"You can't make me," Hoke said. "You're not my father."
This year's dose of what has become a yearly philosophical rambling
Well, my friends, it has arrived.
I look back on seasons past and think of all those mornings I woke up too early, too excited, and too impatient for the first game. So much has changed since then. I am no longer rousing myself hung over and dehydrated; I do not have heart-cringing football food laid out for the entire day; I am not making plans with friends to sit on couches from ESPN College GameDay to TBS Pac-10 late games; and I will not end the night celebrating or drowning my sorrows in a frozen stein somewhere.
Disney's Jake and the NeverLand Pirates are holding the TV hostage as I type this. I was up before 6 and took orders for cinnamon toast and Honey Nut Cheerios. The dog has been walked, toweled off, fed, and wrestled with, perhaps not necessarily in that order. I've already punished the same kid twice for something the child already knows all too better. And I have ultimately dedicated myself to being SuperDad for the entire chunk of the day just to reserve a healthy 3:30 - 7:00pm EST block all to myself.
(Don't get me wrong, the kids will be there-- they woke up saying "What time is Michigan??"-- but their attention span will be exhausted about three seconds after Denard breaks the first of his several gazelle impersonations that are sure to take place today. There's something that tells me it's not quite fair to make young children watch every play, even if it's a Mattison defense.)
But despite all these changes in my life... and even all the changes that have befallen Fort Schembechler for the past decade and beyond... nothing has changed.
This morning, I lay in my bed like a bright-eyed, ten-year old maize-and-blue-clad dreamer, full of optimism, hope and enough anticipation to power an oil refinery. I lay there in the dark beside my beautiful wife-- who either doesn't really understand how deep all of this runs in my veins, or does and yet still manages to take me seriously anyway-- with visions of broken plays turning into 65 yard scampers, competent decision-making by the secondary, and enough blitzes to make General Patton happy all dancing inside my head. As I laid there waiting for Gameday to begin, it didn't matter who I was or everything my life has become.
There's something timeless about Michigan football, and that translates to us as well. No matter where life will take us, and no matter who we ever become, there's moments like today that serve as a constant reminder of who we really are inside, and for better or worse, what's really important to us, at least in the fall. The restless impatience we are all boiling over with this morning-- well, may it never change, despite how much any or all of us do.
We will always be men of Michigan. GO BLUE, and we'll see you on the other side tonight.
|Play||Formation||Down & Distance||Field Position||Run/Pass||1st Down?|
My first M-Go Chart. So what does this crazy thing mean? The plays of an offense are numbered down the left side. The second column is full of several different personnel packages. In a real game a team wouldn't really run 12 different personnel packages in a row, this is just several examples of different ones. Some coaches use this number system to easily identify what the other team is up to. It's a really simple system where the first number represents the number of running backs, and the second number is the amount of tight ends. You assume 5 lineman and a QB, and so the final number (WR's) is implied. For instance the "21" Formation is two RB's and 1 TE which means there are 2 WR's in play.
What can you do with this new way of looking at personnel? Well, create a simple chart like the one above. You can add whatever columns you want (mine are just an example). Obviously you want to watch the game live without a chart in your lap, but the idea is to go back through the offensive plays and write down the data as it happens. (Brian already does an awesome job of this, it's just a different way to look at it...)
You can then create statistics that will tell you things like, "On first down, the opposition runs 75% of the time." Or, "This team likes to run the ball in their own territory and pass more in yours." There are endless ways of breaking down the small amount of columns I used.
Teams like to do this to gain an advantage in knowing what other teams might do next. They will look at data like this at halftime to make adjustments and look for keys in playcalling. Teams also run this type of analysis on themselves (self-scouting) to make sure they don't have any glaring tendences.
You can call them whatever you want, but this simple system allows you to focus on how these different allignments effect what the team will call in any given situation. Most teams don't run every play from every package.
I just learned about this a few months ago, and I wanted to start charting our team under the new head coach. It will be fun to see if any of you create some badass charts of your own. I mean, this is MGO, right?
Today, I went for a walk. I left my central campus apartment and headed south on State St., hoping that if I walked slowly enough, by the time I got to the stadium, there would be someone at the gate to take my ticket and let me in. I seriously even took my ticket along, just in case. I walked because I could not read another word or watch another video about Michigan Football (yes, when it comes to Michigan Football, you capitalize the ‘F’). I had no intention of writing anything, but as I walked, I could not fight the urge.
I walked by the ticket office, and saw a couple dozen people picking up their tickets. “Who could possibly wait until today to pick up their tickets,” I wondered. But then again, I called the ticket office in a panic when a friend’s tickets arrived in the mail and I had not yet received mine yet. I hadn’t even checked my mail yet. They were there. That day, I took out my tickets, snapped a picture on my phone and sent it to my brother, a Michigan alum living in Chicago, who wasn’t as much jealous as excited, and will be here with me as many Saturdays as work will allow this fall.
I walked by Schembechler Hall, and thought of Bo. I never met the man, and am not even old enough to have seen the games he coached live, but have read about and watched everything I can about his legend. I like to think that his handshake could have told you all you needed to know about him. Strength, confidence, a touch of brashness and a genuine human-beingness that makes you try to make up words like human-beingness. Probably what it’s like to shake the hand of a 4th generation plumber, his hands strong from wrenching the steel inner workings of his teams, who loves what he does and couldn’t give a damn if you don’t respect his craft. I thought of how many people’s lives he must have touched, how many large, grown men probably heard the news of his passing, silently walked to a room away from their wives and children, and wept. How his death deeply affected millions of people who probably never got closer to him in person than the confines of Michigan Stadium’s railings would allow. I saw what appeared to be two grandfathers with their grandsons walking to take a peek inside Schembechler Hall. I thought of how one day I hope I’m lucky enough to do the same. To pass on what is one of my greatest passions to another generation like so many have before.
As I walked, I saw a pizza delivery car pass with a Pizza House sign atop its roof, and thought of Rich Rodriguez. A couple friends and I would occasionally go to the coach’s radio show on Thursdays to drink beer, eat pizza and listen to Brandstatter and whomever the guest of the day was. There, I met Rich Rodriguez several times. While I had hot and cold feelings about him throughout his tenure, it becomes much more difficult to dislike a man when you meet him. When he turns to your table in commercial breaks, asks you about your future and jokes that he wishes he could have a beer with you. When he meets you only a couple times, you’re nothing more than another fan, and he remembers your name. When you watch him order the free pizza Pizza House provided him with to take home to his wife and kids. I thought of how, regardless of your feelings on him as a coach, you have to be so thankful that he brought Denard Robinson to this program. A young man who redefines his position, loves playing football more than anything in the world, and encapsulates humility and what you want in a student-athlete in a way that is indescribable. I literally hate that last sentence because it falls so incredibly short of capturing everything great about Denard Robinson. Ronald Bellamy’s Underachieving All Stars does the best job I’ve seen. Brian’s not too bad at it either.
I walked past the Al Glick Field House and noticed something I had not seen before. By the Southeast entrance is a stone sign with ‘2009’ engraved in it. I realized its significance. When myself and everyone reading this are long gone, it will remain. There will be a 232nd year of Michigan Football, and 332nd and on and on. The magnitude of a tradition that great and sacred filled me with pride.
