this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
[ED: Bump so hard. ]
FF 210 - Screen Package
FF400 - Drag and Follow
So this is what I had intended to do with the series when I started it: breaking down plays/concepts that Michigan runs and why they work, how to defend/attack them, etc. Today I’m going to break down a pass play that Michigan ran twice for first downs in the first half. This is a great play that isn’t necessarily innovative anymore, but it is still very prevalent both the college and pro game. It’s called the drag (jerk) and follow pattern.
What I will be doing today is going over this play and how and why it was successful twice against Illinois. I will also discuss how defenses scheme against it in order to stop it, plays to counter those defensive adjustments, and why Michigan went away from it when it was successful early.
The Play – Drag and Follow
This is a great play because it does two things. It gives both the QB and WR easy reads and it always makes the defense wrong, essentially putting them out of position.*
Note, I have done a fairly simple defensive alignment that isn't really that technically sound to face the run. It is an even front with the SS back. This isn't bad against the pass but against the run it would probably suffer. There are many different variations of D, and I some what change the D alignment to help prove my point. It is important to realize that the keys are still there though, I'm just attempting to teach as simply as possible, so the defense isn't always the same.
Notice the label for each receiver and the Zip presnap motion (into the formation) by the Z receiver. On defense, N is the Nickelback (don't hate me, hate the Lions) subbed in for the SAM.
The Read – Backside LB
The QB will read the backside LB (WLB).
If the he follows the drag route, it will leave the delayed follow route open in the space that that LB previous occupied. You see this the first time Michigan ran this play against Illinois.
The LB attacks downhill at the drag pattern leaving an opening where he previously was.
Year To Date Summary: For the first ten games, Michigan's +4 TOM has resulted in a whopping advantage of 35 expected points – or almost 9 EP per turnover! With an average value per TO of just 3.68 EP (for all the TOs in M games this year), this would seem to be mathematically impossible. It is explained by the following:
(1) M has returned 3 TOs for touchdowns and the opponents have returned only 1 TO for a touchdown resulting in an additional 11.8 EP (versus simply gaining the TO).
(2) M has lost 5 fumbles but gained 16 and has lost 14 interceptions but gained just 7. On average fumbles are less costly than interceptions because interceptions occur further downfield and result in a lower field position disadvantage. The average EP for a fumble TO was 3.8 and the average value for an interception TO was 3.25 EP. This added 5.9 EP.
(3) M has the advantage over the opponent in all the following categories; TOs inside opponent 30 yard line, TOs inside your own 30 yard line, TOs on 3rd or 4th down (loss of possession would have resulted due to punt/over on downs regardless of TO). This added 2.6 EP.
Meaningless Turnover and Team Turnover: Michigan lost it's first meaningless turnover of the year when DRob threw the interception from the M44 with 0:02 seconds left in the first half. I have no clue why that play was even called. It just makes the interception stats for DRob look even worse. (Michigan had gained a meaningless turnover on the last play of the ND game.)
We also had our first "team" turnover – the bad snap to DRob at 11:59 of the third quarter. Illinois also had a bad snap during this game that was classified as a "team" turnover. I guess that means all bad snaps are not charged against either the QB or the center.
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the first time this year, the official turnover margin was zero. In reality, M had a +1 TOM because of the meaningless TO at the end of the half. For the year, Michigan has lost 19 TOs (ranked #78) but has gained 23 TOs (ranked #14) for a turnover margin of +4 or 0.40 per game (ranked #35). Michigan is ranked #9 in fumbles lost but is #111 in interceptions thrown. The 16 fumbles recovered is ranked #2 and is the reason the turnover margin is excellent instead of horrible.
McColgan recovered the Illini fumbled punt and there are now 18 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass. Kovacs forced a fumble (his second), Gordon recovered a fumble (his fourth), and Floyd intercepted a pass (his second). DRob lost 2 fumbles and had the meaningless interception (his 13th).
