Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on September 4th, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Opening remarks:

"Wait, I just looked at Mattison. He had about three or four of these [tape recorders] here. Can somebody explain that to me? I get up here and [omg there are so many.]"

You talk softly. Honestly. 

"I don't understand."

Speak up.

"Speak up!? I've never had anybody tell me that was a problem."

What did you like from the first game?

"Well, we had some very nice plays. We ran some plays that were executed very very well. We had a reverse that was done pretty well. We had a couple play-action passes that were nicely done. We had some outside zone plays that got the corner nice, and we [were able to make] one-cut and run. I think those things were good. The biggest issues were interceptions. That's got to go away, because that's going to come back and haunt you, and then we had some penalties. Most of them were from first time players. Not all of them, but some of them were first-time players. We had a false start. We had a premature snap one time. So, you know, I hope that's first game stuff. It'll go away as we play more."

How does Drake Johnson's injury change the running back position?

"Well it's just one less guy. He was the first guy up after Fitz [Toussaint]. He was playing well and he was really learning our offense from the perspective of protection. He was a guy that was able to do some of the things Fitz could do, [Thomas] Rawls could do, guys that have been in our system for a while. So that hurts. That hurts. He's a good player who's going to become a better player as he plays more. Hurts our depth and we lose a guy that's not only a good offensive player but a good special teams player, too."

Was the running game good enough for you?

"It's never good enough. I'm never -- but it's a good start. It's a good place to start. We had some nice runs. We sprung our backs a few times. That's always good. With all due respect to Central -- I thought they played really hard and they're a well coached team -- this will be more of a challenge this week for obvious reasons. We'll see if we can meet that challenge, but I mean it was a good start I guess."

How do you coach Devin's improvisational skills?

"He's a little bit like Denard. You don't want to use bad judgment but still want to allow him to use his athleticism, because it certainly -- as you could see early in the game particularly -- buys you time. He's a third play guy. You guys have heard me talk about the third play, right? He's a third play guy. The third pass play when there's breakdowns, he can make something happen. Earlier in the game, [he scrambled] more than [making] the third play, but as the game went on, it became more of a third game proposition, so he was throwing the balls and scrambling less. But the answer to that question is you can't keep him from doing what he does. Nor would you want to. You just have to make sure you're always using good judgment. Every play is different. Sometimes he gets out of a mess, and you have to tell him what he should have done or shouldn't have done. It applies to the other players as it does to him. You have to have some structure within your improv. We talk a lot about how we're going to adjust once the pocket's broken. You have certain rules that we use. On the one where he hit Drew Dileo early in the game, the scramble rules were close to perfect. Everybody did pretty much what they were supposed to do when the quarterback scrambles to his right."


"Yeah he just got fooled a little bit. After the fact, he would have liked to have pulled it back, but he got fooled a little bit. It's a credit to the other team, too. The other one he got hit on. He wanted to throw the ball because we didn't really win the double move, and I think he was trying to throw the ball behind [Jeremy Gallon], but he got hit and the ball floated. That's a tough one."

Derrick Green had 11 carries. What did you see from him?

"Oh he's a pounding type back. He's a good, strong kid that I'm sure they feel him when they tackle him. It was a great opportunity to get him the ball to run some, because it was the first game of the season, you never know what's going to happen. We got him some carries, and he got a feel for college football. Freddy [Jackson]'s on him now to fix some of the things he did wrong, but I thought for the first time he did a good job."

What did he do to elevate himself on the depth chart?

"He carried the ball, didn't fumble it, number one. That's huge. You don't want to assume that. Didn't fumble it. Didn't make a lot of bad running decisions. Ran the ball pretty much where we wanted him to. So he grew a little bit. I don't know if that means anything, but he grew a little bit with those carries."

Has he lost weight?

"I don't know. Fred [Jackson] monitors that. I don't know what it is right now."

Would you like one guy to establish himself as a goal line running back?

"Well, it's different from game to game. We'll feature different backs in different situations based on what we think they do best. It could change week to week. Like I've always said, I like the feature back. The guy that's going to carry the ball more than the rest of the guys. They're interchangeable in certain situations, because one guy may do something, whether it be blocking or running, better than other guys."

Shane Morris took extended snaps. How did you feel about his game?

"He did a pretty good job. His biggest issues are fundamental flaws, whether it be taking false steps under center in the run game, following through on fakes, things that freshmen -- they're in there and they're so fired up to be in there they forget a lot of what they've been coached to do. He had one ball that floated on him that got tipped and intercepted, which probably wasn't a very good decision, but he made a couple very nice plays. He had a couple pitch and catch throws where he hit the guy in stride. He looked like the guy we recruited."

