this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
No he's not facepalming; he just can't see. [monuMental's classic]
Once more under the lights, dear friends. To the surprise of exactly nobody the final Michigan-Notre Dame meeting will be at night. Via MGoBlue:
The University of Michigan football team will face Notre Dame in a night game for the fourth consecutive season. Notre Dame and NBC Sports announced Thursday (Feb. 20) the Wolverines and Fighting Irish will play at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
The primetime game will be televised nationally on NBC, and is the last scheduled meeting between the two rivals.
I don't think we can avoid it: we're going to have to have an official MGoBlog tailgate now. Yes, probably with at least one former player. Yes, I've been talking to Jared.
Committed tailgaters (and people with incomes tied to ratings) are asked to do their rejoicing away from the MGoshutterbugs, since it's ND's policy to make the away team's photographers stand on the sideline opposite the press box and shoot directly into the lights.
Upchurch—let it not be said I'm looking out for you man.
The helmets are made extra shiny for maximum glare.
SOUNDS ENCOURAGING. Oy.
Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk says young linemen must move forward, 'we don't have any choice'
I already bombarded you with grim news about the OL yesterday, so I'll forgo that today.
Ten second impact: minimal. Patrick Vint went back to a few games of a hyperspeed nature to find out how many penalties would have been issued if you couldn't snap the ball until 29 seconds were left on the shot clock. Answer: a few. Auburn would have gotten hit four times in the Alabama game, presumably just by a second or two. It's really hard to get a play off within ten seconds of the previous one's end.
It still seems virtually guaranteed that the rule won't pass; even if it does it's not a huge shift in the game.
Stats by conference. They now exist on Kenpom and validate the steep drop in shot-making you have probably perceived in Big Ten games this year. The league is 30th of 32 leagues in eFG%. They're also 28th in FT rate. Even last year's Best League Ever was 28th and 25th in those metrics, but in 2012 the B10 was 8th in eFG.
The moral here is probably that these margins are very thin. The difference between the top power conference in eFG, the Big East, and the bottom, the SEC, is about two percentage points. IE, you'd see one extra make in 50 Big East shots.
One other notable thing: home dominance has plummeted this year. Home teams are at a 55% clip compared to 64% last year and 62% the year before. That's a big ol' swing.
The other side of the pit. Bill Connelly's OL stats applied to the defensive line reveal that Michigan was slightly below average at rushing the passer, good at preventing runs of more than five yards, and bad at holding up in short yardage and getting TFLs.
IE: their defensive line was bad. That's not a huge surprise given the obvious things like playing former WDEs at nose tackle and the still-inexplicable absence of Quinton Washington.
It's not good. Gasaway's Tuesday Truths have one over-arching truth for Michigan fans:
W-L Pace PPP Opp. PPP EM 1. Iowa 8-4 68.5 1.13 1.00 +0.13 2. Michigan St. 10-3 63.7 1.10 0.98 +0.12 3. Wisconsin 8-5 62.9 1.12 1.03 +0.09 4. Michigan 10-3 61.8 1.15 1.07 +0.08 5. Ohio St. 7-6 63.7 1.02 0.97 +0.05 6. Minnesota 6-7 62.9 1.06 1.07 -0.01 7. Purdue 5-7 64.7 0.99 1.03 -0.04 8. Indiana 4-8 64.9 0.97 1.02 -0.05 9. Nebraska 6-6 63.9 0.96 1.02 -0.06 10. Penn St. 4-9 66.2 0.99 1.08 -0.09 11. Illinois 3-10 63.8 0.94 1.04 -0.10 12. Northwestern 5-8 60.9 0.88 1.02 -0.14 AVG. 64.1 1.03
That is: they are the worst defense in the league save for Penn State.
Oh no. Please don't. No one else can possibly wear a suit. Iowa's athletic director preserves the Big Ten's most precious tradition: making grandiose promises to quit if players get a larger slice of the revenue pile.
Barta suggests a pay-to-play system would force schools to put a monetary value on the different levels of competition in all collegiate sports.
"And I'll probably choose to do something else for a living if we ever had to go that route because it's so complex," Barta says. "Do you pay the Division III football player as an employee? Do you pay the tennis student athlete as an employee?"
I should probably be his replacement because I can figure out those two answers immediately: no, and no. Neither is involved in economic activity for their school since their programs are not making money and are therefore charity cases instead of employees.
[HT: Get the Picture.]
