A little backgrounder for those of you who don’t know me…former season ticket holder (21 years straight through 2013) who hadn’t attended a game yet this fall, and the outlook to attend any of the remaining three games is close to zero. During the 21 seasons, missed two games, due to weddings (not MINE! Close personal friends!)…otherwise, all fandom endurance merit badges applied. Graduated from the College of Engineering in 1987,had season tickets for 4 of my 5 years of schooling.
(Lexus Larry, Lexus…ummm…Mary, her sister and her brother-in-law)
My wife and I visited her sister in Littleton, CO this past weekend. Sister-in-law’s hubby went to Colorado State, so we were invited to see the Rams vs Tulsa…and here are my thoughts/observations/experiences below:
ALMOST A MILE HIGH!!! Depending on the actual point you’re measuring, Ft. Collins is ~5000 feet above sea level, or 95% of a mile high.
Amusingly, the sales lady said that prior to selling beer inside the stadium, people would come in from their tailgates totally smashed, so this action in effect reduced some of the uber-drunkenness, coupled with sales stopping in the third quarter, only one beer per of age buyer, etc. (Insert beer joke here…wait for applause to die down…the choices were Coors, Coors Light and a different label from Coors, Colorado Native.)
ARTILLERY!!! Caveats apply to an Ag School in Colorado having a howitzer fire a blank after every TD. (Did NOT know that in a previous life, CSU, home of the Rams, was an Ag school, and durn proud of it, too. Saturday was Ag Day, so plenty of people wearing orange attire with large capital “A” on them.)
(Big gun…Howitzer or not)
MARCHING BANDS!!! The Ram Marching Band playing fight songs in their entirety, with no interruptions, nor with RAWK music laying right on top of any other song, let alone action, at an eardrum shattering 80+ dB. Whatever/whenever RAWK was played, it wasn’t a continuous loop of 7 Nation Army, and it was mere background noise, not AMP YOU UP deafening. (No dog groomers moonlighting as hair bands to sing odes to CSU and the Rams. Must be an east of the Missipp thing.)
WHAT WAS MISSING? Flyovers, fireworks, weak-ass exhortations to cheer, schlock-ey marketing, etc. Cheerleaders lead cheers. Dancing girls danced during song. Flag girls twirled flags during pre-game and halftime. (Scroll to the bottom third for the real surprise regarding “7 Super Bowls per season.”)
ADVERTISING!!! Above being said, there was background advertising…not on the level of J. Ira and Nicki Harris Coach of Footbaw. Local car dealers, Monsanto, etc. Smaller scoreboards meant less real estate for advertising.
DEE HART!!! Hart had a stellar day, 11 carries for 143 yards, 2 TD’s, and one reception for 2 yards…all quibbles about “Mountain West defenses aside” should also carry the caveat of “Mountain West offensive linemen doing his blocking.” Shifty, dynamic, exciting every time he touched the ball.
POTENTIAL CC CANDIDATE RIGHT HERE!!! Brian posted on Tuesday about McElwain…he’s got his followers at CSU, watching him pace up and down the sidelines furiously…and getting appropriately improved results for an MWC school.
FREE PROGRAMS!!!! The glossy 96 page (5” x 9”) program was handed out to everyone who wanted one…sadly, no Punt-Counterpunt to be found within its pages (must be an east of the Missipp thing - lulz).
(Where are Heiko and Nick when you need guidance?)
WHAT’S THAT SILENCE???? No Gaga, no Beyonce, and when music was played via track/not the band, it was at mere background noise levels. 7NA was played once.
Given the size and history of the program, there’s no sense in snarkifying the Ferry Field style scoreboard, or the 90’s era other scoreboard. They were what they were.
SO, onto the OTHER point here at the end of the story…after a great dinner out in Ft. Collins, a good night’s rest, we rounded up the crew, went to SPORTS AUTHORITY FIELD at MILE HIGH STADIUM to watch the Broncos play the Cardinals. End zone club seats, as the prices actually went UP on SH during the months leading to the game…but easy access to several different beer/bevvy stands, food (variety and ethnicity) and relief facilities.