He handled himself well?

"He was loving life. He came out and looked around. He told me in warmups, he goes, 'Coach, this is COOL!" I said, 'Yeah, this is big boy football.' And it's going to get bigger this week."

You talked about game spasms. Did you feel like you avoided that?

"Uh, not totally. But yeah, for the first game it wasn't terrible. But we had a few game spasms still. A few guys did some things where you wonder why. To a degree, that's a little bit expected. It is a first game and you have a lot of new guys playing. Our goal is to eliminate that. I mean, get that where, if you get beat doing what you're supposed to do using your technique, sometimes as a coach it's hard to complain about that. If it happens too much you simply replace the player. It's good to have a game where you are afforded the luxury of a couple game spasms, because as it gets more into the grind here, you're not going to be afforded that luxury."

How did Jack Miller do in his first start?

"Jack did good. He got us on the same page most of the time. He had a couple errors, but he was pretty solid. Again, he's a guy who's learning too. Hasn't played much, and he's got to kind of -- it's a process for him. Center's not an easy position to play. It's going to get tougher this week, because they've got a big nose guard that can cause problems in there."

What stands out about Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt?

"Well, they're as good as anybody we'll play, we think. Across the board. They've got a stout nose guard, two athletic defensive ends. Their linebacking, they don't have Te'o anymore, but they have pretty active kids. Solid cover guys in the back end. They know their system pretty well because they've been playing in it for a while. They'll be formidable."

Are there things that they did to you last year that you can learn from? Or is it not applicable?

"Oh I think so. I think you still can. We're so different now, I think that's what you're getting at. There's still a little carry-over here and there that you can steal from a season ago. Denard took a lot of physical and figurative hits in that game. A lot of those balls he got intercepted, he was hit on. They weren't all just easy pitch and catch, uncontested throws. Which tells us we need to take care of our quarterback so he can see the throws. That's part of our planning, too."

MGoQuestion: As far as blocking goes, how did Jehu Chesson do?

"Our receivers in general, not just Jehu, but everybody got after guys. They always have. Jeff [Hecklinski] coaches those guys to be aggressive. They're going to run down there and they're going to mix it up. We don't have receivers that are going to run down the field five steps and [not block] so we'd be playing basically with 10 guys. They won't be in the game. We're going to mix it up every game, and I thought all our guys, including Jehu, were willing participants for doing just that."

Are there guys that will play Tuitt and Nix on the scout team?

"We're kind of establishing that right now, but yes. There will be."

Is there some pride that comes with playing those guys?

"Oh yeah. Yes, there is. You bet there is. And we tell them, 'You have to do this this way because this is what we're going to deal with,' and last week the scout team did a very nice job of simulating what we're going to see. I don't have any doubt they're going to do the same this week."

Who decides on that?

"We all kind of decide it together. What you don't want to do is you don't want the scouts playing positions they don't play, so then they don't grow. So you'd like a nose guard playing nose guard so that he can go in the position, even though he's not playing with the travel squad. We all kind of decide."

Do you know who's going to simulate Nix?

"Oh I think so, but we'll determine that. Yeah I think so. We'll find somebody. Yeah. As a matter of fact I have somebody in mind as we speak. Not going to say who, but yeah. I think there's somebody who can." [MGo: Five bucks says it's Maurice Hurst, Jr.]

Two guys or one guy?

"Hehehe. Boy, sometime's ... he is a load. He's not easy to move."

Brady says he holds his breath every time Devin improvises. Do you?

"Oh yeah. It's like watching a guy shoot a three-point shot sometimes. It looks ill-advised, like 'No! No! ... Oh, good shot.' There's some of that, too. But I know one thing about Devin. If he uses good judgment, which he usually does scrambling -- we had a couple interceptions, but neither were on improv plays. If he uses good judgment, he's a problem for the defense. There's some stuff you simply don't draw up on the board that you can account for. You have to cover him and the receivers. That's not easy to do."

As far as the offensive line goes, will the competition continue?

"Oh yeah. That's not over. That's ongoing. That is ongoing. Our depth charts are in pencil. That's an ongoing competition that week to week could change in a minute. Right now we are what we are and we'll see how things go as the week progresses."

Does Devin sell a play action pass as well as you can?

"Yeah. He's good at it. He's a long-armed guy, which truly helps. I've had different quarterbacks, but the long-armed guys that could extended the ball that could make the defense believe there's a connection with the back really [fools] the defense. Denard wasn't a bad play-passer, but his profile didn't cater to those long and convincing fakes. But Devin, he's good at it. I've had a couple guys just like him."

Even in the NFL, it seems like some guys are just going through the motions.