I walked past the field hockey fields and thought of Charles Woodson. Strange, right? But the color and texture of the field reminded me of what used to be at Spartan stadium (yep, they get a lowercase ‘s’ in ‘stadium’) when Charles Woodson went on a solo mission into space and landed perfectly back at Cape Canaveral, with his intergalactic pigskin in tow. The man in black and white stripes who could not even contain his own amazement as he reached back and made the most deliberate first down signal for Michigan I’ve ever seen. “Neutrality be damned,” thought that referee, “that was awesome and deserved to be called like a home plate umpire who rings someone up in the bottom of the 9th of a perfect game in game seven of the World Series on a nasty curveball thrown by Cy Young striking out Babe Ruth.” Except more exciting and historic. (Boom, Fred Jacksoned.) I thought of how Charles Woodson an idol to me in my childhood. How when I recently found a journal from my elementary school days, scribbled in awful penmanship and grossly misspelled was, “My hero is Charles Woodson. He plays cornerback for the Oakland Raiders. He went to the University of Michigan. I am going to go to the University of Michigan.” I thought of Saturday afternoons when I would sit with my friends glued to ABC watching every amazing second of every game, then going out in the brisk autumn evening to throw a football around until it got dark. “I’ll be Charles Woodson,” my friend would say. “No, I will,” I’d argue back. We all wanted to play cornerback. Kids who like football do not grow up wanting to play cornerback. They want to be Joe Montana or Barry Sanders, but after 1997, they wanted to be Charles Woodson, too. When I played football in seventh grade, I was a quarterback and the smallest middle linebacker in the history of the universe, because that’s where my coaches wanted me to play. I was number 24, Sir Charles’ number for the Raiders. I wasn’t number 2 only because one of my best friends on the team had a name before mine in the alphabet and got to pick his jersey number first, that bastard. When I left middle school and they let us have our jerseys, I scribbled ‘Woodson’ on the back with a Sharpie. Obsessed probably doesn’t do it justice.
I turned right and headed down the train tracks. I thought of the men that built those tracks, and I bet they liked Michigan Football. I’ll bet they were the kind of households where if someone asked to watch a different game at halftime, the father would say, “we only watch one team in this house. Michigan.” (I’ll confess I stole that from Rudy. And if the timing of black and white TV and railroad construction and televised football don’t match up, screw you for caring.) I thought of warm apple cider spiked with a little whiskey, bratwursts sizzling and smoking on portable grills, the smell of a cigar or two, and the feeling that everything is right in the world on late chilly fall Saturdays in Ann Arbor.
I walked through the parking lot and was in awe of the pantheon that is Michigan Stadium. Or Cathedral. Or Mecca. There’s something magnificent about a building that’s awe-inspiring even when it’s completely void of its purpose and patrons. Like a church you walk around even though there’s no priest or parishioners in it (if you’re into that kind of thing), Michigan Stadium begs to be explored even when you’d be only one of one in there instead of one of 113,000. I can think of no other stadium in the world I’d rather have my favorite football team call home.
I walked as close as I could to the tunnel and saw the Rose Bowl Years painted by the player entrance and thought of Lloyd. A man who I think I’d be proud to be like as a father. A man who supports Mott’s Children’s Hospital as if every child there is his own. If you asked me who the best football coach in the country was, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say Lloyd Carr, right or wrong. Someone who pretty much anyone would love to play golf with, or just talk life. I’m upset with myself right now for waiting this long to talk about Lloyd. My attention span is waning and there are only so many analogies and adjectives left in the keys right now. Suffice it to say, I’m proud to know that Lloyd Carr was a coach for my favorite team. He’s a great man and a pillar of hope in the sometimes selfish, cold and calculated world of college football. If he ran for political office, I wouldn’t vote for him, but not because I don’t think he’d be good at it, because I think he’s above that world, and I’d want to protect him from it.
I walked a little further, and this long walk reminded me of Brady Hoke. A man who would have walked from San Diego. Yes, it’s been talked about so much by idiots like Drew Sharpe that it’s almost annoying, but I still love it. Because I believe him. Like many people, the Brady Hoke hire was scary for me. I wanted Harbaugh. I don’t resent him for going elsewhere. I kind of wanted Les Miles, but was a little leery. I did not initially want Brady Hoke. I knew who he was only because I am a college football NUT, but I wasn’t excited. Then, he had that press conference. Words can only do so much, but sometimes sincerity and emotion can make a big difference. Brady Hoke belongs at Michigan. He has already achieved his dream. Not just to coach college football, but to be the Head Coach at the University of Michigan. People will feel that. I doubt there will ever be a time when Hoke really wants to talk about how many hours he puts in, because he doesn’t care. Not talking about your new salary until after you quit your old job and move your family across the country is kind of crazy. But it’s not crazy if it’s for your dream. I think he would have accepted a 10th of what he’s earning if that’s all Michigan could have afforded. As long as he could’ve provided for his family, he would have been A-OK with that. You know that question from Office Space about what you would do if you won a million dollars ? What would Brady Hoke do if he won 100 million dollars? He would coach the University of Michigan Wolverines, I think. Also, buy lots of sausage. Maybe commision the invention of a time machine to go and convince Chris Farley never to play that Matt Foley guy. Regardless, I have faith, and maybe it’s partially blind faith, about the direction he’ll take Michigan. But that blind faith is part of what makes being a fan so great. The hope for the future success for your team and the belief, even the deep-rooted feeling of a knowledge that your team will be great again. It also is part of what makes the offseason so painstakingly long.
I walked back up Hoover and decided to write this, knowing it would get me that much closer to tomorrow. And tomorrow, I’ll walk back down State St., surrounded by tens of thousands of people who love and believe in the same thing that I do. That walk will be filled with less thoughts, mostly because I’ll just be awash in excitement and anticipation. But there’s a few vague words or feelings concepts or horribly cliché ideas that will run through my brain. Winning. Pride. Championships. Character. Tradition. Michigan Football.
P.S. In the most uplanned and awesome timing ever, we’re now 24 hours from kickoff.
They say that the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think I'm in stage 4. It's taken me this long to publish a post I'd written after the bowl game in January, and that's because Denard has a game tomorrow and all the stats will change, obviously.
I grew up with M in my veins, shaking my head every season but one at the underachievement of Michigan teams with All-American talent but below-average coaching in the games that mattered most. With the hiring of Rich Rodriguez, I truly believed that Michigan had turned the corner, and was evolving into a perennial national college football superpower. The transition was tough, but it was working. The offense was finally showing the promise that we all believed it would, while the defense suffered from a perfect storm of roster depletions and coaching confusion. If we had overhauled the defensive staff but kept the program intact...ahhh, time to put the ifs and buts away for good and move on.
One thing I know: Communist Football is here to stay. It represents the highest evolution of offensive power. The revolution will live on, in places like Eugene and Starkville and Auburn. In Ann Arbor, the Rebellion has been dealt a setback, but its embers will never burn out. Let this final edition of the Almanack stand as a testament to what was, and what will never be.
Prefatory Verbiage • Bowls in Review • Record of the Week • QBs as Rushing Champions • QB Rushing, Game • QB Rushing, Season • QB Rushing, Career • Rushing (Any Position) • 200/200 Club • 1500/2500 Club • 1500/1500 Club • 1000/1000 Club • All-Purpose TDs • Total Offense • Total Offense Per Play • Passing Efficiency • Other M Passing • Other M Rushing • Team Offense • Miscellaneous Records • Standard Disclaimers • Acknowledgments • Comments
- Previous editions. Previous editions of this Almanack can be found at the MGoBlog Communist Football page.
- Corrections are welcome. If you have found an error, please put it in the comments section and I'll give you credit. Obviously with so much data, mistakes can happen.
- Review the disclaimers. Football has evolved considerably over its 141-year history, much more so than other major sports, and that is important to keep in mind when talking about all-time records. The existence of this diary is not meant to imply that individual achievement is more important than the achievement of the team.