GIRL ON A HORSE!!!! This nice young lady rode up and down the field on her trusty steed during the pregame, and IIRC, after a couple, but not all the touchdown events.
PARATROOPERS!!!! A team of four specialists dropped in with the game ball, during fairly breezy conditions…couldn’t get a pic…buying $9 beer and mixed drinks. Kudos for the accurate yet safe landing.
FIREWORKS!!! The largest HD videoboard had a couple launchers for the 50’ rockets red glare, for the National Anthem and post-TD. Not impressive, not interesting, just a jolty noise and a little red or white flare.
AND FLAMES!!!! Don’t forget the flames…a couple flaming Moe’s (or Meaux’s) just outside the fireworks launchers…not notable except for the amazing amount of heat generated by such a brief jet of fire. (Think Pistons pre-game during the Ben Wallace/lunchbox-going-to-work era.)
WHAT’S THAT ON THE HD VIDEO SCREENS??? Replays of just-run plays, moments after the whistle, many times from 2 different angles? With more than one player shown? Who ARE the people operating/choosing the video?
WHAT’S THAT SILENCE???? No 7NA, no Gaga, no Beyonce, (let alone Sweet Caroline or Build Me Up Buttercup) and when music was played, it was at mere background noise levels. Obviously, DB’s “How YOU Can Create the Future” class at Harvard Business School wasn’t provided the same dossier/socio-ethnographics as other AD’s, on the subject of continually bombarding several senses of your paying customers, simultaneously if possible, as abrasively as possible.
AHHH, MEMORIES!!! Since so many fans of Michigan Football spend many, MANY hours looking back fondly on days of yore, here’s a pic for them…a fan wearing an old jersey of our very own Brian Griese!!
What did both of these games do for me and Lexus Mary? They showed us that the Michigan Stadium model is something not based on current college or Super Bowl XLVII runner-up gameday experiences. That selling weddings doesn’t happen everywhere. That taking in and enjoying the sunny football game afternoon atmosphere, without being shaken down at every turn, with exhortations to increase support the team (or AD) financially does not mean the Colorado counterpart AD or NFL franchise front office is losing out or leaving money on the table. Both teams won, but CSU had an announced attendance of just over 28k (looked like fewer, given years of knowing the 113k for OSU/MSU is real, and most of the other Michigan Stadium attendance numbers are exaggerations), and Denver had an announced crowd of 76k+…again, plenty of blue club seats pretending to be paying customers.
As a Sprint customer (yeah yeah, I know),
(sometimes it feels like I’m using one of these…)
I am fully aware of their shortcomings. At Michigan Stadium, all the way up through last season, I didn’t even bother trying to get score updates or send texts. This weekend, in most areas in CO, we had 3G, 4-5 bars strength…some areas were 4G. At both stadiums, particularly CSU, no issues texting. At Mile High it was a different story, what with a claimed 76,000+ fans in the stands. Was able to post texts/updates on FB, send out SMS texts, but not send pictures out easily. This was not something that would have made my game/afternoon worse had we not been able to send a few texts or update a few posts on FB…but I’m not telling any of you anything you weren’t already aware of.
CONCLUSION (“TAKEAWAYS,” IN MBA PARLANCE): Make the gameday experience about the game, the players and all that’s great about college football. (I know, very Canham of me!) Don’t turn the event into a continuous 3 hour commercial with momentary interruptions from the football team or MMB. Both CSU and the Broncos focused on football, on the players and on the game on the field…both presented far less crap (noise, selling, merchandising, schlock, etc.) than we’ve endured the past 4-5 years. DB has turned our shiny Ferrari into a flaming Fiero (complete with screaming chicken on the hood, and an air scoop over the roof).
