From Portage Northern.
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It was sometime around 11pm on Saturday night that I suggested on Twitter that someone try to turn Brian off, the way Princess Leia did to C3PO in the second movie. And even then, in his barely coherent ramblings, he was still the voice of the fan base. There are no words to describe how bad of a woodsheddin' that was. Or are there? Perhaps the most accurate description I read was in the live blog when BIGOZZY86 stated that it "feels like I'm watching a pet die."
Yep, that will definitely be how I remember it, with Musberger's cloyingly saccharine voice reading it back to me for the rest of eternity...
"THE COWBOYS CLASSIC: LIKE WATCHING A PET DIE."
As for the Blockhams, they'll move on. Just as we will. I'm over this, to the point that having to draw this dug back up bones that I'd since buried sometime in the wee Sunday morning hours. We're moving on, and so will the Blockhams. Probably by about, ahh, Thursday.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog,
and at least every Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to
check out Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
Preseason Prediction (Obviously made before the game): Michigan will end the year with a +8 Turnover Margin (TOM) or better (2011 was +7). Fumble recovery rates which were excellent last year (77% for takeaway and 65% for giveaway) will be closer to the average of 50%. BUT, very good teams have good TOM and M is a very good team this year. In addition, DRob will significantly reduce his interceptions thrown and the experience in the secondary will increase interceptions gained.
Random?: ZooWolverine did an excellent post on the Year-To-Year Correlation of Turnovers. I agree with the conclusions that year-to-year correlation is poor. But, that does not indicate that turnovers themselves are random. I have been analyzing TOs since 2009 (with data going back to 1998 for all FBS teams) and have concluded that TOs are a reflection of the performance of each team (good teams will have better TOMs than poor teams). So, if you had a poor team last year (2010 for M) and a very good team the next year (2011 for M) there should not be a correlation of TOM from year to year. My prediction for TOM for M for this year is based on the prediction that M will be a very good team again this year and is not based on the actual TOM of last year. (Very good teams will have a TOM of +5 or better.)
Uh, yea: Hysterical conclusion is that M is on track for a TOM of –26 for the year! A more reasonable conclusion is that any analysis of anything based on a single game is just silly. My analysis of turnovers has led me to the conclusion that TOs are not random – instead, TOs are a reflection of the relative performance of the teams playing the game. It is obvious that Alabama was a much better team than M and therefore I would expect that Alabama would also win to TO battle.
Synopsis for Turnovers: M ended the game with a TOM of -2. This was a strange game because there were 2 meaningless TOs. Gordon recovered a fumble forced by Taylor on the last play of the half and Bellomy threw his first interception with 1:26 left in the game. These offset each other and did not distort the TOM. Both TOs by M were interceptions by DRob. Whoever decided it was a good game plan to have Denard go back and throw the ball as high and as far as he could (he had actually regressed last year on passes over 15 yards) must have been smoking something.
Synopsis for Expected Point (EP) Analysis: TOs obviously did not impact which team won the game but TOs did significantly impact the margin of victory. Without TOs, M would have lost by approximately 19 points instead of 27. I always thought Michigan would have to play their best game in the Hoke era and end up with a +2 TOM to win this game.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: It's only one game so don't get too excited or too panicked. All rankings are from TeamRankings except for forced fumbles which is from CFBStats. The four columns with *** show the best correlation to offense and defense (per Advanced NFL stats).
The Gory Details
Details for Turnovers: Here is overall summary for all games by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the line of scrimmage for the offense. Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained. Each turnover may result in an immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down when the TO occurred, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
Take a look at DRob's second interception. It was 3-9. Therefore, even if the TO had not occurred (i.e. the pass was incomplete), M would still have given up possession on the next play because they would have punted. The result is that M did not lose any EP. Alabama ran the interception back for a TD and obviously gained 7 EP. But, Alabama would have gotten the ball anyway and would have had a chance to score. Based on a net punt of 36 yards, Alabama would have gotten the ball at the M45 which results in 3.07 EP. Thus, the net EP gain for Alabama is 3.93 and the net differential is 3.93 EP.