Bowls in Review: Stalingrad 1942
One thing that I think the Gator Bowl reminded us was that Denard is a true sophomore. He plays great when he plays with confidence, when the team is ahead or tied or close behind. But in games where the defense faltered, Denard got jittery; his decisions got worse; the offense sputtered. As an upperclassman, he’ll get better at these things.
Denard gained 59 yards on 11 carries, for a respectable 5.4 YPC. He completed 27 passes on 41 attempts, with 2 TDs and 1 INT, for an (again) respectable completion percentage of 66% and a mediocre efficiency rating of 129.11.
Of the other prominant dual-threat QBs, Heisman winner Cam Newton's stats were remarkably similar to Denard‘s (of course against stronger opposition): Newton ran for 64 yards on 22 carries (2.9 YPC), and went 20-for-34 (59%) for 265 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. Colin Kaepernick ran for 22 yards on 9 attempts (2.4 YPC), and went 20-for-33 for 192 yards (61%), with 1 TD and 1 INT in a victory over Boston College. Taylor Martinez ran for 23 yards on 14 attempts, and completed 7 of 9 passes for 53 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, in a losing effort against Washington.
LaMichael James ran for 49 yards on 13 attempts (3.8 YPC) in Oregon's 22-19 loss to Auburn in the BCS Championship.
Records of the Year: Big Ten Single-Season Total Offense; 1500/2500 Club
Denard finished the 2010 season with 1,702 yards rushing and 2,570 passing, making him the first person in college football history—at any level—with more than 1,500 yards rushing and 2,500 yards passing in a single season.
Notably, with 313 yards of total offense against Mississippi State, Denard eclipsed Drew Brees’ 10-year-old Big Ten record for total offense in a single season, with 4,272 yards (Brees gained 4,189 in 2000 for Purdue).
Denard still holds (for now) the Michigan career yards-per-carry record with a minimum of 200 attempts, with 6.3 YPC. The previous record was 6.3 YPC by Jon Vaughn (from 1989-1990).
Denard lost his hold of the Michigan career pass-efficiency record with a minimum of 200 attempts, as the Ohio State game brough him down to 146.2. The current record is 148.1 by Elvis Grbac (from 1989-1992), though Elvis had the benefit of a certain Heisman Trophy-winning receiver. Denard's 146.2 mark is also on pace for fourth all-time in the Big Ten, though he needs 300 completions to qualify for that record (he currently has 169).
Denard also just barely missed out on the Michigan single-season total offense per play record, with 7.8 yards per play in 2010. The record is held by Drew Henson, who recorded 7.9 YPP in 2000.
Quarterbacks as NCAA Rushing Champions
A quarterback has never led the NCAA FBS in rushing yards over a single season. In 1937, the first year in which the NCAA kept official football statistics, Colorado halfback Byron "Whizzer" White led the nation in rushing with 1,121 yards, along with 475 passing yards. (If that wasn't enough, White also went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, played in the NFL for Pittsburgh and Detroit, served in World War II during which he was awarded two Bronze Stars, came back and graduated from Yale Law School, and was appointed by John F. Kennedy to the Supreme Court of the United States.)
In 2010, Denard barely failed to become the first quarterback in history to finish the season as the NCAA rushing champion by yards gained. He gained 1,702 yards on the ground, 29 yards behind LaMichael James.
On a yards-per-game basis, James won the title with 144.3 (Denard fell to fourth with 130.9, behind James, Connecticut's Jordan Todman, and WKU's Bobby Rainey). Personally, I find the YPG statistic to be arbitrary: should Denard be punished because the Bowling Green game was a rout and he was pulled, and LaMichael James be rewarded because he was suspended for one game for pleading guilty to harrassing his ex-girlfriend? FWIW, on a yards-per-carry basis, Denard is well ahead of James.
Here are the top 5 rushers in the country in 2010, sorted by yards gained:
|Bobby Rainey||W. Kentucky||340||1,649||4.85||12||137.4||15|
* - LaMichael James was suspended for Oregon's first game against New Mexico for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Game
Denard currently holds the Michigan and Big Ten records for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game: 258 vs. Notre Dame. The NCAA FBS record is 308, on 22 attempts, by Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois, against Fresno State, on Oct. 6, 1990. The previous Michigan single-game record was held by another #16, Steve Smith, who ran for 147 yards on four carries against Minnesota in 1983.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Season
Denard gained 1,731 rushing yards in 13 games in 2010. He owns the NCAA FBS (I-A) record, previously set by Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1996 with 1,494 yards. The Big Ten record was previously in the hands of Antwaan Randle-El in 2000 with 1,270 yards. Denard has destroyed the previous Michigan record for QB rushing yards in a season: 674 by Steve Smith in 1981.
Before you get too overwhelmed by all the numbers in this diary, just stop and think about that for a minute. Denard Robinson, your starting Michigan quarterback, playing before your very eyes, nearly tripled a Michigan rushing record. And not just any record, but one that has stood for three decades. Even if you account for the fact that we're playing a very different style of football now—it's just incredible.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Career
There's no point in projecting Denard's career rushing totals, since there are a number of variables (Al Borges? Does Denard stay his senior year? Does a great tailback lighten his rushing load?). But here are the records:
Michigan's career record is held by Rick Leach (1975-1978) at 2,176 yards: a record Denard could break this weekend against Western Michigan. Denard needs 123 yards in the WMU game to take this title. The Big Ten record is Antwaan Randel El's (1998-2001) at 3,895 yards. The NCAA FBS record is held by Pat White (2005-2008) at 4,480 yards.
The NCAA FBS per-game career record is 109.1 yards by Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois, achieved from 1988-1990 over 25 games.
Rushing Records (At Any Position)
For a single game, the Michigan record is 347 by Ron Johnson (pictured) in 1968 against Wisconsin; the Big Ten record is 377 by Anthony Thompson of Indiana in 1989 against Wisconsin; the NCAA FBS record is 406 by LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU in 1999 against UTEP.
For a single season, the Michigan record is 1,818 yards (Tshimanga Biakabutuka, 1995); the Big Ten record is 2,087 yards (Larry Johnson, Penn St., 2002); the NCAA FBS record is 2,628 yards (Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988). Denard can break Touchdown Tim's Michigan record by gaining 176 yards in the bowl game.
That Barry Sanders record will be around for a long time. At one point, Denard was on pace to break Larry Johnson's Big Ten rushing record, but he slowed down as the schedule got tougher.
For a career, the Michigan record is held by Mike Hart (5,040 yards, 2004-2007); the Big Ten record is held by Ron Dayne (7,125 yards, 1996-1999); the NCAA FBS record is also held by Ron Dayne, but they list it as 6,397 yards. (Herschel Walker of Georgia holds the record for a 3-year career at 5,259 yards, set from 1980-1982.)
The 200/200 Club
Denard is the only player in FBS history to gain 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing twice—in regular-season games. To me this is a silly distinction: who cares if it was done in the regular season or a bowl game? If anything, Vince Young's performance in the 2005 Rose Bowl against USC is even more remarkable, given that that USC team is considered one of the most dominant teams of the modern era. Wake me up when Denard gets his third 200/200 game. (He did go for 191/190 against Penn State.)
Anyway, here are the 200/200 games listed in the NCAA record book, sorted by total offense. You'll note that Denard is the only member of the 240/240 club, and Marques Tuiasosopo is the only member of the 200/300 club.
