Best: You Play to Win the Game!
Right off the bat: I had zero, nada, zilch issue with Brady Hoke’s decision to go for the win after Funchess’s late TD. Short reason why: Because when you have a chance to end it, you end it now. This team has already seen triple OT twice this year, and as a head coach you are paid to look at your team and put them in the best position to win a game, and sometimes that position is 3 yards from the endzone with 30 seconds to play.
I can give you statistical and objective rationales supporting this decision: UM had given up 393 yards rushing up to that point (at an 8.5 ypc clip), the defense was without Ross and on its backup kicker while OSU’s kicker Basil had only missed one all year, and with 32 seconds left even a tie was not assured given Wile’s last OOB kick and the speed by which OSU’s offense can move the ball. In OT you’re starting from the 25 yard line, with all the vagaries and dangers inherent in the sport of football on Saturday, and expecting a team to execute in that circumstance (especially given their inconsistencies all year) is a recipe for heartache. In short, you may never be that close to the endzone again this game, with a near-full playbook (I’ll get to the actual playcall a bit later) and the defense clearly on its heels.
Gardner was having a great game but had already been sacked 3 times (including once on that last scoring drive) and hit on numerous runs. In OT, the weight of the offense would undoubtedly been placed even heavier on his arms and legs, appendages that had already suffered immensely in this game (it was clear he was struggling to plant his foot while throwing the ball at times, and his recent fumbling issues indicated some arm injury).
Across the field, OSU had failed to really slow down the UM offense all day, giving up over 600 yards and failing to stop Funchess’s last TD from about the same distance. And while the situation isn’t perfectly encapsulated in the system, an advanced stat calculator pegged the success at over 55% given the down and distance.
But what made this the right call goes beyond the boxscore. I’m not one to believe to karma, that momentum works the same way to the flow of a football game as it does to TV scientists on rollerblades, or in the “power” of moral victories. But this team has been in a tailspin for weeks, notable as much for its ferocity as its totality. Against PSU, UM had played conservatively, conceding offensive aggression and creativity for the “certainty” and safety of FG attempts, decisions that cost them the game multiple times (and a game in which Bill O’Brien, in going for the eventual win in OT, did so because he didn’t want to drag the game out more and put that pressure on his kids). Against MSU, a late-game interception turned into –21 yards and the functional end of the game. Nebraska and Iowa were vary shades of domination obscured somewhat by some fortuitous scores, a game defense, and ineptitude on the part of the opponents. Even the dramatic win against NW felt hollow, needing a miracle kick to push a 9-9 game to overtime against a team that lost 7 of 8 to end the year. Along the way, the temperature of the offensive coordinator’s seat was best described on the Kelvin scale, major recruits were “keeping their options open”, and a vocal group of alumni were wondering if another shakeup needed to occur in Schembechler Hall.
Hoke had to make that call not because he had to prove he carried produce in his shorts, or because he wanted to add his name to arcane lists, or to make a certain agro part of the fanbase happy who question his toughness because he doesn’t scream at press conferences or throw stuff. Winning or losing this game wouldn’t have functionally changed the outcome for this season, unless I missed the rule change that gave you more “victories” for a close win over one team from Ohio instead of another. No, you make that 2-point call because in a season marked by offensive ineptitude and bungled opportunities, UM had a chance to remove all the uncertainty, all the coin flips, replays, and referees from the process and win or lose a game by matriculating a synthetic, oblong ball 3 yards. It didn’t work out, but by holding true to himself throughout this game Hoke showed that he was sick of playing it safe, at least for this afternoon.
Worst: And Yet…
I know, I just spent a couple hundred words espousing the virtues of Hoke’s decision, but in fairness I recognize the argument for kicking the tying extra point. As noted, neither defense was slowing the other offense down much, but in overtime it takes just one defensive play to end a game. UM had made some of those plays throughout the game, picking off an erratic Miller while also forcing a Hyde fumble. Gardner was having the second-best passing day in UM history, surpassed only by his game against IU earlier in the year, and the running game was functional and, at times, explosive (152 yards on 35 carries, a 4.3 ypc). Not surprisingly, Jeremy Gallon was adding to his legacy by notching the most receiving yards by a Wolverine against the Buckeyes (9/175/1), Funchess was still terrifying despite some drops, and Jake Butt and The Threat (combined 10/145/2) had emerged as competent alternative options.
Across the field, Miller had completed only 6 of 15 passes (though 2 were for TDs, including a long one to Smith due to the now-customary safety breakdown on a deep run), and while still a running threat was clearly not having a great day. Hyde rushed for an OSU record against UM (226 at 8.4 ypc) but had also fumbled, and I don’t know, maybe he was getting tired. While going for 2 showed faith in your offense it also was a bit of a white flag for your defense, and despite giving up 526 yards I thought the defense had played decent enough despite the Furman breakdown and their troubles taking down Miller and Hyde running the ball.