If it had been 2-9, M would not have necessarily given up the ball (they still had 3rd down to make a first down). In that case, the TO would result in a loss of 1.02 EP (the probability of scoring from your own 3 yard line is fairly low but not zero). And, the net differential in that case would be 4.95 EP.
The expected point calculations are based on data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau's data reflects all offensive possessions played in 2007-2011 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.
Its afternoon in the homeroom and they're about to let you go.
And the locker slam on the plan you had tonight.
You’ve been messing around with a boyfriend maybe better left alone.
There's a wise guy that you know could put you right.
Michigan football, we seemed prepared. The hype was there. The players, the Team. If we made such outlandishly long strides during Brady Hoke’s first season, the bounds and leaps we must have taken since the Sugar Bowl could encompass the house that Jerry built. Michigan football is back to the glory it experienced last in the late 90’s. Of course, everyone knew that if Alabama played their best game, they would be very difficult to beat. Just like the seniors guys in high school, the good-looking, football players, they could prey upon sophomore girls with flashy smiles and high-fives. We would be left to clean up the scraps and handle the left-overs.
The game started and the defense took the field. Lacy rush for 2 yards. Defense looked fast. Flying to the ball. Bama incomplete pass. The defense was there anyway. Third down. Good push on defense, two Wolverines, including Jake Ryan, force the throw to…not sure if that’s intentional grounding, but lord knows we get some no-calls our way sometimes. Bama lines up to punt. At this point, I knew we were going to win.
When Bama got the ball back, I was feeling good. So far, our defensive line, the thing I was most concerned about, was seeming to get a pretty strong push against one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Then, Alabama marched down the field, gaining 38 yards on the ground and 23 through the air. The only play during this drive that Alabama didn’t move forward was a false start. The locked slammed. Alabama was the wise guy, and I knew that he was going to put me right. My mind was racing. Maybe we shouldn’t have scheduled a neutral site game against Bama. How come we aren’t playing directional Michigan. Where is Miami(NTM)? We are playing with the big boys now, and we are in for some ...Adult Education.
In the lot the boy that's idling by doesn’t' rev your heart.
Cause it's only lonely spots he shares with you.
And the long halls and the gray walls are gonna split apart.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
Another three and out for Michigan. Bama gets the ball. Countess goes home. A man opens our locker door again, only to slam it back shut. Bama gets the ball back. Courtney Avery slips. 51 yard TD for Bama. It’s only the first quarter, the game is clearly not over, but as I stand in this parking lot and watch the chances slip away. The single barrel knob creek goes back on the shelf. The Jack Daniel’s comes out. We are on a path right now, and it is dark, and colorless. My buddy calls, one who asked if “I really thought that Michigan has a chance to beat Alabama.” He reminds me “its only the first game.” We had nothing to lose, remember. Nobody (except Mayweather and the rest of the Michigan faithful) thought we had any chance of beating Bama. We were going to show them wrong, it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. Believe it or not, however, the season moves on. It is Monday* already, and that means there are only five days of practice before we get a chance to put some of these pieces back where they belong.
The student body’s got a bad reputation.
What they need is adult education.
Back to school it's a bad situation.
But what you want is an adult education.
Michigan fans, you know, their the worst. Arrogant. Self-entitlement. Haven’t been good for years and still act like nobody can stop us. Similar to becoming an upperclassmen. We own this campus, right? We own it by right, and because the school song says so. “Leaders and the best.” We’ve paid our dues. The Rich Rod years, the under-performing talent from Carr’s final years. Michigan is back, FERGODSAKES. Who can match the style and character of the Wolverines. Certainly, as we get our faces stomped on by a team that is clearly better than us, I held my head high, mostly thanks to the Jack Daniel’s that seemed to be leaving my glass faster than I could refill it. I knew we weren’t going to win, I just refused to believe my own knowledge.
