Coordinator Full-Transcript: Al Borges

Al Borges talks about Fitz Toussaint and the runningbacks situation, Denard, Devin, Vincent Smith ... the offensive line. And no questions on the bubble-screen!


Was it a little bit of a breakthrough on Saturday to have Toussaint to step up and give you that kind of a game?

Yeah somewhat, I mean, that's really what we've wanted to do all year, but you know, with two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to, you know, not getting our quarterback beat up, you know, that was a huge issue. Uh, you know, we worked hard on trying to get back to really kind of what we really wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but, that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren't executing very well, or just being able to justify doing it as much as we did. But Tous, Fitz, he did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but on the perimeter. You know, we have some nice blocks on the perimeter.

Do you think you made a set plan for you guys going forward do you think, or…, is it that you saw something that?

No, no, we didn't see anything, we just wanted to. I told you all along we wanted to feature tailbacks more, you know, and we were getting away from that instead of getting closer to it, and it was taking a toll on a lot of phases of our offense you know? But uh, game in and game out, the plan changes, and Denard may run the ball more this week, you know, and tailbacks may run it less, but in the perfect world, and we told from the beginning, we've been saying it, we'd like to keep his carries around 15, and all the defensive coaches go oh God, well there's times where he's better off if he doesn't carry the ball, believe it or not, you know, a lot of people might question that, but the more he carries it, the more likelihood he is to get banged up, and it drastically affects his ability to throw. I think that's a big issue.

What makes Toussaint the guy? What has he done well that you've obviously found confidence in?

He's a tough guy that makes no concessions to the defense, ok, you're gonna have to tackle Fitz, he's not gonna just go down, ok? He's really improved in his ability to find the cavities in the defense. When we first got here, his vision wasn't all it needed to be, but he's gotten so much better, and that's carrying the ball, it's just carry the ball and see it, you know, some guys never get that, but Fitz has. He's got a better feel for where things you know, pressing the line of scrimmage and finding the cut back lanes, or being able to press line of scrimmage and jump cut outside or do whatever, you know, the defense dictates that you must, but he's uh, he's just, you know, gotten to carry the ball 20 times, you know, it makes a difference.

Were you surprised to see Denard take a knee when Purdue was called off-sides and when he…?

Was I surprised?

Yeah, or is that?

No, no, he's fine. We had free five yards.

Coach at one point Toussaint had a little more burst, a little more speed. You were talking about how you find lines, who do you attribute that to?

You talking about Fitz?

Yeah, Toussaint, was he faster?

Yeah, yeah, he's always been fast. That's never, ever been…Fitz has got speed, he was a track guy in high school, nut like I said, just opportunities, that's really his chances to carry the ball, you know? I wanted to find a guy that could carry it 20 plus and gain 100 yards. And he got to carry it 20 plus and did. And I'm not sure of this, I probably should know this, but I don't, but what is the maximum our tailbacks have carried the ball in the game? I don't think they would have one that's carried it 20 yet, so. Thank you, I appreciate that, I'm gonna make you my stats guy. I've got a gazillion stats, but for some reason I can't pull that one up right away.

You used Devin quite a lot in this game. Did you worry at any point that it was disrupting the rhythm of the office, and that maybe you were using it too much?

No, not at all. You know , matter of fact, we're using him just exactly as much as we would like to use him, you know, and our productivity with a two quarterback offense the last two weeks has been pretty good, you know, so I think it adds to our rhythm. Now, if you kept him in there a few plays and Denard wasn't lining up every single snap, then I guess that could break it a little bit, but no, and that's why I don't like series in quarterbacks, because that does break quarterbacks' rhythm, but spot ‘em here, spot ‘em there, and the quarterback stays in the game, you know, he's still part of the scheme, I don't think it hurts us at all, I think it helps us.

Denard, if you noticed, when Denard is in the two back set split wide out, how much have you noticed teams kinda selling out toward his side. It seems like on the opposite pitch backs there was a lot of mistakes over there.

Yeah, you know, he gets guys attention, that's why we do that, you know, you got a force them in that stuff to defend Denard, and then you've got it counter punch as often, but it starts with the idea that you have two very athletic kids, both can throw, both can run. You don't get that very often now. It's rare instances. And you've got to have in the package the ability to explore all those skills, and force the defense to defend the perimeter and the inside game.

Are you at all concerned about all the injuries out front, and...?

No, no, we're fine. We'll be fine.

Brady made mention of getting down there close a couple times and not being able to punch it in. any thoughts on those situations?

