somehow we're only 124th
Before the season started, most pundits and fans figured we were either an 8-4 or 9-3 team. We were going to lose to MSU and probably OSU too; Notre Dame was a tossup, and there was probably going to be one unexpected loss in there as well somewhere. My prediction fell along these lines; at the time, it felt safe.
These assumptions were based on an analysis of “on paper” talent and experience, an apparent upgrade to a more rational, constraint-based offensive scheme, promises of a more aggressive defensive scheme better suited to the conference’s growing number of spread offenses, and the overall weakness of the Big 10. So we had our reasons, and they appeared to be good ones. Granted, the pessimists among us thought we were naïve; they suggested Michigan was more likely to go 7-5.
Now we sit at 3-4, having lost to Notre Dame but also Utah, Minnesota and Rutgers (yes, Rutgers). Our run offense has improved somewhat, but pass protection is a mess, while Gardner has seemingly regressed in the new system. Meanwhile, our defense has been good but not the elite squad we hoped for: we are better against the run than we were a year ago, but still mediocre at best against the pass. Oh, and our -11 turnover ratio spells DOOM. For comparison’s sake, we had a -2 turnover margin through the end of October 2013; we neither protecting the ball well enough on offense nor generating enough turnovers on defense. This is why we are bad.
Looking forward, 8-4 is still not impossible, but it’s so unlikely that it might as well be. The prospects for 7-5—that dreaded repeat of 2013—are moderately higher, but unless there’s some appreciable improvement (particularly in the turnover department), we won’t win in Evanston—let alone East Lansing or Columbus. As Seth recently said, this team may struggle to end up 6-6. Going 5-7 or worse is no longer unimaginable.
To illustrate, the predictive model I presented last time initially suggested we’d win 8.65 games. If you replace the predictive probabilities with the actual outcomes (0 or 1) for all games up to this point, it now suggests we’ll win 6.13. That’s still dependent on those preseason probability assessments, all of which look too rosy now. If I were to reassess them, the equation outputs 5.05 wins, with Indiana and Maryland the most likely. But even those games come with question marks—Maryland especially, given their WRs and our inability to cover WRs.
Using my Alien/Aliens based metaphor, we are clearly:
5. Alien Resurrection
Metaphor: Directed by the supremely talented Jean-Pierre Jeunot and featuring a screenplay by Joss Whedon—what could possibly go wrong? Nearly everything, that’s what. As Whedon later said: “It wasn't a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines...mostly...but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They… just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.”
Scenario: 7-5 or worse. Our defense is not as good as expected and/or our offense is as bad or worse than last year. Coach: meet hot seat. Athletic Director: meet pitchforks.
.15. Not outside the realm of possibility, but I’m also just not seeing this as very plausible either. Hard to see this turning out any other way at this point.
Maybe I was wrong--dead wrong--about how many games we won, but is this not a perfect description of our football team? We execute everything wrong, Devin is cast wrong, we have piped-in RAWK instead of the band scoring our home games, we say things wrong, and, at least twice this year, we have played unwatchable football. Obligatory image of the Springfield Tire Fire:
A Eulogy for the Brady Hoke Era
I'm genuinely sad about Brady Hoke's career trajectory. Everything started with such promise--sure there was a lot of talk about "running power," but it was all talk. Hoke was a "whatever works" guy, even if that meant (smartly) retaining most of Rich Rodriguez's offense. He said all the right things, gambled at the right time, brought in a dizzying array of top recruits, and oversaw a defensive transformation from worst-in-the-country to top 3 in the conference. We even won a BCS game, the first since Tom Brady led that epic comeback against Alabama in 1999/2000. Plus there was this:
Even going 8-5 in 2012 was understandable, since 4 of those losses came to the AP's final #1, 3, 4 and 8 teams--none of whom we played at home--and we were competitive in 3/4. It wasn't 11-2 with a BCS game, but at least we could hold our heads up high. Then the wheels started to come off against Akron last year, and almost nothing's gone right since. No need to recap--we all know the score at this point.