"Well you have to understand, faking's different. Certain fakes don't require animated movements. Certain fakes require -- we call them 'poke' [?] fakes or 'token' fakes, where you're just trying to freeze the defense for a second and beat them with timing. Where other throws, you're really trying to sell the hell out of it, make them believe they're coming up so you can get hard bites and take the ball behind them. Just because you don't see a great fake, that could be by design. Sometimes it's by design. Sometimes it's by -- they're all by design with us, but they're not all animated fakes."

How hopeful are you be about Joe Reynolds playing this Saturday?

"I think Joe's going to be fine."

Can you talk about his impact?

"Yeah, he's a self-made receiver. He really is. He's got some ability, don't get me wrong, but he's basically busted his tail to put himself in the position he's in. I'm not sure two years ago I would have guessed he would be in this position, but because of his work ethic and his toughness, he's just sticking with it. He made himself a very very valuable entity."

You've coached around this country. Is Michigan-Notre Dame a regional rivalry?

"No. No. A regional rivalry? I was pretty aware of Michigan-Notre Dame when I was in California. I guess it's a 'regional' rivalry, but it goes beyond that."



September 4th, 2013 at 11:20 AM ^

The thing I'm picking up on is that whenever a play breaks down, Dileo's always where the QB needs him to be.  Maybe I'm making too much of it, but thinking back to the MSU game last year, and the shovel TD vs. South Carolina -- I swear, on one of Devin's QB scrambles last Saturday I got deja vu.  His rollout looked so unhurried I felt he was buying time behind the LoS, waiting, waiting, then BOOM!  Dileo's in front of him, wide open.  Devin could've scrambled but if that was the plan he woulda/shoulda/coulda taken off a lot sooner.  I think he knew Dileo would come through.

I wonder if that's scheme, coaching or just Dileo being Dileo?  He definitely seems to do that on purpose, and giving an already-athletic QB who isn't shy about scrambling, like Gardner, a late pass option seems invaluable.

I think what I'm trying to say is, Dileo is as much a "third play" receiver as Devin Gardner is a "third play" QB.  Gardner definitely looks to Gallon as his favorite target, but when things break down, he's looking for The Threat.


September 4th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

This was deja vu.  I guess didn't see the Minnesota pass from the same angles, or something else was different such that my memory didn't fire.  Or I could just be going senile.

These are broken plays but not without design, as Borges says above, so I wonder about the execution.  I'm going off a clearly flawed memory, but it seems to me that Dileo runs a fair number of slants, possibly to beat the blitz?  When the defense stays in Cover-2, Dileo never seems to be open.  But as the play breaks down Dileo runs through his route, right through the MLB's zone and into the opposite flat.  If the pocket hasn't collapsed but the MLB's blitzing, Dileo's open and the QB takes it.  If not, I think by design the QB rolls out in the same direction Dileo's going.  The defender covering the flat is faced with an impossible choice -- go after Devin leaving Dileo wide open, or cover Dileo and give Devin a free first down.  The safeties can't help because presumably Gallon and Chesson are running deep routes.  Wasn't there one recent pass where Devin basically tossed it right over the WLB's head to Dileo?  Was that the Minnesota one?

Space Coyote

September 4th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

And they are practiced regularly. The basics of it are

  1. If you are on the scramble side hash or inside you are breaking to the sideline
  2. If you are outside the scramble side hash your are turning out to the sideline and gaining depth up field
  3. Run to open grass, so if you are on the same level as another receiver running to the sideline, angle your route to get on a different level

There are clauses for point 1 and 2

  1. If the defender gets on top of you, turn him deep and then come back to the ball on the sideline
  2. If the defender gets in front of you, push him to the sideline and stop at the hash

In the game Saturday Dileo was breaking to the sideline, the defender got ahead of him, so he pushed him by and stopped near the hash.

In the play against Minnesota, Dileo got to the sideline and turned downfield and became wide open as the defense lost him.


September 4th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

Ok so my follow up question is, how much credit does Dileo deserve?  Some plays he seems to be wide, WIDE open, but it happens often enough that I have a hard time thinking it's bad defense.  It's almost like the defenses are coached to converge on a collapsing pocket, especially against mobile QBs as a scramble can turn into. . . well, a 22-yard TD.

Is Dileo comparatively good at these sorts of WR scrambles?

Space Coyote

September 4th, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

As a slot, he's in a good position to come open regardless of where the QB scrambles, so that's part of it from a position perspective. But he also has a good feel for it. Scramble drills are very much about feeling where the defense is and going and getting into open areas, being fluid, and not over thinking it. Dileo does a good job of knowing where to expect open grass to open up, feeling when a defender is by him, and when he should turn up field. So it's kind of a combination of position and ability.