Pictured at right is Penn halfback Francis "Reds" Bagnell, 1950 Heisman Trophy runner-up and great-uncle to MGoComrade Dandaman. Bagnell was the first member of the 200/200 club. It took 36 years for a second player to accomplish the feat.
|Player||Team (Opponent)||Year||Rushing||Passing||Total Off.|
|Marques Tuiasosopo||Washington (Stanford)||1999||207||302||509|
|Vince Young||Texas (Oklahoma St.)||2005||267||239||506|
|Denard Robinson||MICH (Notre Dame)||2010||258||244||502|
|Denard Robinson||MICH (Indiana)||2010||217||277||494|
|Reds Bagnell||Penn (Dartmouth)||1950||214||276||490|
|Brad Smith||Missouri (Nebraska)||2005||246||234||480|
|Brian Mitchell||La.-Lafayette (Colo. St.)||1987||271||205||476|
|Antwaan Randle-El||Indiana (Minnesota)||2000||210||263||473|
|Vince Young||Texas (USC Rose Bowl)||2005||200||267||467|
|Patrick White||W. Va. (Pittsburgh)||2006||220||204||424|
|Steve Gage||Tulsa (New Mexico)||1986||212||209||421|
The 1500/2500 Club
There is one quarterback in college football history—Division I, II, or III—who has both rushed for 1,500 yards and passed for 2,500 yards in the same season.
The 1500/2000 Club
For that matter, there's only one who has rushed for 1,500 and passed for 2,000:
The 1500/1500 Club
There is one quarterback in major college football history who has both rushed and passed for 1,500 yards in the same season.
The 1000/1000 Club
Johnny Bright, a halfback from Drake, was the first member of the 1000/1000 Club, the same year Reds Bagnell joined the 200/200 Club. In 1951, Wilbanks Smith, a racist defensive tackle from Oklahoma A&M (later Oklahoma State), deliberately broke Bright's jaw, permanently damaging his football career. The incident led the NCAA to mandate the usage of face masks, and earned the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for the photographers who documented the assault. Drake temporarily withdrew from the Missouri Valley Conference to protest the fact that the conference didn't discipline Smith for the attack.
When Bright graduated from Drake in 1951, he held the NCAA career total offense record, with 5,903 yards: a record that stood for 15 years. It took three decades for another player to join the 1000/1000 Club. Tragically, Bright died at the age of 53 of a massive heart attack.
Today, there are 30 quarterbacks (and one halfback) in FBS who have run and thrown for 1000 yards in the same season. Other than Denard, none have both run and passed for 1500 yards (the previous rushing record for QBs was 1,494).
Seven quarterbacks have achieved this milestone multiple times: Brad Smith (thrice), Colin Kaepernick (thrice including 2010), Vince Young (twice), Pat White (twice), Beau Morgan (twice), Joe Webb (twice), and Joshua Cribbs (twice). Only two people have joined the 1000/1000 club as freshmen: Brad Smith of Missouri, and Joshua Cribbs of Kent State. Air Force leads the overall list with five different QBs, in six different seasons, in the 1000/1000 club. (It is interesting that an instrument of American capitalist imperialism, the U.S. Air Force Academy, is the premier exponent of communist football.)
The list below of 1000/1000 members is sorted this list by rushing yards. Cameron Newton and Colin Kaepernick also reached the 1000/1000 mark in 2010.
|Beau Morgan**||Air Force||1996||1,494||1,210||2,704|
|Patrick White||W. Virginia||2007||1,335||1,724||3,059|
|Dee Dowis||Air Force||1989||1,286||1,285||2,571|
|Beau Morgan||Air Force||1995||1,285||1,165||2,450|
|Antwaan Randle El*||Indiana||2000||1,270||1,783||3,053|
|Johnny Bright (HB)||Drake||1950||1,232||1,168||2,400|
|Chance Herridge||Air Force||2002||1,229||1,062||2,291|
|Patrick White||W. Virginia||2006||1,219||1,655||2,874|
|Keith Boyea||Air Force||2001||1,216||1,253||2,469|
|Dwight Dasher||Middle Tenn.||2009||1,154||2,789||3,943|
|Dan LeFevour||Central Mich.||2007||1,122||3,652||4,774|
|Joshua Cribbs||Kent State||2002||1,057||1,014||2,071|
|Josh Nesbitt||Ga. Tech||2009||1,037||1,701||2,738|
|Bart Weiss||Air Force||1985||1,032||1,449||2,481|
|Ell Roberson||Kansas St.||2002||1,032||1,580||2,612|
|Brad Smith (Fr.)||Missouri||2002||1,029||2,333||3,362|
|Joshua Cribbs (Fr.)||Kent State||2001||1,019||1,516||2,535|
|Reggie Collier||So. Miss.||1981||1,005||1,004||2,009|
* Previous Big Ten record for rushing yards by a quarterback ** Previous NCAA FBS (I-A) record for rushing yards by a QB
There are different ways to calculate touchdown records. The Michigan record book tracks touchdowns scored; i.e., the player who has the ball in his hands in the end zone. The NCAA also tracks all-purpose TDs; i.e., the combination of passing touchdowns and touchdowns scored, something that Michigan does not track.
What is interesting is that we actually do have game-by-game accounts of touchdowns scored going back to the beginnings of Michigan football in 1879. As a result, Michigan does track touchdowns scored on an all-time basis, and not just for the modern era. The all-time Michigan record for touchdowns scored is held by Al Herrnstein, who scored 26 touchdowns in 1902.
In order to look at all-purpose touchdowns, I had to go back and look at individual season statistics to compile the data. I actually went through the game-by-game accounts of the 1901-1905 seasons from the Michigan Alumnus in order to get accurate information about touchdown statistics in the Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" era, and reviewed old NCAA research on pre-1937 touchdown statistics. It's possible that there are other pre-WWII players that I've missed.
According to the stats I've been able to find, Robinson is indeed out front with 32 all-purpose touchdowns in 2010, more than any player in the 121-year history of Michigan football. On a per-game basis, Denard at 2.46 per game is third only to two seasons from Tom Harmon, who scored 23 touchdowns (including a kickoff return and an interception return) over 8 games in 1940, for an average of 2.88. (Harmon also scored 2.50 touchdowns per game in 1939, though over 8 games compared to Denard's 13.) The only asterisk is that I don't have information on passing touchdowns for the Yost-era teams.
Here is the table, sorted by touchdowns per game, with a cutoff of 1.60. Remarkably, the 1901 team had three separate players score at that pace:
|Name||Yr.||Pass TD||Rush TD||Rec TD||Kick TD||Int TD||TD||G||TD/G|
|Tom Harmon, LHB||1940||7||14||0||1||1||23||8||2.88|
|Tom Harmon, RHB||1939||6||13||0||0||1||20||8||2.50|
|Denard Robinson, QB||2010||18||14||0||0||0||32||13||2.46|
|Rick Leach, QB||1978||17||12||0||0||0||29||12||2.42|
|Al Herrnstein, RHB||1902||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||26||11||2.36|
|Steve Smith, QB||1981||15||12||0||0||0||27||12||2.25|
|Chad Henne, QB||2004||25||2||0||0||0||27||12||2.25|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1904||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||20||9||2.22|
|Drew Henson, QB||2000||18||2||0||0||0||20||9||2.22|
|Ron Johnson, RHB||1968||0||19||0||0||0||19||9||2.11|
|Steve Smith, QB||1983||13||10||0||0||0||23||11||2.09|
|Elvis Grbac, QB||1991||25||0||0||0||0||25||12||2.08|
|Chad Henne, QB||2005||23||1||0||0||0||24||12||2.00|
|John Navarre, QB||2003||24||0||1||0||0||25||13||1.92|
|Rick Leach, QB||1976||13||10||0||0||0||23||12||1.92|
|Steve Smith, QB||1982||14||9||0||0||0||23||12||1.92|
|Desmond Howard, SE||1991||0||2||19||2||0||23||12||1.92|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||20||11||1.82|
|Bob Chappuis, LHB||1947||15||5||0||0||0||20||11||1.82|
|John Navarre, QB||2002||21||2||0||0||0||23||13||1.77|
|Elvis Grbac, QB||1990||21||0||0||0||0||21||12||1.75|
|Tom Brady, QB||1999||20||1||0||0||0||21||12||1.75|
|Neil Snow, FB||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||19||11||1.73|
|Bruce Shorts, RT||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||17||10||1.70|
|Chad Henne, QB||2006||22||0||0||0||0||22||13||1.69|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1902||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||15||9||1.67|
Note that Bruce Shorts scored 17 TDs as an offensive lineman: now those were the days!