Defensive rotation. With Michael Downing and Andrew Sinelli both suspended for Friday's game after hits to the head against the Gophers, Michigan really needs some help. They will get it in the form of Kevin Lohan, who returns from injury after missing 19 games. Mike Chiasson will also draw in to a struggling blue line. Also returning is Alex Guptill and his wildly varying levels of involvement.
Etc.: Women's gymnastics beats Nebraska to take the Big Ten lead. Softball kicks off their season with a 4-1 trip. Dee Hart booted from Alabama for a pot possession charge. Lists of top recruiting classes over long periods of time always point out Michigan as a good recruiting school that sucks despite the recruiting; there really needs to be a recruiting + attrition study.
OR: JABRILL PEPPERS AND COMFORTING UNCERTAINTY
Three receivers make this post. This guy isn't one of them.
For the first time in years, Michigan's depth chart isn't patched together with duct tape and hope, so the incoming freshmen of 2014 don't have as many opportunities for early playing time as past classes. This is worth celebrating, especially when one particular freshman is poised to make a big impact at a position with some experienced depth anyway.
After Jabrill Peppers, there isn't a clear role for any of the incoming freshmen, and getting this list up to five involved a few reach picks. Again, this is good. Without further ado, here's the list.
1. JABRILL PEPPERS, CB/KR/PR (6'1, 210; 5*, 247 Composite #1 ATH/CB)
Surprise! Despite the presence of four older cornerbacks with significant game experience (Blake Countess, Raymon Taylor, Jourdan Lewis, and Channing Stribling), Peppers is simply too talented to keep off the field. He should see immediate time in Michigan's nickel package, either as the nickelback or playing on the outside with Countess in the slot, and as the season progresses he'll challenge Taylor for a starting spot—with his size, athleticism, and ability in run support, Peppers is an ideal fit on the boundary.
With apologies to Fearless Leader, I believe Peppers will make an instant impact in the return game, as well. While Dennis Norfleet consistently threatened to break long returns, they rarely materialized last year. Michigan had just one kickoff return of 40+ yards (T-89th nationally) and none of 50+; just two punt returns went for 20+ (T-58th), one 30+, and zero 40+. Averages were middling at best: 49th in kickoff returns and 91st in punt returns. Fielding kickoff returns, at the very least, would be a great way to get Peppers the ball without overwhelming him with too much responsibility. If he has a role on offense this year, it'll likely be limited to just a handful of plays.
2. FREDDY CANTEEN, SLOT (6'1, 170; 4*, #41 WR)
Canteen is the player going solo/the one with insanely quick feet
Slot receiver is one of a small number of spots with total uncertainly on the depth chart. Just two players return there: Norfleet (six career "catches" that were actually end-arounds) and sophomore Da'Mario Jones, who only saw time on special teams last year. While Doug Nussmeier may have a different outlook, thus far the coaches have been hesitant to give Norfleet a significant role. A relative unknown committed to Central Michigan before Michigan came calling, Jones never rose above middling three-star even after flipping his commitment. This spot is wide open.
Enter Freddy Canteen, who went from completely off the radar when his high school didn't play actual games in 2012 to a hot camp commodity with ever-rising rankings in 2013. At 6'1, he's got the size this coaching staff covets, and his route-running is very advanced for an incoming freshman. On top of that, he's got speed to burn and a phenomenal name. What more can one ask for? It wouldn't surprise me at all if Canteen, an early enrollee, is the starter in the slot from day one.
3. IAN BUNTING, TE/FUNCHESS (6'7, 233; 4*, #11 TE)
Photo credit: J. Geil/Chicago Sun-Times
Bunting wouldn't have cracked this list a couple weeks ago; then Jake Butt went down with a torn ACL. Now Michigan is down to one tight end that actually catches passes, and that's only if you believe Devin Funchess is still a tight end. AJ Williams is almost exclusively a blocker (and he's still working on that), while Jordan Paskorz is a former linebacker without a catch to his name. Khalid Hill comes off a redshirt and could factor in as an H-back, but that's about it as far as tight end depth goes. There's room for another pass-catcher.
The question is whether or not Bunting will be at all ready to put his hand in the dirt; even in high school, he did most of his damage split out wide. At 233 pounds (on a 6'7 frame), he needs to bulk up significantly to be able to hold his own as a blocker. As an enormous receiver with great hands, however, he can at least see the field as a third-down/red-zone specialist; putting him on the field with Funchess poses major matchup problems for opposing defenses.
