Question: What did you learn from your scrimmage?
Al Borges: "That we're still figuring this thing out, but that we have a real enthusiastic group about the changes that we've asked them to make. I'm a little embarrassed, but like the eight or nine times I've had to change jobs over my career, I would give you my resume, but we don't have enough time. I think this group has been as receptive to what we want to do as any group that I've worked with, maybe more so and that is a real tribute to them, because they had a good offensive football team here a year ago. It would be easy, for someone anyway to say, we like what we did and we would like to keep doing that, but they haven't done that. Everybody at this point has really bought in to what we have presented for them and it makes it easy to coach because they have."
Question: How much do you attribute that to the leadership at the quarterback position? Has Denard (Robinson) one of the guys that has bought in the most?
Al Borges: "I think that helps – huge and Devin Gardner too for that matter. Both are excited about the change. Not they didn't like what they did here before, they did but because we are doing some things that are a little more next level oriented, I think it is attractive to any quarterback."
Question: How has Denard progressed being under center?
Al Borges: "Good. He's done a heck of a job. The mechanic is so different. In the gun, he is very comfortable because he has done so much of it. He was an under center quarterback in high school so it isn't completely new to him, but I think the drop mechanic are probably the biggest change for him, how to time the throws, three step drops, how to hang throw a three step drop, how to get it out quick. Just some of the things that he has not done a lot of. The kid is an accurate passer. That's the first thing that jumps out of me, when a guy is open he is going to hit them more often than not and when he is not opening, he has a way to create, which like no one I have ever had before. I've had guys like that but not quite as dynamic of runners."
Question: Have you had to slow him down, is he still looking to tuck and run?
Al Borges: "Not as much as you would think. That is what I thought was going to be the struggle. When I had Cade McNown at UCLA that was the struggle. I came up with a term there, I told him you run for yards but you pass for miles. There are instances when I want him to tuck and run because he is a better option on the check down than the check down might be. By the same token, we don't want to…I have a new expression for Denard. Every quarterback I coach, I come up with something profound and the think we're talking about with Denard is to make plays and let the good lord make miracles. As long as we're using good judgment, we certainly do not want to put that fire out. You don't coach him like you coach other kids that I coach. You have to give him a chance to do what he does."
Question: You mention that when guys are open, he would hit them. What about that play where he has to throw before the guy comes out of his break in anticipation?
Al Borges: "That is what he has been doing very well. When he sees his throws, he's done a nice job of timing out the throws. A lot of guys who haven't done a lot of that because it is not a comfort level will want the guy wide open, but a good passing game, the ball is delivered as the receiver comes open in a manner and fashion that allows the receiver to run the ball once he catches it. To me that is a good passing game, that to me is the definition, not when the receiver is open, it is too late. He because of the footwork issues, because we've changed. That is the biggest part, the biggest change from one offense to another is the footwork issues. He has really grasped that concept well. He is still a work in progress don't misunderstand me, but he has done a really nice job. He is a very coachable kid as is Devin Gardner."
Question: How many snaps a game would you foresee Denard taking in a shotgun if any?
Al Borges: "I wouldn't project a figure, but it is going to be quite a bit. We're going to gun more than we've ever gunned, and we guy a lot anyway. It isn't like we're under center every play. We run a lot of shotgun everywhere I've been but at San Diego State, but we called more shotgun plays last year than I had ever called in my career and we didn't have a running quarterback."
Question: A percentage on that?
Al Borges: "I wouldn't commit to one."
Question: I mean last year.
Al Borges: "I don't even remember. I'm sure there is a number and my intern would probably be able to come up with a number, but I do not remember what it was, but it will be more here, because we're going to involve him in what we call the Q runs, because he is going to be running the ball some, which we didn't even have one of those a year ago. Our offense did not a designed quarterback run in the offense, but over the years with different quarterbacks, I have had designed runs and we will certainly will have them with him because it is a strength."
