Question: Your thoughts on Denard Robinson's progress to date.
Al Borges: "It has been pretty good. He has done a good job. He's picked it up and what we're trying to do is wean him a little bit. In that from a passing game perspective, we're trying not to give him so much that he is overwhelmed. It is more of what I would call a starter set, but as he feels better with it -- and I've done this with every quarterback and Denard is no different -- as he feels better about it and feels more comfortable, we'll feed him a little bit more offense and in particular pass offense."
Question: How much would you say is in your starter set of plays, is 15-20?
Al Borges: "Pass plays or any plays?"
Question: With what you're working with him?
Al Borges: "To start with, I would say we were about 65% to 70%. If I took what we did or finished with at San Diego State and compared it to what we're doing now, there are different schemes too now, but yeah, right in there."
Question: How much of a loss was it to have Chris Barnett leave the team?
Al Borges: "I'm going to let Brady Hoke handle that. I'm not going to talk about Chris Barnett."
Question: Tuesday, Brady said that Mike Shaw had separated himself as the leader of the running backs, do you feel that way?
Al Borges: "Mike Shaw is definitely one of our…if we played tomorrow, he would probably be our starting running back, but it is not over. We're going to have a scrimmage tomorrow and it is still an open book there. So we'll see how that shakes out, but Mike has had a heck of a camp as has Fitz (Fitzgerald Toussaint). Fitz has had a good camp and Stephen Hopkins and Vince Brown, err Vince Smith. I called him that the other day and he looked at me like I had ten heads. Vince Smith has had a really good camp, but Vince has been doing more situational stuff, although he still can run from the home position. We're not eliminating him from that part. He'll be in the fold that way too."
Question: Are the freshman not ready to be in the mix?
Al Borges: "No. I think we've got two kids here that I think have a great future here, I do, but at this point, Justice Hayes is still developmental and Thomas (Rawls) had an injury that set him back. We're not totally eliminating them either now, but at this point the kids I mentioned are probably going to be the guys you see in the first game."
Question: Would you consider with Rawls and Justice red shirting one of them?
Al Borges: "We'll see how that goes. Probably somebody will redshirt but it is probably too early to tell for sure."
Question: If you played tomorrow who would be your #2 running back?
Al Borges: "It is kind of a two to three man race and Fitz is in the fold and like I said Vince has got a role and Stephen Hopkins has done some really nice things. We're still not 100% on the #1 back, but if, again, there is a game tomorrow that is what we would do, but there is not a game tomorrow."
Question: What has distinguished Shaw at this point?
Al Borges: "Some of the things that I mentioned to you that were the criteria for the position. Open field running, the ability to make people miss. Michael has improved from spring football, he really has, and he has always had some skills. That has never been an issue with him. But because he hurt his hand and he was not a participant in a big part of spring football. From my own evaluation, I did not have a great bead on him other than what he had done here before, but we're using some different schemes now, so what we're doing now is different. You need to see the running back because we're featuring them a little bit more, and you need to see what he is capable of in our offense; and I really didn't get to see that and none of us did, not much anyway."
Question: How much time has Rawls missed?
Al Borges: "I don't know, a couple of weeks probably. He is back now. He is fine. He has been practicing with us. He is good. He just had a little ding, but he is okay."
Question: The offensive line development, and some of the position battles there, has played itself out?
Al Borges: "Yeah I think so. We feel pretty good about our first five guys, first six guys, and maybe even seven guys, and they've been working together some. Like I said before, it is very much a chemistry position. I think that has shaken itself out pretty good. Darrell Funk has done a really good job with those guys. He is a very good technician. He coaches them to the bone on the steps and all the things you got to do to play that position. They've come around."
Question: Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree have separated themselves as receivers, are there guys behind them that are ready to step in as well, or are they still that far ahead?
Al Borges: "I think you're going to see more than Junior and Roy out there. We've got several kids that are going to contribute. Junior and Roy are probably our starting outside guys again if we played tomorrow, but Kelvin Grady has done a really good job. Jeremy Gallon, Jeremy Jackson who adds some range to the position because of his size. Those guys have all been contributors. Drew Dileo, another one. A kid that will go in the middle and catch the ball and is kind of fearless. You're going to see…we'll play some guys out there, particularly if we feel some of the kids are getting worn down a little bit."
Question: With Junior specifically, he has had a history of injury problems, do you guys do stuff that is preventative in that, almost more in the preseason?
Al Borges: "As best we can, you bet. Guys get injured usually when they get tired or there is some freak injury, which is really hard to control. They get tired, we work them hard. We do and they'll tell you that. I'm sure they'll be the first ones to tell you that. Brady has got a great feel for when to back off, and that position is one because they do so much running like the DBs do. You have to handle them, in roller derby, you got to cut off the jam. There is a time to stop and say, okay, let us let them rest a little bit; this period we'll just let them work with the JUGS machine or something."
Question: Speaking of injuries, Mattison mentioned several guys who missed a little time with dings, and you've mentioned a couple just over fall camp. How physical are practices and are you guys going to taper back and how much so?
Al Borges: "Well, we're going to taper back. To this point, our practices are not for the faint of heart. We get after it pretty good. That's our head coach's philosophy and that's the whole staff's philosophy."
Question: Are all these little minor injuries a concern?
