in town for free camps
Previously: Gardening Lessons
While the rest of the roster deals with a good amount of turnover, point guard is a comforting constant for Michigan this season thanks to the return of starter Derrick Walton and invaluable backup Spike Albrecht.
Although both point guards return, their roles—especially Walton's—should be quite different with the departure of Nik Stauskas, who ran the show on offense for much of 2013-14. Caris LeVert will continue to handle the ball quite a bit himself, but Walton will either be the second or third option when he's on the court, and with Stauskas gone Albrecht's shooting off the bench becomes more valuable, as well.
These two will also be asked to provide much of the leadership for this young squad. A true junior who recently turned all of 22 years old, Spike is the oldest player on this team—I KNOW, RIGHT?—and John Beilein has discussed his importance as a leader several times this offseason, including at today's Big Ten Media Day:
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Spike and how you've seen him develop since he got on campus, particularly from last season to this season?
JOHN BEILEIN: It's amazing the confidence he has shown since the day he walked in the door. I mean, even when he came for his visit where he was what some people thought was an unlikely recruit, he was laughing about how unlikely people thought this was. And then every time he walks on the floor, he just -- he's got incredible confidence that "I can play at this level," and he's shown that so well. He's a pleasure to coach. He's become a really excellent team leader right now. I'm really leaning on him to be the pulse of the team.
Spike is the pulse, Walton the burgeoning floor general. Hit the jump for a deeper dive into what to expect from them this season.
NORFLEET! Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
So…that was not a good offensive game. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Below average conversion rates, no action beyond the sticks. One touchdown in four combined red zone trips. Michigan won the field position thanks to winning the punt battle, stopping the fake punt a turnover in field goal range. Other years this would be cause for concern, right now, a win anyhow anyway is no time to complain about the lack of offensive success.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –1.1 pts, –7% Win Pct Added on 31 plays
Deveon Smith: +0.1, +7% on 15 plays
Devin Funchess: +0.8, –2% on 11 plays
Amara Darboh: +2.6, +4% on 5 plays
Christian Hackenberg: +0.5, –4% on 36 plays
Bill Belton: +1.0, –4% on 20 plays
Not a lot of offensive stars in this one. Devin Funchess barely finished plus on the game after a huge opening drive touchdown. Amara Darboh ended as the only Michigan offensive player with a significant positive contribution on the night.
As for Devin Gardner, he is broken. Prior to last season, I wrote about his amazing run to end the 2012 season and that he had done things that very few college quarterbacks had every done. Based on 2012, he had the makings of a QB capable of adding an average of two touchdowns above a normal offensive output every game. He had practically done it already. And then 2013 happened. Below is his chart of opponent adjusted EV (expected value or points added) for every game he had at least 10 plays (rushes + passes – sacks).
2010/11 were pretty pedestrian. 2012 was incredible and 2013 started pretty well too. Akron was a bad performance by his high standards. Things were ugly against UConn before rebounding against Minnesota. In his next 14 games, there were two great games against bad defenses (Indiana and App St) and the heroic one-footed game against Ohio St.
There are six negative games and five more that were essentially zero (which is below average for a QB). It’s hard to say when Devin Gardner was broken but it obvious, even without the numbers, that he has been. I don’t know if it’s possible for him to be fixed at this point with this staff, but I sure hope so, because he is poised to be the biggest casualty of the Hoke era.
3. Game Chart
Hey, this one goes up!
6. –10.1% Russell Bellomy incomplete on third down (late Q3)
5. +10.2% Deveon Smith picks up a first down on 3rd and 1 (mid Q4)
4. +10.3% Michigan stops the Penn St fake punt attempt (mid Q3)
3. –11.1% Devin Gardner incomplete to Darboh on 4th and 3 (early Q3)
2. +12.6% Jourdan Lewis intercepts Hackenberg (late Q3)
1. +16.6% Jake Ryan forces Hackenberg into a 16 yard intentional grounding (late Q4)
The Blame Game is now the credit game, with a fair amount of blame as well. The results should not surprise.
1. Pass Defense: +49%
2. FG/PAT: +22%
3. Rush Defense: +8%
3. Opponent FG/PAT: –6%
2. Rush Offense: –9%
1. Pass Offense: –22%
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
David Shaw is poised to get a lifetime achievement award at this point. Stanford punted two more times from inside the opponent 40, bringing the total to 7 on the year, 2 more than anyone else.
Other Dishonorable mentions:
Washington State punted down 2 scores with two minutes left. This was a tough one because they were inside their own 10 and it was 4th and 33. But two scores in two minutes ain’t happening after a punt.
Coaching man-crush at Wyoming also punted down 10 with less than 3 minutes left.
