A Week In The Life Of Al Borges (part 1) Comment Count

Heiko May 20th, 2013 at 5:41 PM

[Finally: A one-on-one chat with Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges that has been eight months in the making. In part 1, Borges describes a typical game week, talks about game planning, and shows me what his call sheet looks like.] 

“Heiko, what’s up?”

Not much, how are you?

“Just wonderful. How are you?”

Good. It’s good to see you.

“… Yeah.”

How’s the offseason?

“What offseason? I’m not seeing it.”

Oh yeah, you have recruiting stuff.

“It’s always the onseason.”

Anyway, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview.

“Yeah, it took us a while, but we finally found a time.”

I’m really interested to hear you describe a typical game week during the season, from Saturday to Saturday. A lot of our readers don’t know what happens behind the scenes, so it would be great if you could take us behind the scenes a little bit.

“Well the best way to start is not on Saturday. The best way to start is on Sunday. What we generally do is we come in and watch the previous game and grade it so that we can something to submit to the players and then after that -- we grade it on our own and then watch it ourselves together just to make sure that we’ve corrected all the errors we need to crrect. After that we have practice, which is brief. It’s not very long. It’s just to stretch our legs a little bit and see who’s injured and such.”

Do you work on fixing the mistakes?

“Generally we will go back over errors. Sometimes we’ll work on the pieces of the game plan for the next week, but most of the time it’s error correction. Following that, we come back in and have dinner, and then we have independent film study Sunday night, where all of us go on our own. Every coach on the staff has a designated responsibility with regard to the game plan. A certain coach has third down. A certain coach has red zone. A certain coach has goal line, short yardage, run game -- all the assistant coaches are assigned certain scenarios so that when we meet on Monday morning, everybody is prepared to present their presentation. They’re asked to be experts on what the opponent does in those situations.”

And you use cut-ups from opponents’ previous games, right?

“Right. But we don’t do them. The film people put together a certain amount of designated cut-ups with all those situations that we’re talking about.”

When does that happen?

“That happens prior to Sunday. They’ve already done it all. The’ve already done all the breakdowns. All of the GAs and the interns start the breakdown the week before, sometimes a couple weeks before. We do our film study on Sunday night. All of that’s cut up for us so that we go straight to it. I might look at a cut-up of screen passes to see what successful screens have been thrown against a certain team, if any. Sometimes a team’s hard to screen. So we cut it up in screen passes, nakeds, certain things that we may have in our offense to see if they work. And then we’ll look at those scenarios I’m talking about. Fred Jackson will be looking at third down. Jeck Hecklinski will be looking at red zone all by himself. I’ll be looking at general first and ten offense and all the formations that we may use during the course of the game.

“When we leave here Sunday night, we have a basic idea of what we’re dealing with on Monday morning. We come back in and all of us meet. We start the meeting, I don’t know, about eight o’clock. We will offensively meet from eight in the morning until probably 12 together and then just talk about first and ten offense and all this stuff we’ve studied off the tape and come up with a plan for early downs … run … play-action pass …”

Are any of the players involved in these meetings?

“No. No. They’re all off on Monday. We don’t even see the players on Monday.”

So most of the game planning happens on Monday.

“On Monday, right. That day is a clean slate for us, because we’re focused from morning, noon, to night on putting a plan together so that when we practice on Tuesday, we’re good to go.”

After breaking down the opponent’s defense, how do you come up with the game plan? Do you draw up new plays? Do you just take what you’ve already installed and just focus on a subset of plays?

“The nucleus of the offense is always intact. You never want to have to recreate the wheel, but there’s always nuance, you know. There’s certain things within your offense that you’ll tap more in one game than you might in another. You’ll have certain elements of surprise, whether it be with new plays or new formations or new shifts or something.”

How often do you add new plays or formations?

“Every week. Every single week there will be something new we will do.”

Do you do that more with certain opponents?

“No. I mean … No. After film study, sometimes there are teams that might be more vulnerable to certain stuff. But no. We go on with our game plan. We’re going to have a certain amount of plays regardless of what they do, and we’re going to have a certain amount of plays we’re going to run only if they do a certain thing. And then we’re going to run a certain amount of plays based on camouflage when they’re dressing for the play so they can’t tell what play’s coming, or a completely new play. So all those things. It’s not one thing. It’s a bunch of things.”