Beyond the play on the field, the conventional wisdom is you go for the tie at home and the win on the road; the idea is that road teams are subject to crowd noise and intimidation, unfamiliar sightlines and environments, “influential” referees, and various other factors. At home, you should extend the game out as needed, as all those factors working against your opponent are (in theory) in play for you, doubly so if you buy the notion that OSU would be reeling from the late UM comeback and might perform sub-optimally in overtime.
And while it stings a little to admit how Sparty it feels, playing spoiler to OSU’s perfect season isn’t exactly foreign to UM, and would provide one particularly delicious coda to an otherwise-uninspiring season.
For all these reasons and many more, I totally understand the argument for pushing the game into extra frames. Not saying I agree with it in practice, but had Hoke lined up Wile I wouldn’t have thrown my hands up in disgust.
Worst: Lining Up for Two, Again
One thing that DID drive me crazy was that final 2-point conversion play. Not because the first playcall was a bad idea; I like stacking WRs in short yardage because their dispersal can really disrupt a secondary and, at the very least, opens up some space in case Gardner wanted to run. I do like having at least one receiver on the other side just to keep the defense honest, but that’s a minor quibble.
But once UM lined up and OSU saw the formation, they called a TO to, I presume, align their defense in a different/better formation. So after the timeout, what did UM do? They lined up in (I believe) the same formation, or at least something functionally similar. I know there are limited plays for short-yardage situations, but at least give OSU a different look, a wrinkle, something that would provide some uncertainty. I’m not calling for the statute of liberty (though that would have been awesome), but something man. Instead, it felt like OSU knew the ball was going to Dileo before the snap and played it as such, picking off the pass basically as soon as it left Gardner’s hand. It felt like the “safe” call to make in that situation, and after a game full of ballsiness and dramatic comebacks, I’d have prefer something a bit different on the reset.
Worst: Hey, I Still Have Eligibility Remaining, Doesn’t Mean I Should Play Too
Now, I’m not questioning Josh Furman’s or Courtney Avery’s desire or inherent “Human Being”-ness, and I recognize that they are still a million times better football players than I have been or ever will be. That said, I remain flummoxed that both of them received so much playing time in such an important game after, at best, inconsistent seasons (and in Furman’s case, careers). Or in words that I uttered after that Smith TD, “Why the f**k aren’t Wilson and Gordon starting!” (censored for the small child in my arms that was trying to sleep between milk comas).
Given the run-heavy offense favored by OSU, Avery’s small stature made him a significant mismatch at FS compared to Gordon, who has about 30 pounds on him and had laid the wood on a couple of guys already this year. Plus, with Ross III out you had a sense that the safeties would need to be even more involved in the run game, or at least pose a threat to taking down the ballcarrier. And while I get that Josh Furman has always been touted as an above-average athlete, that hasn’t translated to on-field performance during his tenure at UM despite numerous opportunities. Trying to unearth some heretofore mystery diamond from the bench kind of makes sense against CMU or Akron, but against OSU I’d have hoped the roster changes would have been limited to injuries and a couple of trusted rotations.
Best: Gedeon’s Army
Pressed into service with Ross out of the lineup, I thought Ben Gedeon played decently, with the major caveat that OSU basically ran over UM all day. He had a nice sack of Miller early on, and tied for the lead on the team for solo and total tackles with 6. I’m not expecting him and Bolden to grade out particularly well, but he was a guy that people talked about having amazing athleticism and a mean streak, and I thought he acquitted himself out there well.
As for the defense overall, it was an inconsistent day that was alternately encouraging and infuriating. 526 total yards is below OSU’s season average, and on the 11 functional drives the defense forced 3 punts in addition to the 2 turnovers. Yes, the rest of OSU’s drives were all pretty epic scoring drives, but when you gave up 407 yards to Greg Davis you’ll take what you can get. The defense didn’t let OSU get out to its typical first-quarter lead (I don’t have the stat at hand, but they said during the game OSU had outscored opponents 200+ points to 40~ish to start the game), which kept the game manageable early on and let the offense establish itself a bit. And while Miller did throw for 2 TDs including the aforementioned blown coverage TD, he completed only 31% of his passes and generally looked pained throwing the ball.
All that said, the next UM-OSU game that doesn’t feature a massively blown coverage will be a welcome addition to my life. I know you can only do so much to prepare, but Mattison has seen this before by OSU and yet it continues to happen with a regularity that defies chance. Furthermore, there were a couple of throws early on by Miller that probably should have been caught for big gains but were either dropped or off-target, so perhaps his passing numbers are a bit deflated. Plus, when you are averaging almost 10 yards a carry, you really don’t need to throw the ball too much. It was a weird game all around so it is difficult to figure out how much of this was defensive breakdowns and how much was OSU being able to call “rock” with impunity because said rock is bigger than your LBs, but it remained a decent performance marred by some depressing moments.