All three were worthy candidates, without a doubt. But this week’s award goes to Coach Six-Pack, Larry Fedora of North Carolina.
Facing a Notre Dame team that would put up half a hundred on the day, Fedora called for a punt on 4th and 7 from the ND 33 down 9 points in the third quarter. UNC averaged 6.2 yards per play on the day and 32% of plays went for 7 or more yards (yes, MGoReaders, this is legal). The punt of course went for a touchback and field position gain of 13 yards, and North Carolina lost by a touchdown.
5. Fumble Luck & Last Minute Timeouts
Way back in 2011 when Brady Hoke was lucky, Michigan was the second luckiest fumble team in the country at +9.4*. Since then, Michigan has been –1.7, +1.0 and so far this year, –5.2. There is a reason they call it fumble luck. Mattison didn’t have some secret voodoo magic that results in a multitude of fumbles and recoveries, because no one does. Fumbles are lucky and Michigan been extremely unlucky on the fumble side (especially on defense) so far this season.
The sane football fan knew that Hoke’s end of half timeout was idiotic. It is my understanding that there are some that think it was a good idea based on a defensive TD potential. Some quick numbers to put this to bed.
I looked back to 2003 and found 7 cases of a half ending interception return for a touchdown, the only case that could justify the timeout. Of those 7, three cases came when the offense was within ten yards of scoring a touchdown. Another three were on returns that began close to the line of scrimmage which I guess could be appropriate to this situation. And only one on a Hail Mary returned 100 yards for a TD and that was from a 2010 matchup between Tulane and UCF that was a 41 point game at the time. Compare this with 25 offensive touchdowns on end of half Hail Mary’s of at least 40 yards. That is between a 6 to 1 and 25 to 1 ratio of bad to good depending on how you want to count it.
* Fumble Luck is calculated based on this article assuming 1% lost fumbles on most plays, and 6% on sacks.
Michigan’s four factors for the season [Value (national rank/B1G rank)]
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
|Offense||24.0 (101/13)||65% (84/8)||1.8 (112/13)||5.2 (55/6)|
|Defense||26.1 (50/7)||62% (19/4)||1.9 (28/3)||5.4 (79/10)|
Michigan is 90th overall in net field position, only Penn St is worse in the Big Ten. The offense is below average at generating first downs and truly dreadful at pushing the ball down the field in big chunks. On defense, the news is better, as they crack the top 20 in conversion rate allowed and they are making opposing offenses almost as bad at generating yards beyond the sticks as Michigan’s offense is at getting them.
With a bye week upcoming, no game predictions. For the season, my numbers have an average of 1.8 wins left on the schedule with 3 wins and bowl eligibility at a 25% likelihood.
Quarterback is not the only difference.
Something you may not wish to address in season but in watching this team I had this thought:
Solid run defense, inconsistent pass defense, an offensive line with talent struggling to gel, solid backs, receivers and tight ends. Hmmm, sounds like 9 or 10 wins from Carr again. What is missing is a solid, low turnover, accurate, quarterback. Completely unfair?
Cumong man, that's completely unfair. You're comparing this offensive line to those featuring Jake Long or a half-dozen other NFL players, with zero freshmen of any variety on them unless they're Hutchinson-level talents. The backs don't make the right cuts and almost never make yards on their own. The tight ends are not good right now except for Butt, and Butt is still working his way back from an ACL tear.
There's no part of this team not subject to mental breakdowns that are hard to accept four years in. This includes quarterback, but since it seems like any QB under Hoke goes backwards it all ends in the same place.
BUT IS HE BETTER THAN A WISTFUL ORANGUTAN?
In the wake of the ND game i have found my anger directed more at Dave Brandon than anything for whatever various and stupid reasons. The conventional wisdom seems to be, "hey, but revenues are increasing so, even though football is terrible and the stadium experience is horrible, Dave Brandon is great at growing the business." I think that is non-sense. I looked at revenues from 2002 through 2013 (graphs and numbers in attached spreadsheet) and the trendline attached to the revenue data shows Brandon has not out performed Bill Martin. Growth in revenue looks very on trend from Martin's tenure.
If you look at Michigan's AD revenue from 2005 versus some other athletic departments (texas, OSU, florida, Alabama, Oklahoma) our athletic department hasnt outperformed them either. Those five ADs revenue increased 84% from 2005 til 2013, Michigan's increased...83%.
Look, the data i gathered isn't perfect, I don't love the way USA today presented the 2005-2013 data. I've sort of cobbled together the 2002-2004 data from U-M budgets. The way i have presented the data is somewhat problematic (i should index 2005 to 100 then see the changes from there), but I don't think it changes the overall picture.