EPILOGUE: It seems when I read Brian or others refer to some of the corny/goofy/lame stunts minor league baseball does to drum-up/keep interest, I read that to mean the NFL, too. Having been to quite a few Lions games over the past 7-10 years at Ford Field, I’d say the NFL product isn’t heinous…not exactly something I’d follow with my heart, but the gameday experience at Ford Field or Mile High is reasonable (more from a game p.o.v. start-to-finish, rather than early a.m. to late p.m. college game event, but Thanksgiving Day tailgating is an interesting experience). Which then pains me to think that our Athletic Department has slid right past the NFL model, all the way down past hard-scrabble small school AD’s and straight into the “gotta give ‘em a reason to spend $95 a seat here at Duff Stadium” to watch the Springfield Isotopes Double A baseball. Whoever is the AD in 10-30 years is going to have a hell of a time selling out Michigan Stadium…the era of season ticket holders absorbing price increases, extra seats, etc. is ending…no matter how many U-M degreed lawyers want to buy extra ducats and charge them back to their office/firm for “client entertainment” purposes. Today’s U-M student has no bond with the program, with the team, with the event that couldn’t be experienced, nor replicated, anywhere else. My brother, upon visiting for a game in the late 90s or early aught’s, mentioned he thought U-M football was the New York Yankees of the college football scene…the history, the way “things were done,” the (at that time) decades-long adherence to the colors/styles for the uniforms, the team/school everyone else in the league wanted to be/emulate. (Yes, Bosox fans want their team to emulate the Yankees, too!)
Hard to imagine that being the case since 2012 or so…
Coaching Candidate: Gary Patterson ~ The Next Five Weeks May Turn Him Into 1 of the Hottest Candidates Nationally
Last week we took a look at a handful of candidates, among them Doeren, Jones, Graham (compared him to Sumlin), and Mullen (whose star has risen dramatically in 2 weeks). We also looked at how Franklin and Strong would look as candidates if this was 9 months ago. Let's take a closer look today at Gary Patterson in the same vein.
Normal caveats apply:
- I am not an AD nor do I have a full time staff to focus on one of of the most important decisions over the next decade. These are superficial reports based on raw data. If I were an AD I'd be doing a lot of on the ground work on each of these people's backgrounds starting from their playing days on forward to every coaching stop.
- Past results do not guarantee a damn thing. But that is all we can go on.
- These are not necessarily my top candidates (read: Jim Harbaugh) but people we could get and are interesting and not "Sumlin, Shaw, Gundy redux"
- I believe an elite level coach gets results within 2-3 years, by results I don't mean 11-2 but improving a bad program or maintaining a good program
- W/L record is not the be all and end all - what Gary Barnett did for Northwestern is more impressive than what a lot of coaches have done at USC or Bama or Texas over the years. Spurrier went and won at Duke for example early in his career. Or just see John Beilein.
- Adjust everything for conference, level of competition, and ability to get recruits
- I don't care about systems - a good coach will coach up players. It's about the Jimmy and Joes not the X's and O's.
Next candidate.... Gary Patterson, age: 54
Summary: Gary Patterson is a long time coach of the TCU Horned Frogs (the 2nd most dangerous type of frogs after the poisonous ones). Before that he was DC at TCU under Dennis Franchione but we are already reaching back to the late 90s for that discussion. He has been in 1 spot since 1998 and per various comments on these boards and in others (i.e. during the Texas HC search last year) it seems it will take a lot to budge him from that spot. But at current salary $3.4M - if money is a KEY (not only) factor he is at a price tag that he can be moved.
