this may be of some local interest
HOCKEYBEAR IS GO
|WHAT||Alaska @ Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: FSD Plus
(ie, not TV)
Record. 10-8-4, 7-7-4 CCHA. The Nanooks have won two of their four shootouts and are one of a remarkable four teams sitting on a .500 conference record, give or take some shootout points. They're tied for fifth in the league with those teams, a tiny bit behind WMU.
In terms of goal differential, Alaska is +4 on the season and +1 against their CCHA schedule.
Previous meetings. Michigan split a pair in Fairbanks, losing 3-0 on Friday before rebounding with a 5-2 win on Saturday.
Dangermen. Goals have been hard to come by for Alaska. They're languishing at 50th (of 58) in scoring.
Andy Taranto, last year's CCHA freshman of the year, leads the team with seven goals. Four others follow with six. Freshman forward Cody Kunyk and junior defenseman Joe Sova lead the team with 16 points—0.72 per game. No one puts the fear of God into you, but a half-dozen players are at least okay at putting the puck into the net.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. The only entity to have seen time other than junior Scott Greenham has been Open Net. In 22 games Greenham's racked up a .926 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA—he, and the Nanook defense, are your answers to the question "how can a team scoring two goals a game be .500?"
Alaska is fifth in scoring defense at 2.14 goals allowed per game. Possibly heartening item: Ferris State was second before last weekend's series and Michigan doubled up their averages. They're now sixth.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.6||4.5|
|PP Ag / G||4.6||4.7|
Michigan lags ever so slightly. As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, Michigan's power play is mediocre (19.6%, 20th) but Alaska's is worse (15.8%, 38th). Michigan's penalty kill has been terrible (80.3%, 41st) and Alaska's mediocre (84%, 18th). This is a push.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Scoring first highly recommended. It is always highly recommended but is even more so when you're playing a team with the profile of Alaska. This is also an opportunity for Michigan to jump on an opponent on Friday night—Alaska has traditionally been jet-lagged and horrible on Fridays, but much more competitive the next night.
Don't give up anything cheap. A team with issues scoring like Alaska is going to have a tough time against Michigan's deep and solid D corps/Hagelin unless there's a parade to the box or some of the guys in the bottom six/third pairing are turnover machines. Issue: turnover machines exist on those lines. Lee Moffie's +/- will be a bellwether.
Fire them from many places. Open shots from the point should come paired with traffic and should just be taken. Alaska's good defensively and any opportunity to chuck it at the net is a good one, especially when you've got the shooters at the point Michigan does.
The Big Picture
It's still too early to start poking the PWR in earnest, but that didn't stop the NCAA committee from making it slightly worse by going back to an old definition of what a "team under consideration" is. A few years ago it was anyone with an RPI of .500 or better. It was changed to the top 25 in RPI for a few years and now it's suddenly back to the old style, for whatever reason.
This ups the number of TUCs from 25 to 34 and slightly increases the stupidity of that category since now games against #1 are equivalent to games against #34. Before you had to be 25th to get that equality. Also it's ridiculous that six teams with an under .500 record are "under consideration" when the NCAA banned under .500 teams from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin managed that trick one year.
At this instant the change is a slight help to Michigan since it includes Michigan's 5-1-1 record against Ferris and MSU; they move up one slot to fifth in the revised rankings. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the individual comparisons suggests this is about as far as Michigan can move up. The PWR has morphed into a system that slightly alters RPI. Michigan is sixth but manages to make up a big difference in RPI with BC for stupid reasons; those may correct. Meanwhile, the top four all have massive advantages in that category that will be tough to overcome unless Michigan tears through the back half of its schedule. Even then it may take a collapse from teams at the top to snag a top seed.
It's much easier to envision a scenario where Michigan falls down the rankings; they're at the top of a tightly packed bunch. The difference between Michigan and #4 Denver is equal to the difference between Michigan and #16 RPI. Stumbles will see them give ground quickly.
Bonus: Michigan picked up another 2011 commit, a Travis Lynch from the USHL. He's got 13 points in 33 games and sounds like he's going to be a checker and penalty killer a la Scooter. If they can find one more scoring line type that would just about finish the class.
