They stuck to the script.
Michigan raises banners on opening day now. They did so again today, hoisting the 2014 Big Ten title banner to the rafters and handing out rings in a pregame ceremony. Continuing tradition, the biggest names from that championship squad weren't able to attend due to professional obligations; Glenn Robinson III was absent, and the parents of Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, and Jordan Morgan stood in for their sons who've taken the next step.
After all the hubbub before tipoff, a familiar scene for the returners but not for the squad's six freshmen, the Wolverines came out flat, allowing Hillsdale to ride hot outside shooting to a 15-6 lead. Then Michigan roared back by doing what they do best: shooting the rock. Three consecutive triples tied the score before M took the lead for good with a Kameron Chatman basket with 8:59 to go in the half.
Michigan leaned heavily on their veterans for production, and they came through in a big way. Caris LeVert flirted with a triple-double, posting a 20-8-9 line while hitting 4/6 three-point attempts. Derrick Walton may have been even better, leading the team with 22 points (5/8 FG, 9/10 FT), dishing out four assists, and masterfully running the Michigan fast break. Zak Irvin diversified his shooting a bit, adding several midrange buckets and even a few strong drives to the hoop on his way to 21 points on 8/12 field goals. The three stars lived up to the billing.
The rest, as expected, is a work-in-progress. Hillsdale knocked down 10/23 three-pointers in large part because the new faces in the lineup struggled on defense, especially working through the myriad off-ball screens set by the Chargers.
The freshmen showed their talent and their youth. Mark Donnal earned the start at center, had a couple nifty layups, worked hard on the offensive glass, hit a nice-looking mid-range jumper in the second half, and defended quite well for the most part, but also allowed a couple of easy buckets. Kam Chatman went 1/7 for 4 points in 30 minutes and allowed too many open shots; he also passed the ball well and had a stellar crossover in transition that led to an and-one opportunity.
Aubrey Dawkins sunk a three and seemingly reached into the upper bowl to rip down an offensive board in his limited time on the court. Ricky Doyle scored seven points in eight minutes but didn't look as quick to rotate on defense as Donnal. DJ Wilson played the entirety of his nine minutes at the five and pulled down four boards but didn't make a major impact otherwise. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman missed his pair of shots in four minutes of play, though he did display the ability to blow by defenders.
While the victory was hardly in doubt for most of the game, Michigan wasn't able to truly put it away until around nine minutes remained, and the Wolverines extended a 12-point lead all the way out to 30 over the course of the next several minutes.
In the end, it felt like an early-season cupcake game should for such a young team. The team won comfortably while getting enough of a test to have several areas of improvement to emphasize before Monday night's game against Bucknell, this squad's first against D-I competition. In the meantime, Michigan fans can rest comfortably knowing that this team can still shoot (11/19 from three) and the stars look ready to shine.
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
*TD’s are treated as 7 points regardless of PAT outcome
So Michigan had the field position for 35 points…and scored 10. Only 11 times this season has an offense left more than 25 points on the table in a game. With over 6 touchdowns worth of points left on the field, #M00N was the third worst game of the year in terms of points scored versus field position. Clemson-Louisville was slightly ahead and Saturday’s lead-in game of Penn State versus Indiana was the worst of the year at 43.5 points below expected.
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.0 (78/11)||59% (108/12)||2.0 (121/13)||4.7 (91/10)|
|Defense||26.2 (45/5)||63% (18/6)||1.7 (13/3)||4.2 (10/1)|
(National Rank/B1G Rank)
Saturday’s game pushed Michigan to roughly neutral on field position for the year. The 2010 vs 2014 season mirror image continues in earnest. The offense can’t convert 60% of it’s first downs, is bottom ten in explosive plays is an absolutely anemic unit. The defense has struggled against the better teams, but is still top 20 in conversion rate and has done very well in limiting big plays and red zone scoring.