Question: Have you ever seen anyone anywhere like Denard?
Al Borges: "At quarterback, Michael Vick was similar. He was the first one comes to mind, a fast guy who can get around and raise a little cane, yeah I think he is similar."
Question: How much of a competition is Devin putting up?
Al Borges: "Devin is formidable. Devin is doing a nice job. Devin is a good quarterback. Devin does some really good things. He has some of the same traits, he'll pull the ball down and run. He's a little more of a prototype in that he is tall and he can see the field, but yean Devin…Denard does some things that are dynamic that I can't coach that nobody can coach. Devin does some of those too. They play the position similar in some ways and different in others in that I think Devin can work inside the pocket because of his profile very naturally. Denard, also works better inside the pocket than you might think he can but his profile does not cater to it as much as Devin. I don't know if that answers your question or not but that to me is the difference."
Question: Why would Denard be more effective in this offense than last year, he was so good last year?
Al Borges: "Number one, we want to pose a balanced distribution of the ball in an aggressive style. We want our tailbacks number one to get more involved. That is going to sacrifice numbers for the quarterback, but it doesn't have to because on the other end he is going to have an opportunity to throw the ball more effectively in that we are going to be using him in different ways. Now you are going to find also and this has happened in practice several times is because of the way we pass the football he poses a threat in the passing game every bit as much as a runner, every bit as much as he does as a passer. So in that regard, again I hope I answered that question. More people are going to touch the ball, but yet he is going to be the focal point of the offense."
Question: What if he is so much better than the back, it seemed like last year, he was your best natural runner.
Al Borges: "If that is the case ,we'll feature him as a runner, you betcha. He is still going to get an opportunity to do that, do some of the things that he did a year ago, but we want to get the ball distributed more and we want to keep him around in the game. I don't know if you guys saw, I saw a figure and correct me if I'm wrong, but he came out of ten games. Somebody said that, ten or 12 games. I coached Ryan Lindley a year ago and he didn't come out of one game. He is not Denard Robinson, but at the same token, I would like the kid to be able to start and finish a football game and if it means handing the ball to the tailback a few more times, if indeed the tailback is worthy of the carries, not just as token handoffs to relieve him, but if indeed the tailback is worthy of those carries than I think that is a great approach."
Question: What is going on with the running back situation?
Al Borges: "We've got some pretty good kids. We've made some long runs that have been kind of nice. Vince Smith is a pure football player in every since. He is coachable, tough, not real big obviously, but I've had guys his size, very effective. Michael Cox has done some very nice things. Michael Shaw who we just got back had a nice run the last scrimmage. (Stephen) Hopkins who is kind of a hybrid, but has played a little fullback and played some tailback, but he had a nice scrimmage the last time running the ball the ball well. I've been happy with our tailbacks. They are being featured in a different way now in that they are more in the home position than they are in the shotgun, although we still gun them to and you'll still see some similar things that way, but I think because of what we're doing now, it gives them a chance to be featured a little bit more. I think some of those guys have really taken to that nicely. To say that we have a frontline back, a guy that we say this guy is the guy; we've had flashes of excellent from all of them and that is not a decision that we got to make today, but I like those kids, I do. I'll tell you another guy who is having a heck of a spring is John McColgan as a fullback. He has done a great job of leading the way for our backs. He's a role player. He's not a guy who is going to show up in the score box a lot, but he helps us. He's not on the field all the time. With our two back offense he plays some and then he's off because we're in three wides or something else, but the role he has played has been significant when he is in the game."
Question: Try to talk about the way Denard will be as effective as a passer and a runner, am I hearing that correctly that if you are running deeper routes and people have to back up more, linebackers and defensive backs, if he does run, it is going to make even more…
Al Borges: "Exactly. He poses the threat of a quarterback draw on every play."
Question: Last year, he seemed hesitant to take off if a pass play breaks down is that something you are really trying to work with him on?