Tommy Tuberville, 1/11/2010:
"We're going to air it out," Tuberville said. "We're going to keep the Air Raid. I think it's something that Tech has hit upon that gives them that identity to recruit."
Rich Rodriguez, sometime in 2008:
“We’ll adapt. I like winning too much not to adapt a little bit to our personnel.”
Brady Hoke, 1/14/2011:
"I think you'd be remiss as a coach if you don't know your personnel, and you try to implement something that maybe you're not quite ready for. There's a way to grow to it. So we're not going to try to put any square pegs in round holes."
Midway through Rich Rodriguez's first season it had become clear that Michigan was spectacularly bad at football for the first time since the 60s, and the blame started to go around. A large portion of it was directed at Rodriguez shoehorning Michigan's pro-style personnel into the spread offense, and it was all dumb. Very dumb. I wrote a post explaining how dumb this was called "The Golden Age of Tin." In brief:
- Despite having NFL talent up and down the roster Michigan was about 70th in offense in 2007. All of that talent left.
- Michigan had moved to a zone running game two years before Rodriguez arrived and he changed very little on the line.
- Four of the five starters skill position starters were freshmen who had never played in a pro-style offense. (Brandon Minor would later return from injury/discontent/quasi-suspension and play pretty well.)
- The run-pass split was almost 50-50 a year after WVU ran 70% of the time.
- The quarterbacks were bad in any system.
A couple years later, Nick Sheridan is a grad assistant, a redshirt junior version of Steven Threet has a 18-16 TD-INT ratio for a 6-6 Arizona State team, and Michigan's spread offense is one halfway decent turnover margin/defense/kicker from being awesome. Rich Rodriguez did a lot of things wrong in his time in Ann Arbor, but installing the offense he'd been running for 20 years wasn't one of them.
Because of all the things he did do wrong, however,
he's in a sad car with sad child. Al Borges is now in charge of Denard Robinson, a bunch of slot receivers, tailbacks no one except Fred Jackson thinks much of, and… well… a pretty decent set of pro-style outside receivers, tight ends, and (probably) offensive linemen.
Borges is going to do the only thing he can do with this personnel: coach a pro-style offense with a vertical passing game. This is not going to be as good for Michigan as continuity would be, but the person to blame for that is the athletic director, or Rich Rodriguez, or some of the things Rich Rodriguez did wrong. Al Borges has not spent the last 20 years figuring out how to get mileage out of quarterbacks who double as drag racers in the offseason. He's spent it saying "no, I'm not Jeffery Tambor" and passing to open up the run.
Coincidentally, the best example of what happens when you replace a Rich Rodriguez-type coach with a more passing-oriented guy is when West Virginia replaced Rich Rodriguez with Jeff Mullen. Mullen was the QB coach responsible for turning Wake Forest into a miraculously effective offense through 2007 and arrived in Morgantown promising more balance in the Mountaineer offense. He got it:
Unsurprisingly, passes got less effective as they became more frequent. The thing that dropped WVU from a national title contender to just another top 25 team was that despite rushing less, rushes also got less effective.
If you're thinking Steve Slaton's exit for the NFL may have had something to do with that, replacement Noel Devine actually rushed for 6.3 YPC. What happened? Burgeoning Wolverine Star has a table of its own that highlights the severe drop in productivity from quarterback legs that started as soon as Rodriguez left. Pat White's rushes were exactly as frequent—down to a tenth of a percentage point—as they were in 2007 but his productivity dropped alarmingly. White averaged 6.7(!) YPC under Rodriguez and just 5 under Mullen.
While it's possible the schedule was tougher and the team weaker after Owen Schmitt and a few others graduated, Devine's numbers suggest the most likely explanation for that huge drop is that Mullen didn't know what the hell to do with White.
So. Michigan fans wishing to protect their soul-tingly-bits would do well to regard quotes like these from Borges as gentle untruths created for public perception:
"I've been doing this for 24 years. I'm no genius and I do not pretend to be one, but I have a hell of a lot of experience with a lot of different types of quarterbacks."
