"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Some of this stuff has been linked by Brian on the frontpage (or in a select few instances, frontpaged in whole), so it may look familiar. If you're interested in being featured in this space, start by coming up with a good idea and writing a diary.
We'll start off on a lighter note, with TATEisGREATyo's image "The Adventures of Denard" (seen at right). I'm not sure what it is about the Michigasn fanbase that makes us so MSPaint-centric.
Resident graphic designer Six Zero shows he's not a one-trick pony, and flexes his interviewing muscles for the MGoProfile feature. First up was TomVH:
What is the one thing you'd like us to know about your work with the recruits?
I'm not sure if there's anything that is important to know. A lot of people ask me how/why I got into this. This all really started because I took a well paying job out of college that I eventually hated, and realized that money wasn't going to keep me interested, or happy.
Growing up, I always thought that sports could be a job, and somewhere along the way, got away from that. I took a step back, and put together a plan that could get me towards a specific goal that I wanted. I thought about what niche I would be able to fit in that would play into my strengths, and this seemed to be a good place to start. I'm sure everyone can tell that I'm not as gifted with the pen (or keyboard) as Brian, Tim, and a lot of the MGoCommunity.
Next came resident baseball (and volleyball?) expert formerly anonymous:
You probably post more content second to only Brian himself. How did you get involved with MGoBlog?
...I actually started the blogging thing with Maizenbrew. I covered the Big Ten Tournament two years ago in pretty solid depth, and had a volleyball post or two as well, just nothing consistent. In the spring of last year, I started my previews at Maizenbrew, but was then picked up by Varsity Blue. Paul and I go back a few years, and they thought it would help give them content during the long, dreary off season. That's when my content started gettting a bit more in depth.
MGoMerger would happen over last summer, and that brought me to MGoBlog as a contributor.
Volume 3 featured Misopogon, scribe of the impeccable "Decimated Defense" opus (about which more later):
How long does it take you to put one of these posts together, especially with all the recent updated graphs and even Photoshop and/or Godfather work?
It totally depends on the content. With something that takes statisticating, like DDII and DDIII, it usually starts with me goofing around making spreadsheets. There's plenty of spreadsheets I've made while screwing around that never make it to a Diary. Eventually, one hits a critical mass of information usefulness, and I go to Misopogal to hash out a rhetorical theme to attach to it...
The actual writing of the diary usually comes much later. With this most recent one, the spreadsheet was something I had been playing around with since the week before signing day. The last changes were made over a week ago. Once I get going, it's hard for me to stop...
The amount of time that goes into making them has been growing because I feel like I've established a ridiculous level of quality with the previous diaries, and want to maintain that level.
How does a typical Shredder piece evolve from an idea to a front page bump?
Most of my ideas just come from pop culture. I just try and think how I can blend some sort of pop culture with what’s going on at Michigan. I always just make a quick scribble of it on paper or if I have my laptop I’ll do a quick “sketch” in MS paint... However, there are many things I have MS painted that don’t make it to the board, and they usually just stay on my laptop or get uploaded to Midnight Maize only. I felt the jerseys were a Midnight Maize only post and then I figured what the hell. So you just never know what people will respond to. Some people might love something I find not that great and vice versa.
Previous Featured Diarist The Mathlete came up next:
I’ve always been impressed not only by your talent for gathering and analyzing large amounts of information, but also your ability to present it in a way that the common reader can understand. Is that a challenge? Or, should I say, how much do you hold back to keep it accessible for the masses?
My goal is to provide something that is as accessible as traditional stats but more valuable. Sometimes it’s difficult to bring it around, but I am still approaching it all
as a football fan first.
So you admit to being a gambling man... So then, what’s your secret? Any leads you want to share with us going into next season?
Of course, I'll admit to being a gambling man. I just admitted to running numbers, smoking pot and hanging out with hookers. So, yeah, I am also a gambling man...
Excellent work, and very interesting who are interested in the MGoBlog community, and not just the posts that make it to the front page. For that, Six Zero, you are the diarist of the... month.