FWIW: Defenses have scramble drills as well. Who is supposed to step up if the QB breaks contain, how is the defense supposed to roll it's coverage. So yes, as the QB starts to look for ways out of the pocket, the defense will converge, roll, move to try to limit the QB's ability to run and throw into open lanes.

Space Coyote

September 4th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

I explain how Gardner got fooled on the first INT here. FWIW, if you don't want to check the link, I'm pretty sure DG thought he saw cover 4 and made his reads pre-snap. Tomorrow the post talks about the second one. I made the correct assumption as far as it being a double move, and also get more into the blocking breakdown.

Blue since birth

September 4th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

"Tomorrow the post talks about the second one."

I hope it points out that he was hit in the midsection before the ball even cleared the back of his helmet during his throwing motion. I've been arguing with a couple guys (who apparently don't have DVRs)... "The ball was already gone" and "just got into his feet a little".

I thought something similar watching live. But going frame by frame it was clearly not the case.


September 4th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

Good grief, I've never seen a fanbase so completely obsessed over a 5-10 lbs on one guy. We're worse than a bunch of sorority girls when it comes to gossiping about someone's weight.


September 4th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

as much as they do Mattison; it's not as though the D hasn't had as many breakdowns as the offense, these past two years. This guy's candor and intelligence always win me over. And in a general way--last week makes pretty clear--he is doing the right thing, in terms of exploiting his true potential, with DG.


September 4th, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

See: The Game, 2012 edition (specifically second half).

I actually agree with you that he is an intelligent and often hilarious guy but in many of the big games he hasn't been able to come through.

Obviously he's not on the field and player execution is hugely important but you've got to put players in a position to succeed. Denard throwing deep 10 plus times a game is not putting him in a position to succeed (didn't happen specifically in The Game last year because of the ulnar nerve but in other games it did).

Anyway don't mean to rag on the guy and definitely hope he succeeds this year with talented players that are getting closer to the style he'd like to play.


September 4th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

But if you want to pick out just single (big) games of bad performances on defense you could say Notre Dame 2011, The Game 2011, South Carolina 2013, and The Game 2012 edition (specifically the first half). Heck, depending on how big you treat Northwestern last year, that wasn't a glowing performance either.

Point being both sides of the ball have bad games, and sometimes one side of the ball will bail the other out (see OSU 2011 or the Sugar Bowl), and sometimes they just both do badly enough together to lose. 


September 4th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

Two things:

1) Mattison has the Heininger Certainty Principle.  He's coached up guys like whoah, whereas Borges hasn't worked the same miracle with our O-line.  But this may have less to do with Borges being bad than Mattison being just that good.  It's not like Mattison had otherworldly talent to work with, either -- he had to move a lot of people around.  When he first arrived, Mattison made his fair share of mistakes in trying to get the players to do too much -- transition from using NFL talent, I'd imagine.  But I really don't think Craig Roh is any more talented than Patrick Omameh, yet Mattison eventually coached up Roh into something productive if unspectacular whereas it seems Borges never stops calling upon his players to do stuff they're clearly incapable of.  Mattison somehow finds a sweet spot between what he wants to do and what the players are capable of; I think Borges tries but on some level I sense he wants nothing more than to leave RRod's pieces behind him and work with players he doesn't have to adjust to.  Again, this may not be an indictment of Borges; I think Mattison could well be the best DC in the country.

2) This is a personal thing for me, but Mattison is more directly accountable, in a way I downright admire.  I distinctly remember some pressers where there was a breakdown and he said, "That was me.  [The player] was only doing what I coached him to do."  Borges talks in platitudes about the coaches being accountable, but never once has he been anywhere near as specific.  Again, Mattison is open like few coaches I've seen -- most tend to be arrogant, even indignant -- but while I'd compare Borges favorably to most college coaches, he's clearly a step behind Mattison in this respect as well.

Space Coyote

September 4th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

Michigan has always been a defense oriented team, Mattison brought back something that was obviously missing, where as Borges wasn't the point a minute offense that Rich Rod used.

Mattison also came from the NFL to be at Michigan.

Mattison is also a big time recruiter, something that Borges really isn't outside of QBs.


September 4th, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

Notre Dame had 5  turnovers in 2011 game, despite outgaining UM.

Michigan had 6 (5 INTs!) turnovers in the 2012 game, despite outgaining ND.

I'm not saying UM or ND will be conservative, but with 2 experienced QBs, the one who eff's up the least probably will be on the winning side.

I like the mobile QB in games like these because both sides have pretty decent DLs.