TCU has moved a lot in terms of conferences in Patterson's time - from the WAC, to Conference USA, to the Mountain West, to the Big 12 in 2012. Whichever conference he has been in - until the Big 12 - Patterson has had immense success. Much like Kyle Whittingham at Utah, Patterson has struggled early in his move to a Power 5 conference but one must consider he was taking a Mountain West team to go play week in and week out versus superior athletes in a Power 5 conference. This is very different than playing that competition once or twice early in the year and then in a bowl. But now in year 3, Patterson is beginning to make noise as the benefit of going into athletes home with the ability to recruit to a major conference is kicking in. With a huge win over then #4 Oklahoma last week, the next 5 weeks could take Patterson from a very well respected formerly hot HC candidate to one of the premier names out there. The schedule is as follows:
- @Baylor (Briles)
- OK State (Gundy)
- Texas Tech
- @W. Virginia
- Kansas State (Synder)
Texas Tech and W. Virginia are no pushovers as both teams can put up 40 easily in any game, and the other 3 are top tier teams in the Big 12. Exiting this gauntlet at even 3-2 would be a major feather in the hat with Oklahoma already in the crown. 4-1? He'd be scorching hot.
Obvious downside for Patterson is lack of Midwest footprint - his career has been Big 12 focused. But major inroads in Texas is obviously very attractive in any candidate and as I've written in other CC a coach with exposure to the midwest and the south would be a home run. His does bring brand recognition and his team has done far better in the lifetime of 16-17 year olds than Michigan has.
One interesting sidenote - after 2 disappointing years to begin the Big 12, TCU is rolling this year with 2 new coordinators - Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie. Patterson had been known for run oriented offenses, but that is being replaced with more pass oriented systems. More important than any specific change this year, is the idea that Patterson is not content to stand still when something is not working:
“You see them spread out and they’re making you defend the whole field, which that offense does, and defend the whole field and every player,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “They’ve done a really good job to this point being highly productive offensively.”
After the Horned Frogs hung in plenty of games the last two years thanks to defense but lost in the end due to an anemic offense, Patterson overhauled the latter. Co-offensive coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Rusty Burns were demoted.
First, Patterson hired Doug Meacham, the former Oklahoma State player who served as a Cowboys’ assistant coach before moving on to take over the offense at Houston. Then, Patterson raided Texas Tech’s coaching staff, bringing aboard former Red Raiders quarterback Sonny Cumbie to team with Meacham to take over the coordinator duties.
Recent (10 years) coaching background
- 2001-2014: HC at TCU
Analysis: Not much to say - after his promotion from DC in 2000 (for the bowl game) he has been HC since 2001.
Caveat for results ----> (a) nothing exists in a vacuum (b) as a coordinator you can benefit or be penalized if your HC is good or bad or average (c) injuries or graduation can change your results dramatically in any 1 year. This is the type of stuff you'd research as an AD staff on every potential candidate.
I will break down his results at 1 time frame - HC at TCU
(1) HC at TCU
TCU has been known for defense under Patterson. That is one thing he has been able to take with him in whatever conference. Please note that the 2012-2013 numbers are in the Big 12. While the defense took a minor step back it was still top 25ish in a conference where offenses are heavily focused on "Air Raid". I penalize defenses in the Big 10 (and ACC) due to sluggish offenses they tend to play whereas the Big 12 and Pac 12 defenses are exposed to a lot more sophisticated, aggressive aerial assults. Hence a "20" ranked defense in the Big 12 (Pac 12) is akin to "10" in the Big 10/ACC. Here are Patterson's results since 2001 - versus the prior coach in 2000 (keep in mind Patterson was the DC in 2000)
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
There have been up and downs on offense but damn that defense is impressive - five #1 rankings in 13 years as a head coach (and one as the DC) and a #2 ranking in 2007. "Down years" for a Patterson defense are 15-30ish. Only one year in the wayback machine (2004) was an outlier and it's so solitary as not to bother looking at. Offenses have been hit or miss. This resume looks a lot like Les Miles - in far worse conferences of course - in that the defense always is there, and the years the offenses show up, the team has great campaigns. But truthfully the offense was fine for the majority of TCU's years until the Big 12 era. As we noted above - Patterson gave it 2 years... saw it wasn't working .. and has morphed his offense into something that works better in the Big 12 this year. Early results look good; we'll see how the next 5 games work out.
It's an impressive resume.
As noted earlier it is a lot easier for a Boise, TCU, Utah, BYU to be in conferences they only have to play big boys 2-3 times a year (2 non conf and a bowl) rather than the weekly grind. But let's look at some of those major wins prior to 2012 and then look at the struggles of 2012/2013. We'll focus on 2005 forward for brevity.