Who generally gives you input during that process?

“Everyone does.”

What about coach Hoke?

“Coach Hoke has the plan presented to him once we’re done. Coach Hoke is more involved on the defensive side of the ball. What we do is we put together the plan and we present the plan and the approach to him. And if there’s anything he doesn’t like about the plan or the approach, he’ll tell us and we’ll tweak it to accommodate what he doesn’t want. He sits in there, for example, when we go back over the tape on Sundays. He will watch the tape with us and see how well the plan was implemented and offer us suggestions. Maybe personnel suggestions, maybe schematic suggestions or whatever just to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Does the defense plan independently as well?

“Oh yeah. They have a plan for what they’re going to see and we have a plan for what we’re going to see.”

Is there any mutual self-scouting between offense and defense?

“No, not once the season starts. Not really at all, truth be told. We play against each other in two-a-days and we play against each other in spring football, but once we break into game planning, we scheme to beat the opponent. We still have crossover periods where we’ll go against each other --”

During the season?

“Yeah. Oh yeah. So we get fast looks against each other. We’ll do things so that we’re not always facing the scout team.”

I see. That’s really interesting (which is why I’m totally going to forget to follow up on it later). So Monday you decide on the game plan and you send it out to the players --

“No. Next day. We have no contact with the players on Monday. Anything they do they have to do it by themselves independently. It’s almost better that way because then we can have a little time together to put it together before we present it. So that’s what we do on Monday. When they come Tuesday, we have a plan ready for them that we’re going to implement and work on over the next three days.”

So you practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. What does each day look like?

“It’s different depending on the day. Tuesday day it would be addressing basically first-and-10 offense, second-and-medium offense -- your normal down-and-distance offense. Wednesday we would work more on red-zone offense, short-yardage offense, those types of things which are more directly related to scenarios … third-down offense … ”

And this is when you get the scout team to mimic everything the other defense would do.

“Exactly. Exactly. They just demo basically what the defense does and what you’re doing is constantly putting your offense in different scenarios. Blitz scenarios, coverage scenarios, red area, third down … You’re trying to test them on what they’re going to see knowing that they’re never going to see it probably at the same tempo that they will from the scouts. But you do the best you can to get as close as you can.”

What happens during position group meetings?

“Well, we have position meetings and some unit meetings where we’ll bring the offense together. We’ll present the philosophy behind the plan or just maybe some motivational things. We’ll meet several different ways. We’ll meet invidually more than anything, where you’ll be with your position coach so he can hone in on exactly what he wants you to do. When we meet as a unit, we call it a unit meeting where the coordinator will meet with the offense and cover some overall game plan pieces. And then you have full team meetings with the head coach and we can talk about what our goal for the week is. And then you’ll have a special teams meeting and you’ll lose some players when they meet with coach Ferrigno. We have a lot of different ways to meet.”

You work with the quarterbacks personally.

“Yes.”

 Is that uncommon for an offensive coordinator to do without a quarterbacks coach?

“No. That’s very common. Most coordinators work with quarterbacks. Not all do, because there are some that don’t, but most coordinators -- I saw something on that just the other day on how many guys [do it]. There was a survey. I saw most coordinators work with quarterbacks than anything else.”

What kinds of things do you work on with them? Footwork? Mechanics? Scheme?

“Oh, everything. Everything. You have to understand a coordinator has to wear a lot of hats. He is a multifaceted guy. He has to coach the quarterback -- he’s a position coach -- yet he has to have a hand in everything that goes on on the offensive side of the ball. He has to make sure that every correction is made correctly and is coordinated. Is he the line coach? No. The line coach knows more about the line than the coordinator does, but the coordinator has to make sure the line isn’t working independently from the running backs or quarterbacks. He has to coordinate the entire effort. If the pieces don’t fit together properly, then that’s a reflection of the coordinator and no one else. The depth of the route has to correlate with how deep the quarterback’s dropping, for example. If the depth of the route is being taught 16 yards deep, and the quarterback is not taking a corresponding drop, you have a lack of coordination.

“So all those pieces on every play -- you’re talking about literally hundreds of plays -- have to fit together and have to be coordinated. Blocking schemes, protection, route depths, landmarks for running backs, timing in the passing game, depth of patterns -- every piece has to be coordinated by the coordinator.”