Bottom line, I'm grateful to Brady Hoke for the good memories, and am genuinely sad that it hasn't worked out. But without a roadmap to future success, with serious questions as to whether this staff can develop recruits, and with most of us tired of and frustrated with this seemingly endless sojourn in football purgatory, it's absolutely, 100% time to move on. Now.
My CC Wish List
At this point, the most important question is whether we are also Notre Dame 2.0. Not Notre Dame right now, but the Notre Dame of the post-Holtz/pre-Kelley interregnum—a brand-name program that can’t seem to translate top recruiting classes into consistent win percentages. They went through three, not two, bad coaching performances (Davie, Willingham and Weis) before finally settling on a guy (Kelley) who appears capable of consistently translating recruiting classes into wins. So are we going to find our Brian Kelley, or are we going to end up with our Charlie Weis?
With the urgency of preventing the latter of happening, I’d like to present a set of parameters that I’d hope would guide the next coaching search.
NOTE: this is not meant as a list of "musts." It's a wishlist, i.e. the things I'd, ideally, like our next coach to do. I do not necessarily expect our next coach to fulfill all of them. Actually not many realistic candidates fulfill all of them. However, these are the things I would look for, were I the one conducting the search.
1. Hire someone with a clear track record of “coaching up” recruits.
At this point I think we can all agree that our current staff’s main deficiency is its inability to turn highly-rated recruiting classes into highly-ranked football teams—most obviously on the OL, but at safety, RB and arguably WR as well. This is not something unique to Michigan: Texas has had the same problem for years, as have Tennessee, Florida and USC on a shorter-term basis (see also: ND prior to the Kelly hire, Nebraska prior to the Pelini hire, Washington between James and Sarkesian, etc.).
Clearly being a football “blue-blood” with a natural recruiting advantage does not automatically ensure on the field success. I’d also argue that it’s significantly more important than pulling in highly-rated recruiting classes: look at Dantonio and Bielema, who have both been able to get the most out of recruits other schools passed over. I’m not saying we ignore recruiting evaluations or go for the same 2-stars as Wisconsin—just that we stress a track record of player development over other considerations in our coaching search. Put another way, finding a guy who can consistently turn 4/5 star recruits into high-level performers should be our #1 priority. Everything else is secondary.
Prioritizing this, of course, would likely preclude us from hiring a coordinator without head coaching experience, as OCs and DCs don’t have experience building staff. That doesn’t mean an OC or DC couldn’t do a great job developing talent, but rather that we are no longer in a position to take that kind of a risk.
2. Hire someone who takes a non-ideological approach to coaching (and especially offense)…
I get that this site includes a number of “spread zealots,” and I do like spread offenses (more on that later) but I’m weary of zealotry and its ancillary effects at this point. Lots of different offensive schemes can and do work in the FBS, and zealotry at the coaching level seems to always come with strange manifestations of stubbornness—at least at Michigan.
One thing I loved about Brady Hoke in the beginning was how, despite all the talk about “toughness” and “power,” he and Borges ran what was in essence a continuation of Rich Rodriguez’ speed-oriented spread-to-run offense. The wheels started to come off as soon as we moved away from “whatever fits our personnel” to “let’s pretend our athletic, dual-threat quarterback with accuracy issues is Tom Brady in the 1990s because this is Michigan fergodsake RUN POWER.” There are other reasons for our decline since the final whistle of Notre Dame 2013, of course, but this is a big one.
So essentially I want a coach who isn’t ideologically committed to things going a certain way, but is rather flexible and open-minded about how to use what you’ve got and build what you don’t. Though he’s fundamentally a spread-to-run guy, look at how Urban Meyer has run the offense in Columbus—or if that example rankles, consider Oklahoma under Stoops, Les Miles at LSU or Jim Harbaugh in transition from Stanford to the 49ers. These are all guys who take a flexible approach to offense, and have enjoyed success with different on-paper skillsets from the roster. We could learn from that.
[On the defensive side, see: Rodriguez’ bizarre insistence on the 3-3-5 regardless of staff or personnel.]
3. …but who does have a systematic approach to offense.