- 2005 TCU finished 9th in AP: 17-10 win over @ (8-4) Oklahoma, and an easy bowl win over 7-5 Iowa State. Only loss to @SMU in week after 2 after upsetting Oklahoma.
- 2006 TCU finished 22nd in AP: 12-3 win over (8-5) Texas Tech (Leach), dominating win over 7-6 Northern Illinois in bowl. 2 losses early to #16 11-2 BYU and 8-5 Utah.
- 2007 Down year for TCU: 34-13 loss to eventual #10 @ (10-3) Texas, eventual #14 11-2 BYU, and 9-4 Utah. Those are "ok losses"; latter 2 very close games. Losses to 9-4 Air Force, and 5-7 Wyoming also followed. Not so great. Other than beating 8-5 Art Briles' Houston in a bowl no major wins. Beat a young Jim Harbaugh's Stanford (1st year) in Cali as well.
After a good 2005/2006 and a down 2007, Patterson finally had put TCU on the map and I assume at this point recruiting started to point up. He went on his best run - 4 dominant years with only 5 losses in that time.
- 2008 TCU finished 7th in AP: 31-14 win over Jimmy Harbaugh's 5-7 Stanford, 32-7 win over eventual #25 10-3 BYU, 17-16 win in bowl over then 12-0 Boise State. Losses were 35-10 in Norman, OK to eventual #5 12-2 Oklahoma and 13-10 to eventual #2 13-0 Utah. So 2 high quality losses.
- 2009 TCU finished 6th in AP: 14-10 win @ eventual #24 (9-5) Clemson, 34-7 win @ eventual #11 (11-2) BYU. 55-28 win @ eventual #18 (10-3) Utah. Only loss was 17-10 in rematch with #4 14-0 Boise State.
- 2010 TCU finished 2nd in AP: A typical win that year was ex 45-10 vs Art Briles' 7-5 Baylor. Bronco M's BYU was destroyed 31-3. Whittingham's top 25ish 10-3 Utah was punked 47-7. The only real test of the year was a win vs eventual #7 (11-2) Wisconsin in the Rose bowl, 21-19. The defense gave up 10 or less points in 8 of their games that year.
- 2011 TCU finished 14th in AP: The 2 losses were an opening weekend 50-48 loss to Briles' eventual #13 (10-3) Baylor and 8-5 June Jones SMU, 40-33 in OT. Boise State had joined the Mountain West by this time and TCU won 36-35 giving Chris Peterson's team its only loss of the season (BSU finished 6th in AP). TCU won its bowl vs an uninspiring 8-5 LA Tech.
So an overview of this era was a dominant Mountain West team. Excluding 2007, TCU had 8 losses in the other 6 years. Quality of competition was sometimes suspect as the main non conf foes were an up and down Baylor and Oklahoma, and a very good Boise State team in 2 epic bowl games. But this is the type of coach you take a chance on - one who dominates his competition in Urban Meyer fashion in non Power 5 conferences.
Next came entry into the Big 12 where the arguments against the Boise States, TCUs etc rang true. It is one thing to get your team up for 1-2 major non conference matchups and 1 bowl game. It is another to go through the meat grinder of a major conference week in and week out.
- 2012 TCU: Beat up a horrid Weiss led Kansas, and Virginia non conf. Got revenge on Art Briles at Baylor with a 49-21 win. Beat an average (7-6) West Virginia in double OT. Beat Mack Brown's 9-4 Texas (eventual #19 AP) 20-13. Most of the losses were actually ok outside of 6-7 Iowa State. 56-53 to 8-5 Texas Tech, 36-14 to 8-5 OK State, 23-10 to eventual #12 (11-2) KSU, 24-17 to eventual #15 (10-3) Oklahoma, and a bowl loss 17-16 to an average MSU.