But when Borges goes on to compare Robinson to Michael Vick and what he's doing with the Eagles…
"They said Michael Vick couldn't be a West Coast-style quarterback, and he's one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. Why? Because they put him in situations to run and throw. Denard is 6-feet tall, like Michael Vick. He can run and he can throw and make things happen. If Michael Vick can do that with the Philadelphia Eagles, why can't Denard Robinson do that at Michigan?"
…he suggests that "a lot of different types of quarterback" boil down to guys running NFL offenses with various scrambling add-ons. This is not a fluke. Borges has an array of quotes along those lines. It's also not very realistic. Vick's long and winding journey to becoming a good NFL quarterback took ten years of intensive coaching. When he was three years out of high school (like Denard will be next year) he had a 9-7 TD-INT ratio; VT ran 74% of the time. Their offense was a grab-bag of spread 'n' shred mixed with pro-style that featured a heavy dose of option and even more "Mike Vick makes one read on seven-step drop and starts running." It was pretty effective, but it was even more run-heavy than Rodriguez's Pat White days and took the most outrageously athletic player in the last two decades to make it go.
I'm not sure Denard is quite that, and if we're talking about putting Denard in positions to run or pass that just sounds like a lot of rollouts. And here's the weird thing about Robinson: the guy hates running the ball when he's not explicitly directed to. When he got to the edge this year he invariably chose to throw even when it was third and three and there wasn't a guy within six yards of him.
run run run run run nooooooo okay [ninja stuff] wooooo
Maybe that's because Michigan's offense revolved around Denard running 25 times a game and he didn't want to put any more tread on his tires, but seriously, how many times did you scream "run!" at the TV or field last year?
Maybe this will work out. Maybe Michigan will run four verticals at opponents until their safeties scream for help, whereupon Denard will be able to enact one-read-and-scramble. It would be easier to imagine this happening with Braylon Edwards on the outside, but Michigan did have some success throwing deep in the bowl game and I'm guessing Denard's going to spend most of his offseason throwing fly routes.
But if it doesn't, there's no alternative. Coaches are old and crotchety and just are who they are. They have a very specific, gradually moving corpus of knowledge and when they deviate from that performance suffers. Borges is an effective coordinator with a certain sort of offense. Without it he's probably going to be a version of Jeff Mullen. This is no one's fault, really, just like it wasn't anyone's fault three years ago when Rich Rodriguez surveyed his offensive personnel and felt the crevasse beneath him inch open for the first time.
Tommy Tuberville, 12/27/2010:
"I still believe in running the football," he said. "More than what they did in the past. That's the biggest difference. We want to be a bit more physical and be able to run the ball, which will help throwing it down the field, too."
RIP, air raid. RIP, spread 'n' shred.
BONUS: we should put together a pool for when and where the first column approvingly citing Borges's ability to adapt relative to Rodriguez by comparing their first seasons shows up. Bonus points will be awarded for the most irritatingly shallow glossing over of the difference between junior Denard Robinson with seniors around him versus freshman Threetsheridammit surrounded by fellow freshmen.
DISCLAIMER SECTION: I expect these things next year: Denard is a better thrower, turnover margin is a lot better (fourth year running, that prediction), all yardage metrics drop, scoring drops slightly from 25th but is better distributed across the schedule, FEI plummets. Improvement from the defense and, god willing, kicker will mask a drop in offensive power.
soak it in
This week in limited concessions to SEO. So it turns out Esquire googled AJ Daulerio and found this site's bluntly titled piece on him in the aftermath of the ESPN sex tantrum that outed some woman no one had ever heard of for dating some guy no one had ever heard of. They quoted me, so score. That makes me essentially Tom Brady. If I was not getting married in five months this might have had some utility.
I unsubscribed from Deadspin's feed a while ago when they removed full feeds because there was too much junk to wade through just to get to "Dead Wrestler of the Week" or Tommy Craggs writing something long, so I've lost track of what's going on with athlete dongs. Apparently this is:
The topic turned to a video Deadspin had posted of a drunk girl having sex in a bathroom stall at a sports bar in Bloomington, Indiana. After a few days of trading emails with the girl, who was begging to have the video taken down, he refused to take it down. Then the girl's father contacted Daulerio to let him know "You gotta understand, I've just been dealing with watching my daughter get f---ed in a pile of piss for the past two days."