The point is I am really bothered with the conventional wisdom saying Brandon is doing really well increasing revenue. He is merely riding a wave that started long before here was hired and affects all of college football. Raising ticket prices doesn't make you a business genius. He gets zero credit for increased television revenues, which are the two overwhelming drivers of the whole enterprise.
These are things I am sure you are aware of but i have not seem them articulated on the blog.
It should also be noted that the portion of the surge from 2009 to 2011 not due to increased BTN payouts was largely the luxury boxes coming online. Michigan offered them for cheap the first year and then increased the price to the regular level in year two.
So even if you are measuring Michigan athletic department success by revenue—a completely bonkers thing to do—Brandon is completely average in this department while being literally the worst AD in the country at public relations. A wistful orangutan could have been Michigan's athletic director since 2010 and revenue would still be way up. And students would love him!
[After the JUMP: Manning plausible as a CB coach over time? Mysterious red clad team-thing. Where to go in the event of an apocalypse. (The real apocalypse, not bad football.)]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 B1G)
Last game: Won at Purdue, 45-31
Recap: The number on the left is about what you would expect. The number on the right is very much
For the second week in a row, Michigan State turned a blowout into a real game with some serious fourth quarter derptitude. Sparty was up 38-17 with the ball deep in Purdue territory with 11 minutes left. But then Connor Cook threw a pick, and Akeem Hunt took a carry 52 yards to the house. Then MSU attempted a terrible fake punt, which led to another Purdue score, and all of a sudden it was 38-31, and Purdue got the ball back with 3:00 left with a chance to tie it up. Of course, Austin Appleby promptly threw a pick-six, but still.
State did manage to outgain Purdue 532-340, and all three of MSU’s primary backs (Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill, and Delton Williams) averaged at least 8.0 yards per carry. Connor Cook, on the other hand, has cooled off a bit. Last year against Power 5 opponents he threw for 7.5 YPA with a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio. This year, he’s throwing for 7.2 YPA with a 3:2 TD-to-INT ratio. As Seth pointed out this week, Cook’s impressive top-line numbers are potentially the result of the three tomato cans on MSU’s schedule. We’ll have to wait until the more challenging portions of MSU’s schedule to see.
Of course, this week they take on Indiana’s defense, so that wait will continue for at least another week.
This team is as frightening as: Goliath. Big, strong, but vunerable to rocks thrown from long-distance. Fear Level = 9.872
Michigan should worry about: Well, I suppose you should worry about HOLY DOLPHIN GENITALS HAVE YOU WATCHED THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF???
Michigan can sleep soundly about:If Purdue can move the ball against Michigan State, and if Eastern Michigan can move the ball (a little bit) on Michigan State, then ANYONE can move the ball against Michigan State.
So that means Michigan has a prayer of moving the ball against Michigan State. A little bit. Possibly.
When they play Michigan: You drink a whiskey drink. You drink a vodka drink. You drink a lager drink. You drink a cider drink.
Next game: at Indiana (MSU -14.5), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN
[AFTER THE JUMP: We sing the songs that remind us of the good times]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning
“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.
“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.
‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”
Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?
“Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”
You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?
“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”
[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]
A BYE WEEK TRADITION. UFRs Thursday and Friday on a bye week.
Compliance with the Dennis Norfleet Atomic Dog act of 2560.
Michigan WR Dennis Norfleet I'm gonna Be Your Dog forever! WOOF... http://t.co/z4acd4vtVX
— George Clinton (@george_clinton) October 14, 2014
I'M A BONAFIDE ATTENDER
At least let people prove they're bonafide. Michigan oversold basketball season tickets again. This time the sheer extent is lesser, as they've only sold 3250 tickets for 3000 seats instead of the 4500 last year, but they've again announced the rules after the tickets were bought… and you wonder if last year's policy reduced the number of people willing to buy this year. It's not like the team outlook is a whole lot different—Michigan was not expected to rampage through the Big Ten a year ago and looked a lot like a bubble team early.
IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2014-15 INCLUDE:
Fewer claim periods (only three vs. six last season)
Missed claimed game penalties will only affect the ability to claim in the 3rd and final claim period (vs. penalties in each claim period last season)
Students will have the ability to return up to three (3) claimed games up to 24 hours before a game to account for last minute plans (not available last season)
Electronic tracking of scanned tickets for confirmation of attendance (not available last season)
I get that attendance is an issue; this is all stick, no carrot, though. There's a core of attendees who were at every game last year. They should get to just have normal tickets since they've proved their bonafides.
OSU is facing a ton of cover zero. They are rushing for 4.9 YPC anyway.
Well… more time isn't going to fix things. Not that you need convincing of this but here are the boggling numbers Ohio State is putting up minus Braxton Miller:
Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in total offense at 523.6 yards per game. The Buckeyes' 44.6 points per game are second in the Big Ten and fifth in the country. And redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett ranks third in all of college football in passing efficiency.