And the quarterback has to understand all of those elements as well.

“Yeah, pretty much. But that’s not just ours. That’s pretty much any offense.”

With a guy like Devin who’s been in the system for three years now, what sorts of things do you focus on? I mean, do you still go through fundamentals during the season?

“Every day there’s some fundamental work. Some days longer than others depending on how much individual time you have during the course of the practice, but every day we go through a fundamental training of your footwork and how you -- all the little pieces of timings and throws. And sometimes there are individual periods where you’re working just with the quarterbacks, and sometimes there are periods where you’re working with another group. Maybe you’re working with the wide receivers, and maybe you’re working with some exchanges in the run game.”

Do you feel like there’s still a lot left to explain?

“Well there’s always something to explain, but it’s like you in school. If you’ve heard the same thing 50 times, you’ve probably have a lot better shot at knowing it than if you’ve heard it just once. We’re no longer a blank slate, now. As Shane Morris comes in, he’s a blank slate. But Devin’s not a blank slate, so you’re not starting from the beginning. But as a coach the one thing I’ve learned is you never assume anything. You go right back to the beginning when you coach each play. If it’s redundant then that’s fine, because coaching is about repetition and constantly repeating yourself even if in fact it bores a kid to tears because sometimes it’ll sink in after a while. But so much more is understood at this point, to answer your question.”

I see (and I would like to know more but we are straying off topic). So you work on something different each day of practice.

“Yeah. They’re all different. Wednesday’s more of a situational day, as is Thursday, when you’re working on two-minute, third-down periods, you recap your short-yardage, goal-line -- there’s some review involved in there, too. You have pieces of each day where you review the day before. You can’t spend a whole lot of time on that because you have to get to the next day, but certain things that were screwed up on day one that would need to be polished, you would go back to do it again on day two.”

Do you still script plays, by the way?

“Yeah. 15-17 plays. Yeah. We do that. That’s not new, though. That used to be an interesting thing. Used to get asked so many questions about that, but everyone does it.”

Do you rehearse the scripted plays in practice?

“Yeah. You rehearse them during the week and then you re-rehearse them on Thursday just to go back over it, because by Thursday you have an idea of what order you’re going to run them in. But you’re running them all through the week, so you constantly rehearse them.”

“Let me show you something, and this will probably help you a little bit.”

[Borges pulls out a big laminated sheet that has many color-coded panels. Kind of looks like Windows 8.]

“This was our Notre Dame game plan.”

[@[email protected]]

“This --

[Borges points to first column.]

“-- would be the opening plays. And then these would be your ‘2nd down and 8+’ plays. And then you have a bunch of mini offenses in here, like when you’re coming out and backed up in your own goal line, you have a certain amount of runs and passes. This is so you can spit the play out fast. …”

[Borges continue pointing to panels that have lines of text that say something like “PA WIZ X Fly Z Out.” That’s probably not what any of them actually said (my photographic memory requires a lot of photoshop), but I think that particular line means play-action weak inside zone with the X receiver running a fly and the Z running an out.]

“… Third and short, third and medium, third and eight yards or more … goal line … you’re down inside the three-yard line … and then red-area plays … red zone … Everything’s based on film study. And once you’re through the openers, you have a certain amount of runs that you may want to run that didn’t make the cut in the openers. And you have a certain amount of passes that didn’t make the cut that you still want to run.”

How many plays are on this thing?

“Well, a lot of those are repeated in there. They’re not all individual, but some of them are. Two-minute situation, four-minute situation trying to run the clock out … and then you have general offense, like these are the plays by formation if you ever want to refer to plays by formation. And then if you just want to pick a play, for example, if I want to run a naked pass I have that’s available as either a stick or a screen, or a certain kind of special gadget play … You have a fast offense, which is Nascar.

“It’s all just a reference sheet is all it is. You have to understand when you’re calling the plays, you can’t balk, otherwise you have a delay of game. You have to have something ready and you have to be thinking ahead before you call that play. And all this preparation’s about that. It’s about having a play that has a chance to succeed, still knowing that regardless of what you call, you’re a victim of execution. You call some good plays, you call some bad ones. At the end of the day I’ve called some really good plays that weren’t executed very well. I’ve called some bad calls where the athleticism of the player bailed me out, so it’s worked both ways.”