If you are wondering how Michigan isn’t last in Bonus Yards in the Big Ten, despite being in the bottom 8, we have our opponents from Saturday to thank. Northwestern is second worst nationally, behind only Wake Forest which is threatening to set records for their lack of explosiveness.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –9.8, –26% on 28 plays
Drake Johnson: –0.8, –2% on 10 plays
De’Veon Smith: +1.2, +13% on 18 plays
Devin Funchess: –3.3, –7% on 7 plays
The –9.8 for Gardner is before the opponent adjustment pushes it down another point. Gardner’s 3 lowest rated games of his career are Northwestern, Utah and Michigan State from this season. It’s like he was on a Saw movie and said if you don’t want to be killed by your offensive line, you have to fight to survive by starting over in a new system in which you will fail miserably. I am thankful Devin has fought to survive, but I can’t believe what he’s become.
In terms of the running backs, I don’t know what to say at this point. The statement from Hoke saying he is going with a hot hand is just silly. Hot hand is a pretty controversial concept to prove over large stretches, to think that one RB is performing better than another based on a handful of carries that are largely dependent on the guys in front is just silliness. This football season, man.
3. Game Chart
6. +12.7% Michigan stuffs Northwestern on second and goal (late Q4)
5. +13.1% Northwestern’s 4th down pass falls incomplete (mid Q3)
4. +14.9% Jehu Chesson recovers the muffed punt (mid Q3)
3. –20.5% Raymon Taylor’s pass interference gives Northwestern a 1st and Goal (late Q4)
2. –21.0% Devin Gardner is intercepted (-5.2%) and returned 79 yards (-15.8%) (late Q3)
1. +40.8% Frank Clark Shuts down the two point conversion (late Q4)
Michigan’s best play on offense was the 16 yard completion to Jake Butt on the final field goal drive, worth about 5.5%. No rush or pass play made the top 6 for anything good that happened to either offense. Raymon Taylor PI was the closest thing.
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
Since I have been slacking the last few weeks we’re going to go back a bit to pick what may be the dumbest punt of all time, at least in the first quarter.
Arkansas has a hard luck season, they are in the loaded SEC West and haven’t won an SEC game in over two years. So far this season they lost then #6 Texas A&M in overtime and then #7 Alabama by 1 after a blocked PAT. So with a shot at the #1 team in the country in Mississippi State, they would pull out all the stops to get the win, right? It was early and Arkansas had a 3-0 lead and was driving. After getting the ball down to the MSU 32 yardline, the Razorbacks faced a 4th and 1. Obviously since this is DPotW, you know what happens next.
Arkansas would go on to lose 17-10; I’m sure they would love to have another possession with less than 40 yards to go to have a shot at OT, but that went out the door with the punt team. Since 2003, the only case I can find of a more egregious punt was in 2009 UConn punted on 4th and 1 from the Ohio 31.
Submissions are no closed, Dumb Punt of the Year voting is now closed.
As you may have heard, Michigan may be looking for a new head coach and there is message board rumblings that it could be Jim Harbaugh. Not that he needs much introduction but I did want to put together a couple of quick graphics on how his Stanford teams performed.
Team Performance: Stanford vs Michigan
Harbaugh years in yellow, y-axis is opponent adjusted points versus average.
You can’t get a much more dramatic change than Stanford experienced in the four years under Harbaugh. They went from the bottom of the Power 5 and nearly 9 points below average prior to him joining to over 15 points above average in his final season, with improvement demonstrated in each and every season. He even left the program in strong hands with Offensive Coordinator David Shaw taking the reigns and keeping results at a still high level. From an on-field perspective, it doesn’t get any better than this. Took a program not doing well, consistently improved them, built up a strong staff that could continue at a high level after he left, but still demonstrating that he added some value while on the sideline.
On a side note, that blue line should silence any remaining voices about the viability of Hoke’s retention, independent of season outcome. That is four consecutive years of production decline, going to take some pretty amazing performances for 2014 to even end close to 2013, which obviously wasn’t great.
Recruiting Performance: Stanford versus Michigan
Stanford is a tough place to recruit at a high level and Michigan has traditionally operated at a different tier than Stanford. Harbaugh wasn’t able to turn around recruiting momentum immediately the way a James Franklin type would, but you can see by the 2009-2010 results that once the wins started coming, Harbaugh was able to raise the Cardinal recruiting profile, which has remained high in his absence. Based on this limited evidence, it would appear that Harbaugh is likely not an elite recruiter, but one more than capable of recruiting at a high level.