Bama continued to score, and have our way with us on both sides of the ball. Every time Denard threw the ball, I closed my eyes and cringed a bit. I have faith in Denard, I have faith in him winning games that it seems that Michigan has no right in winning. The magic wasn’t there. It was disappointing, especially because of the national spotlight.
The teacher don't know about how to deal with the student body.
And the underclassmen are flashing hot and cool.
All your girlfriends care about the watch you wear and they're talking about it.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
The Uniforms. I have come to realize that under the current regime (Dave Brandon), the uniforms will be messed with. I know, I know, tradition, blah blah blah. I get it. Don’t change what’s not broken. I have played football in several different uniforms. Never once while I was playing did I think “hmm, this piping on my sleeve is really hampering my ability to compete at a top level.”
By now, it was half-time, and my head was throbbing. All the adrenaline I had started the game with had been slammed up in that locker at the start of the game. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted Bama to stop running the ball. It was painful to watch. The coaches, I could tell that they thought we were ready. They thought they had the plan, they thought they knew. A quote from Mattison popped in to my head. “When you’re pressuring, if a guy like Denard is taking off, it makes it look like it’s not a very good defense sometimes, but you can’t gear everything towards stopping Denard. That’s what we on defense have to always talk about. We have to get ready for the season. We can’t worry about what he’s doing to us.” Does this mean our defense isn’t ready?. Boy is it frustrating.
They're calling it a preparation.
You’re waiting for a separation.
You’re nothing but another odd number,
Memories that you wont remember.
So you got a little education.
And a lot of dedication.
But you want a little night school.
Maybe some of it will rub off on you.
The boys are busy in the mirrors.
Trying to imitate their heroes.
You make it with a false surrender.
More memories you wont remember.
The senior with the junior missus
I wonder what the junior wishes.
That she could graduate to adult.
That she could graduate to adult kisses.
This game, it was a measuring stick for us. As I said before, of course I thought we were going to win. Or show up. Or compete well even after the game was over. It is just so incredibly frustrating that we didn’t play our best game. I don’t know if we would have won. I don’t know if we would have been able to keep it close. But at least, if we had showed up and not had our locker slammed shut, we would have had a chance to use the measuring stick and see where we were at. I won’t remember, at the end of the season, how the Alabama gouged use for an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Yeah, we learned a bit about where we stand next to, potentially the best team this year. But just like when I was in high school, I refuse to believe what I learned, only that we aren’t there yet.
At the end of the night, I was moderately toasted. The glass I was drinking my Jack Daniel’s from had been replaced by the bottle itself. I stared at myself in the mirror, knowing now what my identity was but still refusing to believe it. False surrender, that is what I am showing. I will tell my friends, of course we were going to lose to Bama, they are good at football, very good. But it’s lies. I didn’t think we could lose. I knew we were going to win. The world was going to be shocked. Michigan stamped its foot down last year, as if to remind the country that they are still relevant. Alabama serves as a healthy reminder that we are rebuilding, not rebuilt.
I would like to relate a story to you from 2006. Ball Sate, coached by Brady Hoke, came to the big house. Michigan was currently undefeated. The Cardinals managed to barely lose to Michigan, causing one of Mike Hart's only fumbles of ever (it was counted as a safety, not a fumble). There was a facebook group started called "We made the Big House go quiet." (Facebook was still cool then, yo.) Nate Davis's final desperation heave fell incomplete, and we went home with a loss, and the spirits were high. We would go on to finish that season 5-7, winning both games after we played Michigan. However, Monday morning, Coach Hoke adressed the team. He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season. This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."
I understand that playing Alabama, there was no moral victory. I am proud of the way our players continued to try, long after the game was over. Dennis Norfleet, Devin Gardner, there are certainly positives we can take from this. Jordan Kovacs said it best though.