The Women’s Water Polo team earned a sixth place finish at the NCAA tournament. The team opened with a 12-8 loss to California, then defeated Pomona-Pitzer 11-3 before falling to UCLA 9-6 in the fifth place game.
The Men’s Tennis team fell to Ohio State 4-1 in the second round of the NCAA Championships.
Going all meta- in his two-post series, Coach Schiano looks at the sheer volume of content posted over the existence of MGoBlog. Here it is, visualized in articles per week:
In part 2, he looks at which words have been used the most often.
And we conclude with some word counts that we noticed "coincidentally" ended up at the same frequency. Or did they?????
64 lansing 64 oops
123 hopson 123 mistakes
128 harbaugh 128 mom 128 penetration
These results probably mean nothing. But if true about Harbaugh, it may be a more difficult road for him to climb if he wants to coach here someday. Just sayin'.
Excellent work, from a "blog-as-subject-matter" perspective.
If you're looking to dispel the notion that scrambling QBs get injured more often than pocket passers, look no further than MCalibur's diary. The money graph:
For an explanation of it, and the conclusion (cliff notes version: there isn't enough data to support a correlation in any direction), head to the diary.
The Mathlete continues his streak of killin' it in the diaries, including an analysis of whether teams are more efficient passing or running, and the implications it has for their play calling. Quoting a portion wouldn't do it justice, so just go read the whole thing. He also looked at the overall effect of sacks and interceptions on offensive and defensive performance, frontpaged earlier today.
Tom From AA hopped around town with his camera earlier this week, and brings back some pictures of construction around campus, including Michigan Stadium, the Player Development Center for basketball, and even North Quad:
There are a ton of pictures in his post (in easily-consumable lightbox form), so be sure to check it out.
BlazeFire laments the decline of local media coverage (and homerism) as the climate shifts to a more ESPN-centric layout. UMdad encourages positive fandom, because please, think of the children. Kman23 talks about the NFL implications of running a shotgun-based offense. wildbackdunesman says that not only are the stereotypes of the Big Ten being behind the times untrue, but the opposite is the case. wolfman81 talks reasons for optimism next year. Drill says "Hello" to that other Chris Rock. jonny_GoBlue pleads for M fans to not use the term "Big Blue" (a cause I can certainly agree with).
The final couple posts I won't quote because they both made it onto the front page, but Misopogon's Godfather-themed conclusion to the "Decimated Defense" is easily the single-best diary I've seen on MGoBlog (it features a UFR and a THE KNOWLEDGE. reference... at the same time!). Following up with his excellent production, The Mathlete's special teams exploration and look at fourth down also reached page one, along with his post exploring whether we should expect more offensive improvement from the Wolverines in 2010. He doesn't get to win the "Best Diarist" Award, because it would be unfair for him to stockpile all of them.
[Editor's note: frontpaged for obvious reasons. A scheduling mix-up with Brian caused this to get buried earlier, so I'm bringing it back near the top. [How much] Will Michigan rue the loss of Brandon Graham? - Tim]
[Note: I have 2006 fully loaded into the database now and will be included in all future multi-year studies along with 2007-2009.]
We can all agree that sacks and interceptions are good things for the defense and bad things for the offense. But how does a viable pass rush or a ball-hawking secondary affect the performance of the opposing offense on plays where there isn’t a sack or a pick. Likewise, what is the correlation between an offensive line that gives up sacks regularly or a mistake prone quarterback?
Sacks and interceptions have very similar direct impacts on games. From 2006-2009 in games between two D1 teams in competitive game situations (the “universe” for this and most of my analysis) the average defensive unit produced 2.3 ppg worth of sacks and 2.0 ppg worth of interceptions. Sacks have a slightly higher direct value than interceptions (interceptions returns and fumble returns on sacks are not included) but does either of these correlate to a better defensive performance overall.
Chart time? Let’s make it a double.
Not entirely surprisingly, the better a defense is at producing sacks and interceptions, the better it is on downs where neither occur.
For every point per game that a defense generates due to sacks, the overall pass rush generates 1.2 ppg of additional value. Interceptions are also powerful, but not as much so. Each ppg of value a defense generates through interceptions is worth 0.9 ppg of additional value.
