Michigan’s win over Wisconsin wasn’t put away until Jourdan Lewis executed one of the more dramatic and insanely athletic interceptions most of us will ever see, but the stats show that it should have been over sooner. That won’t come as a shock—if you watched you’re probably thinking of the missed field goals right now—but it does reinforce how good Michigan’s defense is.
Even the most basic stats hint heavily at the defense’s dominance. Wisconsin only ran 53 plays for a paltry 154 yards, or 2.91 yards per play. Michigan’s offense fared far better, running 80 plays for 339 yards, or 4.24 per play. As Jedd Fisch noted this week, no team has crested 330 yards of offense against Wisconsin since the 2015 Alabama game. Not a bad yardage total against a defense that’s still ranked fifth in S&P+.
It’s not all sunshine and roses (or lipstick-shaped trophies), though. Michigan had six scoring opportunities to Wisconsin’s three, but both walked away with 2.33 points per scoring opportunity. Michigan was averaging 6.3 points per trip inside the 40; drives bogging down and missed field goals knocked the points per scoring opportunity number down to below a field goal for the game.
We don’t yet know whether the missed field goals were an aberration or the new, hand-over-the-eyes, college-kickery normal, but it’s relatively clear that Michigan’s offense on the whole did well against one of the best defenses in the nation. Michigan’s offensive Success Rate was 40%, which must have been like a walk in the park for Speight and co. compared to Wisconsin’s offense’s 21%. Wisconsin’s defense is superb; Michigan’s defense is a black hole.
[After THE JUMP: how a low-scoring day impacted the fancy stats]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
Rutgers (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last week: Lost at Ohio State, 58-0
Recap: Little known fact: “recap” is short for “recapitulation.” And this is fitting, because Rutgers capitulated over and over again on Saturday.
They capitulated on offense, gaining 116 yards at 2.1 yards per play. They capitulated on defense, surrendering 669 yards at 7.5 yards per play (including 410 rushing yards at 7.7 YPC). They capitulated on special teams, returning 8 kickoffs for an average of 12.4 yards per return.
Rutgers is among the worst teams in the country. But we already knew this.
This team is as frightening as:
NOTE: So, last week I made a Punch-Out reference, and people demanded more. So this week, the Fear Levels are based on old-school video game enemies.
Goomba: self-explanatory. Fear Level = 1.5
Michigan should worry about: Stranger things have happened. That’s the thing you say when there’s no way this strange thing is happening, right? It’s like saying, “yeah, I probably won’t make this 80-foot putt… but remember that time that guy fired the space-torpedo into the Womp Rat-wide vent thing while dudes were shooting lasers at him? Stranger things have happened.”
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Rutgers is #99 or worse in S&P+’s rankings for Explosiveness, Efficiency, Field Position, and Finishing Drives. So, they start a long way from the end zone, they can’t get there quickly, they can’t get there slowly, and even if they get near it they can’t get the rest of the way.
When they play Michigan: NSFW.
This week: vs. Michigan, 7:00, ESPN2 (Michigan -28)
[AFTER THE JUMP: One of Michigan's opponents is statistically certain to go 11-1]
[Melanie Maxwell, The Ann Arbor News]
They were at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated, now-air conditioned IM building. The sound isn’t great.
Part 1: Wisconsin
- That was the game when missing field goals really hurts—get Wisconsin behind and M’s defensive line can tee off.
- Hornibrook turtling was emblematic of the game, and Michigan’s much improved lane integrity. Taco helps.
- 350 yards against a very good defense is fine. Isaac and Smith had good games.
- Was Michigan’s offense elite by the end of last year, or was Florida just mailing it in?
Part 2: David Siegle, IM director and NCAA official
- David Siegle, headmaster of intramural sports, talks about the IM building renovations.
- What’s a catch? What is targeting? Mostly the coaches are making the rules, and they want to avoid head injuries. Officials with the cameras are weirdly not applying this rule.
- The Newsome knee-cut: maybe 5 years from now there will be either no cut blocks or just OL right after the snap.
Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Sam Webb
- Rutgers had 116 yards against Ohio State and lost 59-0. With the home field advantage flipped that should be 130 yards and 52-0.