4. BRYAN MONE, NT (6'4, 328; 4*, #8 DT)
Another player on the list due to injury on the current roster, Mone could be forced into duty at nose tackle if Ondre Pipkins is limited in his return from a torn ACL. The only other true NT on the roster is redshirt freshman Maurice Hurst, who was listed at 270 pounds on last year's roster.
Mone's stock fell from near-consensus top-50 player to borderline top-100 prospect (or, in Rivals' case, flat-out three-star) after he looked overweight and out of shape at the Under Armour game. Mone put on a ton of weight in a short period of time before his senior season and it clearly affected his conditioning. Luckily for Michigan, he's enrolled early, so efforts to turn bad weight into good are already underway. It's highly unlikely Mone is ready to play a major role, but Michigan might need him to hold his own in sporadic rotation snaps and short-yardage situations.
5. MICHAEL FERNS, ILB (6'3, 235; 4*, #6 ILB)
Another early enrollee, Ferns isn't likely to see much early action on defense. James Ross and Desmond Morgan have the two ILB spots locked down, and both have viable backups with playing experience in Ben Gedeon and Joe Bolden. If there's an injury, however, Ferns is the incoming linebacker best suited to see the field with his size and status as an EE.
Ferns also fits right in on special teams—with his athleticism, he could make an immediate impact on coverage units. This will be a frustrating way to burn a redshirt if Ferns doesn't get some in-game experience at linebacker, but it's inevitable that the coaches will burn a linebacker's redshirt for special teams, and it may as well be the one most ready to see the field.
HONORABLE MENTION: WRs DRAKE HARRIS & MOE WAYS
Both Harris and Ways look like college-ready receivers; Harris benefits from enrolling early, while Ways has the bulk and blocking ability to see the field as a freshman. They'd be higher on the list if playing time on the outside wasn't so hard to come by. Funchess and Jehu Chesson should lock down the starting spots, Amara Darboh is another starting candidate now that he's healthy, and two other options come off redshirts in Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York.
Harris is coming off a hamstring injury that cost him his entire senior season. Ways made great strides from his junior to senior seasons but could still use some, er, seasoning. It'd be great if Michigan was able to redshirt both of these guys, especially if Canteen can also contribute on the outside.
Matt Hinton has annually done the yeoman’s work showing year after year showing how recruiting rankings matter. Brian linked to this year’s edition already and it’s worth taking a look at. Building off of that idea, I wanted to look at which teams and coaches were the biggest over and under achievers in the business.
Every recruit gets a numerical rating from 0 (anonymous MAC recruit) to 99 (consensus #1 rated recruit) based on all available recruiting services.
Each player on the roster is given an adjustment factor based on how old they are. 75% reduction for first year players up to a 60% bump for upperclassmen.
This generates a total point value for each roster based on attrition, age/experience and recruiting rankings. The top teams since 2003 are dominated by Pete Carroll era USC. His 2005-09 teams take up 5 of the top 7 spots along with 2006 LSU and 2006 Miami.
Each game since 2003 is then compared against each team’s roster rating and the final score. The resulting best fit is 0.007 * (Home Team’s Roster Rating – Road Team’s Roster Rating)+4 –> Final margin. The R squared is .17.
There is obviously a lot of variance that goes into every game but there is no doubt that there is a strong correlation between recruiting success and team success. Today we’ll take a look at the teams and coaches that have maximized and wasted their talents the most.
Stars Don’t Matter (In a Good Way)
Using the above calculated fit, I looked at each true home game since 2003 and compared roster predicted results with actual game scores.
Over the last 11 seasons, the biggest overachieving teams have been:
|Team||Points vs Recruiting|
Not a lot of surprises on the list, five teams that have certainly had success beyond their recruiting profiles. Boise dominates the list with their amazing run of late and little to no major recruiting wins.
Northern Illinois made the list with four different coaches while TCU did it all under Gary Patterson.
Here is how the Big Ten stacks up (Big Ten games only):
|Team||Points vs Recruiting|
Wisconsin has been the clear leader and right behind are Iowa and the Big Ten’s biggest cheerleader for Star’s Don’t Matter, Michigan St. Despite being the Big Ten’s strongest recruiter, OSU has still managed to generate above average results from their talent. Michigan sits at the low end of the spectrum, down over 5 points per game versus talent and ahead of only Indiana and Illinois.