Well, uh, in terms of play calls, I don't really have any reservation about anything. We had scored on a shotgun power during a game; we've lined up in a shotgun for short yardage, 4th and 3rd and 1 to 2, and we've made it twelve times, and you're not gonna get it every time. Eventually, somebody's gonna stop you, now that's the one everybody remembers, believe me, as a play caller I know that. Eventually that's going to happen. It's not an excuse now, but it's a reality. We didn't block the play very well and we didn't get it, but our short yardage goal line percentage wise has been excellent, so as much as I don't like it, I don't have a lot of reservation about it.

Getting back to Denard taking a knee on the outside. Is that something you coach, or is that all on him, or…?

No, I think he thought the play was dead, you know, so we went down.

Can you clarify what "we'll be fine" is on the offensive line, I mean, do you expect to have….?

I mean, I hope so, but injuries are not something I address, that's been made clear to me, so why don't we…let's go to another subject.

You talked about Denard may get more experience this week. Iowa, whose defense is really struggle with a mobile quarterback. Does that lead you to think, ok, I do want to run him 25 times this week?

No, no, it leads me to believe that we should take the approach that's been the most successful and attack the defense in the way that they're most vulnerable, and if that means running the quarterback more, then we'll run the quarterback more, but again, it's never our goal to run him 25 times. That is not our goal. I just know battlefield decisions change your tactics, and it could happen, and it has happened. But we're going to go into the game assuming that we're going to maintain balance in our running game, and see how things go.

Coach, how much do you coach Denard on audible-ing the line of scrimmage?

Well, quite a bit, you know, in certain games more than others, and as you learn the offense more, you gain more autonomy to do those kinds of things.

Has he been more confident in that during…?

Yeah, oh yeah, he's done a good job of that, you know, whether it be redirecting plays or whatever, he's pretty good. He understands what we want to get accomplished, you know, we have an occasional error, but for the most part he's pretty good about that. But the one thing, when you're going try to control a ball when you allow your quarterback to control the game on the line of scrimmage, he has to have full understanding of everything you want to do. Because we're not a peek at the sideline people, where the coach can control a lot of that, we don't do that, so if you're going put it in his hands, you've got to make sure that everything you're doing has a rhyme or reason…anytime a play's being checked or whatever, that there's good rationale for doing that, and the better he understands the offense the more autonomy you give him to do it.

Last question, is the bubble screen ever going be a part of…?

I'm not saying one thing about any bubble screens. Everybody wants to ask about that play.

How much of an issue to you expect snap counts to be at Iowa where a place where it's traditionally raucous, and….?

Well it could be a deal, you know, you got to make sure you practice all that stuff, you know what I mean? And assume we're going get to practice with crowd noise, you're going to go on a variety of snap counts and not bat an eye, just because there's a lot of noise. I was a coach in the SEC, I learned every stadium, darn near, that that was an issue, and you just can't let that affect you. The biggest thing on that stuff is maintaining your poise. Getting in and out of the huddle fast, getting the play calls, and you don't have to rush snap counts, and then that can happen, where you're on the line of scrimmage and that clocks winding down, and now they know when you're going to snap the ball. But if you get in and out of the huddle with some expediency and dispatch, you can go on any snap count you want.

That was obviously an issue with Devin at some point a couple games ago. Is that something that just, with the more experience he has…?

Yeah, yeah, no doubt. You get the signal, you know, you feel good about what you see, whether it's a wristband call or whatever, you spit it out clear, get on the line of scrimmage and go. And the more you do it, the more…

Specifically though, he's getting better?

Oh, him and Denard both. They both have. Here's the deal when you change, this is the thing that's not talked about very much, but it's a huge issue, because I've been enough places that when you learn a new office, you got to learn how to speak. Ok? There's a different deal now, it's like moving to Greece, and now you've got to learn how to speak, you know, Greece, you know, Greek, you've got to learn to be Greek, and you know, that's not easy when you've been speaking another language all that time. It doesn't exactly roll off your tongue. You know, it takes a while sometimes. You've got to practice it, and we've practiced it and we've practiced it. We have wristband calls out there the first day we go out, you know, because again, we still huddle, we're still a conventional, we huddle, we don't flash ‘em on the sideline or peek to the sideline and all that, so the quarterback's got to get used to making those calls, yeah.

Talking about how this game was more of the pro-style spread that you want to see. Just like the type of plays that were called…?

Yeah, pretty much. The style plays we run, under center as much as we're gun you know when we had a balance in the two, we were going to be a hybrid offense, right? But we were much more hybrid than I even anticipated in the first two games, but now we are, you know, in this game anyway, we were much more toward, lean towards, what we had planned originally.

Something from the bi-week that you practiced?

Well, we had a chance to practice it more in the bi-week.

It seemed like after the two back to back interceptions, you went to that power running game, is that something that you felt, that was a good time to bring that out?