A funny thing happened as I watched this game: the playcalling didn’t seem particularly different from past weeks. Sure, there were wrinkles: Gallon’s screen pass for 84 yards that he was Megatron’ed on (i.e. Calvin Johnson’s penchant last year of getting ankle-tackled just before the endzone), that delayed throwback screen to Fitz on the final scoring drive was a stroke of genius, and a running game that employed Gardner’s legs and the threat of an option to offset an aggressive OSU front 7. It felt like Borges spread the field out reasonably well, forcing a suspect OSU secondary to actually track receivers downfield instead of cheat toward the line, and (perhaps because of the long layoff between this game and the bowl) he seemed more willing to give Gardner the run-pass option that makes him so dangerous.
As noted earlier, young 98 had the second-best day passing in UM history while only being sacked 3 times (which feels like a win given how badly he’s been beaten up the past half-dozen games), and Green, Smith, and Toussaint were effective running the ball and, most importantly, limited the drive-killing TFLs (only 2 non-sack ones on the day). I’m not a connoisseur of blocking, but Gardner seemed to have enough time in the pocket to make his throws, and I saw linemen into the second level of blocking without 3 Buckeyes dogpiling the guy with the ball. So in that respect, it does feel like the offense “executed” to the coaches’ specifications. It only took 12 games, but I’m guessing Borges will be happy with how the offense moved the ball. That said…
Best: Is There a Tom Emanski for Tackling?
Because if there is, somebody needs to FedEx some copies to Luke Fickell immediately. While this wasn’t the worst tackling display I’ve witnessed (because, well, UM was once coached by GERG), the number of times OSU players failed to tackle properly was pretty amazing given the recruiting and talent bona fides on the field. I always thought South Carolina’s NFL Blitz-style “hitz!” were bad, but at least those attempts felt calculated. OSU had UM dead-to-rights on a couple of occasions (Funchess on a double-reverse, Jet Sweep by Gallon, an early Fitz run, Smith’s long run, a couple of Gardner scrambles) and either missed the initial tackle or failed to contain so that a big loss was either mitigated or even turned into a positive one. It was weird to see, especially in juxtaposition to UM that had trouble tackling Miller and Hyde because of their size but generally recorded TFLs when they were presented. I know Fickell is a disciple of Tressel and all, but Meyer’s lack of involvement on the defensive side puts a lot of pressure on the DC who may just not be up to the task. I know OSU ranks reasonably high on the FEI and advanced metrics for defense, but this unit has seemingly taken a pretty significant step back from those vintage Buckeye units, and at some point it is going to bite them in the ass when the offense slows down.
Worst: I’m Still Not Happy with the Offense
“But wait, they racked up over 600 yards and scored 41 points,” says you, conscientious blog reader. “They are improving, and maybe even turning the page on a new era of offensive competency in Ann Arbor.”
Well, maybe I’m too jaundiced or beaten down of a fan, but this offense is still basically the one that couldn’t crack 200 total yards 3 times this year (including last week), and who despite having record-setting days against IU and OSU is still 83rd in total offense. As noted above, the playcalling was a little better but also benefited immensely from OSU not tackling and otherwise failing to disrupt a unit that still seems uncertain of what to do, reliant on favored formations that most defenses have figured out pretty well.
What I think saved UM in this game is that they had some early success running the ball, which took pressure off Gardner throwing and didn’t allow OSU to run away with the game. I mean, OSU usually averages in the mid-70s in terms of number of plays, but UM was able to hold them to 61. Whereas in games past UM couldn’t string together coherent drives, here they were able to convert 8 of 14 3rd down plays as well as 1 of 2 4th down situations, keeping them on the field and never letting OSU get away even when they took the lead. Even with the restricted playbook Borges seems to be working from, being close on the scoreboard gave him the full complement to choose from, a luxury he’s had in other games but seemingly was unable to take advantage of. And it cannot be understated how the busted plays didn’t turn into 10+ yard losses; it kept the offense in manageable situations instead of the usual Sarlacc Pit 2nd/3rd-and-17 creates.
So I’m not dismissing the offensive performance out of hand; it was a revelation to see a competent unit move up and down the field with dynamic and successful plays. The offensive staff had a vision and they largely followed through on it, and that should be commended. But this felt a bit like the IU game wherein the offense ran its plays and OSU simply didn’t adjust/stop them like other teams have done before. Perhaps the Ohio governor’s decision to ban the letter ‘M’ meant the Buckeye defensive staff failed to check the mail for gametapes of the UM offense, because it certainly didn’t feel like Borges was breaking out anything demonstrably new, only that he seemed less afraid of spreading the field out and giving Gardner a chance to make plays in space. If I had any faith that would be the core of the offense going forward then I’d be less sanguine, but I’ve seen this tease before and, frankly, I’m not buying that he’s just doing this to pay for college.
Best: Brian’s Predictions
At the start of the season, Brian made some predictions for the offense. A couple of them were comically off (see improved rushing offense, Al Borges seems like a better coordinator), while others hewed closer to reality (Funchess blowing up happened a bit, but he’s struggled the last couple of weeks; Dileo was underutilized but was also injured for half the year). But the one he was dead on was about Gardner and Gallon solidifying their mind-meld, resulting in Gallon challenging Braylon’s best season. Right now, he’s about 50 yards short of the record, so expect to see this little jumpy mountain goat in the rarefied air of the great WRs at UM after the bowl game. It continues to amaze me that a Pomeroy candidate became one of the most prolific and dangerous deep threats AND endzone targets in history, but it was amazing to watch.
