Al Borges: "We would probably take it all the way up to the game. Yeah they're still competing and they are competing. They're going hard. After that starting position, it is kind of fun to watch them because they know it is pending and they are working hard, both of them."
Question: Will the starter be the guy who gets 20 carries or however many?
Al Borges: "If he is hot and he is rolling. We're going to spell guys one way or another because we do that anyways. If he is feeling it and we're gaining yardage, we're going to give him a chance to gain a little momentum."
Question: The competition can still spill over into Saturday?
Al Borges: "Sure, absolutely. Sometimes you don't know until you play. The lights go on and guys are tested, are they going to hold on to the ball. Are they going to beat people in the open field, break tackles. Sometimes you get a completely different animal when it is game time. Sometimes that is good and sometimes that's bad."
Question: How have they been at holding onto the ball?
Al Borges: "Pretty good. Yeah the guys have been, they've had a couple of deals here and there but there has been no, knock on wood, no real big problem."
Question: What kind of week has Fitzgerald Toussaint had?
Al Borges: "So far so good. Only had one day, today is the first day. We did a little bit Sunday but not much. He's done a good job."
Question: With the two of them, do you envision giving other guys carries or is it just going to be the two of them and then the third down guy in situations?
Al Borges: "Yeah, I think that is probably pretty accurate. You never know based on who could go on, other guys get involved. I've told you. You guys are tired of hearing it, but I'm just not a big running back by committee kind of guy. Today, if you look at the NFL teams and a lot of college teams too, a lot of people are featuring two backs. Now generally one more than the other but the other kid is playing some. My experience has been as coordinator is for the most part we use the second back more to spell the primarily back then we did actually play two and there series at a time."
Question: Has Denard Robinson showed you anything more in the fall than you saw in spring that might have caused you to tweak things a little more?
Al Borges: "Yeah a little bit, a little bit. You know what you do and I said this when I first came here. I want to see in spring football how much we can run and not just Denard but any quarterback under center or in the gun of our offense. The offense that I've run for the last 27 odds year and then once you get a feel for how much of that he can do. It doesn't take long, you just put on the film from last year, you know what he can do that way. There are no real mysteries that way. So you incorporate what you can do in your own offense and meld it with what he's capable of doing or what've you seen him do. Hopefully, you come up with a delicate balance that allows you to get under center and run the power game or get in the shotgun and run a little spread. Whatever fits, but yes to answer your question. There has been some tweaking going on since spring football and continues to be."
Question: Coach Hoke said Denard was completing about 70% of his passes. That was a couple of weeks ago, now that you guys are more kind of scrimmage mode and game mode, how is that going?
Al Borges: "He is still, I don't know it is 70, but it is high percentage. We monitor him every single day. I get numbers from my offense analysts every day on what his completion percentage is. How often has scrambles, when he would have been sacked, although with him it is kind of hard to tell. He's right around there. He's done a nice job. Again, the issues with Denard are just the footwork because our style of play is so geared to footwork with regards to timing and such. You know he also adds another dimension because of his athleticism."
Question: How is his pocket presence?
Al Borges: "It has been pretty good. It has been really good. The one thing about that is you don't really know because he has done a limited amount of pocket passing and until you get into a game when they're actually going to hit him, you don't really know the answer to that but based on what we've seen in practice and the little that he did in the past, I think he is getting better at that. He is a different kind of quarterback in that you're not going to train him in the same manner and fashion that you might coach a guy like Tom Brady or somebody like that, who is basically utilize his arm to deal with the improve. Where Denard can use his legs to deal with improvisational scenarios. I coach them different, I do. I just want to first develop him as a passer and then second as a runner in our passing game. Now in our running game, it is a different story. In our passing game, I just want to give that pass every opportunity knowing that we're always got the athletic ability and the presence to make a play when he has to."
Question: With the running backs is it more of a situation where guys will share carries? Auburn had two guys that are that good…?
Al Borges: "The two guys I had at Auburn were both 1000 yard rushers in different years, so that is not a fair comparison. If I told you that was the same that would be an insult to them. Not that they couldn't be that, but they haven't done that yet. When you've got two guys on your team that one year or another rushed for a thousand yards, as a coordinator, you'd better figure out a way to get them playing and sometimes in some situations together. If that came up here, we'd do exactly the same thing."
Question: Have you pulled from that at all just because you're working with two guys?
Al Borges: "Oh yeah sure, a little bit. It is not the same, a different dynamic. There is always bits and pieces that I use from the past."
Question: Have you gotten any closer to deciding how much you want to use Devin Gardner this weekend?
Al Borges: "We're still pretty much where we are. I won't commit to putting in the second quarterback. I know everybody wants you to say, oh give him quality times in games and such. I've heard that ever since I've been coordinating. The people who say that don't do what I do. He is a very capable kid and he is going to be a heck of a quarterback but right now we're trying to develop Denard in our system and we have to give him every opportunity to take advantage of that."
Question: Do you have a true #3 receiver, I mean a first backup or does it matter based n the position behind Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway?
Al Borges: "It kind of matters based on the position. Roy and Junior and Kelvin Grady and Drew Dileo, yeah we kind of do. When we go to three and four wides, those guys are all in there. I think we do have a true #3 receiver, but it could be anyone of two to three guys. They all bring a little something to the table."
