Question: How was your bye week?
Al Borges: "It was good. Got a little jumpstart on the game plan, which is good. Like everybody, we got a chance to heal up. We had some kids that could use a little time and the bye always gives you that opportunity. It was a good time to have it."
Question: What did you do? Did you do anything on Saturday or anything in general?
Al Borges: "Just what we always do. We worked on football and like I said, tried to get a jumpstart on the game plan. It is kind of a bye week for the players, but it is not really a bye week for the coaches."
Question: Does that give you an opportunity to add anything to the play book or do you just kind of tweak what is in there?
Al Borges: "Just do the nuisances of what goes with any game plan. I think one of the mistakes you make in the bye weeks and in bowl games is you have so much time, you have too much time on your hands and you get a little zealous about wanting to do too much and you come up with these ideas because you've got a lot of time to practice them and sometimes it is not a good idea. We're really not do anything more in this plan than we would do in any other one just because there is a bye week."
Question: Brady talked about the offense line needing to improve and that's a big focus. What's one of the things that you want to see out of them that would show improvement?
Al Borges: "So much fundamental, good steps, good pad level, playing with leverage and talking the front, some of those types of things. Making sure that we're getting everybody started because I think that was a problem a week ago. We had trouble getting some plays started because we didn't target the front as well as we should have. Most of it is fundamental, it usually is."
Question: Those things have slipped as the year has gone on or were they just not there from the beginning?
Al Borges: "They're getting better. They have improved and up until the last game, I thought we were really starting to get a feel. Sometimes you get a rude awakening and you're not where you need to be. Sometimes it takes a game like that to realize that. So we've gone back and Coach Funk has done a great job of building those kids from the ground up, starting over and making sure the steps are right and just doing all the things that are fundamental to the position."
Question: With your running backs is there just something missing that makes one of them from being the guy who you think can be a feature guy?
Al Borges: "No one is standing out. It's not something missing. It is just no one is standing out and until somebody does, we're just going to operate the way we've operated."
Question: Brady said that he does not want to put the lack of production all on the running backs. How much of the lack of production do you put on the running backs?
Al Borges: "Like I've said before, it is never one thing. It is always a combination of things. People always want to blame one player or coach or whatever and it is generally not that. It is generally a combination of issues. It certainly is not all the running back and it certainly is not all the offensive line and certainly not all the running backs. When you're not playing well, usually nobody is playing well. When you have a bad game, there are not many awards that get given out. There is no accolades because generally when you grade the tape, there is very few guys who played well and in that game we didn't have very many kids that played well. It is not the backs. It is not the line. It is all of the above."
Question: It seemed like you left a lot of yards out there in the passing game. How do you teach Denard Robinson to read his progressions?
Al Borges: "There is only way I know and that's to rep. Keep repping, keep giving him the same plays time and time again until the muscle memory responds. Don't confuse and as he does it more and he gets a better feel for it, it'll start to flow but that's really the only way I know and there is no substitute for experience and the more you experience those plays the better you'll get at them."
Question: You got away from the diamond formation.
Al Borges: "We've run variations of that formation. The nucleus of the play is still maybe diamond oriented, but it may not be exactly that look."
Question: Do you think that works better like that?
Al Borges: "No it is just variation, nuisance, variation, different looks for the defense. It is part of planning."
Question: What do you see from Purdue's defense that has impressed you?
Al Borges: "Play real hard, especially last week. Of all the games that we watched, obviously we've watched every game they played, the last week, they really showed up. They came to play. They were fired up. They are very aggressive especially with their secondary. They come down with their safeties and lock up the corners and 21 (Ricardo Allen) is a really, really good corner. They just play a nice physical brand of football. They came to play. I'm sure right now they are playing with some confidence. So we're going to have to show up and bring our A game in this one."
Question: That fourth and inches call against Michigan State, was there just something missed?
Al Borges: "It was under executed. We don't design the play for the quarterback to be blinded sided. That's basically it. I'm trying to move on to Purdue. That one I'm trying to forget."
Question: Dave Molk said in terms of the offensive, he grades them an A some days and a D other days, is that how you see it?
Al Borges: "Yeah to a degree. You look at the sum total of how we've played in seven games, we're pretty good. We're on the ball pretty good. We're protecting really good. The one thing you don't want to do is take one game….you want to learn from that game don't get me wrong, but you don't want to panic and all of a sudden say the offensive line is no good. That is simply not true. We have to fix our problems and we're in the process of doing that right now."
Question: What do you think about brought about the problems with the offense line, was it just Michigan State was the best team you've played so far?
Al Borges: "I think defensively they are the best team we've played so far. They did a nice job. Some of the things we did were avoidable, let us put it that way. We made some errors that we could have done a better job. That's all I can say. Michigan State is certainly a formable defense."
Question: The last four weeks you've scored on the opening possession every week.