Al Borges: "If you understand the footwork of our offense that comes naturally because we push. We don't sit at the back of the pocket, we push. I don't want to get into a big technical conversation. You guys can understand this easily enough, we set the depth of the pocket with the guards, we set the width of the pocket with the tackles and the quarterback pushes into the cup, does that make sense? Okay, if the quarterback pushes into the cup and the rush declares all these lanes, there is always one lane open because they cannot actually rush every guy. Two guys have to go outside to contain him…they better in his case and two guys have to declare either inside gaps. Once he steps up into the pocket and he sees those cracks open and for some reason he is blocked, he poses a threat. Certain quarterbacks will run five or six yards, he may run 55 yards. We tell him every play get up in the fight, pose a threat of the quarterback draw every play and don't turn wide open receivers. If you got big plays don't turn down wide open receivers, but if they all fall off run like hell."
Question: How much have you done this year that is different than you've ever done?
Al Borges: "From schematic perspective very little at one time or another now. I've been coordinating for 24 years. We have more Q runs, but that aside our offense is our offense and we're going to gear what we do to what he is capable of doing. There is very, very little that I have not done before, but we are featuring different facets of what I've done over the last 20 years because of him, because I've had players similar to that in the past. Nobody exactly like him, but I've had a few runners."
Question: Have you moved Jordan Paskorz to tight end and what you seen out of that position?
Al Borges: "No. Did you ask what I've seen from the tight end position?"
Al Borges: "Our tight end is very similar to the fullback in that it has not been a heavily featured position here and now they are catching more balls than they have caught. They are involved in so many phases of our offense. I'm a tight end guy. I like tight ends, I like having them and what they bring to table in diversifying the offense. Our kids have been pretty good. Brandon Moore who has been very effective. He is still learning every day, but he has improved steadily. Daniel Ferrigno has done an excellent job with him. Steve Watson who caught a touchdown pass the other day. He was a tight end in high school. I know he has been bounced around here a little bit but Steve is fired up. He can help us too. We have some good people there and I think when it is all said and done we'll be pretty good there. We're going to recruit that position heavily, heavily as we go on. It is going to be a position of priority." (Note: Paskorz has not been moved from LB to TE).
Question: Because of injuries has that affected what you are trying to do?
Al Borges: "Not too much. Darrell (Funk), we're doing an illegal shuffle out there with the lineman. You know a good thing about when you have a few guys out is that some of those other kids get exposed to some different positions and it helps them, it helps your depth, because now a guard has to play a little bit of tackle. It can be growing pains with that now because sometimes there is confusion because one time you are the right guard and the next time you are the left tackle, particularly when you are installing stuff. We found a way to get five of them out there and they haven't done a bad job. Them too, they've been so good about the changes that we've made."
Question: We heard a lot about Taylor (Lewan) and his ability; how much have you been able to even seen with that?
Al Borges: "Enough. Taylor has got a chance to be a good football player. He's got to get a few more pounds, good quality weight, but he has good explosiveness and good hips. He's got some fundamental issues that he still has to remedy, but he is a young player that I think has a bright future if he goes about it right."
Question: How would you describe the different with the O-lineman and what transition they're going through.
Al Borges: "We're not in the shotgun every play. We're a downhill running play. With our runs and play passes, so much of what we do is geared to getting off, come off the ball and getting after people and being aggressive and it is not that…they did that before. It is just this a different style. We're in a three point stance and we're going to do our best to move whoever is in front of us or make them think we're trying to move them and pull a play-action pass. That's a different animal for an offensive lineman when you are going from shotgun every single snap, they'll tell you that."
Question: Does Devin have a chance to push Denard for playing time this fall?
Al Borges: "The one thing we say and Brady (Hoke) said it from the beginning is that there is no sense of entitlement, everybody's job, you play or somebody replaces you. It is that simple. Devin is doing his darnest to see to it that he pushes that issue and he has done a good job with it. At this point, Denard is our quarterback and I got no reason to believe he is not going to be our quarterback but everything is pending, you never know. They both have done a good job and they're competing and I love it…I love it."