M QBs had 16 turnovers thru ten games last year and have 17 turnovers thru ten games this year. After ten games, M had a –7 TOM last year and has a +4 TOM this year. This +11 differential in TOM has resulted in just one additional win over the ten games.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the chart and table below includes the WMU game and will NOT be the same as the (incorrect) NCAA Rankings.
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.
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 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.
Hey, Seth created the cupcakes tag for me, so I'm beating this dead horse until the end of the season. This week, we go Ugly, Old School. That's it, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the mid-week MAC games. They're not games. They're the old football games where the pieces would buzz around the board. They're Rock-em-Sock-em Robots. They're monkey boxing. You know, these guys
I mean, Western and Toledo scored 129 points. If you were playing a drinking game where you had to do a shot on every turnover, you'd be dead.
Florida Atlantic is the last school without a win this season. Here's their season stats: passing yards - 111th, rushing yards - 115th, points for - 120th, points against - 107. In addition, they are playing Troy, who is no slouch themselves. "Don't sell yourself short, you're an incredible slouch." Troy has two wins, against Middle Tennessee and UAB, and is also right around the 100 mark in points for and against. Why are there so many schools named Owls? Who thinks owls are menacing? (Sorry about the links, embedding is disabled for some reason).
Speaking of Owls, Rice plays Tulane. Rice is 2-4 in conference and coming off a drubbing by Northwestern. Tulane just got pantsed by Houston, 73-17. The last competitive game they played was against Syracuse, which says a lot about Syracuse. They've lost 8 straight conference games. I think this one comes down to logo, and if you squint, the Rice "R" looks like an owl facing left. So advantage Owls. "A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish."
Last, we have an "I Have No Idea" game between Penn State and Ohio State. Does Penn State deserve their #12 ranking? Is Ohio State better or worse than 6-4? Can either team move the ball far enough to kick a field goal, or will we see a "Fair Catch Kick" decide the game 3-0? "Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? "
Thanks to MGoUser Enjoy Life, my attention was drawn to the statistics available on mgoblue.com. This has allowed me to increase the historical depth of my analysis. (As usual, click on each graph to embiggen).
We'll begin with scoring defense, the strength of this year's defense. (I've removed the numbers from the WMU game):
This is incredibly impressive, especially given that this defense isn't nearly as good when it comes to yards per play:
Although the average yards per play have improved (note especially how much better we are against the pass), they are still not as good as the averages from the Carr years, which basically were 5.0 yars per play or better (excepting 2000).
Finally, here are the statistics for total yards per game. In order to make the curves comparable, I've expressed each as a percentage of the 2010 stastics. The drop-off is pretty intense. (Yes, those numbers from 2006 are right. Michigan allowed 43 rushing yards per game that year.)
The overall result is that this defense is (overall) about average for a Michigan defense during this span:
avg per rush
avg rush per game
average per pass
avg pass per game
average per play
average per game
Here is a link to my spreadsheet, based on the statistics from mgoblue.com.
So another week gone by and another win by the boys in the winged helmets. Hooray for nobody selecting Michigan lower than the Outback! Although now nobody is selecting Michigan in the BCS, either.
The chart shows the MNC and all BCS bowl game projections, followed by the Big Ten bowl game projections.
|Week 11||Rittenberg||Schlabach||Edwards||CBS Sports||CNNSI||BTN||CFN|
|Ok State||Ok State||Oklahoma||Ok State||Oklahoma|
|Fiesta||Nebraska||Oklahoma||Oklahoma||Ok State||Oklahoma||Ok State|
|S Carolina||S Carolina||Georgia||S Carolina||S Carolina||Georgia|
|Gator||Penn St||Penn St||osu||osu||osu||osu||Nebraska|
|Care Care||Iowa||osu||Penn St||Purdue||Penn St||Penn St||Penn St|
|New Era Pinstripe||NW||Iowa||Purdue|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||NW||NW|
|New Mexico Bowl||Iowa|
So yeah, that's a big chart. You can see Michigan bolded throughout. The big changes for U-M are that Dienhart no longer has Michigan in the TicketCity, Rittenberg elevates us from the Insight to the Outback, and Palm drops us from the Fiesta to the Outback. Potential bowl opponents include Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
Rittenberg is now the only one to have a Big Ten team earn an at-large BCS berth (Nebraska to the Fiesta). Last week, Rittenberg had msu-Rose and Wisco-Sugar, and Palm had Wisco-Rose and Michigan-Fiesta.