Question: With Denard, do you feel like you have to get him some passes early in the game just to get him in a rhythm?
Al Borges: "To a degree, absolutely, but the thing about that is we're always going to throw some passes early in the game. You just have to pick the ones that you feel gives the best chance to complete and then knowing that there is a few times when you are going to throw some low percentage throws just because you want to take some big bites out of the defense. The residual affects of the low percentage throws are more important than the actual result, because sometimes just throwing the ball down the field let us the defense know that you will and it will loosen it up. Sometimes the result doesn't always give you what you want but the after affect can be very effective."
Question: How often and how many packages do you have with three and four wide sets?
Al Borges: "We have several. If you watch us play, the defensive coordinators will see that there is grouping changes almost every play. Anywhere from two packs, two tight ends, three wides, four wides, we do it all."
Question: How have the wide receivers and tight ends taken to the new offense, to the new routes, route trees, option routes?
Al Borges: "I think they've done a good job. I've said this before, it is different than what they used to do, but receiving is kind of receiving if you know what I mean. You just got to learn the nuisances of the route that we want to run and understand when the ball is coming out, make the routine plays. This is something that I talk to the quarterback and receivers about is the ability to make the routine play when it is there. They throw you the ball, you're open and you got to catch it. If you're a really good players, you'll make some great plays. They'll try to do something you can't. When that ball is there you have got to catch it and I think our kids for the most part have done a really good job of that. We started slow in camp with that. We were a little rusty our first few days. We were dropping balls and throwing some bad passes, but that's come around considerably here in the last week or so."
Question: What are your thoughts about trying to put the game away with the lead, some guys like to pound it and roll the clock, some guys like to go for a knockout through the air; how do you approach that?
Al Borges: "All of the above. Football and coordinating in particular is about dealing with each situation that arises and knowing what the landscape of the game is if that makes any sense. If you're running the football well from a certain look or certain ways and you get into the crucial, which is what you're talking about basically, you have got to tap that part of your game. If you're struggling to run the ball then you have to keep you mix, maintain your mix, throw the ball some, knowing that late in the game you do want to wind some time off the clock. We have every situation like those is on my call sheet. It is like a battle, changes, it is fluid. Depending on what you're capable of doing and how they're defending you can force you to shift gears. We want to be a run the football in times that they know were going to run the football. That's a goal. Even when they know we're going to run, we want to still be able to run. As a play caller, there is a point you don't want to beat your head against the wall, running into bad numbers, bad matchups or whatever the case might be and you've got to shift gears. You've got to have a plan for both. You've got to have a plan to pound it and if pounding does not work then you have to be able to shift gears and go to plan B. If you're real smart, you might even have a plan C. Yeah we want to pound them, but we want to be smart too."
Question: Last year your San Diego State offense was top 25 in scoring and the team overall was 9-4, do you feel as confident with this Michigan offense and maybe the Michigan team, as you did last year during this time?
Al Borges: "Yeah. The only thing about here that is different that it is the first year and because it is the first year and everything is new, there is pain that goes with that. There is natural transitional growing pains any time there is a shift in system that happened with the staff before we were, probably happened the staff before that and the staff before that. It is just the way it goes. In San Diego State my first year, we had some pain. We weren't 9-4 my first year, but once they understood the system better, the wheels started turning better, the gears meshed. Here I think we have more talent than we had my first year at San Diego State. Here we have a receptive audience in regards to our kids. That's huge – huge. If it is met with resistance than that pain can be all the more excruciating but we haven't really dealt with that. Am I as confident? Yeah I'm as confident, but I know how this thing goes. This is the ninth time I've done this and some have been met with great results instantly and some have not. We'll see what happens."
Question: First time in the Big House on Saturday, what do you expect from an atmosphere?
Al Borges: "A lot of people. I've been here a few times before on the wrong sideline and a lot of people. Game atmosphere here is just off the chart. I don't know if it gets any better. Coaching in the SEC was exciting. It was. I loved it. I would never disrespect it because it was so wonderful. I said it from the beginning and I'll say it again, Michigan brings something special to the table for all the reasons that I don't even have to talk about right now, you all know. To be able to coach here is truly an honor and having a chance to coach my first game and I think the other coaches feel the same way, we're very, very excited about that, but we're not losing fact that we have a job to do. As much as the hoopla and excitement and all that, I try to put myself not above that, but beyond that. I remember Bill Walsh used to say that he felt like he called a game from behind glass. Everything else had to be gone and once we get to game time, you have to play call and as coordinator, you kind of have to be that way. You can't worry that there are a lot of people out there that really, really care. That's fun before but once the game starts you got to lock and loaded, focus, concentrate, just like you ask the players to do, so you can make rational decisions fast because that is what our jobs is at coaches. Play calling in particular have to keep as much emotion out of it as you possibly can and make rational decisions fast."
Question: Will you give yourself a moment before you shut it down?
Al Borges: "Oh yeah. In warm-ups, I'm going to look around a little bit and say this is pretty cool (laughter). But then that is going to be over and we've got a job to do."
Full Transcript: OC Al Borges
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