Worst: State of the Blog or
Best: Leave Brian Alone!
For those who may have missed the twitter feed, Brian voiced his displeasure with a subset of the UM fanbase that took him to task for the dour tone the blog has taken in recent weeks. Like a completely unnecessary best-of album, people chimed in with all the hits against MGoBlog and Brian’s take on the team. Some argued that he was being overly dramatic and whiny, that he didn’t understand football like a former player and thus his analysis was suspect, that he held himself in too high esteem for being a lowly blogger, and that he wasn’t a real fan because he publicly questioned the direction of the team and, I don’t know, wasn’t ecstatic at losing the 9th time in 10 chances against OSU. Basically, it was every comment thread on the site the past 2-3 weeks, compressed into 140 characters.
Now, I don’t expect a single person to give a crap what I’m about to say. The fact you have read this far makes me think you’re just bored and figure you won’t be getting a UFR soon enough so you might as well check out all of the content up right now. I’ve never really played organized football save a couple of weeks in PeeWee, I’m not a guy who can break down defenses or offenses with particular alacrity, and I’m not a huge “big ideas” writer either. I’m a moderately-intelligent alum who likes to watch football and cares about UM winning to the extent that I like nice things to happen to my alma mater. And I don’t have a dog in this fight; this blog would be fine without my diary, but I also find this site a nice pressure release from life and, I don’t know, helps me stretch out and flex a writing muscle that otherwise is hemmed in by my duties as a software programmer and occasional attorney.
So all that said, I’m sick of people acting as if this blog (or more particularly, Brian) needs to conform to their world-view for it to remain relevant. Now, I’m not defending Brian; he doesn’t need my help and I doubt gives two shits what I think. But as a loyal reader who enjoys the content and tone of this site, I’m tired of the meta arguments popping up that do nothing more than regurgitate the same 3-4 arguments for 50+ comments. This is a site on the web that talks about UM football from a particular perspective, no different than the other dozen or so blogs listed to your left. The only difference is that this space is the most prominent and, I guess, “influential” due to its size. But at its core, the arguments always feel like complaints about opinions, that Brian’s should be more in touch with their worldview because their voice needs to be heard/promoted.
This might sound esoteric, but I blame the concept of the “Internet” for this phenomenon wherein people come to expect free content to be customized for their pleasure, and are offended when it doesn’t happen because, hell, they can watch coaching fat-head supercuts on demand so dance monkey, dance. If you don’t like how the site is run or its content, go somewhere else. There are numerous sites I used to visit that I stopped when they became undesirable, and at no point did I tweet or email the proprietor and call him a “pussy” or question his writing style, nor did I provide unsolicited advice on how to “keep” me around by changing the content. For some reason, while people love the idea of the personalized echo chamber on the net, they are dead-set set against doing the legwork to find it, instead demanding the places they usually visit to do that work for them.
Listen, I’m not a fan of overly emo prose for its own sake, and I’ve taken people to task here for popular sentiments I disagree with. Conflicting opinions are and should be welcome everywhere, and anyone who thinks this site is overly draconian in its bannings should look at those instances carefully. But the number of people who say they “haven’t read the site in years” and “hate what happened to it” while still following the official twitter feed and maintaining accounts boggles my mind. Go somewhere else if it bothers you this much, or stick around and be productive, but the absolutely LEAST productive and MOST condescending thing you can do is provide “real talk” about one of the most popular football sites on the internet because you wish it wasn’t such a downer sometimes, man.
The team had an up-and-down season; I looked over my old diaries and it feels like ages ago I was calling this offense one of the best in recent memory. You want to focus on how “close” the team was to not being 7-5, go play horseshoes or hand grenades. The team probably isn’t as bad as it looks (only the MSU loss felt like a game UM wasn’t in late), but losing by a point to an overrated OSU team doesn’t mitigate the season-long struggles to run the ball and develop cohesive line play, implement a coherent offensive philosophy, and otherwise evolve and improve in year 3 of the Brady Hoke era. I still think there needs to be a shakeup on the offensive side of the ball, and unless Borges makes an about-face from a schematic standpoint expect next year to be as disjointed as this one, just without the most-prolific WR in team history and two NFL OTs to protect Devin Gardner.
For those who TL;DR’ed this section, I guess I’m #TeamBrian, #gosomewhereelse, #twitteristheworst, #ontherinterneteveryoneknowswhenyouareadouche.