The NCAA FBS (I-A) single-season record is 63 touchdowns, by Colt Brennan of Hawaii in 2006 (58 passing, 5 rushing). The per-game record is 5.0 in 1990, by David Klingler of Houston (55 TDs in 11 games).
The FBS single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback is 27, by Ricky Dobbs of Navy in 2009 (in 14 games). The season record for most touchdowns scored (i.e., excluding TD passes thrown) is 39, by Barry Sanders in 1988 over 11 games.
Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton are the only players to have both thrown and run for 20 touchdowns: in 2007, Tebow threw for 32 and ran for 23, and Newton threw for 30 and ran for 20 in 2010. (Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan threw for 27, ran for 19, and caught 1 in 2007.)
The Michigan career record for most touchdowns scored is held by Yost-era legend Willie Heston, with 69 from 1901-1904 (the Michigan record book lists Heston at 72 TDs, which is incorrect according to my game-by-game tally). The Michigan record for most all-purpose touchdowns is held by Chad Henne, who threw for 87 and ran for 3 (for a total of 90) from 2004-2007. If Denard plays through his senior season, it's possible that he could break Henne's record.
Here is the team photo of the all-time great team of 1901, courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library. Al Herrnstein is the right-most player in the front row. Neil Snow is the second from the left in the middle row. Willie Heston is right-most in the middle row. Fielding Yost is in the center of the back row. The "501-0" football that captain Hugh White is holding reflects the fact that this picture was taken before the team beat Stanford 49-0 in the inaugural Rose Bowl game of 1902. The lopsided score so disappointed Rose Bowl officials that they didn't hold a second Rose Bowl game until 1916.
Denard already owns the Michigan single-game total offense record (502 yards against Notre Dame). In fact, Denard has broken the old Michigan single-game total offense record four times this year, with games of 502, 494, 383, and 381 yards. (The previous record was 368 by John Navarre against Iowa in 2003.) Against Illinois and Wisconsin, Denard almost broke this record again, gaining 367 and 360 yards respectively: giving him six of the seven highest totals in Michigan history.
|Denard Robinson||Notre Dame||2010||258||244||502|
|Denard Robinson||Penn State||2010||191||190||381|
As noted above, Denard has annihilated John Navarre's single-season total offense record of 3,240 in 2003 with 4,272 in 2010.
The Big Ten single-game total offense record is 585 yards by Dave Wilson of Illinois, vs. Ohio State in 1980. The Big Ten single-season total offense record had been 4,189 yards by Drew Brees of Purdue in 2000.
The NCAA total offense records are dominated by prolific passers. Those records appear to be unattainable by Denard: 732 yards for a single game (David Klingler, Houston vs. Arizona State, 1990); 5,976 for a season (B.J. Symons, Texas Tech, 2003); 16,910 for a career (Timmy Chang, Hawaii, 2000-2004).
Total Offense Per Play
As with total offense records, Denard could not keep up his early 2010 pace, and his performances against Big Ten opponents that year left him further behind the pace. Through the bowl game, Denard had 4,272 yards of total offense in 547 plays, for an average of 7.8. This fell just shy of a Michigan single-season record: the current record is held by Drew Henson, who in 2000 gained 2,140 yards on 270 plays for an average of 7.9.
Here are the NCAA FBS records for a single game: 14.3 by Jason Martin (La. Tech vs. Toledo, 1996) in 37 plays and 9.9 by David Klingler (Houston vs. TCU, 1990) in 63 plays. Denard came pretty close to Martin in the Indiana game, where in 35 plays he averaged 14.1 yards per play (which is almost certainly a Michigan and quite likely a Big Ten record):
|Denard Robinson||Attempts + Carries||Total Offense||Yards per Play|
|NCAA Records||Attempts + Carries||Total Offense||Yards per Play|
|Game: Jason Martin (La. Tech vs. Toledo, 1996)||37||529||14.30|
|Game: David Klingler (Houston vs. TCU, 1990)||63||625||9.92|
|Season: Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 2006)||645||5,915||9.17|
|Career: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2007-09)||970||8,439||8.70|
As you can see in the table, for a single season (minimum 3,000 yards), the record is 9.2 by Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 2006). For a career (minimum 7,500 yards) it's 8.7 by Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2007-2009).
Passing efficiency is a statistic that rewards quarterbacks for yards, touchdowns, and completions per attempt, and punishes them for interceptions per attempt. The NCAA formula, which differs from the NFL one, is:
(8.4 * yards) + (330 * TDs) - (200 * INTs) + (100 * completions) ________________________________________________________________ attempts
Denard's 2010 passing efficiency was 149.6; his career efficiency (including last year) is 144.0, which is within reach of a Michigan record. Here are Michigan's pass efficiency records:
- Highest efficiency rating, season (min. 100 attempts): 173.3 (Bob Chappuis, 1947) (Denard got to 149.6 in 2010, good for 10th all-time)
- Highest efficiency rating, career (min. 200 attempts): 148.1 (Elvis Grbac, 1989-1992) (Denard is at 144.0 for his career, good for 4th all-time and on pace for 6th all-time in the Big Ten)
Bob Chappuis' Michigan single-season mark is also the Big Ten single-season record. (That’s him on the right. Check out that throwing motion.) The NCAA FBS pass efficiency record belongs to Colt Brennan of Hawaii, who reached 186.0 in 2006: out of Denard's reach.