- 2013 TCU: Wheels fell off this year. Looking at the stats higher up the page the offense completely disappeared in 2013; you can't be in the Big 12 and have a 100+ offense because so many teams score a ton of points in tha conference. The defense remained fine that year but the offense destroyed them. None of the wins were of note while many of the losses were to top 25 teams (LSU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas). Only real positive were only 2 losses were by more than 10 pts as the defense kept them in games.
The action in 2013 made a strong rebound year in 2014 very important. As noted above, Patterson demoted coordinators and is now adapting his offense for the conference. Combined with yet another great defense (currently #7 in the defense, albeit vs baby seals, Minnesota, and Oklahoma) it will be interesting to see what TCU does in the month ahead.
3-4 years ago Patterson was a home run candidate in many ways - but he never left TCU. His early years in the Big 12 were not great but I think the next 5 weeks are going to say a lot about how people view Patterson. That might seem strange for a coach with well over a decade of HC experience and multiple top 15 AP finishes but recency bias is very strong in this world. A 3-2 record over the next 5 games vaults TCU to 10-2ish in the Big 12 and removes any doubt about TCU (and Patterson) somehow being a creation of the Mountain West.
One must also allow that moving to a big conference lets Patterson upgrade his talent. It would be like if Cincinnati moved from wherever the heck they are (AAC) into the Big 10. Their lack of Big 10 "talent" (insert laughter here) would have them get beat up a lot for a few years but if they had the right coach (say Brian Kelly never left Cincy) by year 3-4 you'd expect them to start really competing. That is probably where TCU is now (and where Utah is getting to with Whittingham).
Most people think Patterson is older than he is since he has been at TCU a long time but at his age he has 10-13 good years in him. No different than getting Miles from LSU 6-7 years ago. He seems very wed to TCU and maybe impossible to pry away due to affinity for school and lifestyle, but at his salary and with his impressive resume, he certainly is the type of coach UM should be inquiring about if the Harbaugh Hail Mary's don't work out.
IMO, since Bo left, UM has often looked not at the strength of its leaders but their weaknesses. So, it has often chosen opposite, new leaders who lack these weaknesses, but who often also lack the strengths of their predecessors. And that has led to serious problems.
Consider first coaching. UM went from the defensively-principled, tough-as-nails Bo to the offensively-minded Moeller. But Moeller was perceived to have an alcohol problem, which he reportedly refused to get help for. So (regardless of the truth or falsity of this perception), UM turned to a man they perceived as more principled and intelligent Carr. Yet, when Carr’s record began to plateau, he was called too old and predictable. So, UM turned to the inventive spread-coach, RR. But his defensive incompetence then made UM go the opposite way. So, now UM is back to a defensive-minded but offensively disorganized Hoke.
In choosing its AD, UM also has seemed to choose each succeeding leader as the opposite of his predecessor. For example, under the cloud of scandal, the aggressive fund-raiser, Roberson was replaced as AD by his opposite: the less profit-minded, more flamboyant and humanistic Goss. Then, after Goss led the UM AD to the brink of financial ruin, UM chose the opposite once again: a quiet, out-of-touch financier named Martin. Ill-equipped for the myriad public relations disasters during the hiring and demise of RR, however, Martin himself was then also was replaced by a dramatically different type of AD: the publicity-seeking brand-maker Brandon. His public relations campaign seemed to work wonders at first. But the obsession with publicity and profit ended up making UM look far worse.
So what can we learn from the past forty years of UM’s athletic leadership choices? Most clearly they have taught us what not to do—that is, just choose the opposite type of leader from the one you have now. It does not work for very long. Why? When you choose a leader, he fills his program or department with one type of student or employee. But if you then fire him and choose just the opposite type of leader, there is no growth in the program. It is like putting matter together with anti-matter. If they collide, what do you get? They annihilate each other in a violent explosion. In an organization, that means turnover, disorganization, and chaos.
So, no matter how angry we feel sometimes, we should learn from past experience. We should recognize not just the bad in our past leaders and seek their opposites. We should also recognize the good in our past leaders, then search for new ones with their best characteristics. The toughness of Bo, the fire of Moeller, the inventiveness of RR, the intellect of Carr, the likeability of Hoke. The decision about whom we should choose now I leave to others, who are far more knowledgeable than me.
But IMO, only if we seek to see the Best in our own past Leaders can we hope to find the new Leaders and Best.
So, uh...who wants some wallpaper?
I didn't plan on making any wallpaper for the rest of this season for obvious reasons (my previous "Just Win" wallpaper could probably suffice), but then someone on the board said something that caught my eye. The thread has since been deleted, but it was titled "No Maize...Just Blue."
I think that line sums things up pretty well. This season has us all feeling blue, and coincidentally we will be sporting all-blue uniforms this week. If you want your desktop to be as depressing as Michigan football this is the wallpaper for you.
Reading all of the debate about the offensive line and the running game, I decided to do some research about the matter. I looked at the 2013 and 2014 YPC and adjusted them against the opponents YPC allowed. I also looked at sacks allowed, and compared them to the opponents average.
Note: I used YPC as a way to control for tempo, and it helps to find a common link between each game. For reference, I added the opponents rushing YPC rank along the y-axis. They are chronological-- CMU is the top and KSU is the bottom of 2013, and App State is the top for 2014.
To start with, I looked at Michigan's total YPC against each team. I then took this number and subtracted each opponents YPC allowed. I outputted this information into a graph, below. Values above 0 are good, values below 0 are bad.
The previous graph shows that out of our 13 games, we rushed better than the opponents average 6 times, and worse 7 times. However, only 2 times did we rush over 1 YPC more than the opponents average. On the flipside, 5 teams held us to 1 YPC less than their average or worse, with 2 teams obliterating us. It appears, IMO, that UCONN found our weakness and other teams after were able to capitalize.
Additionally, Minnesota (at 90th) and Indiana (at 117th) were poor run defense that shut us down. The final 2 games are a bit surprising. OSU can be chalked up to a rivalry game, or so I thought, but even with our backup QB we rushed decently against KSU (though only on 15 attempts).
The following graph shows the same data, but for this year. Some caveats apply: Only 6 games played thus far, with a large portion against poor teams, for instance.
From here, we can see that 2 teams have done better against us than their average, but not by nearly as much as 2013. Additionally, we have done a better job against the defenses we should, and even have an above average performance against what appears to be a good run defending team (Utah).
These numbers are subject to change throughout the season, but there appears to be a window for at least some hope.
Next, I looked at sacks allowed by our OL. Again, I subtracted the defenses average sacks from this number (adjusting it by taking out sacks against us). I did this here to get a view of how we stacked up against their other opponents.
Note: I also did these same graphs without adjusting (by taking out our sacks), and the charts are still roughly the same. The numbers skew a bit, but the trend is still there. Also, the numbers along the y-axis are the opponents rank for sacks per game.
The following graph is from 2013. Here, numbers below 0 are considered good, and numbers above 0 are considered bad.
Similar to the YPC chart, we started better and finished better, but struggled hard in the middle. We gave up an above average amount of sacks against teams ranked 100 and 103, and our best performance was against a team ranked 48. It is understandable to give up some sacks to Nebraska (20), but the amount is concerning. UCONN was the 100th team, by the way, again suggesing that they exposed a huge weakness.
The 2014 chart is next. This is subject to change much more, as the competition and small sample size make a more complete picture.
Thus far, the line appears to actually be doing a much better job of avoiding sacks, compared with how the opponents are playing against other teams. This is even against the 1st and 8th best teams as far as average sacks go. Utah, for instance, is averaging 5.6 sacks per game against everyone, and we "held" them to 4. Rutgers is averaging 4, and we "held" them to 3. Notre Dame is the lone exception this time, and I would contend that is more a product of having the lead that they did and didn't have to worry about us running nearly as much.
And lastly, I looked at a combination of the above. I took the sacks out of the rushing stats, and recalculated both our YPC and the opponents YPCA. The 2013 graph is shown below.
This actually looks worse to me. Now, we only have 4 performances above the average, and one just barely.
The 2014 one is next:
Here instead, we are now below average only once. Our rutgers performance is a bit weaker now, as is Utah, but the other performances are better than in the previous graph.
You are free to draw your own conclusions from these. There is obviously a lot more football to be played, but the early numbers are looking decent. We are running better against better defenses, and actually performing better than average against a couple aggressive defenses. I think the sacks above average might start getting closer to 0 as we move into conference play, but that will be something to keep an eye on.
If you have any suggestions, comments, criticism, etc., please feel free to share. If there is interest, I will try and update this post as the season continues (assuming I have the time to do so).
UPDATE: I have added in a similar analysis using sack percentage. Thank you for the suggestion. I have also done an analysis on YPC, and sack % after the first 6 games from last year as a comparison.
The first graph is for the 2013 sack percentage above average. Negative numbers are good while positive numbers are bad.
As you can see, we still have 6 good performances and 7 poor performances. Unfortunately, all games against an opponent worse than 100 we did poor against. And again, it looks like we had some flaws exposed, but this time it suggests we might actually have done something at the end to fix them. Whether that is scheme, or players just producing and developing, I cannot say.
The numbers so far for 2014 are shown now.
Here, we see that our Rutgers performance was worse than the first analysis shows, and the Minnesota numbers become average. I'm not worried about the average Minnesota numbers because it was just one sack. The Rutgers number scares me a bit more, but if you look at the context I'm not sure it should. We were playing a night game on the road, like against ND. This time, though, we allowed just one sack in the second half, and that was on our opening drive of the 2nd half. Yes, we don't want to give up 3 sacks on those few passing attempts, but just throughout the game we saw some improvement IMO.
Next, I looked at the sack percentage from 2013, but looked at just how our first 6 opponents faired in their first 6 games.
We can see from this that the trends stay mostly in line, surprisingly. The CMU game and the Akron games look better here than they end up, and the UCONN game looks worse. The other games stay about where they are.
Finally, I did the same YPC analysis above, where I took out sacks, and looked at the first 6 games.
What we see is that the first 2 games look better here (CMU and ND), as do the last 2 (Minnesota and PSU). The middle two stayed roughly the same. The game against ND shifted by about 1.25 YPC. I think that this shows that this isn't quite as good as it looked initially, but I don't want to make any sweeping conclusions here.
I wanted to add that I used data from cfbstats.com, and I got the rankings from teamrankings.com.
as the losses mount in Tuscaloosa and Columbus, it is firmly believed by many that Saban and Meyer are trying to get out of their gigs and look for something better
after Michigan finishes the season 3-9, everyone expects a wholesale change in the football program to occur quickly with the firing of Hoke and the hiring of a new coach
many people have connected these dots and have posited the following:
- Urban Meyer will be Michigan's new offesive coordinator
- Nick Saban will be Michigan's new defensive coordinator
this will be a major step up for both men inasmuch as they now will have to win without cheating.
this is widely held belief among coaching circles
what people are not clear about is who the new head coach will be. opinions range from Bill Belichik to Jon Gruden
these people, however, do not KNOW the future
THE KNOWLEDGE, on the other hand, knows not only the future, but also the information about the future
THE KNOWLEDGE has appeared again in this time of coaching uncertainty to reveal the future
the problem is that president Schlissel is a mole planted by a consortium of osu backers supported by a fund from the dead Steinbrenner, the osu booster who torpedoed Michigan's 2001 season and beyond by signing Drew Henson to baseball
thus, THE KNOWLEDGE can clearly reveal that these assumptions are wrong
in 2015, Michigan's AD will be David Brandon
in 2015, Michigan's football HC will be Brady Hoke
those that don't believe this don't understand anything about THE KNOWLEDGE
when these revelation come true as the passge of time makes the future the present, THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar and leave every doubter in a trail of dust