just doesn't have an answer, but it's largely why Michigan has been shut down by elite defenses that can meet them talent for talent.

To be fair, a drop-off is expected.  No one puts 40 points on Oversign U.  And Notre Dame's defense is legit.  But that's the problem.  Michigan has high expectations, and I'm sure Borges knows that all too well.  He wouldn't be here if he didn't know.  But to be elite, you gotta beat the elite, and while I'll say we lack elite talent across the board, the offensive implosions against elite defenses just as much due to Borges' stubbornness.

It's all be hashed out before, and I hate to be the party pooper, but Heiko asked about bubble screens for a reason, and it wasn't to get all chummy with Borges.  If the linebackers are overplaying the run and the corners are playing soft, you go with that damned constraint play FIFTY DAMN TIMES until they back off.  And if they don't back off, then keep taking those free first downs as long as they're giving it.  Don't just look at those free yards, snort, and then mash the ball into a screamingly obvious trap.

Borges' advice about identifying the "overdefending" is truly legit, sound advice.  If only the guy saying it would listen.

jg2112

October 9th, 2012 at 8:48 PM ^

 and because we don’t do a heck of a lot of home position running, you know, under center -- we do a little bit of it, not like we will in the future and like, you know 

This comment directed at one Mr. Derrick Green.

Farnn

October 9th, 2012 at 9:10 PM ^

That picture of Borges always cracks me up. Looks like he's shaking his hands really fast and staring at them in a drug induced daze.

steve sharik

October 9th, 2012 at 9:38 PM ^

"...we don’t do a heck of a lot of home position running, you know, under center -- we do a little bit of it, not like we will in the future and like, you know … so in that regard because you’re doing a lot of gun running, you kind of pick which guy you want to defend..."

In other words, in the future you won't make the defense pick which guy they have to defend?  I mean, that's what "home position running" is.  That's why spread option is the best offense in football: you make the defense pick their poison.

steve sharik

October 10th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

A team defending the pro-style running attack only has to defend one threat, not two.  Furthermore, spread-option makes you defend multiple runners on each play.  Sure, pro-style has play-action and such, but so does spread option, giving you everything the pro-style does.  And I don't buy that spread option teams aren't good passing schemes.  I think it's largely b/c it's extremely rare that a dual threat QB is a good passer.  When it happens, you get RGIII.  When it doesn't, you get Denard and Braxton Miller.

By the way, go check the NCAA rushing statistics and tell me what schemes are the best running the football.

  1. Army (triple option)
  2. Air Force (triple option)
  3. Ga. Tech (triple option)
  4. Oregon (spread option)
  5. Okla. St. (spread)
  6. Nebraska (spread option)
  7. Nevada (pistol)
  8. New Mex. (triple option)
  9. K-state (spread option)
  10. Ohio St. (spread option)

Hmm, notice a trend there?  Gee, where's the pro-style?

In fact, find me a pro-style offense in the top 25 in total offense.

The only reason spread option isn't in the NFL is they:

  • don't have the QBs who can run and throw
  • don't want their QBs injured

But it's slowly starting to make it's way to the league (RGIII, Colin Kaepernick).

GoBlueGladstone

October 10th, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

...McNair and McNabb had longer than average NFL careers - and while running was part of their game, they threw for shit-ton of yards too. Fran Tarkenton; Steve Young; John Elway; Randall Cunnigham had much longer careers than say the never-running Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson. People forget how much those guys ran around.

Last I checked, Cam Newton hasn't gotten injured yet and RGIII was completing  nearly 70% of his passes and Vick is still playing, albeit oft-injured. Never running Peyton Manning and Tom Brady missed entire years with non-running-related injuries. I just don't see the evidence that injuries change the dynamism of a player; maybe the TYPE of injury...

Yes, there is a statistical case for the shelf-life of a QB out of the pocket being shortened, but I am not sure the aforementioned multi-pro bowl, long-careered caliber are the right comparison. 

chitownblue2

October 10th, 2012 at 11:44 AM ^

You precisely illustrated my point. McNair, McNabb, and sorta Vick survived by becoming pocket-oriented pro-style quarterbacks who flashed the capability of running. Thus, claiming that the spread option is "coming" to the NFL makes me giggle. It's not. It won't.

You mis-interpreted my comment of "ending your career" to necessarily mean injury. It doesn't. If you can't learn to stand in the pocket and throw, no amount of running ability will solve that in the NFL.

