Is it at all a different week for you because it is San Diego State and you are looking at players that you know and things like that on film?
Al Borges: "Looking at that part of it I guess is different. You are obviously more familiar with this team because we just coached the team. It is no different really. It has nothing to do with any of that stuff. It is about San Diego State against Michigan. Anything else is just all smoke and mirrors." Question:
Rocky Long said today that you guys have an advantage over them because you know the players and he also said that if he was one of you guys and he knew your signals that he would look at them. Does that come into play at all?
Al Borges: "I don't know. I really don't get caught up too much in that. I mean that. The signals and all that stuff it is overrated, way overrated. There are 17 teams in the NFL that run the same offense or was last count, I'm not sure what it is. They use the same terms, they use that, nobody changes; they may change a little bit here and there, but not significantly enough to where it scares people where they completely change their system or there whole way of doing things." Question:
Do you use the same signals that you used at San Diego State?
Al Borges: "No we don't. A lot of ours is sent in on wristband calls anyways. So it is difficult for anybody to get what we're doing simply because you would have to have the wristbands." Question:
Where you involved in Ronnie Hillman's recruiting and if so what did you guys see?
Al Borges: "Hillman was already committed when we got there. Our job really was just hanging on to him." Question:
Did he look like a good one?
Al Borges: "Oh yeah. The kids we kept, we thought were pretty good players and the turned out to be a good player obviously." Question:
Are you surprised at how prolific they are on the offensive side of the ball?
Al Borges: "No not at all, not even a little bit." Question:
Does it make you feel good knowing that?
Al Borges: "No we got to play them (laughter). It made me feel great last year. They're a good team and they deserve respect and we're going to give it to them. Our kids are well aware of what they're dealing with here. We've made it clear to them that this is going to be a tough contest. They are playing competently and we'd better come ready to play." Question:
How do you view Denard's (Robinson) game throwing the ball Saturday in the process of getting him into this offense?
Al Borges: "Kind of a tale of two halves. We weren't very good in the first half. We've got to get better obviously and he knows, we've been talking about it. About squaring away some of the footwork issues, which I think would significantly help his accuracy. I've got to do a better job of getting him in some situations where he can complete more balls too. We did that a lot in the second half of the game. It's not all Denard. We've got to consider every schematic that we have and everything that we're doing, every play that we're calling and every guy that is in there and make sure that we're giving him every chance to succeed." Question:
Has there been a theme in the first quarter that you've seen a constant of why you're not scoring early?
Al Borges: "I don't know if there is a scheme. It is always something different, a glitch there, an error there, a missed assignment here. The last game for some reason and I'm not sure why we had too many missed assignments. We had not had many in the first two games, but we had a few and we're working on getting that better. Again, a few systematic growing pains, but a few things that should have been done correctly and weren't done correctly. We're going to work them until we get it straight. Question:
Is it a lot of little things?
Al Borges: "Yeah little things and it is not any one player. It is all of us. That's usually what it is. It is funny. Whenever you're sputtering or not doing well. The general tendency is to blame it on one instance whether it is the quarterback or the coach. It is very seldom is that the situation. It is usually a litany of problems. In the first quarter that's kind of what it has been is that we just did not. I'll tell you what happened too is because a lot of these teams are so aimed at stopping Denard. Some of the things that they're doing on the tape, they're not doing when they play us, so there is a adjustment period there too for us as coaches and that translates down to players and sometimes it takes us a little longer than we would like too. I think historically as a coordinator, I've been a faster starting, we generally do a lot better early in the game. As long as you get it, I would like to start faster just like everybody else would but as long as he understands, it is a long game we may not have a good quarter, but a bad game that's a whole different thing." Question:
David Molk told us yesterday that they run a unique defense, different than anything other people do. What makes it unique?
Al Borges: "What Rocky Long has done and I've been lucky I've coached with Rocky twice at UCLA and at San Diego State and against him when I was Oregon, so I've seen both sides. What he has done is take a 3-3 concept and created a lot of different looks from the 3-3 that makes it hardly recognizably with regard to being a 3-3. It can be seen to be helter-skelter not at all. It is a very, very disciplined style. Every guy is in a gap. Every guy has got a responsibility. Every guy has got to be in a certain place, coverage is sound, but it is not what you see every week. That requires a little more preparation. It is like facing a wishbone team when you never see a wishbone team. You got a whole different approach from a defensive perspective and offensively it is the same thing with a 3-3." Question:
Does that give you an advantage because you've coached with him twice and against it before and your more familiar than most?