Friday is mostly rest day, but you do a walk-through.

“Yeah. Exactly. That’s what it is. Special teams … basically a walk-through.”

Do you make any changes to the game plan on Friday?

“No. I don’t make any new decisions after Monday. Some coordinators, some head coaches will draw up a play on Friday night. [Shoot] I’ve seen guys do it on Saturday. Heh. I’m just not secure with that. If I don’t feel like we’ve practiced it into all the scenarios or at least some scenarios, I’m not confident the play will work when I call it. So I don’t do it, whereas a lot of guys will come up with plays on the bus.”

Have you ever felt unprepared at the end of the week?

“Never. Never once. I’ve never felt unprepared in 27 years of coordinating the offense. Now, we’ve LOOKED unprepared at times … But I’ve never gone to sleep the night before going, ‘Oh my God, we’re not ready.’ We overkill it, Heiko. That’s what you have to understand. We OVERkill it. I used to get really nervous before football games back in 1986 when I first started doing this. I was nervous. I couldn’t talk. I wouldn’t talk to anybody Friday night. I wouldn’t talk to anybody Saturday. But that stopped about 15, 20 years ago.”

UCLA.

“Yeah, probably around UCLA. That’s about right. I stopped getting nervous. I’d still get a little nervous, but nothing like I did -- NOTHING like I did. That’s all about preparation. I’ve felt that we’re ready to go. We’ve done everything we can to prepare this football team, and I’ve done everything I can -- and again, we overkill it. That’s why we’re here so late at night and that’s why we work on all that stuff. We overkill the prep, and sometimes it shows up, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you’ll swear we didn’t meet 10 minutes when you watch some of the plays.

“At the end of the day you’re a victim to execution or matchups. Sometimes you don’t match up very well -- that doesn’t happen a lot here -- but it’s just part of the deal. It’s still kids running the plays. Those aren’t X’s and O’s. They’re people.”

Comments

LB

May 20th, 2013 at 6:01 PM ^

there is no off-season! Oh ye of little faith.

Great work, Heiko!! (Note the double exclamation marks. That must mean something.)

AFMich

May 20th, 2013 at 6:02 PM ^

when I first found this blog as to the level of analysis it contained. But this, this is amazing. Well done Heiko, what an amazing effort and level of access I never thought I'd see on a blog. Cheers!

gwkrlghl

May 20th, 2013 at 6:27 PM ^

  1. Heiko meets Borges for interview; Kills Al. 
  2. Heiko shaves head and dons Al's glasses and jacket. Pretends to be Al for next year.
  3. MGoBlog fully infiltrates athletic department for unparalleled access to Michigan sports.
  4. Unexpected benefit: we stop running Vincent Smith Iso's on 3rd and 1

MGoSteelers

May 20th, 2013 at 8:49 PM ^

Choose your own adventure!

 

A) Heiko meets Borges for interview; Kills Al. Turn to page 44

B) Heiko shaves head and dons Al's glasses and jacket. Pretends to be Al for next year. Turn to page 92

C) MGoBlog fully infiltrates athletic department for unparalleled access to Michigan sports. Turn to page 26