Other Michigan Passing Records
At the end of 2009, here were some of the other Michigan passing records. Denard broke one of them in 2010 (Tate broke one as well):
- Highest completion percentage, game (min. 10 attempts): 92.3% (Jim Harbaugh, vs. Purdue, 1985, 13 attempts) (Broken by Tate Forcier, 100% in 12 attempts, vs. Bowling Green)
- Highest completion percentage, game (min. 20 attempts): 90.9% (Elvis Grbac, vs. Notre Dame, 1991, 22 attempts) (Denard is 2nd with 86.3% on 22 attempts vs. Connecticut)
- Highest completion percentage, season (min. 100 attempts): 65.3% (Todd Collins, 1992) (Denard finished 2010 at 62.5%)
- Highest completion percentage, career (min. 200 attempts): 64.3% (Todd Collins, 1991-1994) (Denard is at 60.9% with 322 attempts, on pace for 5th all-time)
- Yards per completion, game (min. 5 completions): Rick Leach, 36.3 vs. Purdue, 1975 (Denard's best is 30.5 with 10 completions vs. Illinois, good for 3rd all-time)
- Yards per completion, game (min. 10 completions): Jim Harbaugh, 30.0 vs. Indiana, 1986 (Broken by Denard Robinson, 30.5 YPC vs. Illinois with 10 completions)
- Yards per completion, season (min. 60 completions): Bob Chappuis, 18.8, 1947 (Denard did 14.1 in 2010)
- Yards per completion, career (min. 120 completions): Rick Leach, 17.1, 1975-1978 (Denard is at 14.1, 8th all-time)
Other Michigan Rushing Records
At the end of 2009, here were the other relevant Michigan rushing records. On average yards per carry, Denard one of the single-game records Michigan tracks, but is surprisingly far from the other ones (not that that couldn't change in a hurry). The single-season and career records were within reach, but are obviously uncertain now:
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 5 carries): 25.80, Denard Robinson vs. Bowling Green (previous record was Leroy Hoard, 18.28 ypc vs. Indiana, 1988)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 10 carries): 18.00, Rob Lytle vs. MSU, 1976 (Denard: 11.42 vs. Indiana on 19 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 15 carries): 15.70, Tyrone Wheatley vs. Washington, 1993 Rose Bowl (Denard: 11.42 vs. Indiana on 19 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 20 carries): 11.19, Ron Johnson vs. Wisconsin, 1968 (Denard: 9.21 vs. Notre Dame on 28 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-season (min. 75 carries): 7.34, Tyrone Wheatley, 1992 (Denard 2010: 6.65, tied for 4th all-time)
- Average gain per rush, career (min. 200 carries): 6.29, Jon Vaughn, 1989-1990 (Denard: 6.32 on 325 carries, on pace for 1st all-time)
- 100-yard rushing games, season: 10, Jamie Morris, 1987 (Denard had 9 in 2010)
- 150-yard rushing games, season: 6, Anthony Thomas, 2000 (Denard had 4 in 2010)
- 200-yard rushing games, season: 3, Mike Hart, 2004 (Denard had 2)
Also, Denard is one of 5 quarterbacks in NCAA history to record 5 consecutive 100-yard rushing games (the others are Ricky Dobbs of Navy in 2009, Joe Webb of Alabama-Birmingham in 2009, Brian Madden of Navy in 1999, and Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1995). No one has done it 6 times in a row.
Michigan averaged 488.7 yards per game in total offense in 2010, ninth-highest in Big Ten history. (First place belongs to Penn State's 1994 team, which averaged 512.7 yards per game.) If you take out the 72 extra yards Michigan gained in the three overtimes against Illinois, Michigan averaged 483.2 yards per game.
Either way, the 2010 offense demolished the old Michigan total offense record of 466.9, set in 1992, when Gary Moeller roamed the sidelines, barking orders to Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and Tyrone Wheatley.
|Big Ten All-Time Leaders||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|1. Penn State||1994||512.7|
|3. Ohio State||1998||497.6|
|4. Michigan State||2005||497.3|
|7. Ohio State||1974||493.2|
|8. Ohio State||1996||490.4|
|9. MICH (including overtime)||2010||488.7|
|9. MICH (regulation only)||2010||483.2|
|10. Michigan State||1978||481.3|
|11. Ohio State||1995||478.6|
|Michigan All-Time Leaders (QB/WR/RB)||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|1. Robinson / Roundtree / Smith (regulation)||2010||483.2|
|2. Grbac / Howard / Wheatley||1992||466.9|
|3. Navarre / Edwards / Perry||2003||446.7|
|4. Henson / Terrell / Thomas||2000||446.1|
|5. Grbac / Howard / Vaughn||1990||432.5|
In terms of scoring offense, Michigan is averaging 31.1 points per game in regulation (32.8 points per game including the overtime scoring), stats that lag the total offense by yardage due to our terrible kicking and defense. The 7-point output against Ohio State brought the season average outside of Michigan's top 10 all-time teams.
* - Excludes points scored in overtime
The Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" teams averaged 50.5, 58.5, 47.1, 56.7, and 38.1 points per game from 1901 to 1905. Fritz Crisler's 1947 national championship team of Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, nicknamed the "Mad Magicians," averaged 39.4. (The official Michigan record book erroneously lists the 1947 average as second-highest in school history; it is missing the performances of 1901, 1903, 1904, and 1905.)
Dynamic offenses have been few and far between in the postwar era. The 1976 Bo Schembechler team, led by Rick Leach and Rob Lytle, scored 36.0 points per game, and owns the rushing season record with 345.3 yards per game. The aforementioned 1992 team averaged 35.9 points; and the 2003 team averaged 35.4.
Here are some other stats:
- Michigan averaged 6.8 yards per play in 2010, which is most all-time in Michigan history (the previous record was 6.4 yards, in 1992 and 1947).
- Michigan averaged 238.5 rushing yards per game (inclusive of OT; 236.3 regulation-only). (The Big Ten record is 349.9 in 1974 by Ohio State; the Michigan record is 345.3 in 1976.)
- Michigan averaged 5.6 yards per carry, third-highest in Michigan history (the current record is 5.9 per carry in 1976).
- Michigan averaged 250.2 passing yards per game (inclusive of OT; 246.9 regulation), 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The record is 270.8 in 2003.)
- Michigan averaged 23.0 first downs per game (inclusive; 22.8 regulation-only), second-highest in Michigan history. (The current record is 23.9 in 2003.) Over 13 games, Michigan gained 299 first downs, good for somewhere around 11th place all-time in the Big Ten (the Big Ten record is 328 by Northwestern in 2005).
As most of you know, against Illinois, Roy Roundtree destroyed a 44-year-old Michigan single-game receiving record, by gaining 246 yards (on 9 catches with 2 TDs). The old record was set in 1966, when Jack Clancy (pictured) gained 197 yards against Oregon State.
Roundtree's mark wouldn't even make the top ten all-time in the Big Ten: the Big Ten record is 301 by Chris Daniels of Purdue against MSU in 1999; the NCAA record is 405 by Troy Edwards of Louisiana Tech against Nebraska in 1998.
- Wins are more important than stats. The existence of this diary is not meant to imply that individual achievement is more important than the achievement of the team. It is, instead, to pay tribute to Denard's exceptional individual achievement within the context of a (hopefully, someday) successful team. With a few minor exceptions, Denard's stats don't come at the expense of the team: when he rushes for 250 yards or has a QB rating of 270, the team is usually doing well. If you object to this point of view, you don't have to read further.
- Past performance is not a predictor of future results. Especially now that *sniff* Communist Football has been exiled from Ann Arbor.
- The quarterback position has evolved significantly. The forward pass was only formally legalized in 1906. From the 1910s until the 1950s, the most common college football formation was Pop Warner's single-wing, in which the quarterback's role was primarily as a blocker, and most passes were thrown by a tailback or halfback. The idea of a quarterback as the primary passer began to take hold after World War II, when coaches such as Clark Shaughnessy at Chicago and Stanford and Paul Brown at Ohio State took advantage of a recently redesigned football that was easier to throw, and married the ancient T formation to the threat of longer passes downfield.
- The record books are murky from 1869 to 1937. Something to keep in mind is that the record books don't actually go back that far in time. At the national level, official statistics have only been recorded since 1937: a mere 52 percent of college football's history. Indeed, the first rules for compiling football statistics were formulated prior to the 1941 season by an NCAA committee headed by Fielding Yost. (College football has been around since 1869.) One has to assume that Yost's point-a-minute teams would have harbored some record-producing players, though the game was quite different then, as noted above. So, to be as precise as possible, we should describe all of these records as modern-era, postwar records.