This analysis serves to confirm what most football fans already know. Teams that can create interceptions and sacks are good going to be better defensive teams. Whether a strong pass rush/secondary creates pressure on other downs or if strong pass rushes and secondaries are a common occurrence on great defenses is irrelevant. As most of you probably know, defenses that are good at these two things are also good on other downs. So why is this interesting…
The story becomes very different when you look at offenses. The conventional wisdom that was supported for defenses is largely blown up on the offensive side of the ball. Sacks and interceptions may be indicators of great defenses, but they are not symptoms of bad offenses.
The slope of these two charts are about 20% of the gradient of the corresponding defensive charts and virtually flat. On offense, the amount of sacks and interceptions are largely independent of performance. There is obviously the immediate negative effect of the play, but giving up sacks or throwing interceptions show virtually no correlation to success or failure on other downs.
What it means?
For one of side of the ball it merely quantifies conventional wisdom. Good pass defenses get interceptions and sack the quarterback and teams that get interceptions and sack the quarterback are often good pass defenses, even on other plays. The value they create is roughly equal to value created by the big plays.
On offense, it’s a very different story. Interceptions and sacks will always be bad plays for an offense, but their rate of incidence is not strongly correlated to performance on other downs. In fact, if given the choice between a quarterback who threw a lot of picks the prior year but was generally successful otherwise and a quarterback who was very safe but not all that productive, my guess is you will be better of going for the quarterback with the picks.
Special thanks goes to Ty and The Lions in Winter who has been working on a similar line of reasoning for the Lions revamped defensive line.
Potential Future Diaries
Just some ideas I am kicking around or have half started. Let me know what you think about these or any other things you would like to see.
- A follow-up piece on fourth downs digging deeper into how the decision making changes based on the relative strengths of the offense and the opponents defense
- A broader look at “luck”, looking back over the last four years.
- When are extra yards not worth it. The secret dead zones of football.
- Probably not for several months, but a big season preview is in the works.
- Something Carr vs. Rodriguez, now that I have 2006-2007 seasons of data I have two years to compare the two more directly.
- How the best players of the last four years (TEBOW!!!) progressed over the years. Maybe a companion piece on Michigan defenders.
- Any other suggestions? An article a week means I need all the ideas I can get, I’m not afraid to beg!
I am out today, though Tim will drop a post or two in my absence and that Mathlete Diary will hit the front page if you're too lazy to click through. I have a Very Serious Professional Reason for this: I will be at Blogs With Balls in Chicago this weekend. There are tickets; if you are interested in getting a beer your best bet is crashing one of the official parties, which I do not endorse at all and shame you for even thinking of.
Via the miracle of technology, this is going to be streamed live(!) by Justin TV, including my panel, which is the first after lunch and will probably go on at like 1 or 1:30 or something. Orson is moderating, so it will be alcoholically entertaining. I cannot vouch for the other panels' sheer quantity of drunken magnificence, but Orson brings the wood.
Our panel is entitled "Democratizing Sports Media: How Blogging Players, Fans & Leagues Are Changing the Game," but these things tend to wander a bit from the chosen topic and various other things will probably pop up. I plan on pimping the Mathlete, Misopogon, MCalibur, Jamiemac, Six Zero, Tom, FA, Tim, and others as an example of how a popular blog sits on top of this vast community that can do amazing things if given space in which their effort can be appreciated.
As long as we're meta-ing it up in here, here's my Ignite talk from earlier in the year (click the first bookmark to go directly to my five minutes):
And here's this article by the Stack Overflow guy about what motivates people, how money isn't always helpful, and what makes communities go. If your model is hoping people do things for small amounts of money you're probably not going to be very successful and if you are it will be depressing. If your model is organizing it such that people will do things for free, you could be very successful and it will probably be pretty nice. The whole reason this site moved to Drupal is that I would get emails on a regular basis saying "hey here's my new blog!" and they'd post a couple times and then they'd go dead because it's hard out there for a blog. So: put 'em around here and you'll probably get a couple thousand views and a couple dozen comments and you'll be motivated to continue. Along the way we might get a definitive accounting of how much attrition Michigan has suffered relative to its peers or a post on fourth downs that gets linked a dozen places.