GoBlueGladstone

October 10th, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

...McNair and McNabb had longer than average NFL careers - and while running was part of their game, they threw for shit-ton of yards too. Fran Tarkenton; Steve Young; John Elway; Randall Cunnigham had much longer careers than say the never-running Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson. People forget how much those guys ran around.

Last I checked, Cam Newton hasn't gotten injured yet and RGIII was completing  nearly 70% of his passes and Vick is still playing, albeit oft-injured. Never running Peyton Manning and Tom Brady missed entire years with non-running-related injuries. I just don't see the evidence that injuries change the dynamism of a player; maybe the TYPE of injury...

Yes, there is a statistical case for the shelf-life of a QB out of the pocket being shortened, but I am not sure the aforementioned multi-pro bowl, long-careered caliber are the right comparison. 

GoBlueGladstone

October 10th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

...McNair and McNabb had longer than average NFL careers - and while running was part of their game, they threw for ton of yards too. Fran Tarkenton; Steve Young; John Elway; Randall Cunnigham had much longer careers than say the never-running Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson. People forget how much those guys ran around.

Last I checked, Cam Newton hasn't gotten injured yet and RGIII was completing  nearly 70% of his passes and Vick is still playing, albeit oft-injured. Never running Peyton Manning and Tom Brady missed entire years with non-running-related injuries. I just don't see the evidence that injuries change the dynamism of a player; maybe the TYPE of injury...

Yes, there is a statistical case for the shelf-life of a QB out of the pocket being shortened, but I am not sure the aforementioned multi-pro bowl, long-careered caliber are the right comparison. 

Reader71

October 9th, 2012 at 10:27 PM ^

The problem is that spread-option teams are generally not great passers of the football, which eliminates one of the poisons the defense must choose between.

I really don't think one can proclaim a single offense "the best". The best offense is the one that is best suited to your players. Oregon's spread is great for them, 2000's USC's pro-style offense was great for them, Nebraska's power option offense was great for them.

Also, your fundamental claim is patently false: only the spread-option forces the defense to pick a poison. All offenses force defenses to pick a poison. It is just as hard to defend against Leinart-Bush as it is to defend White-Slaton, perhaps harder, as there are more complex passing concepts at work.

reshp1

October 9th, 2012 at 9:41 PM ^

I think, from a coaching perspective, from a playcalling perspective, from a schematic perspective, the key to offensive football is to discern what is being overdefended and what’s being underexecuted.”

I think that's a great way to put it. Borges tends to catch a lot of flak for continuing to call plays that look like they're not working. As he says though, you can't go south on everything you gameplanned and practiced just because you're not executing if schematically it should work. Of course the counter argument is that Borges doesn't seem great at picking up what's UNDERdefended and adjusting quickly, which I think is a fair criticism

realkato

October 9th, 2012 at 11:33 PM ^

I really think Al Borges is starting to love Heiko and the MGoQuestions. I think he recognizes that there's a level of depth behind the questions that the other reporters just don't give. No fluff, just a sincere interest in scheme and playcalling. There's gotta be a part of that that tickles him.

roosterbaan

October 10th, 2012 at 1:09 AM ^

i completely agree. the only questions that demonstrate a substantive knowledge of football come from heiko...could it be that he is an md/phd candidate while the other "journalists" barely graduated from college? i don't think they even try to learn about football. they are now probably trying to cheat off mgoblog--see "not so sharp" from freep's article that literally asked why there were no bubble screens...hmmm, wonder where he got that idea?

biakabutoucan_sam

October 10th, 2012 at 9:54 AM ^

...the sacrifice bunt comment. I know this doesn't need to be explained to you yahoos, but just because a guy has sad-trombone stats doesn't mean he wasn't effective. This was a perfect case of that. You wanna cheat on Fitz? Cool, have fun reading Denard's last name as he teleports 80 yards down the field. That's like an assist for Fitz.

 

profitgoblue

October 10th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

I'm sure all of the MGoVeterans are excited to see our MGoSon Heiko mature before our eyes.  Not only is he asking the tough questions that he and Brian generate, but he's now posing follow-up questions to get Borges to really answer.  Not only that, but he's solidified his seat at the press conference.  Great work as always, Heiko!

EnoughAlready

October 10th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

Michigan begins to incorporate elements of and constraint plays from the triple option. And maybe the wing-T.  Anything that has worked anywhere should become an integral part of Borges' offense.