We can't let Alabama beat us twice
This Saturday my grad school alma mater will be playing my undergrad alma mater and as I prepare to enter Michigan stadium in enemy colors(undergrad trumps grad school in my opinion) I figured I’d give a perspective on the game from a fan of both teams.
I’m starting out with this poster for no better reason than I think it’s cool.
For those who missed it the first time around, this is a quick primer I wrote back in the spring explaining how Academy football works and the basics have not changed although I didn’t write enough about Cody Getz at running back(I think he was hurt during the Spring):
Academy traditions at football games(a.k.a. cheers, flyby’s and songs):
First off, the flyby’s. Yes, I expect them to be good given the high profile of this game. Typically the best flyby’s are reserved for the games with the most public/high ranking officer visibility. So as long as the weather isn’t completely awful, we should be set for a strong set of flyby’s with a variety of aircraft. That said these things are unpredictable so don’t hold it against me if all we get is a FedEx 737(this actually happened at one game when I was a cadet). Speaking as a former pilot, flyby’s are fun as hell and I am sure there is a long line of pilots who would LOVE to do a flyover of the Big House. If there’s any interest I can provide a high-level explanation of how a flyby is ,er, um, flown in the comments section.
Typical Cheers(not that I expect these to be heard):
AIR! FORCE! Is the main call and response cheer done between fans on opposite sides of the stadium.
On Academy first downs the Drum and Bugle Corps(better known as Beat and Blow) will play a quick drum beat that the cadets will sing along to saying, “Another Falcon First Down!” on repeat. Those of you sitting close to the cadets should probably expect to wonder if you’re hearing another F-word in place of the Falcon.
After the game:
After every game whether home or away the team will gather in front of either the cadet section or the visitor’s section and sing the third verse of the Air Force song. This is done every game win, lose, or draw and I’m sure Michigan will make every effort to accommodate it. Still if y’all notice someone being a jackwagon at the end of the game about it, please do me a favor and shut them the hell up.
What the Idaho St. game should tell you: Not much that you didn’t already know. The offense will probably provide some trouble for Michigan’s D, the defense is probably going to have its hands full with Denard and co. As others have observed from the highlights of the Idaho St. game some of the giant spaces that Getz, Dietz, and co. are running through against Idaho St. won’t be there against Michigan. However, Air Force is disciplined enough to run the offense without getting a ton of big plays and take what the defense gives them. The D did shut down Idaho St. for the first half and was fairly aggressive, I think the second half “collapse” was reflective of calling off the dogs scheme-wise as well as a young defense losing concentration against a perceived inferior opponent. That said no-one sane expects them to slow down Michigan’s offense very much.
Air Force’s general gameplan for all opponents: On offense run the Triple option, with Wing T concepts, in a hurry up style. Use the run to set up the pass and basically bring in play action to act as a “fourth option”. The offense at its best runs through a quarterback making multiple reads to make individual defenders wrong no matter what they do. This probably sounds familiar. The Defense has a bend but don’t break philosophy in which they try to limit big plays by the opposition and bait the other team into a mistake. While this sounds good in theory and can result in days like the bowl game against Houston in which Air Force made Case Keenum look dumb, in practice it often leads to 3 man rushes against a secondary giving up large cushions. This should also sound familiar. Overall, think a less talented Michigan 2010, but with an offense that’s not as much of a turnover-fest and a defense that is not being run by a stuffed Beaver.
Prediction: I’m starting to think this one will look like a shootout through the first three quarters until Michigan finally pulls away as Air Force’s D just can’t slow Michigan down and Michigan doesn’t make enough mistakes to keep Air Force in the game. Michigan 45- Air Force 31
Tackling Technique: A tale of two coaching staffs.
I have spent the last two seasons looking at tackling technique. You can find my review of 2010 here.
What I found was that as a team, we sucked at it; We tackled poorly as LB's, we tackled poorly in space, we tackled poorly as a team.