My plan for the site has been focused on making it as convenient, attractive, and easy to use as possible*—so no pagination, full feeds, content in and pipe that will take it, jumps only when they're warranted by a desire to cut down on clutter, increasingly high hurdles to clear for user-generated content, post-Illinois caterwauling lockdown. Doing so has increased the audience to the point where "Democratizing" sports media means that this place sits on top of grass roots instead of being a single shoot.
I'm back Monday.
*(With the single exception of the ads that provide enough revenue for the thing to be a job, which is kind of a requirement.)
I am about to head out to Chicago so of course this is breaking today: ninjas have descended upon the Big 12 meetings and are busy abducting various members of the Big 12. The Columbus Dispatch continues to use the FOIA for interesting things by getting this email from Gordon Gee that seems to confirm that all the lurid fantasies Big Ten fans have issued about Texas, Texas A&M, and all the other crazy proposals are true:
"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem," Gee wrote in an e-mail that was among several obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request for documents and correspondence related to Big Ten expansion proposals.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 is cancelling press conferences, Iowa State is expressing its strong commitment to the Big Twelve, and everything else is going crazy. Now I get in a car. Yay for timing. BWB thing then out.
After the defection of Jack Campbell and failure to acquire any other goalie target, no one is entering or leaving. We can skip right to the main event, then: Hogan or Hunwick? That question wasn't even feasible when Hunwick was a 5'6"-ish walk-on with zero meaningful game experience even when Hogan was languishing around the 30th percentile in save percentage during a disappointing junior year. Ten games later, Hunwick is a real option after going 8-2 and posting a .918 save percentage.
I still have the nagging fear that Hunwick's tendency to leave fat, glistening rebounds in the slot several times a period will come back to hurt him badly when Michigan attempts to platoon him next year, but late in his playoff push he went from a terrifying goal waiting to happen to an incredibly quick little bastard whose ability to go post-to-post in no time flat allowed him to make a wide array of Grade A stops.
On the other hand, I still get creeped out whenever he has to jump at a puck that might be on net, and there is a great raging debate about the validity of save percentage as a metric even amongst professional goalies logging 2000 save seasons—the sample size on Hunwick's .918 is so far from statistical significance that not even David Berri would pretend it has meaning.
Hogan has been an enigma. As a sophomore he posted a .914 save percentage en route to a 1.97 GAA, the second-best in Michigan history. Last year, however, his save percentage plummeted to .901. Since this is a save percentage that does not look like much, but the standard deviation in save percentage last year was .0125: Hogan lost essentially one SD in the most relevant goalie stat tracked in college. Until his injury forced Hunwick into the lineup, he had played every minute of Michigan's season—his numbers are as meaningful as any college goalie's can be.
The end result: Hogan finished 53rd of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage last year. Hunwick did not qualify due to a lack of appearances, but if he had he would have finished tied for 12th with Air Force goalie Andrew Volkening, who you may still wake up shivering about late at night, ahead of Michigan State's fine Drew Palmisano.
So what's going to happen? Early in the year it will be a repeat of the 2008 season in which the established veteran has established that he's not good enough to be given the job free and clear, no questions, and the new face (relatively new, in Hunwick's case) is given the opportunity to win the job free and clear. Last time Hogan and Billy Sauer played about even, but Sauer had this incredible ability to suck the mojo out of Wolverine forwards and ended up on the wrong end of a number of 2-1 decisions. Meanwhile, Hogan got fantastic goal support and won a bunch of games; with Sauer's two vast tournament failures fresh in the minds of all, he was shelved and things went very well until the aforementioned Volkening showed up.
The parallel last year is eerie: Michigan was a sloppy team last year until the instant Hunwick drew into the lineup, at which point the team started backchecking furiously and plunging into their own slot to clear out the plentiful rebounds that gathered there. Does this have anything to do with the guy in net? Not really. Has it been proven as a factor the coaches consider? Absolutely. Is it real? Probably right away, sure, but the probability Must… Protect… HUNWICK is a feeling that lasts through an offseason and a period of what should be persistent success next year is low. At some point the guy stops being an adorable walk-on and is just your starting goalie.