Being non-ideological about offense does not mean you have run grab-bag offenses with a lot of plays and no cohesion. I want someone who understands and runs the Constraint Theory of Offense, which stipulates that you run play B to keep defenses from keying in on play A, and you run play C when they overcommit to stopping A. For example, Rodriguez in 2010 with: QB Iso (A), Bubble Screen (B) and Pop Pass (C). Or Rodriguez in 2007 with: Zone Read RB (A), Zone Read QB (B) and Pop Pass (C). Or Nussmeier at Alabama with: Inside Zone (A), Bubble Screen/Outside Zone (B) and Play-action Pass/Power O (C).
The Constraint Theory of Offense does not care if you align in the spread or go pro-style. It just wants you to: a) read defenses and make adjustments according to what the defense is giving you; and b) capitalize on any and all overcommitments. As Chris Brown says, everyone should do this.
4. Hire someone who dispenses with the huddle, whether or not they go hurry-up.
Please correct me if I’m making the wrong assumption here, but I’ve always inferred that Brian, the Mathlete and others take a strategic view of tempo, by which I mean that they generally think uptempo (HUNH) is better (aside from obvious situations in which going fast leaves too much time on the clock at the end of a half/game). Hoke, on the other hand, appears to think that “you got to huddle” and wind down the clock on every play—no matter the circumstances.
If I had to choose, I’d take HUNH over "sloowwwwwwwwww it dowwwwn" in a heartbeat. However, I’d argue, as I have in several diaries and comments on this blog, that a tactical approach to tempo is ideal. By “tactical tempo” I mean: a) the ability to go fast or slow at any given moment; b) the willingness to go fast or slow according to circumstance; and c) deliberately varying tempo settings to unsettle defenses, settle your offense and/or give your defense a rest—game to game, drive to drive and play to play.
Tactical no-huddle approaches, like HUNH, work best when you dispense with the huddle. But whereas going no-huddle is a practical necessity for HUNH, it’s more a competitive advantage here. By getting to the line quickly, you either get a play off quickly (HU) or you give your quarterback time to read the defense. Time in the huddle is wasted time however you cut it, and QBs like Gardner and Morris could clearly use more time reading defenses.
For some empirical examples, I’d point you to how Urban Meyer approaches tempo at OSU—right now they are ranked #13 in ToP, compared with #113 for ASU and #123 for Oregon. But unlike some other Big 10 dinosaurs, Meyer’s OSU can turn on the jets pretty much whenever they want.
5. Hire someone for whom shotgun is the default...
I have nothing against under center play—it can work great for schools with mauler OLs and accurate, quick-reading QBs. But as long as we have questions on the OL and QBs who can make plays with their legs but are also prone to making questionable throws on a regular basis (Morris appears to be the fourth of these in a row), we are better served by shotgun formations. Shotgun helps the QB read the defense pre-snap, gives the QB more time to read the defense post-snap and allows for QB runs (or at least the threat of QB runs). I see no downside to shotgun.
6. …and who is known for running a dynamic passing offense.
Do you remember the last time we had a dynamic passing offense for a whole season? I do—2006. At present there are three principle ways teams install one of these: 1) have 2-3 dominant receivers no one can cover; 2) spread out your WRs and get little dudes in space; and 3) put at least 2 pass catching TEs on the field who are too big for DBs and too fast for LBs. Examples of each would be: 1) us in 2006 or USC under Pete Carroll; 2) anyone who learned anything from Mike Leach; and 3) Jim Harbaugh at Stanford/the 2011 New England Patriots.
Few schools appear able to bring in 2-3 dominant WRs with consistency, including us in the years since Manningham and Arrington left for the NFL, so I’ll go with options #2 or #3. With regards #2, as much as I hated losing to Rutgers, I admired how effectively their spread-to-pass scheme took advantage of our gooey inside pass coverage and suspect safety play. And I’ve long admired how schools like TTU can put almost anyone in at QB and produce 300-400 passing yards/game. FTR, we have some anyones on our roster.
I also see this as relatively easy to install given our personnel. We’re already zone blocking on most plays anyways, so the OL would’t need to learn a whole new system. The WRs would, but given the lack of progress with our WRs this year, it might be for the best. And just imagine our new coach/OC splitting Funchess and Darboh/Chesson out wide, and then using their routes to get Canteen/Norfleet/Jones lost in space—until defenses adjust and then you’ve got Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess going vertical one-on-one. Plus Butt and Hayes are guys you could line up inside and then split out wide whenever you like, so there’s that too.