The idea is simple enough; no tackling = no defense = Lots of points./yards and anguished Brian screams.
A change in coaching staff brought a breath of fresh air, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
As we all know, our defense was astoundingly better this year, the question I found myself asking was 'exactly what is the difference?".
A quick review of good tackles vs. missed tackles vs. missed bad form tackles:
(Made Tackles - Missed Tackles) / (1 + Bad Form Tackles)
- Calculating this way makes the bad form tackles have an extremely large effect on your number. Essentially, miss and it will decrease. Miss badly and it will decrease a lot.
- The idea here is that any number greater than 1 is a solid indicator that this player brought down more than they missed, and if they missed it more than likely is due to being beat athletically not technically.
- This also has an indirect correlation to who made the most tackles.
(Made Tackles) / (Made Tackles + Missed Tackles)
- This score is a true representative of how likely it is a player will bring the ball carrier down when presented with a tackling opportunity.
To the data.
2011 Tackling Efficiency:
2011 Season: Blue,
2011 B10 Season: Maize
2010 Season: Grey
2011 Tackling Percentage
What to draw from this is that we tackled a LOT better in space. . You will notice that we no longer essentially depended on Martin, Demens or Kovacs to bring down the ball carrier. This is a good thing.
Also, our dependence on our front 7 to make tackles has decreased, which is due to our secondary bringing down ball carriers in the open field.
This might seem like a baseless claim:
Percentage by Position:
Efficiency by Position:
Our CB's and DB's all had significant increases in both percentage and efficiency.
The breakdown by year.
As you can see, our freshman turned the corner early and our upperclassmen came to play.
Take home points and observations.
- Kovacs is the lynchpin of this defense. He has progressed steadily since 2010, and having a second year in system I would not be surprised to see him win All B10 honors.
- Tackling wise, Morgan improved a lot over the season. He should be a very good linebacker in the future, especially adding muscle in the off season. When he got beat, he invariably got beat athletically.
- Thomas Gordon is a good one. Extremely solid in run support. My only concern here is that both Gordon and Kovacs are solid run stoppers but lack elite speed to be a true FS. Would like to see Kovacs roll up to nickel back and test Marvin Robinson at the FS on 3rd and 6+. This would allow Kovacs to blitz closer to the line as well.
- I really like Courtney Avery. Dude just plays with a nose for the football.. he is the defensive backfield equivalent of Jake Ryan.
- Jake Ryan plays like his hair is on fire. Love this dude. (Blasphemous to insinuate the flow is flamable.) He needs to learn to turn his ballistic missle technique into a heat seaking missle technique.
- Demens will be a solid B10 linebacker. While I think that Bolden and Co. have a higher ceiling, I think that Demens will be the solid Mike we have been looking for for a solid 4 years.
- JT Floyd. Hot damn. While it seems that he still shies a little bit away from contact, he also is tackling a lot better.
- All our first year players played above their heads. It would stand to reason that they might regress a bit in year two. However, our Freshman were (with the exception of Ryan ) true freshman. This leaves me hope that they can also potentially take a large step as their bodies catch up to their abilities.
- I am not as worried as most about our defensive line. While they will be missed, if the front 4 can just occupy the front 5 of whoever, we will be in great shape.
Breakout Defenders for 2012:
- Clark (I know)
- Totally baseless speculation: Richard Ash will have an impact this year.
Update: I've posted new wallpapers with the correct schedule.
I didn't expect a win against Alabama but I'd hoped for something a little less embarrassing. I needed a wallpaper palate cleanser so I disassembled last week's wood-themed wallpaper and used the scraps to build this schedule with retro-ized opponent helmets rendered in my 3D stadium.
I hope this will get you through a couple of weeks. I'm going to disappear for awhile but will return with new artwork for one or two of the rivalry games. I have some fun things planned including that ambitious project I mentioned at the end of last season.
Follow me on Twitter @thearttheart for updates.
The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.