things go poorly
info on Air Force was a little tough to find, no actual depth charts and you will notice that some players don't have numbers yet. i just didn't take the time to track that down.
michigan's depth chart is unchanged from last week, although i know there was some talk of some shifting. if anyone thinks there is a major change to be reflected here, let me know and i can do that.
Over the course of the season there are three key factors that drive the success or failure of a football team:
On a game by game basis you can throw in variance/strategy/luck. It’s pretty tough for a high variance strategy to pay out over the long term but for a particular game playing high variance could be the right decision. Teams like Boise State have found success mostly on execution. Oregon and other non-traditional powers have used offensive systems to drive success. The ones who have done it with talent are easy to spot because that’s where the big-time programs all start.
It would have been unrealistic for Michigan to expect Saturday to be a victory on execution over a Nick Saban coached team. Al Borges was apparently comfortable not pushing any system/variance strategies with his choice of play calling (unless you consider the deep balls his way of playing high variance). That left the major gap between Michigan and Alabama to come down to talent. Michigan and Alabama both have storied histories and bright futures for their football teams, but their current rosters are at very different points.
Here is a look at how Michigan’s roster stacks up to the Big Ten and its non-conference opponents. Methodology here
|Penn St||2,267||Air Force||126|
Michigan certainly has an enviable roster for most of the country, but attrition and recruiting gaps have left the upper-classes of the roster well below the nation’s elite programs. In fact, the gap between Michigan and Alabama is essentially the same as between Michigan and Minnesota. With Michigan not willing (system/variance) or able (execution) to push the other levers, the talent lever came through in full force.
The good news is that there isn’t a team left on the schedule that can do that to Michigan on talent alone. Holding serve on talent puts Michigan at 9-3 and Legends division champs and potentially favored in the B1G Title Game. The talent gap can give and it can take away. Obviously talent is never a guarantee (ask Texas) but with good coaching, Michigan’s talent should put them in a position to be a competitive or win every game remaining on the schedule. The defense seems positioned to possibly pick up some advantage from coaching, and until the full tenants of the passing attack are in place, the offense will likely be middle of the course to slightly above, depending on how the Denard is deployed.
Barring major attrition issues, Michigan will start to move up the talent list over the next several years. I project them to reach current Ohio/ND range in time for the 2014 and potentially hitting the upper echelons when the current freshman enter their senior season. Until that happens, Michigan will either need to be content to see results like they did on Saturday or find different ways to gain advantages over the next two seasons.
Game scores (1st half only)
Denard Robinson: 18 plays, -1.2 EV (points added), -8% WPA (win pct added)
Thomas Rawls: 4 plays, -0.3, -1%
Vincent Smith: 9 plays, -2.0, -1.5%
AJ McCarron: 16 plays, +6.7, +12%
Eddie Lacy: 8 plays, +3.4, +4%
TJ Yeldon: 5 plays, +4.4, +7%
Air Force isn’t charted from its week 1 win against an FCS team, but it plenty efficient, scoring TD’s on 4 of 6 first half drives, with one killed by a 15 yard penalty. The defense pitched a first half shutout but did allow 3 of 5 drives into Falcon territory. My preseason rankings installed Michigan as a nearly three touchdown favorite and I have no reason to think expectations have changed substantially.
Michigan 31 Air Force 10, 98% chance of victory
Ok, so it's another week and another opponent. That means more wallpaper. I will be on vacation during UMass week, so I did the wallpaper early. Honestly, I couldn't get into the Air Force wallpaper as whole-heartedly as I'd have liked, so I apologize for the drop-off in quality on that one. It's still not THAT BAD, but not on the level I've been producing. Sorry.
The UMass wallpaper, on the other hand, I really like it. There may be people out there who have never seen an ad for the new Assassin's Creed or know that it takes place in the Revolutionary War (loose tie to Minutemen). So there you have it, that's your background on my theft/conversion of AC's main character into Denard. Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. I hope you enjoy the wallpapers and get some use from them in the weeks to come.
As always, thanks for your support and I welcome constructive criticism and/or new ideas you'd like to see.
Not a lot of personal input into this diary, but with Brian's front Picture Pages asking who the option read was there has been some confusion of which play is what. It's impossible to know what the play call is on any given down, and Bama did blow up just about everything, but I thought I'd post some diagrams showing what various teams do. Please chime in as well with different names for plays, as different coaches call the same play by different names.
All kinds of information (these pictures) can be found here: http://smartfootball.com/tag/option
Play 1: Zone Read (Read Option)
The offensive line zone blocks and leaves one defensive end (circled) unblocked. The QB then looks to see what this end does. The end picks one player and the QB's job is to make sure the other player has the ball.
There are variations on this (bubble screens etc) that are very nuanced and again, Chris Brown goes over them here http://smartfootball.com/run-game/the-zone-read-gun-triple-option-and-the-quadruple-option
Play 2: DT Read Option (Midline Option)
Very similar play, but here a DT is left unblocked. Lots of teams do this against stud DTs (Oregon optioned off Glenn Dorsey some)
Play 3 - Inverted Veer
The big differences here are that you now have a pulling guard and you leave someone unblocked playside. http://smartfootball.com/run-game/what-is-the-inverted-veer-dash-read
Michigan used this play to dismantle OSU last year as Brian pointed out here: http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-inverted-veer-ftw
Typically your pulling guard and playside tackle would both serve as lead blockers on the 2nd level, but as noted elsewhere Borges and Hoke don't like leaving linemen unblocked. What worked against OSU was the LBs getting caught in the wash and Denard being awesome. I can't find an exact diagram of how we draw it up, but they still option off a DL, then get blocks elsewhere.
So how did Bama blow this up completely? Do we need to worry about teams doing this in the future? By being way more talented and maybe. What Bama did was "absorb" blockers and control them. Hopkins can't block #1, who forces a give. Omameh and Schofield are stuck double teaming DTs and can't get to the next level. Barnum is beat to the hole. If this was a true read play (I dont' know, and as mentioned, the coached don't like unblocked DLs) Hopkins should be on the 2nd level as well.
Do we need to worry about other teams doing this? Maybe, but I don't know who else will have the talent to. If a DL tries to pick off the lead blocker AND force a give, AND 2 DL force double teams so that our OL can't get to the 2nd level AND their LBs beat our pulling guard to the hole... then yes, we're in trouble. I don't think the talent disparity will be as big in future games. If it is, our option game will get blown up.
(Click the image to view full size)
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.