Basketball season will be more fun than football!
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Hillsdale|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||2 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||No line, you degenerates; Hillsdale is D-II|
THE SEASON PREVIEW
Hillsdale plays in the GLIAC, a D-II conference that also includes Michigan's exhibition opponent, Wayne State. The Chargers return two starters from a squad that finished 18-9 last season, and they have a huge hole to fill with the graduation of record-setting forward Tim Dezelski, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in 2013-14.
Now the go-to guy is 6'7" junior forward Kyle Cooper, who averaged 14 and 6; his statistical profile suggests he's more dangerous inside the arc than outside, but he can stretch the floor a bit. 5'8" point guard Zach Miller is the other returning starter, and shooting guard Darius Ware returns to action this season after missing all of 2013-14 with an injury—he started 25 games the season prior and is described on the team's site as an athletic player with a decent mid-range game.
Michigan's young bigs could get tested by seven-foot center Jason Pretzer, though Pretzer hasn't produced much during his first three years in the program. For a more complete preview of Hillsdale, check out their official site. For our purposes, this is D-II cannon fodder.
Not yet, stat-heads. Due to Hillsdale's D-II status, KenPom doesn't even have them in his database, and he gives Michigan a full 100% chance to win this game. I'm not one to argue with him.
Secondary rebounding. Michigan's centers might have their hands full with a true seven-footer, and even if they're able to overcome that disadvantage with their decided edge in pure talent, the Wolverines will need the non-bigs to step it up on the boards in order to replace the excellent rebounding production of last year's now-departed bigs. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton have already displayed both willingness and ability to get involved on the boards; this year, it's Zak Irvin's turn to step it up in that regard, and he did so in the exhibition against Wayne State. It'd be nice to see that continue against a slightly (slightly) better opponent.
Who are the shooters? John Beilein is going to start the season playing all the freshmen, but he's unlikely to keep it that way as the season wears on, and a major determining factor for which guys stay in the rotation will be their ability to force opponents to respect their shot. Spreading the floor and knocking down shots will be huge for determining if Mark Donnal and Aubrey Dawkins are worth playing over other options; same goes for MAAR, whose jumper has looked a bit iffy in the early going, but it's possible he can make up for that with his ballhandling and knack for getting to the line.
Get penetration. The Wolverines were productive in their exhibition against Wayne State, but outside of LeVert there wasn't much in the way of creating baskets off the dribble, at least in the halfcourt. Walton has a juicy matchup against a much smaller point guard that I'd like to see him exploit, and it'd be great to see Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson look to create when they get the right matchup themselves. If Zak Irvin starts blowing by defenders, you're allowed to get pretty excited, as well, competition be damned.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by lots. (Seriously, there's no line on KemPom, so this is the best I can do.)
UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. For the love of all things sacred and holy read Brendan F. Quinn's masterful feature on John Beilein already:
"I remember John just being the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet," says Bob Narrish, a teammate. "Charismatic. Everybody liked him. The girls liked him. He had that long flowing blond hair. A good looking guy."
Perched like two old crows on a set of three-row bleachers in the same gym some 40-odd years later, Betchel turns to Narrish and, looking around, says, "When you were on the end of that bench with ol' John, while Baker was running around all crazy, would you have thought (Beilein) would end up being one of the best coaches in the game of basketball?"
"Nah, probably not," Narrish says. "Probably a teacher."
The Daily's preseason coverage is up to its usual lofty standard. Daniel Feldman's look back at Stu Douglass's program-altering game-winner against MSU in 2011 is well worth a read:
“What sticks out the most from that game was the silence from the crowd after the shot,” Douglass said. “The energy of the building was immediately gone. That possession was so charged up and loud, and once the shot went in, it was immediately flat. You could feel the disappointment of their fans.
“Not many things beat hearing the silence of an opposing crowd that hates you.”
Stu's troll game remains on point. Meanwhile, DJ Wilson's taste in film is impeccable, and somebody please feed Ricky Doyle.
Tim Miles remains a wonderfully charismatic lunatic.