Al Borges: "Not really, maybe a little bit but not really. What Rock does is nuisance. He'll give you a bunch of stuff that you don't anticipate seeing. Every game there is going to be a different plan, a different blitz, a different something. Knowing the core of the defense helps a little bit, but it may not be exactly what you think when the game starts. It probably isn't going to be. The idea is to indentify as quickly as possible of what you think they're trying to do and make your adjustments accordingly." Question:
In the second half on Saturday, it seemed like you went almost exclusively shotgun is that just what it might be because of Denard's skill set?
Al Borges: "Not necessarily. We're still going to run both but as you go through the game and I've already said this like a 1000 times, if they are not stopping certain things of your offense, you have to tap that. We just found that they were struggling to stop the quarterback runs. Because we were sputtering in the first half, I would be a bad play caller, a bad coordinator, if I didn't do what they were struggling to defend, so that's what we did." Question:
Do you chart the success rates under center plays versus shotgun?
Al Borges: "Yeah pretty much. We monitor it. Two weeks ago under center we threw four touchdown passes. Under shotgun we threw like 40 something percent completions and over 70…this last week we were better in the shotgun. What's nice is that you can do both. We have the ability to do both. We are constantly monitoring what we think is the best approach, but he has been in the gun. He is comfortable in the shotgun and we're never going to stop doing that. He poses a threat to the defense as a runner best from the shotgun. That's always going to be a part of our offense." Question:
Who is your strongest position group?
Al Borges: "I don't know. I don't know. If you're talking about the composite of three games there has been no one any better than anybody else to be honest with you. We're still in the embryonic stages of learning of how we're doing this. There has been games where our receivers have played pretty good. There has been games where our line has played pretty good. I wouldn't single out any one position to be any better than any other one." Question:
How much of what Vince Smith accomplished on Saturday was him or the situation in the game where Denard…?
Al Borges: "I think a little bit of both. What happened and this is the residual of Denard Robinson is he starts running the ball and awareness levels of him running the ball heighten and because of the nature of the spread offense and we do within it, they're forced to defend him, which takes the attention a lot of times off the running backs. In this case it was Vince and not just because of that. Vince made a couple of nice runs. Vince had a couple of runs under center where we handed the ball where he really did a nice job and that had very little to do with the zone read and such. He's a complete football player. He really is. He does so many things. If he was 200 some odd pounds, he would really be something, but he does a good job at his size. He does everything he can with what he has." Question:
Does his size fit what you might want in a lead back?
Al Borges: "I want a guy who weighs 220 pounds and runs 4 nothing. Those aren't falling out of the trees these days, so you take what you can get. I've had all kinds of players. Ronnie Hillman is not the size you're looking for, but he knows how to gain yards. The one thing as a coach you just can't get locked into that. There are some you'd like but you got…this game is about production not potential. If a guy is smaller but produces you've got to find a way to let him play, find a role for him." Question:
Are you resigned to the fact that this is going to be a tailback by committee kind of season?
Al Borges: "Until somebody steps to the forefront and establishes themselves as that guy. We're not going to just name a guy to name a guy that would be absurd." Question:
Do you think Vince can be that guy?
Al Borges: "I think he can be one of those guys. I don't know. We'll see how it goes. All options are open, I'll say that." Question:
Brady was pleased he said to see Fitz Toussaint jump back in there. What did he show you?
Al Borges: "He did some nice things. He really did. Fitz is a tough guy. He runs the ball and he is relentless. He is not afraid of the defense, he makes no concessions to the defense. He is good inside the tackles. He's got pretty good speed outside. His game is good. He has pieces of the game that still need improvement, but he's going to give you everything he's got and he has the ability to break a long run." Question:
What did you see from Thomas Rawls that warranted a few snaps there at the end?
Al Borges: "He's a talented kid that we need to find out more about. I said it in the beginning, if it is a freshman that is the best back so be it, but we're never going to find out unless we put them in the game and give him the ball and find out." Question:
What did you find out about him?
Al Borges: "That he's not afraid to run the ball inside. He too is like Fitz. He's a tough runner has got a good burst of speed but until he gets the ball more you're not really going to know." Question:
Can we expect to see him more?
Al Borges: "I think so. How much, I'm not sure, but I think you'll see more of Thomas." Question:
What scares you the most about Rocky's defense this year?