Question: Have you used backups with a limited number of snaps…
Al Borges: "With the game in the balance, not much. I've never been a believer in that. It doesn't mean that we won't do it, but I've never been a believer, let us play him a series in the first half, see how he does, get him a little experience, put him in there and he throws an interception and you lose by three or something. I don't know. I'm not saying we won't do that. Brady and I are going to talk about that in the spring. I know when I was in the SEC, Georgia did that with (D.J.) Shockley, when (David) Greene was quarterback, boy it helped him. His next year he had that playing in every game and because of it, it really helped him. I would never say never, but it has never been my approach as a coordinator."
Question: With Denard, what have you seen from him and his ability to read defenses, pre and post snap?
Al Borges: "He's been a pretty good decision maker. The things where he is struggling the most are just the growing pains within our own offense that he just simply is not familiar with, it is brand new. Everybody does that, that is not news. If a guy has never done, you can chalk it on the board all you want that doesn't make any difference. Football is alive, you got to go out there and do it. That really is the only time when he struggles. His discretion is pretty good. He is not hitting defenders in the chest with the ball, I get nervous when that kind of stuff happens, but he has been pretty good that way."
Question: How much are you getting the downhill trait from the running backs and who is giving you that downhill?
Al Borges: "All of them really. At one time or another every back, at one time or another every back. Cox has….as you ask that question I'm trying to put some of our better runs in my mind together and Cox has done it, like I said Shaw came back the other day and he did it. Stephen Hopkins is just that kind of runner period. He's reminds me and I would never compare in terms of their ability, but their style, but he is very similar to the guy that plays in Atlanta, Michael Turner. He is very similar to that guy. I don't know that he is as good as him or I don't know if he isn't as good as him, but their styles are very similar. Every guy at one time or another…the one thing about it and this is Brady a lot too. You got to understand this, we are going to be aggressive. We're going to find guys that are. He wants to establish toughness and he wants to establish effort and you can't talk it. You got to do it. If you want the kids to get to be where you want them to be, so our defense and our offense is geared to that thinking, downhill running, coming off the football. Not that we want to turn it into a bull elk on bull elk every single play, but we're going to start with the idea that we're going to get after people and we have our finesse plays like anybody else does, you'll see a few tricky-dickys before it is all said and done, but that is where we start and that comes from the head coach and I'm board with it because that's the way I've coached football for as long as I've coached football."
Question: If you've seen flashes from every running back what does one guy have to do to stand out to to become like the feature back?
Al Borges: "He has to do more flashes and be complete, block in protection, run the football, be consistent. I think that is it, the guy that demonstrates the most consistency is the guy who is going to play the most."
Question: Right now who do you think is the most complete back is?
Al Borges: "I wouldn't even venture that. After eight practices, if I said that that would be grossly unfair. I'm going to give them 15 days and I'm going to have them all sit in my office and I'll give them my evaluation and I'll tell them before I tell anybody else."
Question: At receiver, Roy (Roundtree), Junior (Hemingway), Daryl (Stonum) have they kind of jumped out at you?
Al Borges: "Yeah, I think Roy has had a really good spring. I think they all have. We've made some nice catches. I've been pleasantly surprised that way too…not really surprised because they were making them. I watched last year they were making them, but Roy has been very consistent. Junior moving good, goes up with good range to the ball. He reminds me a little bit of a kid I had at San Diego State last year, Vincent Brown who is going to play in the NFL probably. All of them, Daryl Stonum has played well. Jeff Hecklinski does a nice job with those guys. He makes them be tough. He makes them do the dirty work and he'll coach those suckers up. Them too, they have got some transition, it is different for them too."
Question: Longer routes?