Other conference results from conference games only:
Best: Texas A&M (+13), Missouri (+7), Alabama! (+7)
Worst: Tennessee (-10), Ole Miss (-5)
Best: Missouri (+9), Oklahoma St (+7)
Worst: Kansas (-7), Texas A&M (-6)
Best: Oregon (+13), Oregon St (+9)
Worst: Colorado (-19), UCLA (-6)
Best: Virginia Tech (+11), Georgia Tech (+7)
Worst: Miami (-9), Duke (-5)
Best: West Virginia (+10), Virginia Tech(+9)
Worst: Syracuse (-7), Pitt (-3)
Ranking the Coaches
For some programs the coach and the team are interchangeable but here are how the 2014 Big Ten coaches have done as head coaches at all of their D1 stops since 2003.
|Coach||Team||Points vs Recruiting|
|James Franklin||Penn St||+12.0|
|Urban Meyer||Ohio St||+6.7|
|Mark Dantonio||Michigan St||+4.3|
The East and the West may be highly imbalanced in terms of recruiting profile but they are pretty balanced in what the coaches have done with the talent. James Franklin has the second shortest head coaching tenure on the list, so there are some sample size issues, but James Franklin has so far proven himself to be a significant over achiever with his talent. Coach Hoke sits in in the middle of the back at slightly above average. Hoke’s numbers have progressed at each stop in his career, going from –0.4 at Ball St, +1.0 at San Diego St and +4.9 so far at Michigan.
Lloyd Carr’s five eligible years would have put him towards the bottom of the list at –2.9. Carr presided over some stacked teams and Michigan’s style often meant closer games than the talent would dictate. Of all the disastrous metric for RichRod, this may be the worst. After going +14.5 at West Virginia, his three years at Michigan inverted and were –13.9 versus what the roster would project. In his two years Arizona he has moved toward the middle at +4.3.
Here are your top rated coaches of the last 11 seasons with at least 4 season.
|Coach||Points vs Recruiting||Primary School|
|Chris Petersen||+20||Boise St|
|Kevin Sumlin||+15||Texas A&M/Houston|
|Jimbo Fisher||+11||Florida St|
|Paul Johnson||+10||Georgia Tech/Navy|
|Frank Beamer||+10||Virginia Tech|
Looking Ahead To 2014
I am hoping to have a post up later this offseason about the “secret sauce” for BCS champions, but one thing they all share is a place in the top 10-12 spots of roster success. As noted above, there is lots of variance in the middle, but if you want to play for a championship, you have to have an elite roster. Projecting 2014 rosters is a bit tricky on a large scale, but here are my early projections for roster strength for this coming season.
|Projected Rank||Team||Conference||Coach Rating|
|5||Ohio St||Big Ten||+6.7|
Each of the five auto-qualifying conferences have at least one team on the list and the Pac 12 is the only one with a single entry. Unsurprisingly, the SEC leads the list with five entries.
If you are looking for early title favorites, take the top coaches ratings for the 12 on this list and that leaves Texas, Bama, Ohio St, Auburn and Florida St as the first teams I would look at.
It was a hot mess.
GRIII got Kaminsky'd, transition D was bad again, 3-pointers are raining on us...what was the most terrifying part about thing that was'ed at Crisler on Sunday?
Secondary question (optional): diaper bags. Is it true you need to buy a bag specifically for diapers? Is it important that it have a cooler? Why not a backpack? Why not my Jansport backpack from college? What's so damn important about Diaper bags that you need to shell out $150 at Buy Buy Baby for a satchel with lots of compartments?
Mathlete: I have so many answers for you about diaper bags and so few as to what happened at Crisler Sunday.
We've run the gamut. Started with a giant piece of luggage. Ditched that for a second piece of luggage and since have gradually gone smaller and smaller. We finally settled on the smallest possible container that can hold about 3 diapers, a package of wipes and a thing or two of baby food/snacks/apple sauce. I don't know if you could go straight to this, you have to go through The Process of using a big bag to truly appreciate how little you need.
|The Skip Hop Versa transition bag clings to your stroller and prevents the little one from escaping when your back is turned.|
As to basketball, this is a young finesse team. A game like Sunday was bound to happen. They can't consistently lock down on defense enough to stop the big runs. They are 89th in kenpom defense, the worst of the top 25. Only Duke and Creighton are above 45 and both of those teams are head and shoulders the best two offensive teams in the country. When you get in a hole and don't have a high likelihood of getting consistent stops in the future, that puts a lot of pressure on a team without a Trey Burke. Last year Burke was the singular talent who could impose his will regardless of setting. Michigan doesn't have that this year. Stauskas had his run but has been brought down to earth (nothing another year or two in college won't help!).