I also love the flexible, dual TE offenses Harbaugh and BoB developed. Going dual TE would require another pass-catching TE, of course, though *maybe* we’ll get one this year.
7. …and an aggressive, read-based defense.
Our defense improved by leaps and bounds under Mattison and Hoke, but since 2012 it’s felt soft—especially on pass coverage. I’m just going to be straight up and say I want us to install an aggressive defensive scheme where corners know how to press and everyone knows how to read the offense pre- and post-snap. Chris Brown’s piece on MSU’s defense is instructive. I know, I know--easier said than done. But let’s keep trying to do that too. It's where defensive scheme is at right now, and looks to be in the future.
8. Hire someone who can do PR/tell AD to butt out of game planning.
The former appears to have been a problem with Rodriguez, the latter with Hoke. So clearly attempt #3 requires someone positioned to do both.
Can you think of anyone who roughly fits this bill? I can. His name begins with a "J" and ends with an "im Harbaugh."
Big week for a few of Wolverines. Let me know what I missed, or if you have any more insight that I can add.
Week 7 Notes: Mario Manningham was cut from IR. Fitzgerald Toissaint was cut from practice squad.
Jason Avant (2002-05) | Carolina Panthers, WR (L 38-17 vs. Green Bay)
- 2 receptions for 6 yards.
- In his first year with the Panthers, Avant has made 19 catches on 28 targets for 185 yards, and 1 TD.
Tom Brady (1997-99) | New England Patriots, Starting QB (W 27-25 vs. New York Jets)
- Big game: 20/37 for 261 yards with 3 TDs and no turnovers. Was sacked once.
- For the year, Brady has thrown for over 1,700 yards, with a 13 TDs and 2 interceptions.
Stevie Brown (2006-09) | @steviebrown27 | New York Giants, Backup FS (L 31-21 vs. Dallas)
- 1 tackle.
- Brown tore his ACL and missed the 2013 season, and has started 3 games this year. He has amassed 13 tackles in 6 games.
Will Campbell (2009-12) | @idonttweet73 | Buffalo Bills, Practice G (W 17-16 vs. Minnesota)
- Recently signed to the Bills practice squad.
Kenny Demens (2009-12) | @kdemens25 | Arizona Cardinals, Backup ILB (W 24-13 vs. Oakland)
- Did not record a statistic.
- In 6 games played, Demens has recorded 5 tackles and 2 forced fumble.
Michael Cox (2008-11) | @mikecox1mill | New York Giants, Kick Returner (L 31-21 vs. Dallas)
- Returned kickoffs for 21, 26, and 40 yards.
- This was his second game of the year, exclusively in kick returning duties.
Larry Foote (1998-2001) | @larryfoote313 | Arizona Cardinals, Starting MLB (W 24-13 vs. Oakland)
- 4 tackles and 1 sack.
- Has started all 6 games in his first year with Arizona, recording 35 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 INT so far.
Jonathan Goodwin (1999-2001) | New Orleans Saints, Starting C (L 24-23 vs. Detroit)
- Goodwin was carted off the field with a leg injury before halftime and did not return. QB was sacked 1 time. Goodwin had a holding call against him.
- In his first year with New Orleans. Has started every game since 11/24/2008.
Cameron Gordon (2009-13) | New England Patriots, LB (W 27-25 vs. New York Jets)
- On injured reserve.
Brandon Graham (2006-09) | @brandongraham55 | Philadelphia Eagles, Backup LB (Bye Week)
- Has not started yet this year, but has 17 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 6 games.
Leon Hall (2003-06) | Cincinnati Bengals, CB (L 27-0 vs. Indianapolis)
- 4 tackles and 1 pass breakup. Had a lower back strain during the game. Fans were NOT happy with his performance.
- Has 27 tackles and 1 interception in 6 starts.
David Harris (2004-06) | New York Jets, Starting ILB (L 27-25 vs. New England)
- 4 tackles.