Al Borges: "Not necessarily longer routes, more intermittent cuts. We throw the ball down the field now, we throw it down the field a lot, more intermittent cuts would probably how I would describe that."
Question: What have you seen from Michigan's defense going against them, any surprises there?
Al Borges: "I got to tell you this guy. I very seldom comment on the defense other than to say that Greg Mattison is as good as defensive coach as you are ever going to get and he will get every ounce out of those kids. I kind of looked at what they're doing so I have to figure out how to block them, but I can't evaluate them. Again, it will be unfair to say, this guy is really good. I'm so busy trying to figure which two of the tailbacks are going to be. I'm not smart enough to see all that."
Question: How do you use those slot guys from last year, (Jeremy) Gallon, (Drew) Dileo, and so on?
Al Borges: Their role has not changed a lot. Some of those guys are playing outside because Roy played some slot too and he is playing outside. Dileo and (Martavious) Odoms plays a little inside and outside. You got to understand one thing guys, we're not a spread team, but you are going to see that we are in three and four wides a lot. I think sometimes that since I've been here that I think has been a perception that has been inaccurate that we're going to line up in two backs under center every single play. That's just…watch our teams play where I've coached and we just don't do that. That's part of our offense that wasn't part of their offense so that is different, but you'll see as much shotgun as you'll see from any NFL team. You're going to see different variations of home position running with the tight end in motion and stuff. We do use three and four wide receivers and we use them significantly. So those guys still have a role."
Question: How much of the offense are you going to install this spring?
Al Borges: "I knew somebody was going to ask that question."
Question: Brady brought it up a couple of weeks ago, so blame him.
Al Borges: "So you are blaming Brady?"
Question: Yeah pretty much. Right under the bus.
Al Borges: "Usually, I get under the bus, that is still a couple of months away. We are now at install five today. We have six installs of major pieces of our offense. Now there are thrills as you go and we have six days that install offense and then we have a day that we install screens, which is not included in that and then another day we put our two minute in and another day we put our goal line in. So I don't count those as the six major install days. We are at five right now and we have one more, we've gone slower here than I have other places. I'm trying to give Coach Funk in particular, but everybody, not just him everybody a chance to review an install. When you teach, you either put it all in and have them be confused and watch them screw up half the spring until they finally figure out the second half or you put in a little bit in at a time, let them review it, you get less mistakes but then you don't get a chance to run all those plays the whole spring. There are checks and balances both ways. We're at five now and we are at practice nine or ten. So we'll get to six, which will complete it and we'll probably have four or five days to review it all. Does that answer your question?"
Question: Is that a percentage?
Al Borges: "When you talk about everything you can do offensively that is about 60% to 70%, but it is the nucleus. You got to start with the starter set when you're brand new. I'd like to put all the bells and whistles in but that is for down the line. We will put in about 60% to 70% of the offense in and see how they handle it. Every week, you don't run every play, you pull some out, you put some back up."
Question: You have a different philosophy with the way you approach the spring to the way you approach the fall?
Al Borges: "Oh yeah totally different."
Question: What would be the things that are the most different?
Al Borges: "You're at a timeline now. When you get to the fall, you are going to find the guys who are going to play and they got to play. You got to do that in about a week or so because you're going to go to scout teams and then you start focusing on your first opponent at one point and time and see now all this other stuff goes by the wayside. We pick what we want to do and we practice the heck out of that, getting the ball to the players that we've already decided is the best tailback, is the best wide receiver. Right now is just an audition. Everybody is out there, let us see who learns the fastest and who looks like they have the best ability."
Question: Do you have a depth chart coming out of the spring?
Al Borges: "I'll probably have something to start with but it'll be like anything else, it'll be in pencil, we'll change that in a minute. Sometimes guys come back from the spring and they pick up right where they left off and some guys come back from the spring and it looks like they forgot what happened in the spring. It is a work in the process."
Full Transcript: All Borges Presser
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