Best: The Seniors
I’ll keep this brief: it’s a small class (which says something about why the team has struggled this year), but one with a couple of memorable players – Lewan, Gallon – and a bunch of grinders who stuck it out. I know it feels like every season people are trumpeting the outgoing players for sticking around during a tumultuous time, but these kids have seen the highs and lows of the last RR year, the Process, and the upheaval of these past couple seasons. They deserve better than 7-5 and a meh bowl game, but all was not for naught. They have their memories, from the big wins against OSU, MSU, VT, and ND, to a BCS win against VT, to (a perhaps somewhat hollow) 4 straight winning seasons. This isn’t the most accomplished or memorable group of seniors, but in many ways they bare the scars of UM’s transition into modern football era, and hopefully those will help this team going forward. Regardless, thanks to the seniors for their play this season and throughout their careers.
Best: One More Game!
It’s going to be a mediocre bowl game against an SEC team (probably), but so be it. After sitting through two successive bowl-less years, any time you can play and practice another month and send the seniors home with a win somewhere in Florida shouldn’t be downplayed. Next year will be different because of realignment and player losses, but for now this team has another game to play, meaning one more week to agonize, commiserate, debate, and cheer on Team 134.
Michigan’s upset bid against Ohio State came up just short when Devin Gardner’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt was intercepted, leaving us with a disappointing 7-5 record on the regular season. This was not the first time Michigan was one play away from victory this season. Consider:
We had two attempts to make a game-winning field goal in overtime against Penn State but couldn’t.
We had the ball 58 yards from the end zone down by 4 points with two minutes left against Nebraska, but couldn’t pick up a first down.
We had the ball at the Iowa 39, down by 4, with 2 minutes left, but Devin Gardner fumbled.
If you change just one play at the end of these games, Michigan could by sitting at 11-1 right now and looking for a BCS bid. (MSU would unfortunately still be representing the Legends Division in the Big-10 Championship Game). On the other hand, Michigan escaped with some narrow victories this season as well:
If Michigan hadn’t stuffed Akron on two plays inside the 3 yard line, we would have lost.
If UConn could have managed a touchdown on their final drive, we would have lost.
Against Northwestern, If Brendan Gibbons had missed his field goals at the end of regulation or in overtime, we would have lost.
Just as easily as Michigan could have finished the season 11-1, we could be 4-8 and prepping ourselves from another episode of our least favorite reality TV show, Dave Brandon’s The Process. That’s a huge spread. I wanted to see how it stacked up to previous years. I’m looking at all the games in which just one late-game play could have changed the outcome.
Actual record: 7-5 (Bowl pending)
Best case: 11-1
Worst case: 4-8.
Range: 7 games
Actual record: 8-5
Best case: 10-3
Worst case: 5-7 (no bowl)
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: Couldn’t score go-ahead touchdown with 5 minutes left against OSU. Gave up touchdown with 11 seconds left against South Carolina.
One play from a loss: Stopped Air Force’s final drive to preserve 6-point win, kicked game winning field goal against MSU, Robinson to Roundtree bomb sets up tying field goal and overtime win against Northwestern.
2011: Hoke’s First Season
Actual record: 11-2
Best case: 12-1
Worst case: 8-5
Range: 4 games
One play from a win: Couldn’t score on 1st and goal from the 3 against Iowa (although Iowa let by 8, so a two-point conversion and overtime would have still been needed)
One play from a loss: Michigan gains, loses, and regains lead against Notre Dame all in last 72 seconds. Ohio State’s final drive ends with interception. Gibbons OT field goal beats Virginia Tech.
2010: RichRod’s Last Season
Actual record: 7-6
Best case: 7-6
Worst case: 4-8 (no bowl)
Range: 3 games
One play from a win: none(!) All 6 losses were by minimum of 10 points.
One play from a loss: Robinson scores with 27 seconds left against Notre Dame. Robinson scores with 17 seconds left against Indiana (had been tied). Michigan beats Illinois in triple overtime.
Actual record: 5-7
Best case: 8-4 (plus bowl eligibility)
Worst case: 3-10
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: OT loss to MSU, two-minute drill fails while down by 2 against Iowa, tying two-point conversion fails against Purdue.
One point from a loss: Forcier to Mathews gives Michigan lead with 11 seconds left against Notre Dame, Michigan takes lead with 2 minutes left and then intercepts Indiana’s last chance.
2008: RichRod’s First Season
Actual record: 3-9
Best case: 7-5 (plus bowl eligibility)
Worst case: 2-10
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: two minute drill fails down by 2 against Utah, game-tying 26-yard field goal misses against Toledo, Purdue drives the field for go-ahead touchdown in final minute, two minute drill fails down by 7 against Northwestern.
One play from a loss: Wisconsin’s game-tying two point conversion fails with 13 seconds left.
2007: Carr’s final season
Actual record: 9-4
Best case: 10-3
Worst case: 6-7
Range: 4 games
One play from a win: game winning field goal blocked against App State
One play from a loss: Penn State’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 5, MSU’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 4, Tebow goes 0/4 on Florida’s last chance drive.
Actual record: 11-2
Best case: 11-2
Worst case: 10-3
Range: 1 game
One play from a win: none (M/OSU was close, but never just one play away)
One play from a loss: PSU’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 7
Actual record: 7-5
Best case: 12-0(!)
Worst case: 4-7 (no bowl)
Range: 8 games
One play from a win: M’s two minute drill fails against Notre Dame, Wisconsin scores go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left, Minnesota kicks game-winning field goal with 5 seconds left, OSU scores go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left, Michigan’s desperation lateral-fest ends one lateral short of a touchdown against Nebraska.
One play from a loss: Michigan beats MSU in overtime, Henne to Manningham with 1 second left beats PSU, Michigan beats Iowa in overtime
Notes: This season’s record of 7 games decided in the final minutes is something we’ve not seen for 8 years. Those critical of Brady Hoke may compare this year’s 7-5 record to the 7-6 season that got Rich Rodriguez fired. However, it’s worth noting that unlike this year (where every game went down to the wire except MSU), the 2010 season featured losses by 10, 10, 17, 20, 30, and 38 points. A better comparison may be the 2005 season (known then as “The Year of Infinite Pain”) in which 8 of the games went down to the wire, including all 5 of the losses. Those looking for reasons for optimism may be reminded that the year following that, Michigan recovered and only a narrow loss to OSU (plus politicking by Urban Meyer) cost Michigan a spot in the National Championship game.
If you’re looking for the weekly Corsi charts, you’ve come to the right place. Incidentally, they aren’t here, so you’re also in the wrong place. It’s not you, it’s me.
I’ve been busy finishing up work on my thesis, an additional research paper, and other assorted family things (hence the gap between posts), but I haven’t been completely ignoring hockey. I try to find as much to read about advanced hockey statistics as possible, and I ran across an article on the Maple Leafs’ SBN blog that caused something of a crisis of conscience.
The last two columns are the r-value for even strength Corsi and the R2 value as it relates to winning percentage. The first column to the right of 5v5CF% is the R^2 value over six years of statistics that the folks at Pension Plan Puppets collected. Their analysis indicated that Corsi is both highly replicable and relatively highly correlated with winning percentage.
Visualizing r^2, via BMG Lab Tech
Having said that, I’ve decided to shelve the Corsi project for now. It may be true that Corsi is related to winning percentage, but B1G hockey is starting and I wrote back in my first Corsi post that I’d start doing goal-by-goal analysis posts again at this point. I decided to stop tracking Corsi data because I only have a limited amount of free time to pour into this each week, and if I’m going to spend 5-8 hours a week analyzing Michigan hockey then I think most people would rather see GBGA than something that may be highly correlated with winning but has very little aesthetic appeal. If you’ve been using my Corsi posts in place of Ambien then I’m glad I had the opportunity to both inform you and put you to sleep. I’ll try and get back to Corsi at some point, but I can’t make any promises.
If you’re now wondering what GBGA is then I think I’d describe it as a Picture Pages/UFR hybrid. I break down every goal for and against, hoping to explain what happened in a sport where important things happen in tenths of seconds and add something entertaining/informative to the world of Michigan hockey.
2:51- OSU 0 Michigan 1: Lynch from Kile & Allen
Michigan gets the puck in deep and Lynch goes to carry it behind the net. The two OSU defensemen should follow the routes drawn out on the screen shot; as one goes to cover Lynch on the wraparound, the other should go to the front of the net.
Instead, the right defenseman follows Lynch behind the net. This vacates the front of the net, which comes into play later. The left D has no choice but to leave Lynch and follow the pass to Kile.
A simple pass from Kile to Lynch puts the puck in a dangerous spot for OSU. Since the right D followed Lynch behind the net there’s no one to protect the net-front area. Lynch is going to get an easy wrap around shot. Look at how deep the OSU goaltender is in his net. He’ got the post locked down, but he’s still standing when Lynch gets the puck on his stick and you can see how open to five hole area is. Lynch puts this one away for Michigan’s first B1G conference goal.
15:46- OSU 1 Michigan 1: PPG Dzingel from McCormick & Szczechura
Michigan’s box is shifted far left. You can see that OSU has three players in the frame, which means that two are off screen and essentially undefended.
Motte makes a mistake and tries to block the shot in the slot. This really could fall to the defender in the front of the net, as Motte’s assignment is to cover the far right (where the arrow’s pointing, naturally).
Pretty obvious that this mistake leads to a really, really wide open shot. The goal itself was soft, as it just sort of rolls over Nagelvoort’s glove but the defensive breakdown is still key to this goal.
6:41- OSU 1 Michigan 2: PPG Compher from Moffatt & Guptill
The key here is that the top of OSU’s box has sagged down into the slot instead of staying high to cover the point. This allows Michigan to pass across the zone from the boards.
Moffatt takes the shot that’s there for him. It’s not a bad shot, but it’s not exactly a high percentage shot. The best case scenario is what happens, which is a big, uncleared rebound in front. The beauty of the power play is that Compher (circled above) is going to be undefended if the low defensemen doesn’t get there in time.