I have no idea what will happen here. Hunwick could backslide as his rebound control betrays him, and Hogan could bounce back to his junior-year form. If you put a gun to my head I would say Hunwick claims the starting job around midseason, but that is a prediction with nothing but good memories from the playoff run behind it. I don't think anyone has a clue here, including the coaches.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board is your place for all-time updates. One important note before we get into individual prospects. Coach Rodriguez recently said the coaching staff will narrow its focus from about 150 offered prospects to "around 70" players. This may make me a little more comfortable removing guys that are less-discussed. The Michigan Elite Camp is this weekend, so that will provide a little clarity as well.
Chris Rock Goes Blue
Michigan gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock over the weekend (not the comedian). Unsurprisingly, the local papers in Columbus didn't pick up on the story, but Magnus breaks down his game on Touch the Banner:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield...
My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
For more on Rock, read the Hello: Chris Rock post.
We transition from good news right into stuff not so positive, as a few prospects are coming off the board:
- AR QB Kiehl Frazier. He officially narrowed his list to Arkansas and Auburn last week, and then Black Righty Tebow committed to Auburn.
- OH QB Braxton Miller. He will choose between OSU (the likely destination), Florida, Notre Dame, and Alabama tomorrow.
- SC OL Brandon Shell. He's named a final 5 consisting entirely of Southern schools.
- FL CB Nick Waisome. He named a top 7 without Michigan in it.
Assume The Position: Wide Receiver
I did one of these a few weeks ago (for tight end), and with the amount of information available this week, it's time to take a closer look at the wide receiver position.
Michigan currently has one wide receiver commit, in Shawn Conway out of Birmingham Seaholm High School. Conway is a big outside leaper with great hands, in the mold of Braylon Edwards (though likely not as good, he probably won't have a case of the dropsies on easy balls, either). With the numbers of offers and visits taking place, it's clear that the Wolverines want one more outside guy, and maybe a slot receiver if they can find an elite one.
Fortunately for us, Sam Webb's weekly column in the Detroit News focused on on the wideout position last week, and ran down a few of the Wolverines' top targets. I don't intend to steal Sam's thunder by blockquoting too much of his article, but since the News evilly (and idiotically - good luck finding people to pay for it) puts its articles behind a paywall after a week, I'll be a little more liberal. Please click through to make up for it.
Sammy Watkins (at right):
"Sammy Watkins is the total package as a WR prospect," said Scout.com Florida analyst Geoff Vogt. "He can flat run, has incredibly light feet which allows him to make players miss in the open field, and a body to be that prototype 6-3, 215-pounder down the road.
"I have watched him snare balls thrown as bullets down the middle of the field and he will just leisurely catch them with one hand. He has elite hands. He runs very clean routes and understands how to get separation.
"While I view him as a WR prospect, Sammy could easily be a big-time safety if he chose to go that route."
Michigan, Miami (YTM), and Florida are his top 3. DeAnthony Arnett:
The second-rated prospect in the state dominated opponents in seven-on-seven competitions throughout the winter and spring thanks to his precise route-running and impressive quickness.
"It seems like every camp DeAnthony goes to, he kills it," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "He continued to impress with his route-running, hands, and ball skills at the Michigan Football Showcase. He made the play of the tournament when he went up between two defenders and made an outstanding catch to win a game. Arnett continues to move up in our eyes and has proven to be one of the very best in country."
If Michigan has a good season, the Wolverines will probably get back into the mix for Arnett. Theyr'e currently on the outside looking in. AJ Jordan:
"One of the top players in Ohio in his class," his Scout.com profile reads. "Also ranked one of the top 4 hurdlers in the nation. A smooth route runner with a great burst, he can make plays anywhere on the field and makes defenses game-plan against him."