With all that said, this team hasn't rolled over. They cut the lead on Sunday to 3, won at Breslin in a game that never felt like theirs until the very end. The team is definitely incomplete and the Iowa and the Wisconsin games were as bad as they've looked in Big Ten play. With that said, better to have the vulnerabilities identified now as opposed to a month from now. With the make-up of this team, anything will be possible come March. Their offensive prowess and the Beilein touch could push them into another Final Four or their youth and lax defense could be a formula for an early exit. As frustrating as the recent losses have been, the Big Ten title can be all but clinched a week from today.
[a Wisconsin player is now standing beneath you.]
Happy Fun Times Day at MGoBlog continues unabated. Before you get mad at me for putting this video together, please keep in mind that I've already punished myself by... putting this video together. Here are Frank Kaminsky's significant touches against Michigan, sorted by primary defender. It's just as brutal as you'd expect.
Kaminsky scored 25 points on 10/14 2-pt and 1/2 3-pt shooting with four offensive rebounds. He dominated regardless of the defender. That doesn't mean the defender didn't matter, however, at least when it came to forcing more difficult shots. While this video mostly speaks for itself, a little analysis of Michigan's post defenders in this game is warranted.
Morgan started out well, forcing Kaminsky to pass out the post on his first touch despite having pretty solid position. It went downhill in a hurry. Kaminsky's quickness proved especially troublesome for Morgan; three times Kaminsky blew right past him after getting the ball on the perimeter and he committed a foul to prevent a fourth. The threat of Kaminsky's three-point shot exacerbated this issue, as his most successful drives came when Morgan overplayed the outside shot* or got caught flat-footed.
While Morgan forced tough shots on post touches, his size disadvantage and lack of explosive athleticism allowed Kaminsky to get clean looks at the hoop anyway. Morgan's strength is an asset in the post—Kaminsky had a tough time backing him down—but Kaminsky overcame it with his length, mobility, and skill.
The uncalled push-off on the final three-pointer is noted; it's also canceled out by the inexplicable brick when Morgan couldn't fight through traffic and gave up a wide open three-point look.
*[Often because he was late getting out to contest a potential three.]
Glenn Robinson III
This matchup choice confounded me, as John Beilein chose to put Robinson on Kaminsky when Nigel Hayes also took the floor for Wisconsin. My best justification for this is Beilein wanting to ensure Robinson, a better rebounder and defender at this stage than Zak Irvin, didn't get into foul trouble defending Hayes, who draws an astronomical 7.7 fouls per 40 minutes. I still don't get it, though, since Michigan wasn't doubling in the post and Kaminsky overpowered Robinson with ease.
Wisconsin immediately went after the mismatch in the post when Robinson manned up Kaminsky. Both post-ups resulted in baskets on great looks. On the boards, Kaminsky outreached Robinson for the ball when GRIII even bothered to box him out; twice GRIII didn't even manage to do that.
I thought Horford acquitted himself well defensively, making Kaminsky work for good shots when he wasn't the victim of poor defense by his teammates. Or the officials. The first foul call (above), well...
Brian: I noticed that Horford got called for the wisconsin chest bump live
That's a tough call considering (1) Wisconsin does this all the time and (2) the officials let a lot of touchy fouls go in this game.
Horford then got victimized for a basket in which Kaminsky got a half-step advantage on him, then exploited that half-step with an uncalled off-arm hook that kept Horford from recovering. Horford, naturally, got called for a foul.
I'm not sure what to take from this other than knowing Michigan's interior defense isn't very good, especially against big men who can also stretch the floor. With Adreian Payne rounding his way into form, that doesn't bode well for Sunday. Will we see the Wolverines double down in the post more? Quite possibly, as John Beilein said this during his weekly radio show:
Beilein on defending bigs: "If we played (Frank Kaminski) again, (doubling him) would be under consideration."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) February 18, 2014
That isn't a failsafe solution, of course. Doubling in the post puts more pressure on Michigan's perimeter defenders, and they've been prone to blowing switches and assignments as-is. Wisconsin having Ben Brust and Josh Gasser on the floor—not to mention Sam Dekker on a hot shooting day—made it tough for U-M to commit any more defenders to Kaminsky. With MSU giving plenty of minutes to a lineup featuring Gary Harris, Kenny Kaminski, and Travis Trice—all 40% or better 3-point shooters—surrounding Payne, they face similar issues this weekend even if Keith Appling sits out.