coaches say you can't, so don't sign a loi
The Sponsor: This liveblog is brought to you once again by Marawatch, purveyor of premium watches. I suppose you don't NEED one. You can always look at the sun and take a guess at the time, provided you paid attention to Trig in high school. Or you can rock the Mickey Mouse watch with the plastic wristband that tells your prospective employer that maybe he should go in a different direction. But if you want a sleek, stylish, practical timepiece that will impress your new boss and keep your retinas safe, Shashi Mara can help you out.
Chaos Avoidance: If you can keep your head while all those about you are losing theirs, you probably don't need the Chaos Mitigation Post. Everyone else should give it a read.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Nick RouMel
Last weekend was an especially heartbreaking one for local sports fans. Both Michigan, on Saturday vs. Penn State, and the Tigers, on Sunday vs. the Red Sox, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of seemingly certain victory.
These kinds of losses are the most difficult to handle, right? It’s like any near miss. Not just a sports outcome, of course. But a job you don’t get; a relationship that doesn’t work out. They haunt you. You replay every facet endlessly in your mind. “What if I hadn’t picked my nose during the interview?” or “What if Sparky* hadn’t pulled Scherzer after 7 innings?” or “What if Shawn Crable hadn’t missed that blocking assignment on the field goal attempt?”
On the other end of the spectrum, who cares if the Lions lose? They generally suck, with occasional flashes of mediocrity. There are no expectations, year in and year out. So when they win, it’s a happy occurrence. Compare and contrast how terrible you felt when Michigan beat Akron and Connecticut.
I argue that sports ceases to be a happy escape if you feel crappy after a close win and want to slit your wrists after a loss. It’s just replacing one source of stress for another (your job, deadlines, etc.). The weekend is no longer fun; it just becomes tense. The only happy people are those who sell blood pressure medication and alcoholic beverages.
Sometimes it’s easier, in this column, to pick against Michigan, to protect a heart that has been broken too many times. To try and find pockets of grim satisfaction in small things, like the fact that mgoblog user “LivingInOhioSucks” was stupendously hung over on Sunday, because he dared to doubt my prediction.** Or to happily give away my tickets to a co-worker for the Indiana game, who has never been to the Big House.
And to even dare hope: that Scherzer and Verlander will stave off the Sox, and that someday, even these young boys in Maize and Blue will jell and become a team to be proud of once more.
Until then, just remember what the Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man:
“I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart.”
INDIANA 35, MICHIGAN 31
* [Yeah, I know.]
** [See Punt/Counterpunt 10/12/13, comment #2. (jump?)]
By Heiko Yang
I’m too broken to write prose, so here is my assessment of Michigan’s offense in the form of a good old-fashioned SAT analogy question.
Michigan’s offensive game plan : Michigan’s offensive goal ::
Go to college : meet women
Monkey wrench : assemble Ikea furniture
Allen wrench : assemble non-Ikea furniture
Sign up for extracurricular activities : become well rounded and meet women
Run 5K : train for marathon
Workout on elliptical : not ready for marathon, train for 5K
Learn three chords on guitar : start jam band
Rehearse stand-up comedy routine : audition for improv comedy
Take pre-med courses : keep career options open
A spoonful of sugar : cure diabetes
Methicillin : treat MRSA
Rhythm method : contraception
Become history major : play to strengths, aim for law school
Charge of the Light Brigade: Survival of the Light Brigade
Ford a 15-foot deep river : avoid caulking the wagon and floating across due to high risk of turnover.
Great Leap Forward : “forward”
Drop classes and change major halfway through senior year : find five easiest credits to meet graduation requirements
Reply-all : reply
“Please remove me from this list” : get removed from this list
Recycle high school essays : pass English classes
Obtain degree in English : find employment
Non-prescription glasses : look more employable
Skinny jeans from Salvation Army : look like unemployment was on purpose
Lottery tickets : acquire wealth while unemployed
Craigslist : sell possessions, purchase more lottery tickets
Click on “missed connections” : meet women
Indiana 30, Michigan 30, refs cancel the game in 5 OT.
[ED: We know. Our correspondents are currently behind enrolled in Football Rehab.]
1. The Six Factors
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
Holy cow those were a lot of ugly third downs. Michigan averaged 11 yards to go on third and Penn State was nearly as bad at 9. Michigan had a huge advantage in they converted a lot more before third down than Penn State. Plus, both teams were bad at converting, even when accounting for the miles to go.