D) We stop running Vincent Smith Iso's on 3rd and 1. Turn to page 83

Wolfman

May 20th, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

We all know that Al made some questionable decisions in a couple crucial contests last year that probably led to a couple of losses we should not have taken, namely OSU. As strange as it sounds, I think he may have been hampered by having the greatest offensive threat in UM history along with Devin, after the switch, in the same backfield. I think the thought, and it's only logical, was "we must get the ball into Lace's hands," and this often lead to the wrong play being called.  Never more evident than in the second half of the OSU game where we would pick up 8 on a first down pass and then abandon it and come up short on the next two plays, only to repeat it over and over.                                                        ^As stated, the above may sound strange, but I think Al will be freed this season to call the game he is used to calling primarily due to the fact he's working with the type of qb he has normally recruited and coached. He has proven through the years that he is  a very capable coordinator, and even as young as our OL line is, with the emergence of Kalis-per leaks coming out of AA- we should have three very solid OLmen and a nice TE, although we will still have the option of moving him outside now and then to gain mismatches, although when in normal formation it creates a hell of a matchup for lbers as is, so that's a plus in both areas.                     ^Although we haven't had great successs with 5* RBs, i.e. Fargas-although I don't know if stars existed at that time- and Grady, the possibility of DG coming in in the manner of a freshman  Mike Hart excites me, plus I think it will motivate Fitz to be the best he can be from Day one and he'll fight hard to keep hold of that job. We are building depth there and there are others that could easily have great seasons.   It sets up well for us, I believe, inasmuch as many are overlooking us and expecting a dropoff in production due to our losses of DR and much of the OL. With Al now having the luxury of calling plays he is comfortable with and the type of qb he is used to designing a plan around, this could prove to be a nice unit. I just hope it gels during the ND game at maximum efficiency because I sure would like to send them off our schedule with at least two of their last three games vs. us ending up on the wrong side of their ledger.             ^Apologize again for the way in which I have to break up my paragraphs.  But again, great job and as the others said, things we just don't normally gain access to.

Blue in Seattle

May 20th, 2013 at 7:21 PM ^

Unless you know the plays he's calling, and know exactly how well each of 11 players executed their assignment each time, there is now way you can make the statement "We all know that Al made some questionable decisions".  You can't know that unless you are on the coaching staff.

But the amazing part is how you use the awesome athleticism of the players take the blame for the "questionable decisions" by the coaches.

The reason Coordinator salaries are on the rise is because they put in 20 hours a day planning for a game all week, and then get to read completely uninformed criticism of them afterwards, usually completely independent of the result of the game.  I don't mind analyzing a play and figuring out how it should have worked, or how it didn't exploit the weakness of the defense that was called, etc.  Afterall, there is still a bunch of coaches and players on the other side, who have worked just as hard at figuring out how to exploit weakness of their opponent.  The reason I watch the game is because, after all of that almost equal preparation,  the final outcome is a result of team effort and luck on each and every play.

And that's why they play the game.

WolvinLA2

May 20th, 2013 at 8:47 PM ^

Yeah, I agree with this.  I'm not against questioning a coach now and then, but it's really easy to watch a bunch of plays that don't work and say "it was dumb to run those plays" because, obviously.  And I certainly got frustrated during the second half of that OSU game, but that probably has a lot more to do with the fact that our offense wasn't working as well in the second half as the first half, and not so much with the playcalling itself.  

After that game, I would think to myself "why did we run so much of that, and not more of this?" But in reality, there's a really good answer to that question, one that our entire coaching staff knows, and it boils down to "based on our very extensive research and preparation, that it what we felt would work best."  

dragonchild

May 20th, 2013 at 9:01 PM ^

"Unless you know the plays he's calling, and know exactly how well each of 11 players executed their assignment each time, there is now way you can make the statement "We all know that Al made some questionable decisions"."

Right, because I-form with Vincent Smith worked so well last season.

The dude's a cool cat, but nothing good ever came from unquestioning fealty.  It's immature at best and dangerously delusional at worst.  But what I find most annoying is the hypocrisy, because Borges' decisions have been REPEATEDLY questioned by MGoBlog's regular contributors, including Heiko himself.  Here's one from Blue Seoul:

"Sometimes you just look at things like that and go "COME ON, AL!" And it doesn't have to even be a bubble screen.  A zero yard hook probably gets a first down.  Any kind of short combo route is wide open.  The bubble probably goes for 20 yards, a Hook n' Ladder is a TD.  But instead it's a slam into the LOS for no gain. "

Sure enough that diary was trollrated into existence like it should've been.  Oh, no wait, it got 21 recs and 0 downvotes and while my memory's fuzzy I think it was even frontpaged.  It sounds like someone questioned Al's decision and everyone was A-okay with it then.  Well?

Frankly, questioning Borges is how Heiko earned Borges' respect in the first place.  The "bubble screen" running gag didn't start out as a joke; it was MGoBlog challenging Borges.  Where the hell did you come from to decide who gets to criticize our OC??  Pointing out that he's human isn't the same as armchair quarterbacking FFS; the FIRST person to say he's made questionable decisions is. . . Al Borges.  He said it right there in the above interview!!