So, awesome. We've moved beyond the thin veneer of "making ESPN acknowledge its sexism" or "Josh Hamilton is a hypocrite" or "Brett Favre is someone you've heard of" and we're just randomly holding up unfortunate young women not connected to sports in any way for internet leers. At least no one's pretending anymore. Except of course Daulerio is, so here's Tom Fornelli ripping him for it.
We'll always have Notre Dame. Tate Forcier transferred, completing his destiny. He used Twitter to make his announcement. It's sad and obviously omits "class" when it talks about the various places he worked hard. In retrospect it's all just so obvious. Homeschooling, yo. It either turns you into Tim Tebow or… not Tim Tebow.
This was cosmically ordained. Now Tate Forcier is the avatar of the Rodriguez era: high expectations, fun here and there, eventual letdown, premature termination. I'll miss the moxie. In memoriam:
BONUS INCEST SPECULATION: I wonder if he'll end up at San Diego State? He's from San Diego. He has a redshirt year, and SDSU's QB graduates after 2011. Those Montana rumors from earlier now have a lot of credence, but if he's willing to sit out a year home seems like an attractive option.
This is hard, veteran fluff. Mattison is saying some awfully nice things about Brady Hoke:
"When Brady got the job (at Michigan last Tuesday), I said to myself, 'If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this with Brady,'" Mattison said. "I wouldn't have gone to any other college team. I wouldn't have changed what I was doing for anybody but Brady.
And you can't have a defensive coordinator hire without the magic word:
"You put the best front and the best coverage out there, and the intention is to be aggressive," Mattison said.
Jarrett Irons also says Mattison is a "helluva" recruiter.
Speaking of recruiting, not to be, like, you know but… Michigan has eight coaches. Seven are white and one is Fred Jackson. Most are old, and even the young-ish ones look like old white guys spiritually. This 1) is bad, 2) looks bad, and 3) can be offset if the last two guys are "energetic recruiters" in the same way Zack Novak is "heady."
If Vincent Smith is having problems I'm not sure he's got anyone he can talk to with any clue what it's like to be a poor black kid:
I am sorry to hear your troubles. In these times I always turn to the advice of Robert Goulet.
The only thing separating this staff from your local realtor is Mark Smith's terror at being photographed. For a lot of reasons, we need some people on staff who know who Waka Flocka Flame is. (No points awarded for knowing of the existence of a "Small Wayne.")
I've heard the last two assistants are likely to be guys without ties to Michigan but there's a guy out there who seems like a natural fit: Corwin Brown. He's a secondary coach, and Michigan needs a secondary coach. He's currently with the Patriots but his role one of those assistant (to the) position coach roles the NFL invented to give anyone who gets fired a job. He's probably not making an exorbitant amount of money.
Brown wasn't a good defensive coordinator but ND defensive backs developed pretty well under his guidance and he was a monster recruiter for them. Since I have mentioned him as a plausible candidate there's no way he gets hired, but the fit seems obvious.
The DL coach, meanwhile, can barely know what a defensive line is since Hoke and Mattison are on staff and should only touch down in Ann Arbor to drop off signed LOIs. Beyonce for DL coach?
[Side note on yesterday's post on Mattison: the 12.1 PPG number I cited isn't right. It was around 17 points per game. Oddly, I got this erroneous info from M's own database, which said opponents scored 157 points in '95.]
All tapes have not been erased. If you're wondering, there will not be a Gator Bowl UFR because what's the point? I do have the Utah-SDSU game from this year and I'll do the offense from that game after Signing Day. I might pull some Picture Pages from the defense if I can find something that illuminates the difference between Greg Robinson running a 3-3-5 he doesn't understand and Rocky Long running the D he invented, too.
But anyway someone did bother to look at the tape of Michigan's bowl demolition. Here's Craig Roh playing DT on first and goal:
This would be a seven-yard touchdown up the gut. Surprise. That play features errors by Mouton, Demens, and Kovacs and is yet another item to add to the pile of reasons Greg Robinson was a bad idea.
Not a feature. I'm arrogant. I know this for a lot of reasons but there's a statistic to back it up: the Michigan version of quiz bowl (a dynasty, BTW) held intramural tournaments occasionally and my first couple years in college I played in them. They kept extensive stats, and I was in the top five in correct answers. I was number one by a mile in incorrect answers*. Arrogance is not a feature, it's a bug.