While it doesn’t quite work out the way I noted above, it still works out. The Michigan player essentially sets a pick, leaving Compher to backhand the puck into the really, really open half of the net. Also, OSU’s goalie Logan Davis is like whoa slow laterally.
HIGH FIVE METAL BARS I FEEL YOU
14:26- OSU 2 Michigan 2: PPG McCormick from Szczechura & Fritz
DeBlois takes away the passing lane to the blueline, so OSU works the puck down low.
Bennett tries to take away the pass to the slot but is about a half second too late, and the puck gets tipped through Nagelvoort’s legs.
19:43- OSU 2 Michigan 3: Guptill from Compher
Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…
...and a very, very clean shot from Guptill. He lifts the puck perfectly, hitting the top corner before Davis knows what (didn’t) hit him.
16:47- OSU 3 Michigan 3: Greco from Fritz
Credit where credit’s due, OSU’s forechecking creates this goal. Michigan makes a bad decision to play the puck back, and there’s no Michigan skater to collect the weak pass. OSU gets there first and gains possession.
No one notices the skater in the slot until it’s too late; Downing was behind the net and doesn’t cover the front fast enough, Motte can’t catch him either, and Nagelvoort (who was locking down the post) can’t stop the wide-open slot.
Michigan’s offense-turned-defense on this play.
3:38- OSU 3 Michigan 4: Copp from Bennett & De Jong
Mac Bennett, man. He sees a huge passing lane and puts a perfect pass….
…on the stick of Andrew Copp.
He gathers, shoots, scores, and then this.
<a href="http://imgur.com/JkqGMww"> Limited numbers of posters of, and signed by, Rick Leach, Russell Davis, and Harlan Huckleby, available starting at 10:30 a.m. For the cause of fixing up the house of a boy with a debilitating illness, there is a 401(c)(3) set up, so donations are tax deductible. The location is outside the house next to the M Go Patio, closer to the stadium. Address: 310 Berkley, a/k/a Wolverine Little House next to the old AAA parking lot which is now just landscaped. We have been raising funds at each home game, and hope to go over the top today. picture from the Little House looking towards the Big House:
Thank you for the kind words last week and hopefully you're having a wonderful long holiday weekend! Low pressure moving through Canada and across Lake Superior will bring a warm front through the area Saturday. With high pressure pushing eastward, the pressure gradient will increase between the systems - creating a bit of a southerly breeze. It will be a great end-of-November football day, with afternoon temps near 40 with the sunshine!
Up and at em early to get that awesome tailgating spot for this big game! You'll definitely want the heavier coat and hot coffee at this one! We'll have some high clouds to start the day, with temperatures in the mid 20s through mid-morning. Winds will be out of the SE at 10mph (leaves rustle, blow about), but begin to become more southerly towards 10am. It's not much of a wind, but brrr it will give us a wind chill in the teens. As the warmer air makes it's way in, expect temperatures to go up and cloud cover to go down heading towards kickoff.
36 degrees for the start of the game! Hopefully you layered up - temps will continue to rise throughout the first half, but it isn't exactly going to feel tropical with a wind chill in the mid 20s! Hopefully you also kept the sunglasses handy because we'll see some clouds, but a decent amount of sun too. Winds will be out of the south at 10-15mph for the first half (paper blows about, small branches sway).
Warming trend continues, and we'll be up to a balmy 39 degrees for the halftime snack (hot chocolate?) break. It will still feel like 30 thanks to the breeze. Winds have shifted slightly to be out of the SSW, still up around 12mph. Still plenty of sun, but many of those clouds stick around too.
Hitting the afternoon high as you're leaving the game - at 41 degrees. A mix of sun and clouds with SSW winds dropping to about 10mph as you're headed out for a downtown dinner! As the sun sets the cloud cover will increase, and we'll become mostly cloudy for the rest of the evening and overnight. Temps will drop to 32 for dinner, and remain right around 30 until last call. Stay bundled up if you're going out late - that wind is light (about 5mph out of the SW), but it's still going to create a wind chill in the 20s. Beat. Ohio.
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for NBC/ABC in Traverse City, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
'Tis this season:
Saturday, December 7 is that annual charity event I help coordinate and MGoBlog readers have helped keep alive. Each year in early December we go to a couple of homeless shelters and throw the kids in there a giant Christmas party. There's photos with Santa, games, dancing, arts & crafts, nail painting, food, etc. Then while the young 'uns are distracted, their parents "shop" for gifts for them in a "gift store" filled with donated new toys and stuff, a goodly portion of which MGoReaders sent from Amazon. Then everyone comes together for pizza and cake and dancing.
We call it "Adopt a Shelter." There are two sites:
- Salvation Army's Denby Center (formerly the Booth Evangeline Center). A big party run by Mitch Albom's Time to Help organization (one I'm at). Key person is Rachel Williams.
- Genesis II House. A great women and children's shelter where Julie has kept the event going.