- In 7 starts, Harris has recorded 54 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Junior Hemingway (2007-11) | @younghemi21 | Kansas City Chiefs, Backup WR (W 23-20 vs. San Diego)
- Did not record a statistic. Had a bad, bad drop.
- In 6 games, Hemingway has 8 receptions for 89 yards.
Chad Henne (2004-07) | @chad_henne | Jacksonville Jaguars. Backup QB (W 24-6 vs. Cleveland)
- Did not play.
- Started 3 games to begin the year. 42/78 for 492 with 3 TDs and 1 interception and 1 fumble. Has apparently lost starting job to rookie Blake Bortles.
Tim Jamison (2005-08) | Houston Texans, Backup DE (MNF vs. Pittsburgh)
- Has started 1 of 7 games this year. Jamison has recorded 9 tackles and half of a sack.
Jordan Kovacs (2009-13) | @jkovacs32 | Philadelphia Eagles, SS (Bye Week)
- Recently signed to Eagles practice squad.
- Was cut from Miami during fall camp. Played in 9 games last year for the Dolphins.
Taylor Lewan (2009-13) | @taylorlewan77 | Tennessee Titans, Starting T (L 19-17 vs. Washington)
- QB was sacked 3 times.
- Started second consecutive game.
Jake Long (2004-07) | St. Louis Rams, Starting T (W 28-26 vs. Seattle)
- QB was not sacked this game.
- Has been a starter since he entered the league 7 years ago.
Mike Martin (2008-11) | @gomikemartin | Tennessee Titans, Starting DE (L 19-17 vs. Washington)
- Started and made 3 tackles.
- Started last two games. 9 tackles this year.
David Molk (2007-11) | Philadelphia Eagles, Starting C (Bye Week)
- Has started past 3 games, due to starter injury. Film reviews have been positive on him.
Ryan Mundy (2003-06) | @rmundy29 | Chicago Bears, Starting SS (L 27-14 vs. Miami)
- 5 tackles.
- Has recorded 34 tackles and 1 pick-six interception in his first 6 games with the bears.
Patrick Omameh (2009-12) | @patrickomameh | Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Starting G (Bye Week)
- Has started all 6 games this year.
Denard Robinson (2009-12) | @denardx | Jacksonvile Jaguars, RB (W 24-6 vs. Cleveland)
- First game as feature back, huge game. 127 yards rushing on 22 attempts for 5.8 yard average, AND his first NFL TD. This game almost doubled his career total in yards. He also played a big part in making a tackle to avoid a pick-6 on one of Bortles 3 INTs.
- Highlights: http://bit.ly/1t1h20k
- Has started 3 games this year, has rushed for 221 yards on 50 carries, and has 11 receptions for 37 yards. Robinson has zero fumbles, compared to 3 fumbles on 20 rushing attempts last year.
Steve Schilling (2007-10) | Seattle Seahawks, Backup G (L 28-26 vs. St. Louis)
- Started his second consecutive game. Got banged up during the game. QB sacked 3 times.
- In his first year with Seattle.
Michael Schofield (2009-13) | @schoblue75 | Denver Broncos, Backup T (W 42-17 vs. San Francisco)
- Has yet to play. Is marked as inactive.
LaMarr Woodley (2003-06) | @lamarrwoodley | Oakland Raiders, Starting DE (L 24-13 vs. Arizona)
- 1 tackle.
- 4 tackles in 5 games.
Charles Woodson (1995-97) | Oakland Raiders, Starting FS (L 24-13 vs. Arizona)
- Big game: 7 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 interception with a 30-yard return.
- Has 39 tackles and 2 interceptions in 6 games.
I decided to start at the bottom and work my way up to what I think will be the standings next year. Rutgers was not very good this year, finishing 5-13 in the not-so-good American conference. A lot of people would say, "you can only get better from here". This may be true for this Rutgers team. Rutgers loses seniors Wally Judge and J.J Moore. Jerome Seagears, D’Von Campbell, and Craig Brown are also transferring. Losing these five players means a loss of:
48% of their points
41% of their rebounds per game
and 50% of their minutes
They do bring in 6 freshmen who, unless they contribute right away will leave Rutgers pretty awful.