- Mrs. Webb works at the IM building. Sam used to get kicked and elbowed for snoring, then he got drugged.
- Another 9 minutes of Sam talking that I want it to be known I didn’t listen to, Mrs. Webb.
THE USUAL LINKS
Previously: Rutgers Offense
in coverage: RU's top-graded player in their back seven.
After looking at the more recent OSU game for the offense post, I switched to Washington for the defense because OSU's and Michigan's offenses are so dissimilar.
It probably didn't matter. Does anything matter?
via The Mathlete. bottom left is good, top right is bad.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Rutgers's second-best defensive lineman, DE Quanzell Lambert, was lost for the season in the Iowa game, and SLB Greg Jones suffered a scary injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision against OSU—he's out and may be done playing football. Their season-opening starter at free safety, Saquon Hampton, went down in the Washington game; his replacement, Kiy Hester, got dinged up last week and is questionable for Saturday. Hampton is reportedly ready to return to the lineup this week, so we've penciled him in as the starter.
Base Set? 4-3. Since Rutgers is a heavy quarters team—Chris Ash was OSU's defensive coordinator before coming to RU this year—they don't bring on a nickel as often as many teams; their safeties are responsible for the slot receivers if they go deep, and they'll shade the SLB over the slot to cover underneath stuff.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
SPONSOR NOTES: Also at the Marlin tailgate I met a guy who had refinanced with Matt and was now hanging out with him pregame, because they're buds. I didn't judge. Maybe I judged a little.
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent a lot of time in this formation:
Line is shifted to the TE so that's an over set. Peppers is overhanging the TE. Two deep safeties, press coverage.
They'd also put Peppers inside the end. I called that "4-3 bear".
PERSONNEL NOTES: Wisconsin's manball and constant three and outs caused some shifts in the DL snap distribution. Charlton played every snap—although there were just 53. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind with around 40; Godin and Hurst just about split the other DT spot. Gary (13 snaps), Mone (7), and Winovich(2) rounded out the rotation. Mone's just getting back, obviously; the other two are either freshmen getting their first taste of manball in a game situation or much lighter than alternatives.
The back seven starters never came off the field except for a few dime packages without McCray. Watson(7 snaps) and Kinnel(3) got a little bit of PT on passing downs as extra DBs.
[After THE JUMP: this QB got shook]
He left room for help, but Alex Kile returns as Michigan's lone 30+-point scorer [Rapai/MGoBlog]
I don't think it will get picked as the slogan for the student section t-shirt, but if you plan to refer to the 2016-17 hockey season as "the season of cognitive dissonance," you're not wrong. After watching a team with one of the most potent offenses in the country three of the last four seasons, Michigan loses five of the their top-six wingers and their two most offensively productive defensemen. The cavalry isn't exactly arriving in the form of the freshmen class, as Michigan will add productive lower-line players but no phenom in the Kyle Connor/Dylan Larkin mold.
All, however, is not lost. The aforementioned group of freshmen should be ready to play immediately, and by all accounts the majority of them should provide solid two-way help. Alex Kile appears ready to handle an increased scoring burden, and MIchigan’s deeper and more talented on defense than they’ve been in years; with eight that could justifiably be in the lineup every night, the blueliners should be the backbone of this team.
Red Berenson doesn't have the task in front of him that he thought he would when he decided to come back for one more season. Instead of having to find a winger to complement JT Compher and Tyler Motte's scoring prowess and near-telepathic connection he has to find a brand new top half of the lineup. The entire first power play unit needs to be replaced. Steve Racine, who finally found his groove as a starter in 2015-16 thanks to goaltending coach Steve Shields, is gone. Berenson will need to take the talent he's been given and mold it; he has a bit of head start with the incoming freshmen, as most scouting reports laud their defensive responsibility more than their offensive prowess. There will be games you'll sit down and watch this season and recognize almost nothing aside from the "M" on the front of the sweater. That's fine. If this team can reinvent its identity in an offseason, if it can eschew wide-open play for tighter defensive coverage, then they can contend in the Big Ten.
[After THE JUMP: position group previews, a new stats project, and the season outlook]