There's a response to my post about Will Smith and robots and Michigan's hidebound image of itself on Maize 'n' Brew that "loves" the arrogance of Michigan fandom that I can't disagree more with. Arrogant fans are above all unpleasant to be around, no matter if they're on your side or not. When I was in Chicago for Blogs With Balls there was barhopping wherein I hung out with various Chicago based bloggers. One was Brian Stouffer of House Rock Built. I'm not sure who the other was. Stouffer's a really nice guy. The other guy was ND Nation in the flesh, a guy who actually brought up the African-American grad rate canard in a conversation with a stranger he'd just met. That sort of clueless insecurity is arrogance.
We are an arrogant program, and I am an arrogant fan. I don't argue with Brian's awareness of the arrogance, but I think there's more to it than that. He's right - "certain outsiders" can't really teach me, or many of us, anything. Yes, many of the things rivals say about Michigan are true. And yes, our bowl game opponents and OOC opponents will say Michigan just "lines up and comes after you" because that's what Michigan does. Sure, we haven't won a majority of those games (even in the past thirty or so years, Michigan's bowl record isn't fantastic) but the formula works.
Ned Flanders: Pardon me, neighbourinos. Some of our boys are lost in your town. You wouldn't have happened to see them, by any chance?
Shelbyville Guy #1: Sounds like Springfield's got a discipline problem.
Shelbyville Guy #2: Maybe that's why we beat them at football nearly half the time.
The post is neatly summarized by Shelbyville Guy #2. This is not so good.
*(Which cost five points if offered before the question was over.)
Etc.: Kellen Jones reconfirms commitment, if you missed it in yesterday's recruiting post. Oversigning picks up steam as a media concept. JMFJ on JMFJ. Holdin' the Rope on the early days of Hoke—boy, is that blog name going to be one to explain in a few years.
Well... this one caught me by surprise. The Wolverine is reporting that OH CB Tamani Carter (a recent commit to Minnesota) has switched his commitment to the Wolverines. Carter hails from Pickerington Central, the Columbus suburb that gave us the likes of Justin Boren (who attended North).
|3*, #104 CB||3*, 5.5, NR CB||2*, 74, #151 CB|
The recruiting sites are in sliiiight disagreement on his height, with the majority coming to a consensus of about 5-11. All three sites list his weight as 175 pounds. We'll start with ESPN's evaluation:
Carter is a quick-footed skill prospect with very good athleticism... On defense, he transitions and closes the cushion quickly. Shows good underneath burst jumping routes in zone schemes... Has good extension, timing and leaping skills making him a very effective defender on the jump-ball. While fluid with good footwork, we do feel like he will be challenged in man-to-man coverage at the major college level. Appears quicker than fast and lacks great explosiveness and top-end speed needed to recover vertically. May struggle to press and set the edge on run support until he builds up his upper-body... Overall, Carter is a fluid athlete with great ball skills. Lacks game-changing attributes when projecting for major college level but will add good versatility and athleticism to a future roster.
They also evaluate him as a slot receiver on offense, but believe me, Michigan doesn't need more of those. Their overall evaluation seems to be "solid, BCS-level talent, but not a difference-maker at the BCS level." This is an odd evaluation considering their rankings of "hey, maybe this guy can play D-1 football." I imagine the lower end of their rankings are still being updated (the new 150 came out yesterday).
Scout has comments from the kid himself:
“I cover really well. I have great hips and closing speed. I also play offense and I’m very explosive. I want to improve my speed. And I’m still working on my feet. Overall, I’d like to get bigger and stronger.”
That's right in line with ESPN's evaluation, right down to saying he's quicker than he is fast.
Tamani also has his own website, praising mostly his work ethic, intensity, and academics. It also clips a few reviews of his game:
He's quick, changes directions well and showed good ball skills, making the breaks without drawing interference... He's a guy who we may have underrated some...
Carter may be one to watch in the future.
Yay for that. GopherHole's interview states that he also runs track.