So here is their projected roster:
# Name HT WT YR POS
11 Kadeem Jack 6-9 235 SR. PF
Starting Power Forward, averaged 14.3 points per game with 6.8 rebounds. A close second to Mack.
4 Myles Mack 5-10 175 SR. PG
Starting Point Guard, averaged 15 points per game with 4.3 Assists. Rutgers' best player.
0 Malick Kone 6-5 200 SR. SF
The starting Shooting Guard, averaged 3.5 points per game last year.
3 Kerwin Okoro 6-5 215 JR. SF
Does not play meaningful minutes.
21 Stephen Zurich 6-5 205 JR. SF
Same as Okoro.
23 Jalen Hyde 5-8 165 JR. PG
35 Greg Lewis 6-9 245 JR. PF
The starting Center that has a decent rebound rate. With him starting Rutgers actually has a pretty big lineup.
10 Junior Etou 6-7 230 SO. SF
The starting Small Forward, averaged 5.3 points per game.
33 Khalil Batie 5-10 175 SO. PG
5 Mike Williams 6-2 190 FR. SG
3 Star, offers from Dayton, Iowa, ST. Johns, Temple...
2 Bishop Daniels 6-3 185 FR. SG
3 star, no other offers
32 Ibrahima Diallo 6-10 240 FR. C
Rawer than sushi. 3 Star
22 D.J. Foreman 6-8 230 FR. PF
Offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh…
13 Ryan Johnson 6-6 190 FR. SG
A low ranked prospect. Supposedly he can shoot. According to Rutgers he is the next Jeremy Lamb.
40 Shaquille Doorson 6-11 275 FR. C
Low ranked recruit. Redshirt.
15 Jake Dadika 5-11 160 FR. PG
My projected starting lineup:
Point Guard: Myles Mack
Shooting Guard: Malick Kone
Small Forward: Junior Etou
Power Foward: Kadeem Jack
Center: Greg Lewis
Michigan plays Rutgers at home and on the road next year, which is favorable for us.
In all, Rutgers is a pretty small team that is losing a lot of players of. They do not have depth, or much skill. The junior class looks to have nothing so the team will rely on mostly seniors. I project Rutgers will go 4-14 and tie with Purdue for last.
Next up... Purdue.
NORFLEET! Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
So…that was not a good offensive game. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Below average conversion rates, no action beyond the sticks. One touchdown in four combined red zone trips. Michigan won the field position thanks to winning the punt battle, stopping the fake punt a turnover in field goal range. Other years this would be cause for concern, right now, a win anyhow anyway is no time to complain about the lack of offensive success.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –1.1 pts, –7% Win Pct Added on 31 plays
Deveon Smith: +0.1, +7% on 15 plays
Devin Funchess: +0.8, –2% on 11 plays
Amara Darboh: +2.6, +4% on 5 plays
Christian Hackenberg: +0.5, –4% on 36 plays
Bill Belton: +1.0, –4% on 20 plays
Not a lot of offensive stars in this one. Devin Funchess barely finished plus on the game after a huge opening drive touchdown. Amara Darboh ended as the only Michigan offensive player with a significant positive contribution on the night.
As for Devin Gardner, he is broken. Prior to last season, I wrote about his amazing run to end the 2012 season and that he had done things that very few college quarterbacks had every done. Based on 2012, he had the makings of a QB capable of adding an average of two touchdowns above a normal offensive output every game. He had practically done it already. And then 2013 happened. Below is his chart of opponent adjusted EV (expected value or points added) for every game he had at least 10 plays (rushes + passes – sacks).
2010/11 were pretty pedestrian. 2012 was incredible and 2013 started pretty well too. Akron was a bad performance by his high standards. Things were ugly against UConn before rebounding against Minnesota. In his next 14 games, there were two great games against bad defenses (Indiana and App St) and the heroic one-footed game against Ohio St.
There are six negative games and five more that were essentially zero (which is below average for a QB). It’s hard to say when Devin Gardner was broken but it obvious, even without the numbers, that he has been. I don’t know if it’s possible for him to be fixed at this point with this staff, but I sure hope so, because he is poised to be the biggest casualty of the Hoke era.
3. Game Chart
Hey, this one goes up!
6. –10.1% Russell Bellomy incomplete on third down (late Q3)
5. +10.2% Deveon Smith picks up a first down on 3rd and 1 (mid Q4)
4. +10.3% Michigan stops the Penn St fake punt attempt (mid Q3)
3. –11.1% Devin Gardner incomplete to Darboh on 4th and 3 (early Q3)
2. +12.6% Jourdan Lewis intercepts Hackenberg (late Q3)
1. +16.6% Jake Ryan forces Hackenberg into a 16 yard intentional grounding (late Q4)
The Blame Game is now the credit game, with a fair amount of blame as well. The results should not surprise.
1. Pass Defense: +49%
2. FG/PAT: +22%
3. Rush Defense: +8%
3. Opponent FG/PAT: –6%
2. Rush Offense: –9%
1. Pass Offense: –22%
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
David Shaw is poised to get a lifetime achievement award at this point. Stanford punted two more times from inside the opponent 40, bringing the total to 7 on the year, 2 more than anyone else.
Other Dishonorable mentions:
Washington State punted down 2 scores with two minutes left. This was a tough one because they were inside their own 10 and it was 4th and 33. But two scores in two minutes ain’t happening after a punt.
Coaching man-crush at Wyoming also punted down 10 with less than 3 minutes left.
All three were worthy candidates, without a doubt. But this week’s award goes to Coach Six-Pack, Larry Fedora of North Carolina.
Facing a Notre Dame team that would put up half a hundred on the day, Fedora called for a punt on 4th and 7 from the ND 33 down 9 points in the third quarter. UNC averaged 6.2 yards per play on the day and 32% of plays went for 7 or more yards (yes, MGoReaders, this is legal). The punt of course went for a touchback and field position gain of 13 yards, and North Carolina lost by a touchdown.
5. Fumble Luck & Last Minute Timeouts
Way back in 2011 when Brady Hoke was lucky, Michigan was the second luckiest fumble team in the country at +9.4*. Since then, Michigan has been –1.7, +1.0 and so far this year, –5.2. There is a reason they call it fumble luck. Mattison didn’t have some secret voodoo magic that results in a multitude of fumbles and recoveries, because no one does. Fumbles are lucky and Michigan been extremely unlucky on the fumble side (especially on defense) so far this season.
The sane football fan knew that Hoke’s end of half timeout was idiotic. It is my understanding that there are some that think it was a good idea based on a defensive TD potential. Some quick numbers to put this to bed.
I looked back to 2003 and found 7 cases of a half ending interception return for a touchdown, the only case that could justify the timeout. Of those 7, three cases came when the offense was within ten yards of scoring a touchdown. Another three were on returns that began close to the line of scrimmage which I guess could be appropriate to this situation. And only one on a Hail Mary returned 100 yards for a TD and that was from a 2010 matchup between Tulane and UCF that was a 41 point game at the time. Compare this with 25 offensive touchdowns on end of half Hail Mary’s of at least 40 yards. That is between a 6 to 1 and 25 to 1 ratio of bad to good depending on how you want to count it.
* Fumble Luck is calculated based on this article assuming 1% lost fumbles on most plays, and 6% on sacks.
Michigan’s four factors for the season [Value (national rank/B1G rank)]
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
|Offense||24.0 (101/13)||65% (84/8)||1.8 (112/13)||5.2 (55/6)|
|Defense||26.1 (50/7)||62% (19/4)||1.9 (28/3)||5.4 (79/10)|
Michigan is 90th overall in net field position, only Penn St is worse in the Big Ten. The offense is below average at generating first downs and truly dreadful at pushing the ball down the field in big chunks. On defense, the news is better, as they crack the top 20 in conversion rate allowed and they are making opposing offenses almost as bad at generating yards beyond the sticks as Michigan’s offense is at getting them.
With a bye week upcoming, no game predictions. For the season, my numbers have an average of 1.8 wins left on the schedule with 3 wins and bowl eligibility at a 25% likelihood.