Al Borges: "You guys at the beginning everybody asked me; how come you're such slow starters. How many games did we have where we hadn't scored a touchdown in the first quarter, what was it two or three games? What did I tell you. I told you traditionally, offensively, we've been a fast starting team where I've coordinating. We've traditionally been a pretty fast starting football team and for some reason we weren't. Now we're starting to get it a little more as we go and it has been better."
Question: Is that just a comfort level you think?
Al Borges: "Yeah somewhat. Someone more comfortable, I think the kids understand what you want to do a little better."
Question: Do you script plays?
Al Borges: "Yeah script about 15 to 17, right in there. I don't necessarily go right by the script, right down the line of those plays, but they usually all get called by the middle of the second quarter or maybe earlier depending on how we're playing."
Question: Coach in the bye week Brady talked about how you guys evaluate your players. Are there some guys that we haven't seen on the field that maybe you think deserve more opportunity?
Al Borges: "I'm not going to say if there is or there isn't, but this is a great opportunity to do that. You got a little extra time so you can hand the ball to a couple of guys, you can put a couple lineman in there that you may not have been able to get as much time because of the rush of having to practice the game plan and such. Yeah I always like that. I love bye weeks for that kind of stuff and I love bowl games for that kind of stuff. You get a look at the kids who you really have not got a good look at before."
Question: Is Thomas Rawls the guy?
Al Borges: "He's played some and we'll see as we go. We're not committing anything there, but he's a kid that certainly has some ability."
Question: Our you amused when fans want to pull the hook out and say, you got to bench Denard and it is time for Devin Gardner?
Al Borges: "Am I amused, I don't know if that is a good word. I got to laugh to keep from crying, but a little bit. Like I said the other day, I'm not the smartest guy in the world and if you watched that last game, you would probably agree with that, but I'm not dumb enough to take 300 yards of total offense out of the game. That is ludicrous in my opinion. There is a point where with anybody if the productivity is going consistently down and then you have to reevaluate, but he is not even close. That's simply not fair to the kid or to the team."
Question: Do you like how you've incorporated Devin into the game?
Al Borges: "Yeah I do. I think we've found spots for him and I think we'll continue to try and do that. He's getting some playing time and he's having some fun and he's learning how to play the position a little bit. It has been good. He has taken a few licks, so it has been good for him and it has been good for everybody and as long as it helps us win that's all we care about. Everything that we do, every play that I call, every person we put on the field, everything we do is geared to trying to win the game. A lot of people will argue that don't look like it….everything we do. There is nothing where we are trying to be clever. There is nothing where we're trying to be cute. I don't care about any of that stuff. I hear guys say that, no, I don't call a play, I don't put a player on the field unless I think it helps us win."
Question: Is it possible to flip it and have Denard as quarterback and Devin as a skilled player?
Al Borges: "Anything is possible."
Question: It looks like incrementally that Denard has been getting more snaps each week. Is there a ceiling on that, kind of 15 is where…?
Al Borges: "No I don't count snaps, I don't care. We have a plan for whatever we're going to do and we put them on the field as we see fit, but there is no pitch count, nothing like that. We don't care about that stuff."
Question: It looked like there were some plays where Denard came off the field and Devin was in at quarterback by himself, are there certain plays that you have designed for Devin?
Al Borges: "Yeah some of that was when Denard got banged up. I think that was what mostly happened and there may have been a play or two but it was mostly that."
Question: How much has uncertainty at left guard affected the offensive line?
Al Borges: "I don't think that is a big deal. Michael Schofield has done a nice job. They're in a nice competition there. I don't really think that was a big game. If you lost three or four lineman that might hurt you."
Question: How different are Schofield and (Ricky) Barnum's games?
Al Borges: "Very similar. They're both athletic kids that can move. They can play inside the box pretty well. Smart kids, both of them too, very similar games. It is a good question because they bring about the same thing to the table, athleticism and some toughness."
Question: Is it just a pure production thing?
Al Borges: "Yeah. It is just like running backs. You've got a couple of running backs and no one is standing out. So you let them compete and let them play and until somebody does, you do it the way you do it. I told you guys, you'd like to get the cast of characters that you play with in place every week but sometimes it just simply does not work that way, as much as you'd like to do that, it just doesn't always work that way."
Question: In practice, you say the running backs are not differentiating themselves, but are what we see in game indicative of what they're doing in practice?
Al Borges: "Pretty much. I would say that is accurate. Again, as we go through this thing, we're going to try and get more opportunities to get them opportunities, if that makes any sense to you. As the season goes on and the quarterback who is a big runner in our offense and it is always probably going to be, but we're always looking for chances to take pressure off and we've been able to do that in a couple of games. It's been great. We weren't able to do that last game, but we've been able to do that in several games and that's been good. We'll still try to do that if we possibly can. Like I said when you guys first asked me about this whole thing when I first got here. I'd like to take some pressure off Denard Robinson running the ball. That was certainly our intent, but like I said, I make no promises because I know how the game can go and I know sometimes how you have to shift gears, so we'll see."