Yeah, to a degree, but I'm not one of those guys that gets gun shy just because a kid throws a pick. I mean, you get scared of that, you're never going to be good throwing the ball first of all. You've got to jump back on the horse, but sometimes, just to get the offense going a little bit, if you want to get a little more conservative until the kid gets his feet on the ground again, then that's good, but don't get where you're afraid to throw a pass, because then you become very predictable.

After the Minnesota game, you said you kind of keep running backs on a short leash throwing the ball, now that Vince has incompletion, do you rethink his…?

Just because he threw one incompletion I've got to fire him?

You said he was…?

No, no, no, he won the audition. No that's just the audition. When you audition, you either, you know, you either get the part or you don't. Once you get the part, you don't fire the guy then, you know, unless you knows its Charlie Sheen or somebody. I hope Charlie doesn't watch these interviews, I didn't mean that Charlie, you're cool, I get a kick outta you. I like the show and all.

Have you every personally been to the Kinnick Stadium or any other?

No, no, played at Iowa, but Indiana we played them at home, I have not been there. It's going to be fun. I heard it's a great place.

Pink locker room?

Yeah, I'm fired up about that.


Sure, it's hilarious. You don't think it's good? I thought it was pretty funny.

Brady said yesterday, in reference to the offensive line, it's essentially the most paltry depth in the country. Is that your assessment, and that does that make it more difficult to do what you do when you have an offense like that?

Yeah, because we're not very deep, we had a plan for early this season to run a six man offensive line offense, we can' t do any of that; we're just not at that point, but you know, we have some good players, and we gotta play with what we got ,and I like ‘em. There may not be a lot of them, but I like ‘em.

I mean, you talked, I think it was spring about the chemistry for an offensive line. In a sense, do you get that chemistry when you've got basically the same group…?

You bet you do. Same guys play together, they communicate better, they have a good feel for what each other's going to do, and that position, I think just in football, I think the secondary and offensive line, those two positions are so critical that they gain some chemistry because they're so communication oriented, you know? Every position is, but those two, I think, are probably the top of the list in terms of that kind of the deal.

Is Schofield settled in, are you happy with how he's played?

Yeah, you know, he's played pretty consistently now, but that's still a competitive deal. We're not handing anything to anybody.

Talking about the execution on the offensive line, what did they do better running the running game with Fitz?

Well, this game we used a significant amount of movement with our line, pulling guys, but we're not bad zone blockers. We have a combination of zone blocking, down scheme, gap schemes, and horn schemes, and we're athletic enough to do ‘em all, really. We really are. But we don't really depend on any one because certain games, certain schemes show up more than others based on how they defend you, sp, but our kids are capable of all of it, they really are.

At what point did you see that Gallon had the potential to be a playmaker like this? It seems like…?

First day of spring practice.

What was the traits that ….?

He can run and catch. No, no I'm serious now, he can run and catch. He can run, and he can catch the ball. He plays big. He's not very tall, but he plays a lot bigger. He goes over the top of guys who are a lot taller than he is, a lot bigger than he is, and he catches the ball. He's competitive and he's tough. And he blocks, I mean he blocks. He brings a load when he blocks. All our receivers, Jeff Hecklinski has really done a really good job of instilling some toughness in the perimeter, and we take pride in how many knockdowns we get a game, and you know, we're not perfect by any means, but we're trying out there. We're really out there trying. That's all I ask for receivers is, when it's time to do some dirty work, do the dirty work.

Did you have to restore Gallon's confidence a little bit? Because last year he really struggled.

I don't know anything about that. He s been confident, been fine since we've got him, he's been great. We just put ‘em all out there, man, I don't care about last year, any of that stuff. See what they do, and if they play good we let ‘em play, and if they don't, they watch, you know, it's that simple.

Are you surprised it took Taylor eight games to get a penalty?

Is that right?

Personal foul. No I know what the penalty was, ok? But I think that's pretty good.

How do you work with a player on that, cutting down…?

Other than threatening him? Uh, well, that's a good question. We just practice snap counts and yell at ‘em when they do something stupid. I don't know, because that's usually where the offensive line penalties come is, they're either holding, right, or there false starting, you know? And we stay on ‘em, we have officials around all the time to make sure they keep their hands clean and when they false start, we have a pretty short fuse for that, you know. Our offense is set up where there shouldn't be a lot of penalties, really shouldn't. I mean, and I knock on wood, but everywhere I've been we've never been a heavily penalized team, offensively and I don't see any reason why we should be here.

Why is that?

Because we don't accept it. We make sure that they don't depend on a bunch of bad technique. Because usually a holding penalty is because of bad technique, putting yourself out of position and grabbing some guy, you know, or not focusing on snap counts, you know doing those kinds of things. We grind it and grind it and you know, we'll still have ‘em. I'm not beating my chest here, we may have 10 false starts next game, it just hasn't been an issue, and uh not a consistent issue. It may show up a game here or a game there, but it hasn't been a real problem.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories