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
We threw out some CC's last week, some were more the board choices, and some were more mine. Let's look back at how the resumes of last week's candidates incrementally changed:
- Dave Doeren was a long shot to start as he is at a meh ACC school and was coming off a 3-9 1st year at NC State after 2 great years at NIU. But leading and then losing in a very competitive game with FSU 2 weeks ago helped his case. Unfortunately last week's 41-0 drubbing at Clemson hurt. I watched a good part of the 1st quarter where Clemson raced out to a big lead and NC State simply did not have the athletes. NC State will face a lot more teams more of their ilk the rest of the way but Doeren (as was stated in the review) is probably more of a post 2015 candidate not a post 2014 candidate.
- Butch Jones After a nice showing to Georgia last week, his Volunteers lose a snooze fest at home to a Florida team that is offensively challenged. The schedule lightens up late in the year but he still has Bama and Ole Miss to get through. They look to have 2 more guaranteed wins vs Chattanooga and Vanderbilt but an improving Kentucky team is no longer a guaranteed type win. So they have 2 wins, 3 tossups (SC, Kentucky, Missouri) and 2 very rough games ahead. (EDIT - originally had assumed Jones made $5M+ which did not make much sense for a guy who had only coached at a MAC school and then Cincinnati but readers below commented that it was incentive laden in year 1, which USA Today put in its database as >$5M for 2013, his base is closer to $3M) http://www.nooga.com/158907/breaking-down-new-ut-coach-butch-jones-contr...
- Todd Graham - well it required a hail mary on the last play of the game but guy just wins. This is going to be a very difficult year for ASU on defense with 9 new starters v 2013, and 3 of those being true freshman (imagine starting Brandon Watson, Chase Winovich, and Lawrence Marshall - that is what Graham is faced with). He also lost his starting QB the past 2 weeks. Dude goes into ranked USC - road game, with backup QB, and very challenged defense and wins. Michigan fan cannot even fathom that type of scenario. His BACKUP QB threw for 500+ yards after throwing for 600+ yards the previous week. ASU is very flawed on the defense this year after having the 2nd (2012) and 4th (2013) ranked Pac 12 defenses but still should have a decent season and is set up for a big 2015. Unlike Sumlin who thinks defense is optional, Graham has had 2 years of good defenses - this year won't be, so he has to win with offense. Road ahead remains tough with Stanford, Notre Dame, 'Zona!, Utah, the Flying Mike Leach's, Washington. I'd consider a 4-3 finish to the 4-1 start pretty darn good considering the youth of their defense.
- Dan Mullen obviously had the best week of the bunch with a win over (IMO an overrated) A&M. Sumlin's team plays defense in the vein of Rich Rod's teams of 2008-2010 i.e. none. That said it's a statement win for a coach that lacked them in his first 5 years at Miss State. Now he has 2 in back to back weeks. If Mullen's star rises while Florida continues to be meh, most believe Mullen will be headed back to UF. With the ascent of the 2 Mississippi teams the SEC West has gone from brutal to "just wrong". Still ahead - Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss (that's 3 of the top 8 teams in the nation per AP) Arkansas could be a trap game - and Kentucky, Vandy, and a baby seal round out the schedule.
I will be taking a closer look at Gary Patterson this week who has a gauntlet of his own in the next 5 weeks. Most likely he will be a TCU lifer but if he goes 4-1/3-2 in the next 5 weeks, I'd make the case UM should put im in the $5M club and bring him to the Midwest if Jim H is not coming and Graham/Mullen are not either.
Over three years ago, immediately after Dave Brandon announced the hiring of Brady Hoke as the new University of Michigan football coach, MVictors came out with what I consider to be the definitive summary of the Michigan fan culture. We were divided then, some of us acrimoniously, and with Michigan poised to begin another coaching search, the factions have begun to show their ugly faces again. There is less division now over whether the coach should go or stay, but who should take over, who is worthy to lead us out of the desert into the Promised Land, that is still very much a point of contention with many in the Michigan family.
For those of you who have been around here for awhile, this will look familiar. Brian featured it on UV after it came out. MGoShoe started a thread where you were able to share which faction you best fit into. If you’re new around here, I encourage you to click over to MVictors and check it out, because it’s really outstanding.
I didn’t bother to reassess the breakdown of each group, but certainly some clans have grown and some have shrunk. In 2011, here’s how the folks at MVictors saw things:
With Michigan poised on the cusp of what appears to be another change in leadership of the football program and perhaps the Athletic Department as a whole, it seems relevant to have a look another look at our collective culture and what value unite us and what ones separate us and remember that ultimately, we all want the same thing; for Michigan to win and be Michigan again.
They weren’t really in Hoke’s corner when he was hired, but liked his rhetoric and were impressed with his recruiting. Things looked encouraging when he went 11-2, but the gradual decline over the next 2.5 years is undeniable. These are the guys who bristle the most at all the Hoke hand-clapping and talk of toughness that never seems to make it to the field. They are aghast that Hoke allows David Brandon to micromanage the football program they way he does. They want Brandon gone yesterday and Hoke let go after this season is over and give Jim Harbaugh whatever he wants to come back to Ann Arbor.
Still pissed and their ranks are swelling. Feeling a bit vindicated that Hoke’s version of Manball has fallen flat. Chafed over watching Denard line up under center as Borges tried to hammer that square peg into that round hole. Apoplectic that a player of Devin Gardner’s caliber is being wasted doing the same thing. These guys want Hoke gone NOW! Want Brandon gone NOW! You saw a lot of them on the news last week marching around The Diag and the President’s Residence. These folks are the most annoyed with the Michigan Man meme and while they would accept Jim Harbaugh, believe he’s not coming and think somebody like Dan Mullen is a perfect guy to come in and finally move this program forward.
Corduroy Jacket w/Patch Clan
Feeling uneasy and a little put-out that Hoke hasn’t been successful and that Brandon continues to commit PR gaffe after PR gaffe. Michigan being dragged through the mud in virtually every national media outlet over Concussiongate is the worst thing ever. They just want this shit to go away and for everyone to get along again. Still, our future falls disproportionately in their hands right now, as we’re unsure if the head of this clan, President Schlissel, is up to the task of righting the ship.
In Rod We Trusted
As always, closely allied with The Rebellion, but their ranks have thinned with time. Also feeling vindicated watching Hoke fall flat while Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats sit atop the Pac-12 undefeated and sporting a sexy upset over Oregon. Annoyed with being right back we were in 2011 facing another coaching search and talking about viable candidates when they still believe that we could’ve avoided a lot of this if we had just given the man a fair chance to succeed. The next coach should be the best candidate for the job and anyone talking about Michigan Men should be taken out back and shot. Oh yeah, and fire Dave Brandon. Giving the collective finger to….
These are the only guys still firmly in Hoke’s corner, stubbornly insisting that he’s a good coach and will succeed at Michigan if just given time. They’re not happy with Dave Brandon and want to see him gone, but Hoke is their guy. Their ranks have been dwindling for years now, but unfortunately, since they mostly consist of Lloyd’s ex-players at this point, they have a lot of inside access to the program and are a serious challenge to any kind of wholesale culture change.
Cotton Pickin’ Blues
The biggest group and the biggest reason why Michigan Stadium looks so empty this year and the resale market for tickets is so poor. These fans have simply checked out. Dave Brandon has disenfranchised these folks with neutral site body bag games against Alabama, noodles, RAWK music and the general NFLization of the Michigan football experience. Done with Hoke as well, as this is not Michigan. Don’t really have a favorite replacement in mind, because, frankly, at this point, they just don’t care anymore. These are the folks that successors to Brandon and Hoke will have the work the hardest to get back.
They were 100% behind Hoke coming into this season and thought any talk of Hoke’s seat being warm or setting a win threshold on retaining him for his 5thseason was ludicrous. Have come to the sad conclusion in the past few weeks that things around Hoke have gotten just too toxic and his job is not salvageable. These guys don’t really have a preferred replacement in mind, they will back him no matter what, but they hope for an inspiring choice.
The Second Estate
These are the guys that are still firmly in Brandon’s corner. See Stephen Ross. Keep Hoke, fire Hoke. Whatever; Brandon knows best. Just as long as their access to the program is not affected, they will ultimately be satisfied. These folks would probably be the most wary of a strong coaching hire, like Jim Harbaugh, that might put their access in jeopardy.
The Decatur Clan
These folks are still somewhat in Hoke’s corner if only because what about the kids? These are the guys who came back to watch the finish of the Utah game who weren’t Utah fans (so yeah, not Ace). They bristle at pyrrhic talk of boycotts and public protests and want to believe beyond all hope that Hoke is going to right the ship, the light is finally going to come on for this team, and we will have our revenge against MSU and OSU. They haven’t considered a good replacement for Hoke, because a real Michigan fan wouldn’t have turned their back on this team while there is still season left. Will get behind whoever is hired once that decision / announcement is made.
"That's like trying imagine the distance to the sun," I said, responding to my wife asking me if I thought I could run a 2:37 marathon. "It's so far away from me, I can't even conceive of it." For the record, I have run two marathons. And both took me longer than 4:13.
I have said before and will say again: I love Brady Hoke. I think he's a great man, a great leader, and, to echo John Beilein, exactly the kind of man I'd want to coach my son. But he's not winning, and so he needs to go. Being a great man that can't get the right results isn't good enough in his chosen profession. That said, I expect he'll have success at whatever small school lands him, should he decide to keep coaching.
But at this point, imagining a scenario where he keeps his job is like trying to imagine me finishing a marathon in 2:37. Is it possible? I suppose so. Intense training, diet, and time commitment might make this achievable. But that objective is SO far away...
Is this guy a fit?
And so it's time to start seriously thinking about the next head football coach at the University of Michigan. I have endeavored to put together a somewhat comprehensive list of candidates. To be clear, I absolutley believe ANY of these names are possible hires. No coach will ever say publicly, during a season, that he is open to switching schools or changing jobs. It sends the wrong message to your staff, players, and fans, even if it's true. So here's the list, with brief pros and cons of each candidate. You can take these names and google them to learn more; as we get closer to the actual search, I will return with more detail on potential candidates. For now, we'll do simple letter grades of seven categories: Track Record, Michigan Ties, Recruiting, Chances/Loyalty, Demeanor, Three Phases, and Roster Fit, with a final OVERALL grade. I will do six coaches in Part I, but will follow-up with many more soon.
Jim Harbaugh, HC 49ers
- Track Record: A+. Requires no explanation.
- Michigan Ties: A. Played here but has burned some bridges.
- Recruiting: A+. Turned Stanford into a top-tier program in very short time.
- Chances/Loyalty: C. Will he leave the NFL without a ring? He's not happy in San Fran, but may be too competitive to quit without the trophy(s). That said, if he came to Michigan now, I doubt he would leave.
- Demeanor: B. Fiery competitor who wants to win. Gets the most of out his players, but is extremely demanding and controlling. Does not answer to anyone.
- Three Phases: A+. Highly successful with all three phases of the game.
- Roster Fit: A+. For both scheme and attitude, I doubt there are very many guys on this roster Jim wouldn't have recruited himself.
- OVERALL: A. If we could get him, this is perhaps the best possible scenario. Would his competitve desire take him back to the NFL? Could he get along with U-M powers that be? These are legitimate questions, but his success on the field makes them tertiary concerns.
John Harbaugh, HC Ravens
- Track Record: A. Does not have much of a college resume, but the guy has won the superbowl, been to the playoffs in 5 of 6 seasons, and is 9-4 in the playoffs.
- Michigan Ties: A. Did not play at Michigan, but has close family ties.
- Recruiting: A. Yes, this is a guess, as John hasn't coached in college since '97 with Indiana, so we have no real evidence. But being able to flash a superbowl ring at a recruit can't hurt.
- Chances/Loyalty: B. Already has his ring and is rumored to be upset with Baltimore's handling of the Ray Rice fiasco. Would likely finish his career at U-M if hired.
- Demeanor: A. Not quite as competitive as his brother, but also not quite as much of a dick. Known as a great motivator and tactitian.
- Three Phases: B+. Has always had good defenses, but offense has generally been middle-of-the-pack. Was a special teams coach from '88-'07 (until he became a HC).
- Roster Fit: A+. Glove-like fit for the current players.
- OVERALL: A. While not as fiesty as his younger bro, John may be the better fit. He even sounds like a college coach.
Les Miles, HC LSU
- Track Record: A-. Has a MNC ring. Has been a consistent, Carr-like performer in the SEC West, with many good years but only one undefeated conference season.
- Michigan Ties: A+. Played and coached at U-M.
- Recruiting: A. Has been one of the best, but would he be just as good in the B1G?
- Chances/Loyalty: B. At 60, is he still interested in moving? Again, if hired, he almost certainly finishes his career in Ann Arbor.
- Demeanor: B-. Rumors that his arrogance has led his astray. Not sure his morality is tolerable for U-M fans.
- Three Phases: B+. Has had loads of success in all three phases, but many questionable clock management choices. Loves to gamble, and his players love that.
- Roster Fit: A. Miles tends to adapt to his roster, and there is plenty of talent for him at Michigan.
- OVERALL: A-. He's an older coach with questionable ethics, but he checks all the other boxes almost perfectly. FWIW, I don't want him.
Todd Graham, HC Arizona State
- Track Record: B+. Was great at Tulsa and appears to have turned ASU into a contender in a tough PAC-12 South.
- Michigan Ties: D. Has coached at West Virginia and one season at Pitt, but spent the rest of his life (before ASU) living and coaching in Texas and Oklahoma.
- Recruiting: A-. Is getting some great talent in a competitive area at a crap school, but no real midwest ties, and may have burned some bridges in one-year stop at Pitt.
- Chances/Loyalty: C+. I think he would come if offered the job. I also think he would leave if a good SEC team hired him away.
- Demeanor: B. Southern style might not fit the midwest. Gives glory to God in post-games. Has heavy accent.
- Three Phases: A-. Defensive coach that has overseen top offesnes at ASU with limited talent.
- Roster Fit: C+. Spready-spread offense would require some serious tweaking with current personnel.
- OVERALL: B. A good coach who would probably come if offered the job with no ties to U-M and no real ties to the area. Is he a fit at Michigan?
Jim McElwain, HC Colorado State
- Track Record: B+. Limited resume as HC, but great success at virtually every stop as assistant, most recently as 'Bama's OC.
- Michigan Ties: B+. Has coached at Louisville and Michigan State; good friends with Doug Nussmeier.
- Recruiting: B-. This is really a question mark, as CSU is hardly a good place to recruit. Has not pulled in top talent there, but previous stops had great recruiting.
- Chances/Loyalty: B+. Would almost certainly take the job, and would probably stay unless hired away by 'Bama.
- Demeanor: B-. Quiet, nice guy who gives 60-minute press conferences every week. Not a great speaker, and not sure of him as a motivator, but he seems to get the most out of his players.
- Three Phases: B. Offensive coach whose defenses are okay. Need more data.
- Roster Fit: A. Uses multiple formations and lots of zone blocking; similar to Nuss. Not sure whom he would hire on defense.
- OVERALL: B. Is there any passion there? Not a great public speaker. Might fit best at smaller school, but is an up-and-coming coach that will probably get his chance as a bigtime HC someday.
Craig Bohl, HC Wyoming
- Track Record: B+. Three consecutive NCs at FCS North Dakota State. On Nebraska staff during their last great years in 90's. Can he cut it in the big-time?
- Michigan Ties: C+. No Michigan ties, but coached at Wisconsin and Nebraska.
- Recruiting: B+. Who knows? Did a great job at North Dakota State, often beating-out smaller FBS schools, but still incomplete data here.
- Chances/Loyalty: B. Would probably take the job, but may leave if Nebraska offered.
- Demeanor: B. At 56, Bohl seems like a pretty reserved guy in front of the press, but obviously gets the most out of his teams. Seems like a good fit in Fort Schembechler.
- Three Phases: B+. Defensive, 4-3 coach who wants power football. Wants to be MSU, basically.
- Roster Fit: A. MANBALL coach is a great fit for our roster.
- OVERALL: B. An older guy who may not want to leave Wyoming after just one season, but was one of the best FCS coaches ever. Seems like a great fit at U-M, even though he has no real Michigan ties.
Coming soon: Dan Mullen, Scott Frost, Teryl Austin, Pat Narduzzi, Greg Schiano, Gary Patterson, Bob Stitt, Chad Morris, Mark Hudspeth, Kirby Smart, Tom Herman, Doug Nussmeier, Matt Wells.
Shop Smart Shop pointed out in a thread that there were only 10 players on the field during a punt against Rutgers but I didn't see any definitive screen shots on that thread so I thought that I'd use MGoVideo's video to grab some for the benefit of the board (GoBLUinTX usefully pointed out the key moment).
Here's the key image, labelled (click all images to embiggen in a new window). Norfleet is off the screen (I don't think that the ref is Dennis Norfleet).
Here are two shots from the end zone immediately before the punt (the clock isn't running because Michigan had called a time-out):
Just before the punt, the camera angle changes:
and with labels:
Just before the punt, Delonte Hollowell (#24, my number 3) moves to help out with the gunner on the top of the screen (the boundary) and Rutgers punts:
With labels (numbers are the same as above):
And here's the 11th player running onto the field late just before the punt, early in the 3rd quarter (the ball was punted at 12:58):