Al Borges: "No, that is football. If it was a season ending injury that would be concerning, but Aaron Wellman is another one that does a great job of getting these kids ready to play. Believe me, they'll tell you that too, he's on them and he gets them ready -- and right now, we're at the point in camp where it is time now to back off a little bit. It has been a real, real grueling training camp. We've gone after it every day. It has been very physical, and it is just the nature of the way we coach, defensively and offensively -- we're going to make the kids be physical and make them have a lot of effort, and test them when they're tired. See what they're made of when they're tired. Unless you put them in that situation in practice, you're never really going to know in the game."
Question: Can you talk about the battle of right tackle specifically?
Al Borges: "Mark Huyge has been very consistent there; and again if we played tomorrow Mark would be our right tackle. Mike Schofield has done a great job. He's developed a great deal from spring to now. Athletic, runs well, and their will probably be a role for him too, but it is a good position right now. I feel good about what we have, and if somebody were to get hurt, I don't think we would surrender. We would have a guy that I think would be a capable replacement."
Question: The only guys who doesn't have a lot of playing experience in the starting five is Ricky Barnum; what have you seen from him?
Al Borges: "Ricky is a tremendous athlete, maybe as athletic as anybody on our line. Him and David Molk and Taylor Lewan too, I should throw him into the fold there too. They are all very good athletes. Ricky is a tough guy and he's playing. I think Ricky's biggest problem when we got here was he was a little underweight, but he has gotten bigger and stronger and he doesn't get pushed around, and he can pull and get out in front of people, he is like a back out there sometimes when he runs. He has not played much but Ricky is ready to take that step, I have no doubt."
Question: Do you think you can still have the power running game with this group even though you have not had one running back win the job?
Al Borges: "Yeah I do. Absolutely -- and again, our run game is going to be pretty much a mixture of power run and some other things too. Yeah, I think we can do those things. We're certainly going to give it our best shot and see how it turns out."
Question: Do you traditionally script your first so-many plays?
Al Borges: "Yeah. In the old days, I used to script a lot more. I have been scripting opening plays for 25 years. When it became kind of popular in the past ten to 15 years, probably. But when I started studying what they call West Coast offense -- gawd I hate using that word, but Bill Walsh's style -- I started studying it back in the late ‘70s and I started scripting plays when I first became a coordinator. I actually scripted as many as 25 plays. I do not script near that many any more. Yeah, that is generally what we do."
Question: When did you transition from scripting?
Al Borges: "That's a good question. I would say when I was at UCLA probably."
Al Borges: "I was just finding that I wasn't getting to those last ten. I knew if I just scripted 15 to 17, we'd usually by the middle of the second quarter they were all run and I monitored it after the game see how many…I just want to be able to call what we practice. There is a lot of reasons to script opening plays but probably the biggest reason is you don't want to leave a lot of call sheet. If you practiced it, you should do it in a game otherwise that is bad economically of offense."
Question: You will be up in the box?
Al Borges: "Yes I will."
Question: An esteemed Big Ten Network analyst suggested this week that this offense may look a little bit more like last year than he first thought; do you get a sense that Denard is going to work more out of the offense?
Al Borges: "Gerry DiNardo said that…esteemed? (laughter) Naw, I'm just kidding, I love Jerry. Jerry, if you're out there you know I am just kidding. I've already said that. We'll be gunning more than we've ever gunned. The shotgun is not new to me as a coordinator. We've used a lot of shotgun, but we're just tailoring the gun more to his skills. I'm not going to reveal any trade secrets here, but we're going to use Denard the way he can best exploit the defense."
Question: Which offense over the years will this one more resemble would you say?
Al Borges: "None. Not in its totality. Now pieces of it, absolutely -- there is no real change in our passing game. We're still…the nucleus of our offense is the same for the most part as when I started coordinating in 1986. Now we've tweaked the schemes to accommodate contemporary defenses, but so much of it is just the same. The big thing about coordinating offenses is that you have to see what the skill set of your quarterback is. It is not just the quarterback, but the quarterback makes such a difference in how you think and how the defense thinks. And if you can identify what he does best and then gear what you do to what he does best, and then know you need a few other weapons around him to take the pressure off him -- that is really your starting point. All the years I've done it, it has been a little different every year, but the nucleus, the blueprint of the offense has pretty much stayed the same."
Question: What are your thoughts on getting Devin Gardner some meaningful playing time on September 3rd, and what does that do for an offense?
Al Borges: "I'm not promising anything on that. If I was, I wouldn't tell you anyways. I'm not being rude, don't mean to do that, but that it is still out there."
Question: What were you most pleased with in the scrimmage?
Al Borges: "I think the physical nature of it was good. Both sides of the ball got after it. I think the ability to create some big plays at times -- but there is some inconsistency. We still have too many self-inflicted wounds, and that is something that we have to remedy before we play. That is disconcerting. I've said before and I'll say it again, when you're transitioning offenses -- and trust me guys I've done this a bunch -- is that you can survive if the damage you do is not excruciating. You're going to make some mistakes, it is a different offense, just as Greg is going through the same thing defensively. You're going to have some pain. But if you don't make that pain interceptions for touchdowns, whatever -- things that are catastrophic -- you can survive because the kids eventually know what you want and get what you want. They'll do it here because they're smart and they want to."
Full Transcript: OC AL Borges
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