- Post-1978 records are for Division I-A only. Let me note that all the records here are for Division I-A (FBS), but do include all Division I records prior to the I-A / I-AA split in 1978. I don't really care about who did what in the other divisions, given the inferior level of competition. Personally, I would prefer to eliminate the non-automatically qualifying BCS conferences, but since the NCAA doesn't do that, I won't.
- Post-1996 overtime and pre-1912 scoring rules skew historical comparisons. The NCAA introduced overtime to I-A football in 1996, and soon after determined that points and yards gained in overtime would count toward NCAA records. Given that teams and players did not have the benefit of overtime prior to 1996, I try wherever possible to exclude overtime stats (or at least give both sets of numbers). The modern convention of TDs worth 6 points (+1 PAT) and FGs worth 3 began in 1912. From 1869 to 1882, touchdowns, extra points, and field goals were all worth one point each. From 1882-1883, TDs were worth 2, PATs 4, and FGs 5; from 1884-1897, TDs 4, PATs 2, FGs 5; from 1898-1903, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 5; from 1904-1908, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 4; from 1901-1911, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 3. The two-point conversion was introduced in 1958. I currently don't have the breakdown of TDs, PATs, and FGs for the Yost teams; if anyone else does, I would be pleased to adjust those numbers accordingly so as to make apples-to-apples comparisons with modern teams. The rules of college football evolved rapidly from 1879 to 1930, making strict comparisons difficult. For example, the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end line (10 yards back of the goal line) only in 1927, which has a huge impact on field goal kicking, and the width of the uprights has varied significantly over time.
Thanks to Comrade tf (Michigan rushing single-game record) and danieljpaul (Denard's season totals) for corrections. H/T to tubauberalles and enlightenedbum for tracking down the FBS single-game QB rushing record. Comrades Raoul and UM in VA persuaded me to post the total offense numbers, and pointed out Denard's ridiculous per-play stats, which I also added to the diary. Trebor pointed out that we should keep an eye on the impressive seasons of Taylor Martinez and Cam Newton. Comrade U of M in TX helped identify a few updating errors. Raoul also suggested putting in the team offense stats. Hillhaus pointed out that I should discuss the pre-1912 scoring conventions. Raoul and BigHouseInmate suggested I look into Michigan's all-purpose touchdown records, which ended up being a lot of fun. And finally, thanks to all of you for enjoying the Almanack each week of the 2010 season. That's what made it worth my while. Good bye and good luck.
As everyone on this blog knows, whence the football season approaches, THE KNOWLEDGE appears on these very pages and provides season reviews
these reviews are better than any predictions or projections (whether they may be based on statistics or stupid guessing), because these are made with the knowedge of the future
in a previous post, THE KNOWLEDGE had provided information on Michigan's season record, and also noted that THE KNOWLEDGE will provide the results of the first game
for the remaining games, THE KNOWLEDGE will only provide pointers to help the competitors with THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE, the greatest contest established here or at other blogs
as noted previously, Michigan's season record will be 12-2
this includes a win in a BCS bowl game
now, onto the game against the pesky horses from Kalamazoo
the results will be as follows:
- Michigan will win easily
- The defense will restrict the mighty Bronco offense to 17 points or less
- The offense will be rather slow and un-electric in the middle part of the game
- Michigan will score 38 points
Saturday night, when these events have occurred as per the notes above
THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar
and leave every doubter is a trail of dust
(A little season preview from a sports handicapping perspective on our Maize and Blue….plus a Pick-4 style preview of tomorrow’s opener. Speaking of Pick-4, ramble on over to the JCB at get in on the game. Do that first, then come back and read, yo! I’ll also have a full card of picks later today at the JCB, but I am already on the side of two, plucky double digit underdogs tomorrow)
Michigan enters the season not only trying to rebuild the mass wreckage that is their defense, but they're also trying to rally after a historically poor mark against the point spread. To be sure, the three-year Rodriguez run made Michigan among the most prime cut 'bet against' teams in the land as their 10-26 ATS overall mark the last three seasons attests. But 2010 hit a unique low for the Wolverines against the number as Michigan did not cover a single spread in conference play. Yuck. 0-8 ATS vs. the Big 10. And, before you ask: No, Michigan did not cover that Purdue game, they closed as a –12.5 road favorite in an eventual 11-point victory over the Boilers. Michigan did nothing but lose money to the league, a feat that probably would get most coaches down south not just fired, but tarred, feather and burned at the stake.
How rare was Michigan's shooting the moon, burn your wallet trick a year ago? In the previous decade, only four FBS programs lost every conference game against the spread in a single season. Those were some pretty famous clubs. How could anyone forget the 2003 Illinois squad that did not beat a single FBS team straight up that season? Or the 2002 Iowa State Cyclones and the 2003 Baylor Bears giving the Big 12 easy money, bet against teams in consecutive seasons? Or the 2008 Washington machine that did not win any games straight up and their only cover overall on the year was the controversial 1-point loss to BYU after the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jake Locker forced a longer than usual PAT after what could have been the tying touchdown. Michigan joining the company of the Iowa States and Baylors of the world? That is so Michigan during the Rodriguez regime. FIRE RICH ROD!
At least we can say this. Those previous four clubs went a combined 6-42 straight up. Michigan at least managed to cobble together a winning straight up record despite equaling those other clubs’ pathetic ATS feat. Their seven wins was more than than those prior four clubs combined. And they went to a bowl game, right? This qualifies as a progress in the three year vacuum of 2008-10. Of course, Michigan also added a bowl whipping and no cover to their 0-8 league mark. And, in the end, is achieving something that puts you in the conversation with the Ron Turners and Ty Willinghams of the world really something to crow about? Probably not, but make no mistake there are plenty of people sad to see their personal Rodriguez punching bag and subsequent money train gone. Coaching change or not, last year left such a negative impression of Michigan against the number that people are already lined up and ready to bet against them again this season.
But those people still bullish on betting against Michigan should beware and take a little notice at what happened in the follow-up year with those previous conference money burners. They all rebounded to at least a break even conference mark ATS the following season. Three had winning league ATS marks. From a straight up standpoint, they had a combined 12 more wins between them the following season. None of those teams won more than three games the previous season. So if Michigan has similar looking gains as their four profit killing predecessors, given they already were a winning team to begin with, they could end up rolling out a nifty season. Michigan has more returning starters than any of those four teams had, have more material on hand to work with and Denard Robinson. All those teams were big underdogs in most of their league games the following year, by an average of more than 10 points per game. Those teams were catching points in all but four combined league games during the follow-up season. Like those teams, Michigan is an underdog, catching points in all six Big 10 games listed on the various online futures boards. But, the most points they're getting in any of those games is the +5 listed for November's Nebraska game. Given where the lines are right now for Michigan, if they break even ATS in Big 10 play, they're going to seriously flirt with a winning straight up Big 10 mark for the first time since 2007. They also could be doing nothing but losing, albeit covering the spread, in close, fourth quarter games.
Anyway, that’s one Michigan centric storyline the blog's degenerate line junkie is looking at from the dark side of the sports wagering world. Another one is assessing their win total. Oddsmakers have set the bar at 7 wins. I have a hard time endorsing a call either way. From a betting perspective, I'm not comfortable projecting more than 7 wins, at least not comfy enough to suggest, you know, actually putting your hard earned money on it. Can they really beat ND three times in a row? Northwestern, as the first road game of the season, nestled in between rivalry games against Minnesota and Michigan State, is the definition of a trap game. I don’t see the Wolverines breaking their MSU or OSU losing streaks. If I maintain a realistic approach, I cant see better than 4-4 in league play, with a loss to ND in non-conference likely. That's seven wins. Now, if I put my optimistic, partisan fan hat on, I come back to the Notre Dame game as the first big swing game of the season. If Michigan can tuck that game away, I feel that will prove they are good enough to be one game better through 10 games than they were a year ago. That would be 8-2 heading into the massive 1-2 punch of Nebraska and Ohio State. At least those games are at home, and we'll see if Michigan is any closer in those showdowns than they were against the Wisco/OSU closing duo during each of the last two years. So, I suggest staying away from Michigan on a win total standpoint, although I can see an optimistically visualize a road map to eight or nine wins.