So Michigan won field position, bypassed third down more often, had more big plays and was slightly more terrible on third downs. That is a pretty outstanding line for the defense. I would take those numbers across the board in any game. Everything except the field position number. Some of that is four overtimes ratcheting up the expected score, but it’s not all of it. The offense as we have discussed forever at this point was either really good or really bad. Call the good stuff, get first downs, call the bad stuff and end up in third and Philadelphia.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: +9.1 EV+, +52% WPA, (16th best QB of the week)
Christian Hackenberg: +6.2, +10% (23rd)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –9.4, –40%, (114/115 ranked RB of the week)
Bill Belton: +1.6, +43%, (36th)
Devin Funchess: +9.8, +25% (18th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7.7, +40% (41st)
Brandon Felder: +11.4, +34% (9th)
Allen Robinson: +6.2, +38% (74th)
Apparently there are factions of the Michigan community who think Gardner is the problem and should be benched. I just don’t get it. Yes, the bar has been lowered a little bit after last season and the first 7 quarters of this season, but that bar started as high as it gets. The turnovers are very frustrating but he adds so much value to the team.
The flip side to the equation is if you benched him, your best case scenario is Christian Hackenberg, and that is pretty much best case with a lot more downside. I think he’s going to be a player, but for this season, I’ll take Gardner any day of the week.
The good news is that Michigan now has two legitimate receiving threats if we get them the ball, and other than the back breaking grab at the end of regulation, Michigan help the Big Ten’s best receiver in check.
3. Game Charts
The Six Biggest Plays
6. +26.5%: Hackenberg incomplete on 3rd and 4 in the second OT
5. -29.3%: Pass interference in the end zone sets up Penn State’s final TD
4. –29.5%: Hackenberg to Robinson at the end of regulation
3. -32.4%: Gibbons field goal from 40 blocked in the first OT
2. +35.8%: Robinson fumbles to open the third OT
1. –38.6%: Gibbons misses from 33 yards in the third OT
What is left to say at this point, Michigan had the game in the bag at 3 different points. There are a lot of things to fix coming out of the game, but that loss had a ton of bad dumb luck.
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Last weekend was one of the least dumb kicking weekends since I started following. No egregious punts from deep in opponent territory, no face saving field goal attempts down by 5 touchdowns. The worst offender was Georgia State. Trailing Troy by 7, they decided to punt the ball away with less than two minutes to play. With two timeouts left their best hope was to get the ball back with no timeouts and a minute left needing a touchdown to tie. Troy ground out the single first down they needed and Georgia State never saw the ball again.
5. State of the Stats
The six factors for all teams can still be found .
- Even with all his turnover issues, Devin Gardner is ranked the #12 QB so far this season, averaging 8.1 points a game above average when adjusted for opponents.
- With the struggles in MANBALL, his value is magnified even more. Replacing the plays where he carries or throws with an average play would result in a loss of 84 points for Michigan on the season, the fifth highest total for any player.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint’s carries are on the opposite side, plays where he carries the ball are college football’s least valuable. Replacing his carries for an average Michigan non-Toussaint play would be worth another 37 points. Solve for the equilibrium, Al.
- Jeremy Gallon is still at the edge of the top 30 and Devin Funchess keeps climbing, rising to #56 in national receiver rankings.
- Michigan’s overall ranking is still holding strong, I have the ranked 19th based on in season results only, 8 points above an average team with most of the value coming from the defense.
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Mich O||31.0 (19)||50% (64)||155 (41)||7.6 (108)||-3% (79)||5.1 (55)|
|Ind D||25.7 (53)||50% (62)||149 (81)||5.8 (85)||+8% (103)||4.5 (30)|
|Mich D||31.9 (111)||49% (37)||98 (13)||7.6 (11)||+8% (103)||3.9 (15)|
|Ind O||24.4 (87)||53% (27)||168 (34)||6.4 (68)||+5% (24)||5.6 (27)|
This game should be some strength versus strength when Indiana’s offense goes up against the Michigan defense. The Michigan defense has moved into the top 15 in Bonus Yards, 3rd Down Distance and Red Zone. The biggest knocks are that they have been given awful field position to deal with and they’ve been poor once they get to third down.
At this point I think anything is possible with the offense, and for that matter this game. I could see this game being close and low-scoring, close and high-scoring or Michigan putting it together on offense for at least one game and looking strong.
If I go with the straight numbers:
Michigan 24 Indiana 21
Six seconds left in a tie game, no timeouts remaining, and Anthony Carter runs an in-cutting route 20 yards short of the end zone for the game-winning catch-and-run. This is something that only Anthony Carter could do, and even then only in 1979 against a team coached by Lee Corso, because how do you let that happen?
[Hit THE JUMP for another play from that game that could only happen a long time ago, plus a few more GIFs from Indiana games past.]
Other stuff here: Ace FFFF!
|WHAT||Michigan vs Indiana|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||3:30 PM Eastern
October 19th, 2013
|THE LINE||M –9|
|WEATHER||overcast, low 50s, 30% chance of rain, 10 MPH winds|
Indiana is the new Northwestern, an outfit with an irritatingly good offense whose defense gets clubbed so regularly that they struggle towards bowl eligibility. They've given up 450 rushing yards to Navy, 35 points to Indiana State, 45 to Missouri, 42 to previously-moribund Michigan State.