Carter was committed to Minnesota before switching to Michigan, so he obviously held an offer from Jerry Kill's Gophers. Rivals also lists Air Force, Arizona, Iowa, Kent State, Stanford, and 1-AA Youngstown State.
A couple schools on that list (most notably Iowa and Stanford) have a recent history of developing under-the-radar prospects into stars, particularly in the defensive backfield in Iowa's case.
Scout has senior stats:
Tamani Carter finished his senior season (11-1) with 55 tackles and three interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns (one of 96 yards and the other for 34 yards). He also caught 25 balls for over 300 yards.
Those are solid numbers, but it's hard to evaluate the stats of high school defensive backs, since there is such a wide variety of offenses faced.
ESPN says he had 5 picks, including one returned for a touchdown, as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals and Scout both list him with a precise 4.48 40-yard dash time. That's quite good, but not exceptional, for a defensive back. Considering the book on Carter (very quick) and the level of agreement between the sites, I'm forced to give a mere one FAKE out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan started several freshman defensive backs last season, and Carter's scouting reports say that he needs to bulk up before being ready to contribute at the next level. That screams "redshirt," and I think that's a likely outcome for Carter's freshman year.
Even as a redshirt freshman, I think Michigan has enough athletic guys that even time on special teams will be hard to come by. As a redshirt sophomore, however, he might start getting serious special teams time, and as a redshirt junior and redshirt senior, he should work into the rotation on defense.
He's a solid player who will probably never be a star, but rather a role player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As Tom tweeted, this is an odd commitment, considering Michigan has multiple DBs visiting in the next couple weeks. Those guys are more ready to contribute immediately, and unlike Carter, are not similar body types to several of Michigan's DBs already on the roster (Terrence Talbott and Courtney Avery are both average-to-small corners that are pretty thin).
This likely means that Michigan only feels good about their chances with, say, one of those defensive backs, and that somebody we haven't been expecting to play safety - either somebody on the roster (Cullen Christian) or a commit (Greg Brown) - will do so. Remaining DB commits in this class are likely to be looked at for safety as well.
Via weird Twitter release (@qbforce) last night:
-Immediate Press/Sports Release: January 20, 2011- Robert “Tate” Forcier University Of Michigan Sophomore Quarterback
Why do we all wait until we are at our lowest point to seek God’s help?
I’ve been kicked, pushed, knocked down, publicly berated, belittled, emasculated and more. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to give up or feel the victim. The humility of it all is indescribable and that is exactly my point. I had to reach rock bottom in order to see the light, and for that, I am thankful. It was not until then, I realized that it was my lack of accountability and maturity and not to pass blame.
I do hope all my young fans forgive me and benefit from my lessons that I have learned. Be grateful for what you have and be humble for your successes. Don’t wait to ask God into your life as he will help you see things clearer.
In summary, I believe, I will become a better student and a person of stronger character from these experiences at Michigan. I can proudly state,“I worked hard on the practice field, in the film room and at meetings” after all, football is my passion. I had fun celebrating with the fans. I even competed hard while injured as a true freshman through the last (8) games in 2009, but I always played the game giving it my all.
I am proud to have been part of Michigan Football history and will always cherish the memory. The last few weeks I worked extremely hard to catch back up. I really wanted to stay. I was not giving up on Michigan, but in the end, it was made clear they had given up on me.
With that being said, its time for me to go. I promise the Michigan family and fans I will make you proud again.
Tate Forcier #5 - A Michigan Man Forever - Go Blue
This has been rumored for weeks, and confirmed, in part, by David Brandon at the Brady Hoke introductory presser. From the looks of things, his dad's statement that he'd try to return to the team is no longer an option, and Tate is permanently gone.
This makes Michigan's need for quarterbacks in the 2011 and 2012 classes enormous, as Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner are the only signal-callers left on the roster. An elite player is reasonable (and necessary) in the 2012 class.
So, Greg Mattison. He's been a coach forever, starting out as an Illinois GA and winding his way through a half-dozen schools coaching defensive linemen with a brief stint as WMU's DC in the mid-80s.
In 1992 he moved from Texas A&M to Michigan, where he was the DL coach from '92 to '94; in '95 he was promoted to DC. Notable players he coached include All-Americans Chris Hutchinson, Will Carr, and Jason Horn, '93 team captain Buster Stanley, and the bulk of Michigan's terrifying '97 defensive line that featured Glen Steele.