PICK-4 Stylish Previewy Type Substance Of The Opener
But, I do not suggest staying away from playing our Pick-4 over at the JCB. It's fun, its free and its a great way to stay interested in some of the other games spread across the country. Check it out and play. Here are my formal Pick-4 picks for Week One. As far as Michigan's opener tomorrow against Western Michigan, how about I give my own preview, Pick-4 style. We'll keep track of these in the comments section.
Longest Touchdown Of The Game, O/U 57.5 Yards
This is not only a Pick-4 play, but an actual prop bet offered by an assortment of online books. As bad a play against the spread Michigan was a year ago, taking the Over for longest touchdown in its game was as great. At this number, you would have cashed a winner in 10 of 13 Michigan games in 2010. All tickets still would have been winners at 60.5 yards, which is where these props were listed by the end of the year in Michigan contests. This was a regular prop offered on the Wolverines a year ago, and I enjoyed the windfall most of the time. There was the Koger touchdown against Penn State, a silver lining in an otherwise painful night. There was the bizarre sight of the Michigan defense cashing this ticket against Purdue. There was the James White home run bomb right before half for the Badgers and the kick off return touchdown for the Bucks, both the equivalent of taking daggers to the heart for profit. Winning this prop before I was even in my seats for the Illinois was spectacular. And, then, of course there is the famous Denard run in South Bend. I swear by the time I tell this story to my grandkids, I will have won like five grand or something on the breeze of this play. How do I know? Because I didnt have this prop that day, but I am still listing it among the roster of actual winners. I just love that play so much. But, there was also the Gator Bowl, when James Rodgers torpedoed the bet with a shoestring tackle at the 7-yard line keeping LaDarius Perkins out of the end zone after an 81-yard catch and run. The game was already way out of reach. Damn you and your Charlie Hustle, Mr Pride Of MadBama!! Anyway, we're back and in line for more this year. As long as Denard Robinson and the Michigan defense are involved, I'm buying this. As mentioned, its an actual prop in the real world, so we're not only taking the over in the Pick-4, but the only piece of actual wagering on my card for Michigan's opening game is this over 57.5 yards action.
Will Fitzgerald Toussaint Surpass His Career Rushing Totals In This Single Game? O/U 87.5 Yards
First, the basic numbers. Toussaint has to net 88 yards on the ground against Western for this prop to go Over the total. Toussaint hasn't had much of an impact yet on the field, but he appears to be in line for a lot of carries in 2011. He might not be the 1A back right now, but from everything we've been hearing so far, he's no worse than 1B heading into the opener. And its expected to be the type of game where being 1B still puts you in line for a big time game. Brian labeled Toussaint a wildcard and I agree. His chance for a lot of carries and how he performs with those touches intrigues me. I had one longtime Ohio scout tell me point blank during an interview for a HTTV piece that Toussaint was not a Big 10 tailback. And, his tenor gave off a sense of offense that Michigan thought it could find its future tailback within his game, nor did he represent the quality of talent Michigan needed to be mining out of Ohio. On the other hand, Rivals lauded him as a 4-star, the #8 all-purpose back in the country and as a member of their top-250 overall, just getting in at #239. But, on the other, other hand, perhaps feeling the same thing said scout was thinking, Big 1o schools weren't clamoring for the Youngstown native as only Illinois and assortment of Big East contenders offered him a scholarship along with Michigan. Injuries have held him back so far and his biggest impact might be for being the inspiration behind the leader in the clubhouse for funniest line of September when Brian noted he was china in a bull shop in the afore linked position preview he posted yesterday. He has three seasons left to add to his resume. And, its not like he's behind his classmates. Only Theo Riddick, who ranked 10th in that Rivals top-10 all purpose backs list from 2009, has made in roads on the field. He's doing it at wideout and had a solid 39-catch season last year. Michigan will see him next when the Irish come to town. This contest with Western wont prove that Doubting Thomas scout right or wrong. But for Toussaint, its pretty important to prove, regardless of foe, that he can not only handle a decent share of touches, but also survive to handle the same workload seven days later.
Will Junior Hemingway Score A Touchdown? Yes/No
Junior Hemingway is on his third head coach at Michigan. That just sounds wrong. He verbally committed to the program more than five years ago. Rivals only tagged him as a 3-star coming out of high school, but the South Carolina native was pursued by some heavy hitters with offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami also in hand. He finally began showing us last year why he was such a coveted commodity. He came dangerously close to putting up the most underrated season for a Michigan flanker this side of Marcus Knight's 1999 efforts. He was still averaging over 20 yards per catch well into November, a stat that would have put in in the top-8 for a single season all time in program history. How does Michigan win games over Indiana and Illinois without his heroics? Of course, his production waned down the stretch as the whole team crumbled against a tough as nails closing stretch. And, he missed three games on account of injury, a bug that's dogged him his whole college career. Regardless, if his career ended today, he would rank in the top-10 for career per catch average of all program players with at least 50 catches. I think he's primed for a nice year and at least 50 catches. But we all know he loves opening day. He's got a little Tufty Rhoades in him. The one and only Threet to Hemingway TD was scored in the second half of the Utah opener in 2008. And he and Tate Forcier looked like a dominant tandem two years against this same Bronco program as Hemingway went off for 103 yards and two scores. If he can catch a scoring pass from Denard (or Devin Gardner), he will have caught scores in season openers from three different quarterbacks. That sounds as weird as having played for three different head coaches at Michigan. But it also sounds a whole lot cooler.
Jake Ryan/Nathan Brink Combined Tackles, O/U 5.5
I figured we needed at least one defensive prop. So, how about we combine the basic tackling stats for the two leading Practice Camp Legends who emerged from that side of the ball this spring and summer. Ryan and Brink fit that bill, especially Brink, a player many of us hadn't even heard of before, but by mid-August was being projected as a starter on account of his play in practice. It was exciting to hear about an unknown player emerging until the reality set in that it probably wasn't the greatest thing for the program if somebody that this obsessed fan had never heard of before was going to suddenly play a major role in the defense. Eventually, the positive side won out because this unit was so bad last year, new faces are a good thing in spots. We'll see about both of these players. Both have multiple years of eligibility remaining and had enough preseason ink devoted to their practice play that if reality and legend matchup, then Michigan gets surprisingly stronger along two units on the team lacking in depth. We're all watching the defense, looking to see the Mattison Difference. But for me a secondary storyline tomorrow is just exactly how much run Ryan and Brink get and what they do with their time on the field.
As far as the game side and total, I am sticking with one mantra I had a year ago. Until further notice and proof of an improved stop unit, Michigan doesn’t have the defense to hold up as chalk. Its not worth playing them, even if I feel like they could cover this once the offense gets this rolling tomorrow. As for the total, two out of every three games in the Rodriguez Era went over the total. Will that continue? We’ll begin finding out some answers tomorrow. My prediction? A lot of fun, two Michigan players gaining 100 yards on the ground, Denard accounting for his first touchdown within the first 5:30 minutes of the game, at least one TD of more than 57.5 yards and a comfy 38-21 Michigan win.