If only Michigan's rushing offense could be described as "moribund"…
Run Offense vs Indiana
This is high up in a search for "nihilists" thanks to Midnight Maize
Michigan's coming off the worst tailback performance in the history of the program in game I charted and have the tailback a +6.5 for the day, so the foxhole is crowded with atheists. Nihilists. What have you.
The good news(?) is that if there is a program on the schedule that provides an ability to get healthy, it is the extremely permeable Hoosiers. Leaving aside the Navy game, here are Indiana's outings against BCS competition:
Two hammerings and then Penn State providing a little sobriety about the performance of Michigan's rushing defense last week. Ace noted that their line is bad and their linebackers are bad, so they are bad. Think Indiana.
Of course, we're all in this foxhole waiting for the next shell in re: Michigan's running game. It got so bad against Penn State that savior Chris Bryant was pulled for walk-on Joey Burzynski, who didn't do any better against Penn State's loaded-up box. This week damn near anything might happen at guard, including an honest-to-God start for Burzynski or tackle Erik Magnuson getting his first career start at a position he has not played in his career at Michigan. Or both! After a miserable game in Happy Valley, reports are that Kyle Kalis's job is under siege as well, and deservedly.
This is time to full-on panic. Michigan's already pressed that button once with a mid-season switch; they are now pounding it. What's more, the previous move was plausible—Glasgow is major-college-sized and had played a lot of center in the spring and Bryant was a guard who had been injured for a while. Sticking a 6'1" dude and/or a tackle in when both weigh a 70s-era 285 pounds is not plausible.
Michigan will have to be better against Indiana if only because futility on the level of last week only comes around once every 64 years, if that; also Indiana is horrible. But no one's going to be talking about how the line is finally on the right track after this one.
Key Matchup: Guards versus anyone. Is the DT/interior OL matchup an advantage for Indiana? Think about that.
[Hit THE JUMP for WHY U HAVE TO BE GOOD AT OFFENSE]
Here is dragonchild's summary of Michigan's offensive gameplan versus Penn State.
Doing exactly what we've done 18 times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time! (Remote play prohibited; click the photo or here)
After studying abroad I spent two months backpacking Europe, marveling at their master works while being constantly amazed at the pointless waste accumulated over genera. Nearly every city and town has at least one monument (pre-Napoleonic ones are inside the churches) to townsfolk whose lives were the grist in one war or another's death mill. Overwhelming bodies marching toward an objective worked for the first Louis and Edward, and Europe kept running that same play—regardless of technology—for another thousand years.
Afterwards I spent a week ("The Long Shower") at a friend's apartment in London to get reacquainted with civilization, playing Perfect Dark, watching Black Adder tapes, and just appreciating the hell out of the fact that I was born to the one country in Western Civilization that expects tactical change whenever something isn't working. We lost one Custer (and frankly he probably deserved it) by telegraphing where our inferior force would be, then stopped doing that. From the Euro perspective America is the country that came to the trench war with tanks, and the tank war with an Air Force. Huddling isn't just outdated; it's un-American. As for sending barely trained draftees into machine gun emplacements…
It's not the Philosophy; It's the Fit. Here's Eye of the Tiger from his updated "Reading the Tea Leaves":
Now, as an aside, can we please bury the notion that this result had anything to do with inherent superiority of offensive scheme or philosophy? We didn’t lose because “MANBALL” (i.e. i-formations, power running, play-action and so forth) is inherently worse than “basketball on grass.” (i.e. shotgun spread formations, read-option running, constraint passing and so forth). We lost because our coaches called plays we don’t have the personnel for, then called them again and again when it should have been clear that we couldn’t execute them. Wisconsin, Stanford and Alabama can. We cannot. It’s that simple.
Before there was the UFR of the offense reshp1 tried his hand at identifying what went wrong with the run blocking. This leaves the coaches out of it and talks about the technique problems on the OL:
Conclusion. I can only imagine how frustrated the coaches are getting at this point. There is no one problem or even one guy. Quite the opposite, on any given play, we have the ability to screw up in 4-5 different ways, by anyone on the line save maybe Lewan. That’s wack-a-mole futility right there, where do you even start?
That was bumped. The other bump this week was bronxblue's Best and Worst weekly, which is beginning to really stand out for Sunday content after a game. Co-sign everything up until he says 5 wins and a crazy loss ain't so bad: immediately after it ended I was like "we deserved that," but each day since I'm convinced the level of persistent coach derp it exposed, has me terrified. How confident are you that they're saying to themselves "Wow, predicating our offense on the bet that our young guards will play like All-Americans was just about the dumbest thing we've ever coached; we need to take all of this criticism to heart." So how do things get better?