Mattison's Michigan defenses were good even for the standards of the time. Opponents averaged 12.1 points per game in '95, and none of them scored 30. Michigan State got a punt return touchdown to get to 28 in a 28-25 win, the most points actually given up by the D that season were the 27 ceded Penn State. It was kind of good:
The team earned the fifth of six 1990s Big Ten rushing defense statistical championships for all games by holding opponents to 93.2 yards per game. The team also earned the fifth of five consecutive and six 1990s Big Ten rushing defense statistical championships for conference games by holding opponents to 88.1 yards per game. The team led the conference in total defense for conference games (314.5) and all games (284.8).
In 1996 the D took a moderate step back, giving up 15.3 PPG and twice allowing 29 points, one in a comfortable win over MSU and once in another loss to PSU. In Michigan's three other losses the offense scored 16, 3, and 14 points. The bit about M standing for "mediocre" was launched after that season but it wasn't because of the D.
After the year Mattison left to be Notre Dame DC under Bob Davie. At the time this was high treason, but now people are talking about how his kids got free tuition and back in the mid-90s that meant something for assistants. I'm all like whatever in re: this matter.
Mattison was the DC for the entire dismal Davie era, a stretch of five years from 1997 to 2001. The NCAA database kicks in in '99, so we can provide (most of) the 1,000 foot view for his last three years:
|Year||School||Rush D||Pass D||Pass Eff D||Total D||Scoring D|
[The 1999 stats don't have pass yardage D but we can surmise from the other numbers it was Not Good.]
At the time ND was playing legitimately brutal schedules—have fun storming Nebraska and Tennessee, kids—and in 2001 Davie saddled Mattison with the 110th-ranked offense in the country, so that last bit is something of an achievement. Caveat: it's hard to tell exactly how much influence Mattison had since Davie was a DC before he ascended to the top chair but given their respective career arcs it seems reasonable to assume it was Mattison doing the good things.
When Davie got broomed the next year Mattison was kept on but demoted to DL coach, where he remained until Ty Willingham got the axe. This could have been curtains for his career but instead he moved to Florida, where he operated as a co-DC with Charlie Strong. The rankings from that stretch:
|Year||School||Rush D||Pass D||Pass Eff D||Total D||Scoring D|
You may remember the '07 Florida defense from such bowl games as "Aargh You Could Have Been Doing This For Years." That season Florida's untenably young secondary spent the season getting toasted tasty-crisp; the next year they'd recover en route to a national title, finishing 9th in total D.
Mattison was in the NFL by then. He left Florida for to be the Ravens' LB coach and was quickly promoted from that spot when Rex Ryan left to coach the Jets after his first year. In both his seasons as Ravens DC Mattison's charges finished 4th in DVOA, an advanced metric from Football Outsiders that adjusts for schedule strength and other vagaries. That's actually a tiny step back from Ryan's tenure, when the Ravens were second, fifth, and first in the league in defensive DVOA, so that wasn't exactly a rebuilding job.
In fact, most of Mattison's career as a DC consists of him walking into established situations and maintaining high levels of play for brief periods of time. The exception is his run at Notre Dame, where there were obviously some things very wrong that Mattison (and/or Davie, but again career arcs) repaired as the Fighting Irish footbaw era drew to a close. He's never walked into Chernobyl and walked out with an extra arm for ass-kickin'.
That and a couple of years here and there where his defenses weren't at least good are about the only knocks. He toiled in the ND salt mines forever and when Willingham's staff got fired he got a promotion at Florida; he then was the instant choice in Baltimore despite only being around one year. Both the circumstantial evidence and number suggest that Mattison is for real and the kind of A-list hire that Michigan sorely needed after the GERG/surprise-3-3-5 era.
Greg Mattison is not a man with a stuffed beaver.
BONUS CONSPIRACY THEORY: Hoke hired Mattison just to fire him after this year. Mattison leaves Michigan: national title. Mattison leaves Notre Dame: BCS game after being terrible. Mattison leaves Florida: national title. Put your money on the Ravens next year.