Everyone has Wisconsin to the Rose, except Schlabach, who sticks with msu. Speaking of msu, they're predicted in the Rose (1), Cap1 (3), Outback (1), and Insight (2). Michigan, on the other hand, is pretty much a concensus at the Cap1 (2) or Outback (5).
Of note is that several of these guys are predicting 10 Big Ten teams to be bowl eligible: Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, msu, Penn St, osu, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and Northwestern. There is a clear top half and botom half, but that's just crazy, man. That's why you're seeing random bowl games like New Era Pinstripe, Kraft Fight Hunger, and New Mexico Bowl. Rittenberg can't commit, so he just puts Illinois in "Other".
So with two games left, home contests against Nebraska and Ohio State, we know Michigan will finish the regular season 8-4 at worst and 10-2 at best.
I think most of us would have been happy with being 8-2 after 10 at the beginning of the season, my pre-season prediction was 8-4, so I have to tell myself I can't be very disappointed no matter what happens to finish the season.
There's no doubt, however, that Michigan has been a pretty bi-polar team this season. Impressive wins over some decent teams and a couple of poor performances in our losses leave many fans wondering how good this team really is. I think we'll find out for sure in the next few weeks, but who wants to wait that long? Here's a statistical breakdown of the season so far:
All stats are based on the last 9 games, the game against Western doesn't officially count.
Total Offense: Denard Robinson- 1,611 yds passing, 864yds rushing, 275 total YPG (24th Overall, 1st in B1G)
Passing YPG: Denard Robinson- 99/189, 179ypg, 13 TDS, 13 INTs (71st Overall, 5th in B1G)
Passing Efficiency: Denard Robinson- 132.92 rtng (57th overall, 5th in B1G)
Junior Hemingway- 27rec, 520yds, 19.3ypc, 1 TD (NR)
Jeremy Gallon- 23rec, 391yds, 17.0ypc, 2 TDs (NR)
Roy Roundtree- 14rec, 278yds, 19.9ypc, 2 TDs (NR)
Denard Robinson- 151car, 864yds, 12 TDs, 5.7YPC, 96.0YPG (32nd Overall, 5th in B1G)
Fitzgerald Toussaint- 114car, 673yds, 5 TDs, 5.9YPC, 84.1 YPG (48th Overall, 6th in B1G)
Passing: 200.4ypg, 15TDs, 14INTs (84th Overall, 7th in B1G)
Rushing: 235.9ypg, 22TDs (11th Overall, 2nd in B1G)
Total Offense: 436.3ypg, 6.48 yards per play (33rd Overall, 3rd in B1G)
Scoring: 32.3ppg, 38TDs, 8 FGs (37th Overall, 3rd in B1G)
Turnovers lost: 19, 14 INTs (111th), 5 fumbles lost (9th) (T-78th Overall, 11th in B1G)
Red Zone Offense: 44 drives, 27 TDs, 8 FGs, 80% (T-69th Overall, 7th in B1G)
Not exactly the powerhouse that we were last year, but we have the 5th and 6th best rushers in the Big Ten in Denard and Fitzgerald. Denard is obviously not much of a passing quarterback and he gets a lot of flack for it, but with his legs factored in he's still the most productive player in the Big Ten. Toussaint is looking like the running back of the future. Our lack of a passing game means we don't have any receivers that stand out nationally, with none falling in the top 100. Our turnovers have been brutal this season, with our 14 INTs landing us 111th in the country. After a great start to the season in the red zone, we've fallen to an 80% in red zone scoring, putting us in the bottom half of the B1G.