On the recruiting roundup, Sam said Michigan is "definitely in the driver's seat" for Jordan. He'll decide earlier than the other two guys. Those are the three hottest prospects from a Michigan perspective, but there are a few more on the radar should all of these fall through. Michigan also has its eye on a few sot receivers, including NJ ATH Miles Shuler - though Northwestern leads ($, info in header - and MD ATH Darius Jennings.
Scout has had their 2011 prospects rankings out for a while, but the other two sites are slowly-but-surely releasing theirs. Both ESPN and Rivals now have the top recruits ranked, with neither site having any Michigan commits in their top group, but a number of Michigan targets. Some of those are longshots - FL DT Timmy Jernigan, who lists Michigan in his top 6, would still surprise everyone if he left the state of Florida - but many are realistic options. Magnus has a breakdown of Rivals's list. Top 100 lists were also released by the Sporting News and Tom Lemming.
Recruiting Quick Hits
You may remember that NC QB Marquise Williams recently named Michigan among his top three schools, before trimming his list to a final five. He's now made his decision timeline public, as he plans to commit to a school in October ($, info in header). He'll visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan State game on October 9th, so the Wolverines will be fresh in his mind when he makes a decision. I'll go into a little more depth on the QB recruiting situation next week.
Yay Demetrius and all that.
According to Cincinnati recruiting guru Mike Dyer, OH TE Benson Browne plans to visit Michigan this summer. My educated guess will be that he's coming in for camp to try for an offer. He currently holds them from West Virginia, Kansas, Louisville, Minnesota, Miami (Not That Miami) and Central Michigan.
Despite recently receiving a Michigan offer, OH TE Nick Vannett does not have UM in his top group. He's going to start taking trips soon, and wants to have a decision made by July.
FL OL Tony Posada will visit Michigan this summer ($, info in header). He also spoke to ESPN last week (video), mentioning Michigan first, and in his "big ones" category. He claims to be open at this time.
Though their class is starting to fill up, the Buckeyes will hold a spot open for IN DT/OL Joel Hale ($, info in header). It's unclear if Michigan is a player in his recruitment.
MGoBoard's very own Magnus breaks down the game of MD DT Vincent Croce on Touch The Banner:
Strengths: Listed at 5.17 but seemingly plays faster. Ability to chase some players from sideline to sideline. Relentless pass rusher. Very aggressive tackler. Strong upper body. Uses hands well to deliver good initial shock and shed blockers. Good initial surge off the line. Relatively lean frame
Weaknesses: Not a natural knee bender. Stands too high. May get overpowered by strong run-blocking guards. Played significant time at linebacker, which may stunt growth as defensive lineman.
Projection: Could be a solid rotation player as early as second year in program
His weaknesses are mostly technique-based, which could be worked on with college coaching. I also think playing DT only part-time may have led to some of that, and playing LB in high school actually means he has more upside than is shown on film.
GA DT Gabe Wright might officially visit Michigan:
“I’ll probably take all of my unofficial visits to schools that I can drive to and my officials to schools far away,” he says. “I will probably take official visits to schools like Miami, Michigan and maybe USC or UCLA. Also, I might visit Oregon State. It will be late before I make my decision.”
Taking an official would be a good sign for Michigan's chances to land him.
PA LB/DE Desimon Green will officially visit Michigan State, Texas Tech and Pitt, along with a couple other schools to be named later. He gave a slightly different top schools list to Tom, and is expecting a Michigan offer later this week.
TX LB Kellen Jones has picked up a Michigan offer, and called it "a dream come true" ($, info in header). THat sounds very promising should the Wolverines press him for a commitment.
Tom talked to OH LB Sean Duggan, who has Michigan in his top 5. However, it sounds like Notre Dame is a heavy favorite as long as they don't wait too long to offer. The Spartans offered him a couple days ago.
GA CB Avery Walls plans to visit Michigan at some point ($, info in header).
Tom also has (positive) updates on VA LB Corey Marshall, FL DE Giorgio Newberry, and NC LB Kris Frost, among others. Check out his post for the full info.
Michigan Sports Zone talked with NJ CB/RB Solomon Simpkins, and he mentioned that he has early interest in Michigan.