Full Transcript: Borges talks O, Denard, RBs

Coach Al Borges talks about Denard's performance, the RB situation, the U-M WRs and OL, and on the Notre Dame defense.

Al Borges: "He managed the offense pretty well the first time out. He had very few errors, a couple of deals but nothing catastrophic, which is really all you ask for the first time out. He didn't create the big plays that he's used to, but our tailbacks did. So as long as somebody does, we'll be fine. You'll see eventually that part of his game will surface eventually."

Question: How much of the offense that you wanted to even try and get in?

Al Borges: "I wasn't even close. We ran 39 plays. We didn't even scratch the surface. There was so much left in the bag just the way the game went, which I guess is kind of good. We didn't even begin to approach our menu."

Question: Do you use a play like where he was scrambling around and then almost throw the pick to kind of underscore some of the things…?

Al Borges: "Funny you mention that because that was really -- of all the plays that he had, that was the only play that was a little high risk. After the fact, he realized he should have probably checked the ball down to the tight end in the flat, but he got a little greedy on that one. For the most part, his decision was making was fairly accurate other than a play or two."

Question: Did you sense that you were starting to get some of the momentum?

Al Borges: "Yeah and it was a little disappointing. I just want to play four quarters. Whatever happens, happens. I didn't know what was going to happen, but as a coach I was really hoping that we could finish the game. It is what it is and I understand why."

Question: Is it hard to get a gauge of where they're at after only 39 plays?

Al Borges: "Yeah a little bit. It is a little bit, but you got 39 to judge, judge 39 and go from there. It was incomplete in so many ways. It was a win, we'll take it and we'll go from there. We got another week to practice this stuff more."

Question: What is your assessment of the running backs? Where you able to get a comparison between them?

Al Borges: "A little bit, yeah and we did, and both of them showed up. We ended up playing them both, Fitz (Toussaint) maybe a little bit more (Mike) Shaw, but Shaw did some nice things. Both our backs, I was happy…again, we really didn't get into the flow very much with the backs, but what they did, I thought they did pretty good."

Question: Did you watch the Notre Dame last year and thoughts on Denard's kind of arcade game?

Al Borges: "I don't know. That's last year. I watched it because I've got to watch their defense. It is the same guys. I don't really have…Notre Dame is going to be very aware of him because of what happened. That's all I'll say about that."

Question: Thoughts about their defense?

Al Borges: "They're good. They're legitimate. What was the third-down percentage, I think they (USF) got two or three third down conversions on them. If you look at their numbers, South Florida didn't move the ball very well on them and just because of the circumstances of the game, they lost; but the defense, I thought, was outstanding. Te'o the linebacker is as active and as physical a player as I've seen in a while, and that's quite a statement. He is really is when you think about the places I've coached. He is a good football player. They get pass rush really with only four guys. They don't have to blitz, which is disconcerting. They are good on the back end, Harrison is around the ball all the time, ball hawk, physical, well-coached. They use their hands real well up front on the line. They play a lot of guys. They roll some guys through and keep them fresh. They're good."

Question: What is that Harrison Smith does that makes him…?

Al Borges: "I think he puts himself in position real well. He just doesn't get out of position a lot. He's got a feel for where the ball's going. It looks like he plays smart to me. He's physical. He's not afraid to come and get involved. It is kind of the nature of their defense anyway with their safeties. You got to be that way to play for them I think, and he is just one of those guys that I'm sure they count on and I can see why."

Question: It was a pretty even spread in terms of the receivers in terms of who got balls is that how you expect it to be throughout the year, like that even?

Al Borges: "Not necessarily, no. I think there's going to be games where you'll see one guy catch a bunch of balls, and the other guy won't catch as many, and vice versa. Some games it will be balanced. Once you get into the battle, you don't know how it's going to go, so you're never sure exactly who's going to get it. Now you design certain plays to go to certain guys, but sometimes because of the nature of the defense you're not able to get it to that guy. You always want a degree of distribution, but I'm not obsessed with everybody needs to catch x amount of balls. I could care less about that. What I care about is taking what the defense gives you, and if that means one guy catches ten passes, then so be it."

Question: Looking a Denard in your offense under center going through progression and how he handled the pocket; how would you grade him?

Al Borges: "I thought he did a pretty darn good job. For his first time, his under center play was really good. His shotgun play was…that's kind of his power zone, and that's why we're going to use that and that's why we're going to do that stuff. His under center play was solid. His mechanics in terms of exchange, tracks and things, had a couple of errors on some tracks, but for the most part was pretty reliable."

Question: Denard said yesterday that only two runs were maybe him scrambling versus a design run, were you pleased with his patience in the pocket?

Al Borges: "Yeah. He did a nice job on one scramble particularly. I think he got a first down. He came off one of his receivers a little quick, but for the most part…the thing about him, and you got to understand, is that you want him to give the pass a chance. But you don't want to be so obsessed with him always wanting to check the ball down, because he is the best check down you could have. So what could be perceived as impatience is sometimes a little more designed than you might think. With most quarterbacks you would say he is too quick too run. With him, I'm not sure that is the way you coach Denard Robinson."

Question: The pass to Kelvin Grady where it maybe was the second or third option?

Al Borges: "That was the second option. That was a good play. They jumped the slide play, and he threw the ball. That was a nice play by him. He reset his feet, got his hips set, and threw that ball and hit him right in stride. That was total design there, no scramble there."

Question: How would you assess the overall offensive line play and Michael Schofield coming in for Ricky Barnum and how do you see that shaking out?

Al Borges: "They'll compete now. Mike had a good game. Mike did a good job. He was very solid in there. Now this week, we'll see how the thing goes. It's nice to know he can, if that makes any sense."

Question: Is Barnum back in the picture for this week?

Al Borges: "Oh yeah. Absolutely."

Question: You guys went for it on that one fourth and one, in that situation is that your call or is that Brady's call?

Al Borges: "That's Brady's call. It's my play call, but it's his decision."

Question: When you say that Denard is the best check down, do you talk to him about when a play breaks down where he is looking to scramble, or is that all just him improvising?

Al Borges: "When the protection breaks down or the pocket gets pushed or for some reason he can't see, he has to go to an improv mode. All our improv has structure, but Denard does a lot in there that I don't draw on the board. The one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to inhibit a playmaker. A guy that can do some things, you don't want to make him so that he's so robotic he's not doing what he's capable of doing. Yeah, there's structure within our improvisation, but his ability to create…I always talk about create without doing something stupid. He's living by the law pretty good, knock on wood."

Question: Getting back to the lack of amount of plays that you were able to run, would you have gone more vanilla in the fourth quarter just because you had the big lead?

Al Borges: "There is a chance of that. Had we scored on the last drive, we probably would have gotten a little more physical. It depended on what they did when they got the ball. It's hard to say, but when we get ahead, we like to run the football if we can without being too conservative."

Question: Is that kind of the amount of shotgun versus under center that you think you want to run?

Al Borges: "No. The game had no balance to it with regard to that. I think if we had played a fourth quarter, I think it would have been right about where we wanted it, but no."

Question: Does Devin Gardner get some work if you score on that final drive?

Al Borges: "I don't know. We'll see. I couldn't tell you. That's up to Brady too."

Question: With Stephen Hopkins available to you now this week, do you expect to try and work him in?

Al Borges: "Oh yeah, absolutely. You bet. He was in the fold big time before he didn't play, and now that he's back, he's going to be a factor. He's a good player. He brings something to the table. He's that big back that you like to have."

Question: You don't consider him competing for the job this week?

Al Borges: "They're all competing still. I'm not counting him out of the mix."

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