Foote in mouth. Larry Foote claimed, forgivably inarticulately, that Michigan's problem is we don't recruit enough kids who are used to a tougher road. I found a site that will take places in a spreadsheet and plot them on a map, and did so with the 2001 (Foote's and my senior year) and 2014 rosters, minus non-Kovacsian walk-ons. Yes there are errors still. Go ahead and zoom in.
Yellow is 2001; blue is 2014. Fullscreen
It sometimes does weird things like put Warren, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and I am fixing those one by one as I spot them. Findings:
- Lloyd had four guys from the Memphis area while Hoke did much better in Southwest Ohio. That's where those guys are from.
- Carr was able to penetrate deep into SEC country while Hoke has only managed to pick around the edges.
- Hoke gets more kids out of private schools and magnet schools (e.g. Cass Tech) than Lloyd did. This is because when I was in high school the big prep programs weren't recruiting as much as they do now, so talent wasn't as concentrated.
The differences are minor and speak less to changes in Michigan recruiting than general trends. It all amounts to mostly nothing.
Off the top of my head, the players Michigan has who come from 1% means are Wilton Speight, who's a redshirting freshman right now, and Matt Wile, who burned his redshirt because of Hagerup and waited patiently for three years behind a guy who probably shouldn't have been on the team. Foote's starting QBs were Tom Brady from a nice place in California, and John Navarre from Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is suburban Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan coastline. Meanwhile Devin Gardner went to Inkster, which doesn't even exist anymore. If Foote had been 13 years younger it's likely he'd have been picked up DCD (Mo Ways), OLSM (James Ross) or Cass Tech. Talent comes from all over; Michigan's talent comes from where it used to.
Bye week is wife day, as per Six Zero's family tradition. The espoused among us are encouraged to move back from the football for a moment and pay service to whatever your weird marital tradition might be. If she'd like you to lose an entire Saturday to outlet stores, that's rough, but she's worth it. If your wife would rather just get random butterflies from you and spend Saturday helping you rake leaves, then you're married to the bestest in the westest. Congratulations only me.
[Jump: on the Wisconsin coach we can't steal and the LSU one we probably shouldn't]
Mailbag: Retaining Mattison, Coach Before AD, Hackett Long-Term, Braxton Transfer, Schlissel Concerns(?)
Left: via Eric DeBoer. Right: ICE ICE BABY TOO COLD
It seems very clear that Hoke is gone at this point. Is there a scenario in which we could fire Hoke, but keep Mattison at DC? This is a top 25 team with a competent offense. I actually like Nuss too as I believe the playcalling has been good and Gardner just isn't executing, but he also seems as good as gone right?
It's rare for assistant coaches to be kept on after a head coaching change. OSU kept Luke Fickell, but they've devolved his responsibility repeatedly and their defense is not up to par with their offense. You get the sense he's mostly around for recruiting. Other than that I can't recall a coordinator-level assistant who survived their head man getting axed.
Making an exception for Mattison depends on a lot of things. For one, is he pissed off enough that he just retires? Mattison's pressers have been feisty, full-throated defenses of Brady Hoke over the last couple months. It's clear Hoke commands seriously loyalty from him, and it was expected he'd be retiring in the somewhat near future anyway. He would take some convincing to stay, and making that pitch is a delicate thing I'm not sure certain targets *cough*HARBAUGH*cough* would be good at.
Meanwhile, there's the question of how good this defense actually is. Yeah, they're seventh nationally in yards per game and 12th in yards per play. They've also faced a selection of completely horrible offenses. Yards per play rankings of Michigan power 5 opponents, out of 128:
- NORTHWESTERN: 125th
- PENN STATE: 121st
- UTAH: 89th
- MINNESOTA: 68th
- INDIANA: 57th, but most of that is w/ Sudfeld
- RUTGERS: 50th
- NOTRE DAME: 38th
- MICHIGAN STATE: 12th
There are two teams in there that are better than average and if you take Indiana's QB situation into account (Indiana has averaged barely 200 yards a game since Diamont took over) there are three of the very worst teams in the country. #91 Maryland and… uh… #11 Ohio State are pending.
That plus Michigan's notoriously slow tempo means the advanced stats have a very different perspective on Michigan than raw ones. FEI has Michigan 35th(!) in the country, which is barely average in a schedule adjusted system. Michigan is 31st in S&P.