My involvement is closer with the former. For the latter Julie needs about 20 volunteers, each who bring gift donations. Hers is a bit more low-key. Email Julie if you want to volunteer there [UPDATE 12/2: They still need about 7 more volunteers). As for the Denby Center one, a bit more detail:
Stocking the Store
We need gifts.
Gift donations should be unwrapped, tasteful, and between $15-$20. Stuff that needs batteries should come with batteries. No guns, no swords, no violent comic books. Historically we tend to fall short with stuff for young moms.
AGE RANGE: The age of the children range from 9 months to 16 years old. Here's the numbers the shelter expected to have as of this week:
Age of Residents Boys Girls Age 0-2 10 11 Age 3-5 5 5 Age 6-10 5 10 Age 11-14 6 5 Age 15-17 - 6 Adults (Age 19-68) - 67
- SIZES: A variety of sizes ranging from newborn to 3X are needed. The larger sizes (2X and 3X are for girls.)
- TOYS: Age-appropriate toys and educational toys are needed.
- CLOTHES: Winter in Detroit. Also a reminder that all young adults and teens, no matter their station, care about style. It may seem counterintuitive but one really nice thing is more appreciated than a package of four just-the-thing things.
- TOILETRIES: All types of toiletries are needed, except NOTHING with ALCOHOL in it. Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Body Lotion, Women’s Deodorant, Body Wash, Soap, Washcloths, Towels.
How much stuff each family gets depends on how much stuff is donated. The remainder is always left to the shelters since they—as you can imagine—have a high turnover. Before March it's all given out.
For the last few years we've found putting up an Amazon Wish List makes it pretty easy—you're welcome to find things not on the list. Gifts are usually $15-$20. But you don't have to use that—for example Moe's is having a 30% off sale today.
Things they asked for specifically: Leap Frog/other learning games, Puzzles, Winter Clothes/Gear (children and women's M, L, and XL especially), Barbies, Super Hero Toys, Legos, Winter Coats, Toy Trucks, Baby Dolls, Adult Pajamas, Clothing and Accessories for Newborns, Baby Strollers for Parents, Brat Dolls, Pants/Leggings, Little People Toys, Board Games, Baby Alive Dolls, Toddler Toys, Books, Hand Soap, Deodorant, Tooth Brushes/Toothpaste, Lotion, Baby Wipes, Diapers, Feminine Products, Socks for Adult Women and Children, Underwear for Adult Women and Children
For donations to the Booth party, send them to Detroit Rescue Ministries (default address on that wish list link) at:
Time to Help Christmas Party
c/o Rachel Williams
150 West Stimson Street
Detroit, MI 48201
Poor Rachel's office is usually just completely stacked with boxes by Friday.
Join us on Saturday, December 7, 2013. One thing you might do is try to pump out 190 photos with Santa from two little portable printers (yes they'll both be working this year—sorry about that). Another is serve bagels. Or man the gift store. Or one lady reader last year came up with the idea of having the kids make picture frames for their Santa photos.
Detroit, MI. 48219
South of 8-mile between Evergreen and Lahser
Set up will begin at 8 a.m., and the party will be open to the residents beginning at 10 a.m. with an ending time of 1 p.m.
The party, which will provide breakfast and lunch to those in attendance, as well as an arts and craft station for children, a manicure and spa room for the mothers, a game center for teens, a store for the mothers to shop for their children and Santa and Mrs. Clause at the end, will need full volunteer support!
We are asking each volunteer to bring at least 1 gift to include in our gift shop. To register for the event go to http://atimetohelp.org/volunteer.htm (it's the only event on the calendar at the moment since the 2014 calendar isn't up yet).
I will have an updated list shortly for what we don't have confirmed, since this has changed since I checked in last. But I believe we still need:
- Breakfast confections (donuts, bagels, orange juice, coffee, fruit, etc.)
- Games for teen game center
- Ice cream and cake
- Arts and crafts materials
- Nail salon artists and nail polish
- Holiday decorations
A Time to Help Coordinator
313-993-4700 ext. 4715
Why Is a Charity on a Sports Blog?
Because I'm involved and I work here, dammit. But some backstory: this event used to be one of two put on by Volunteer Impact (I was a board member of that), which mostly existed to help service organizations find volunteers for their projects, but had a few signature events of its own. This was one of those events.
When we closed down VI, we lost the donor base for this and the other thing. It looked for a time like it would end, until 1) Mitch Albom, through his Time to Help organization, and longtime volunteer Julie Kroflich, stepped up to keep their two sites alive; and 2) Brian let me put up a post on it and MGoBloggers came through, stocking the store with donations and showing up to volunteer. Since then MGoBloggers' donations have been the engine that's kept it going.
The other event was "Hands on Detroit," a Detroit spring cleanup thing that the Ilitch Foundation took over. They meet at Comerica Park on a Saturday and go around making the city look nice for summer.
Can't I Just Give You Money?
Yeah, but give it to the organization putting the event not, not me. If you can't find something on the Amazon lists above, donate to S.A.Y. Detroit, the umbrella organization Time to Help, and specify in the comments that this is for the "Time to Help Christmas Party."