It never ceases to amaze me how the MGoBlog crew like Heiko, Brian, Seth, Ace et. al. can criticize Borges -- hell, even Al Borges can criticize Al Borges -- and while I think they deserve every ounce of credit they get, a random poster can make the exact same arguments and be trollrated into oblivion because. . . why?  Because suddenly Borges is now without question, or is there some magic rule in society where criticism is only valid if it comes from certain people?  I don't necessarily agree with the above post, but if you can't stand people saying Borges made questionable decisions, you're reading the wrong blog

It's amazing how a blog so rich with insightful analysis is tyranically controlled at the grassroots level by a bunch of prudes.  This post itself probably has about twenty seconds before it's dealt with, sixth-grader style.

WolvinLA2

May 20th, 2013 at 9:16 PM ^

There is middle ground, too.  You can say that Borges (or Mattison, holy be thy name) makes bad calls, and I'm sure every game he has a number of calls he wishes he made differently.  

But do you think Borges calls plays other than what our coaching staff thinks will be the best play to run in a given situation?  Every time we've run up the middle for no gain, Borges et al felt that was the best play given the situation.  Maybe he was setting up something else, or maybe he really thought it was the best shot for a first down.  Maybe we had a player banged up for a series that threw off the gameplan a bit, or maybe he saw something in the defense he wanted to exploit, but they adjusted.  

I guess the line is whether you're critiquing Borges or blaming him, because there's a difference.  

Blue in Yarmouth

May 21st, 2013 at 8:31 AM ^

You're absolutely right and I must say that your contributions are some of the best I find here on this blog as I find you to be one of the most level headed posters here.

I agree that there is a difference etween critiquing and blaming and sometimes it is a fine line. Personally I have had reservations about just how good a coordinator Al is but one thing I have not wondered about is Al the person. He seems like an absolutely awesome guy and there is no doubt he has a great knowledge of the game. I love listening to him and hope that he proves my reservations to be unfounded and coaches us to a lot of success in the future.

The point I'd like to make to the above poster who got negged for his post is points don't mean shit, so don't get upset because someone doesn't agrre with your post. Second, you have to remember that this site is frequented by fans (which is short for fanatic). As fans in the offseason we put the previous season behind us and look forward to a new season with optimism. We get over the fact that we had some issues with things during the last season and (sometimes blindly) look ahead with nothing but positives.

I probably had the same feelings about Al last season as you just described in your post, but that's the past and I'm choosing to believe that this year things will be different (and I think most of the posters here if they were being honest would say the same thing). Cheer up and look to the future with some optimism. Come the middle of the season if this team is struggling offensively like they did at times last year there will be more than ample oportunity to call Al into question again (with a lot of support from your fellow posters) without anyone jumping on you for it. 

But for now just enjoy things. Enjoy Al the person (and what an awesome and quirky person he seems to be) and hope things work out for him here because one thing is for certain, he's one of the good guys and from a character standpoint, he's a great fit for UM.

CooperLily21

May 21st, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

What you say about dragonchild can easily be said about you as well.  I always appreciate your content. and what you say is correct.  In my opinion, the mob mentality is the worst part of the Board.  It silences people that choose to think differently, which is a big problem because a lot of the people that don't post are the ones that could be great contributors.  I've seen several comments from "new" posters who stated they withheld their thoughts because they didn't want to be negged. A lot of us need to stop being assholes and try to learn from thoughtful content rather than negging it because its an unpopular opinion. 

As to the content of the original comment, I think Borges is obviously an interesting person and seems to be a great guy but I think its totally reasonable to critique his work product (he is a public figure!).  It may be unpopular or hard to read, but I think many of us would agree that his offense was not suited to maximizing Denard's skillset.  That was unfortunate but its totally normal - not every coordinator or offense could properly incorporate a once-in-a-lifetime player like Denard.  He's incredibly unique (and I think the NFL scouts would say the same thing). 

Neg away.

Ron Utah

May 21st, 2013 at 6:03 PM ^

All too often, rational people get marginalized, while the people in the margins get the headlines.

I was particularly disgusted with the post blaming Borges for the Ohio loss last season and dropping everything on his shoulders.  Did he make some calls that made me say/think WTF??!!  Yes.  But the second-half blocking was terrible, and some of the magic from the first half (Denard's TD run) wasn't exectued nearly as well in the 2nd.