And that's with the one-off collapse against Virginia Tech when Bud Foster reached deep into the playbook to bring out Buddy Ryan's old bear fronts. Opponents are trying to replicate that success weekly now, and Ohio State has adapted quickly.
OSU's line is mostly new and a bit more experienced than Michigan's, but it's the smallest possible gap. Michigan has two fourth year players, two third year players, and a freshman for a total of 10 years already on campus. OSU is at 11. They've only got one senior. Meanwhile, their backfield consists of all second year players: JT Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson, and Jalin Marshall are all sophomores or redshirt freshmen.
If you know what you're doing you can put together some killer offenses without piles of experience these days; the coaching gap between Michigan and Ohio State is vast.
Upcoming quarterbacks. Nate Sudfeld is out for the year for Indiana, which is a huge blow for them after both Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson left the program this summer. Indiana went from one of the most solid situations in the league to auditioning true freshmen they hoped to redshirt. Unless they catch lightning in a bottle that's looking like a win. Indiana's defense is so permeable even Michigan will go up and down the field on them. Iowa scored consecutive 60-plus-yard TDs. I mean.
Northwestern is also having some issues with Trevor Siemian:
Siemian went down against Northern Illinois and needed to be taken out of the game without putting any pressure on his leg. It turns out it was an ankle injury. It was clear that if there was a game the next week, he would not have played. He healed during the bye week, and although he was not 100 percent, he played against Western Illinois.
It appeared the injury was improving, but this week, Siemian was limping at times, and he had a massive ball of tape on his ankles.
Northwestern's policy is that Pat Fitzgerald will not discuss injuries in-depth. He will get as specific as "upper body" or "lower body."
Maryland has CJ Brown back after a wrist injury, FWIW.
Redshirts? Michigan won't talk injuries but a lot of people are reading bad things into this statement from Hoke's teleconference yesterday:
With five games remaining for the Wolverines (3-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten), Hoke was asked if it is time to consider looking at a redshirt for Peppers.
"We would handle that when the time would come," Hoke said.
I'm not sure how he's supposed to answer that question with the usual level of vagueness without implying that a medical redshirt is possible, so I don't read too much into that. I have heard that the injury is severe enough that it's certainly on the table. How much does that mean if Peppers is still likely to be a three-and-out guy? Maybe not much.
Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is also eligible for a medical redshirt if he does not return and that was broached:
"I don't think there's any difference (between Morgan and Peppers), it just depends on how guys progress," Hoke said. "Us not doing anything or doing something with (Morgan), yeah (we could)."
Is there a cutoff point you have to get to in order to make that decision?
"I think we're kind of by it, in some way," Hoke said. "I didn't say (he'd miss the season), (but) I think there's a lot of possibilities."
That would make sense, as Michigan's not doing anything this year and Morgan might prefer another crack at being a senior… especially if he thinks he's got a shot at the NFL.
The Orsoning. He came, he saw, he cackled madly like he was Walter White in Crawl Space while looking almost exactly like Walter White in Crawl Space, and he writes about it:
The normal Michigan crankiness involves the complaints that all fanbases spanning a wide age range involve: that they do not run the ball enough, that the stadium speakers play music too loudly and too frequently now, that someone's knees stick into your back in the cramped stands, even with the rows of empty seats visible here and there. We don't run the ball enough. Bo, sainted Bo Schembechler, would never, ever have let a team not run the ball like this.
Those are normal complaints, the kind of ideological complaints any fanbase has in variation. See "Any older portion of the fanbase wondering why they're playing hip-hop where there are children," or "Team raised on fierce offense and naked aggression gets saddled with a dullard defensive coach." That might be me talking about Florida, because it is. The point is that every fanbase is unhappy in its own unique key. When Alabama fans are unhappy, it is because a linebacker has just missed a tackle or because someone has unleashed the horror of a passing touchdown on them. When Michigan is unhappy, it is cold, someone is edging onto your seat cushion, and someone has just done something deeply unSchembechler-ish.
The abnormal grievances, the ones indicative of a real theological schism in the church of Michigan, come from the older gentleman standing up when Michigan takes a timeout -- with one second left on the clock in the first half and Penn State leaving for the locker rooms -- and yelling:
"HOKE! YOU IDIOTTTTTTTT!"
Grievances of that severity can't hide.
He did not mention a guy at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl tailgate asking Roy Roundtree to do his Donald Duck impression, but he got everything else.
Etc.: Orson talks Ann Arbor at about the ten minute mark in the latest Shutdown Fullcast. Everything is dappled, he says. Will Leitch on how Todd Gurley may as well GTFO without taking more hits before he can get paid.