It's not hard to see why. They gave up 400 yards to Gary Nova, got plastered by David Cobb, and folded on the second drive in East Lansing against the one legitimately good offense they faced. The man press misstep was costly, and I don't have a lot of hope Michigan is going to throttle Ohio State.
So. Given that and the likelihood Mattison's going to call it quits sooner rather than later anyway, I wouldn't put a high priority on retaining him. It might be different if there was a guy on staff that looked like an heir apparent, but Mark Smith keeps getting bounced to other roles, Roy Manning is probably still too young, and Kurt Mallory was interviewing at I-AA schools last summer.
I don't see anyone sticking around after the transition except Manning, who's established himself a great recruiter and can go back to his natural LB spot. I still think Nussmeier's track record is an excellent one, especially in QB development, but it's going to be a hard sell to retain him after this year's performance.
[After the JUMP: AD hiring stuff, prez stuff.]
Ah, the bye week. Sometimes it interrupts the flow of an exciting football season. And sometimes it mercifully ends the eye-bleeding and cow-rubbing for seven extra merciful days. But either way, the bye week is not simply a void on the calendar. No, no. You are not so lucky. The bye week is the Britta filter of your social life. It catches all of the stuff you’ve been avoiding or putting off. It is your March 31st.
So today, we preview some of your most likely opponents for the weekend. Odds are, you'll be facing at least one or two of these this weekend, so you may as well be prepared.
About Last Week:
Football. Which was somehow worse than this week’s opponents.
The Road Ahead:
Recap: A familiar rival. You have taken on this opponent in bits and pieces over previous weekends, but you didn’t get out there until 11:00 and then you came back in for a drink and the noon games had kicked off and then the Michigan game was on at 3:30 and then DAMN too dark to get back out there. Unfortunately, this has left you in a precarious state in which you still need to rake about 80% of the leaves, and you should probably mow the thing before winter, and your dream of turning that weedy dirt patch in the corner of the yard into, you know, grass, has hopelessly stalled for the second straight season.
This opponent is as frightening as: A standard MAC opponent. It probably won’t be pretty, and you may be left with the impression that you are half-assing it, but you can usually get enough done such as not to embarrass yourself too badly in front of your neighbors. Fear Level = 4
You should worry about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you don’t score early in this one, there’s a decent chance nature will run out the clock.
You can sleep soundly about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you fall behind in this one, who the hell cares it’ll be covered in snow and you won’t have to worry about it until like April. Polar Vortex FTW.
Current Line: Lawn -3
Pile of Papers on the Little Table
Recap: It started innocently enough. There was the renewal notice for Cat Fancy and the coupon for the restaurant you never visit but might visit some time because you have a coupon. So you put them on that little table in the corner of the kitchen or on the desk in the den so you could take care of them later. And now, four months later, the pile has become The Pile. You know there are some medical bills in there, and something sticking out of the pile (like three inches from the top) says “Second Notice.” The pile is a combination of the vital stuff you can’t lose and stuff you probably should have thrown away months ago. Somewhere in there is your passport, your Social Security card, and a spare checkbook. The pile is starting to lean precariously.
The preferred offensive strategy is to isolate the various elements and attack them piecemeal. Sort the pile into three separate groups: stuff you need to do right now, stuff you can throw away, and stuff that can wait but you probably shouldn’t throw away. Put that last subset in a nice neat pile, and put it somewhere where you will remember to take care of it soon. Like the little table in the corner of the kitchen.
This team is as frightening as: Michigan State. You know going in that you are going to face some matchup problems that you can’t solve. At some point, you have to acknowledge that defeat is inevitable, and that your opponent’s superiority is unlikely to lessen any time soon. Fear Level = 8
You should worry about: Seriously, one of these days they are going to shut off one of your services for non-payment. It might be your electricity. It might be Cat Fancy.
You can sleep soundly about: If it ever comes down to it, you know EXACTLY where all of your important stuff is. Is there anything so wrong with having all of your important papers in one place?
Current Line: Pile -7 (and the O/U of remaining pile height at the end of the weekend: 4 inches)
[AFTER THE JUMP – More stuff that is more fun than watching football]