Borges should get criticized.  That's what happens when you're a leader.  But I think a balanced approach to looking at what really went wrong is a lot more informative and valid than just, FIRE AL!  HIS PLAY-CALLING SUX!!!

I am glad Borges is our OC and I think he's a good coach.  I also think he makes bad calls sometimes, and that questioning those calls is valid.

Blue in Yarmouth

May 22nd, 2013 at 8:00 AM ^

It's gotten to the point where I just don't post much anymore unless it is something I feel very stongly about. Even though I know the points mean nothing, I take the constant flamebait or trolling tags above my post to mean people just don't find my contributions worthwhile and thus, stop contributing.

My intent on the post above was to attempt to convince the poster of something I haven't been able to quite do myself,  which is ignore the points and tags that appear above your posts because they don't mean a thing. The problem for me is though, they do mean something. They mean for whatever reason my fellow posters don't enjoy the content I contribute. That, to me, means far more than any point system this site has and has relegated me to sitting on the sidelines and only jumping in when something really gets me either upset or excited. 

Anyway, hopefully dragonchild has a little thicker skin than I do and can just totally ignore this whole point thing. 

gwkrlghl

May 20th, 2013 at 7:06 PM ^

I have to imagine MGoBlog really does have almost unparalleled access to the athletic department as compared to any other blog out there. MGoBlog gets interviews with the OC, has media passes, etc. I'm sure there's more. I mean, I'm pretty sure Brady Hoke and the whole staff is well aware of MGoBlog (on good terms). Who else can say that about their favorite team's coaching staff?

StephenRKass

May 20th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

I don't even know how to respond. I'll be re-reading this piece, and the comments, many times. This is incredible. I can hardly believe what you've done.

One request:  please profusely thank Al on behalf the mgoreadership. I'm just blown away.

grumbler

May 21st, 2013 at 7:50 PM ^

This.  Heiko, your writing has always impressed me.  That Al Borges would share so much with a blogger is just as impressive, if not more so.  Heiko, Brian, et al, please let Al know how much joy he brought to some Michigan fans with his decision to go ahead with this series.

I actually hope Al reads this blog and so knows first-hand how much this is true, but don't count on it: make it explicit.

MadMonkey

May 20th, 2013 at 7:29 PM ^

It is fantastic that you have developed your relationship with Borges to the point that he would trust you with an interview like this one.   Very impressive!

TrppWlbrnID

May 20th, 2013 at 7:32 PM ^

So glad the athletic dept hates the freep and decided to go with this sort access instead. Great interview.

I admit, I was bit iffy on al to start, but I am coming around just based on his relationship with Heiko, sort of a JD an Turk thing from Scrubs going on...

MCheerGirl

May 20th, 2013 at 7:35 PM ^

and I haven't even read this yet.  I feel like I need to savor it over a bottle of wine or one of the fancy beers you guys are always talking about.  Way to go Heiko

Tater

May 20th, 2013 at 7:38 PM ^

LIke many here, I am stunned at the amount of access given to Heiko.  Then again, maybe Borges is one of those few people intelligent enough to understand that giving access to a popular blog, where there is no agenda to be an asshole in the name of so-called "objectivity" or "journalism" could be a really great way to get great info out to those who ultimately "pay the freight" for the program: the fans.

This is much better work than most of the tabloid-style "reporters" who work for major media outlets would have produced.

Thanks, Heiko: great read and great work.

mbee1

May 20th, 2013 at 7:47 PM ^

Heiko,

Did Coach say when he watches film whether or not he'll watch an entire game? Personally, it's tough to get a "feel" for a team just by watching specific parts. I'd be curious to ask Borges that, along with if the coaches have the same role each week in the film breakdown and what his role is.

Great interview!

Mr. Yost

May 20th, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

Also, do they watch the TV broadcast?

I'm always interested in that because announcers DO point out some good stuff every now and again.

Also, TV can give you some angles and looks that your typical video services department may not have.

 

Same thing when you're scouting a team, I always feel like the TV broadcast can be useful because the commentating may point out something. Maybe a QB who stares down a particular read, or they show a RB who tips run or past. Maybe they point out an injury or how a CB gets turned around on particular routes.

 

Anyway, good stuff!!