All in all, not as impressive as many of us were hoping for, but plenty of glimmers of hope, the most productive player in the Big Ten, and a solid ground game make it a pretty decent season so far.
Offensive Grade: B
Passes Defended: JT Floyd- 6 PBU's, 2 INTs, .89 passes defended per game (T-78th Overall, 2nd in B1G)
Forced Fumbles: Thomas Gordon- 2FF (T-68th Overall, 4th in B1G)
Thomas Gordon- 4FR (T-2nd Overall, 1st in B1G)
Jake Ryan- 2 FR (T-31st Overall, T-4th in B1G)
Passing Defense: 191.3ypg, 6.47ypa, 9 TDs, 6 INTs (22nd Overall, 6th in B1G)
Rushing Defense: 130.9ypg, 4.01ypc, 9 TDs (41st Overall, 5th in B1G)
Total Defense: 322.2ypg, 5.18yds per play, 19TDs (17th Overall, 6th in B1G)
Scoring Defense: 19TDs, 4 FGs, 16.1ppg (7th Overall, 3rd in B1G)
Turnovers Forced: 20, 6 INTs (T-94th), 14 FR (T-5th) (T-28th Overall, 2nd in B1G)
Sacks: 19 sacks, 2.11 per game (44th Overall, 6th in B1G)
Red Zone Defense: 27 drives, 16 TDs, 2 FGs, 67% (1st Overall, 1st in B1G)
First of all, we have the best red zone defense in the country!? I would not have guessed that. Second of all, the Big Ten is a defensive juggernaut of a conference. When we're 22nd in the country in passing defense and that's only good for 6th in the Big Ten, that's pretty ridiculous. But seeing that we're 17th nationally in total defense and that five other Big Ten teams are still ahead of us (MSU, Wisky, PSU, Illinois and OSU) is just obscene. There's not even a major statistic that our defense is outside the top 50 in (we're also 39th in 3rd down defense and 20th in 4th down defense). I think if you told me our defense would be this good a year ago I would have slapped you. We're lacking in interceptions but dominating in fumble recoveries. I love Greg Mattison and I love this defense.
Defensive Grade: A-
Punting: Will Hagerup- 21 punts, 49 long, 35.8avg (NR)
Kicking: Brendan Gibbons- 8/11, 38 long, 37/37 XP (55th Overall, 6th in B1G)
Punt Returns: Jeremy Gallon- 14ret, 11.43ypr (18th Overall, 2nd in B1G)
Punt Returns: 16ret, 160yds, 10.0avg (39th Overall, 4th in B1G)
Punt Return D: 16ret, 142yds, 8.88ypr (78th Overall, 10th in B1G)
Net Punting: 33 punts, 37.73avg, 16ret, 8.8ypr, 32.82 net avg (112th Overall, 12th in B1G)
Kickoff Returns: 20ret, 388yds, 19.4ypr (102nd Overall, 10th in B1G)
Kickoff Return D: 37ret, 708yds, 19.1ypr (23rd Overall, 3rd in B1G)
Turnover Margin: 20 gained, 19 lost, +1 (51st Overall, 7th in B1G)
Penalties: 40 penalties, 39.22yds per game (T-12th Overall, 2nd in B1G)
Not really sure what to make of this. Pretty disheartening to see that we're one of the worst net punting teams in the nation, one of the worst kick return teams in the nation, and one of the worst punt return defense teams in the nation. It is, however, encouraging to see Gallon in the top 20 punt returners in the country, and our penalties are under control. Gibbons is Gibbons, and 8/11 is pretty good compared to last year. Still, I feel like Special Teams aren't a priority on this team.
Special Teams Grade: C+
So our offense has been a little underwhelming, our defense has been an extremely pleasant surprise, and our special teams have been business as usual, sadly. But that's just what the numbers say. What do you say?