Al Borges: "The same thing that it did in 1995 is that they are all over the place and if you let them leak it and you can't get your play started you're going to have a long night. We got to pick up their pressure. We've got to do the job of picking their pressures and you've got to give your quarterback a chance to see some of the throws and if you've got to run the ball well enough so that they're not playing you as a one dimensional team." Question:
Is that last time you faced him in a game was 1995?
Al Borges: "Again him yeah, at Oregon." Question:
How key is it to have Denard and the team establish a passing game so that teams can't just totally gang up on you?
Al Borges: "It's critical. We're about balance. We're going to find a way somehow someway to be a balanced football team. We're going to keep working to that end. We do it every day in practice. For every run, we throw a pass. A lot of people say what do you do that for you're a better running team, but we'll still be a good running team because we still work on running. I know that at one point and time it is going to be a very difficult thing to do against certain teams and if you don't have the ability to throw the ball over the top of the defense or sometimes throw it under the defense with a relevant amount of consistency, it is going to show up. You've got to be able to do it and we're never going to give up on it." Question:
You said unlike Coach Mattison you looked at all the offensive tape from last year. In running the spread, which is something that you haven't done a lot of in the past, have you been drawing up your own plays based on that or have you been borrowing?
Al Borges: "I'm always in research mode, always. Offseason, we're constantly trying to enrich ourselves professionally to learn more and more about how to use our personnel and if it means going here and going there, talking to this guy, talking to that guy, tweaking schemes, we're constantly doing that. We ran a lot of this stuff in the spring. When I came here, I knew that we weren't going to be an entirely pro style offense. Until we reach a point where we have that kind of personnel, we're going to be running more of a hybrid and if you are going to run more of a hybrid, you'd better know what you're doing in that other stuff." Question:
Have any of the players come to you and said that this play is something that we did well last year and maybe we should try this?
Al Borges: "No not really, no." Question:
You said in the past that there were programs like San Diego State that were a spread team before you guys got there. In terms of pro style versus spread that things that you ran in that first year how does it compare?
Al Borges: "We blew up the whole thing and went to pro style offense because we had a pro style quarterback. It was a completely different scenario." Question:
Did you expect to be working with Denard this last in the season?
Al Borges: "Every day, every day. Every day we go through footwork drills. We never stop our fundamental foundation." Question:
Did you expect that you would be working with you continually?
Al Borges: "It wouldn't make a difference who it was. Whether it was Denard Robinson or Ryan Lindley, Jason Campbell, whoever, every day they go through their steps and their footwork and how things go. We never assume that they know it and stop. It is always a constant." Question:
Have you seen improvement or regression when it comes to his footwork?
Al Borges: "Oh there has been some drastic improvement in some areas. It is just the consistency I think is not where it needs to be and he'd be the first one to tell you that. When he does it and does it right, he can sling it. He threw a glance post late in the game and his fundamentals were pretty and that ball came out like it was shot out of a cannon. He's not unlike so many kids that I've had my first year. Ryan Lindley was very much the same way. They were still learning what we wanted as a fundamental foundation and then once they get it, they get it. It seems to all come at once." Question:
What makes Ryan Lindley so successful at this point?
Al Borges: "He's just played a lot and he's got a rocket arm. He's smart on top of things, real good football intelligence. He's got a big strong throwing arm and he wants to be a great quarterback." Question:
What was he like when you got there?
Al Borges: "The same thing, he just didn't run our offense. He ran somebody else's offense. He's always been an ambitious kid." Question:
You said you need to see more from Rawls before you can really make an assessment. Same for Devin Gardner, where you hoping to get him a little more time?
Al Borges: "Oh yeah. I'd like to get him in every game. All these questions about Denard Robinson are all fair questions. Denard Robinson is not going to develop any of these skills with Devin Gardner in the game, that's bad and good. God knows I'd like to get Devin in the game. We all would. We've talked about it endlessly. It is just hard to do. Unless you are going to commit to a two quarterback system, which we're not going to do. We're going to have to wait and have to find instances where we can get him on the field." Question:
Did you talk to any of the players after you left San Diego State?
Al Borges: "We blew out there, but I came back and talked to a few. We blew out of there so fast, I think it was break or something, a lot of them were gone. Then I came back later and I saw several of them." Question:
What was their reaction, was it disappointment?
Al Borges: "I don't know, you'd have to ask them. I'm not going to go into that."