|#20 Northern Michigan (14-10-6) at #5 Michigan (18-10-4)|
|2-17-12 7:35pm Big Ten Network|
|2-18-12 5:05pm Fox Sports Detroit|
The last time we faced off against the Wildcats we got a pretty big wake up call. Coming into the series we were ranked #1 and they really used that emotion of playing the top ranked team against us. Add that to the chemistry issues facing the team after losing Kevin Lynch, Hunwick getting ejected and it was a long weekend.
This time it's a little different, NMU is coming into this series with terrible offense. The honest truth is that with decent defense and outstanding goalie numbers, if the offense wasn't so anemic they could be ten spots higher in the AP Poll.
The top line of Gron, Thurber, and Seckel can cause major damage. They score most of the points and play the best defense, after them the Wildcats have almost nothing. Justin Florek is NMU's Lindsay Sparks, he is an offensive nightmare but can't play a lick of defense.
The other issue for the Wildcats is the penalty minutes, towards the end of the roster NMU has a few 8 point scorers who are around the 50 PIMS mark. Althought the PK has been good (7th) they still have to kill more than most of the country (142).
Key Matchup is their top line vs our top pair. Without the depth NMU is going to need the top line to produce, look for Merrill to have a bounce back series after last weekends disaster.
Just like Michigan State, Northern comes into the season with major depth issues on the blueline. Kyle Follmer puts up great offensive numbers but the -1 is awful, that means he has been on the ice for 23 goals this year. They also have a problem staying out of the box, Michigan has one blueliner over 25 PIMS and NMU has none under 25.
The key matchup here is getting started early. Although this unit has been bad at times, they have shown that they can ride a hot goalie for the win. Coreau has the numbers to carry them so they need to get on him fast.
The perfect example of how great numbers don't always translate into wins, Coreau is near the top of the league and his SV% is outstanding. Still he's 10-5-2 because he isnt getting the support in front of him. The matchup is the same as for the defense, we have to get on him before he can get confident.
Stats are not current, MGOBLUE has not updated statistics from the MSU series.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||8-9-17||76||+11||12||17|
I really liked how they played against MSU, the big question was how would the team adjust to the line shuffling without Brown. They had a pretty good series getting 5 goals in the two games. I have given up the Sparks watch, I think it's safe to say he won't score for the rest of the regular season.
Despite the way the series looked our defense played outstanding against Michigan state. The loss doesn't fall on the defense, but on the PK. The first game I was disappointed with how Merrill played and it might have been the worst game of his career. Maybe we are just spoiled to be getting such great proformances game in and game out, but I expect a bounce back tonight.
Taking a look at the PK:
I love what MSU does on this PP, it is designed to attack our 1-2-1 diamond and they execute perfectly. They have the center occupying a penalty killer leaving the wings free, when the puck is cycled down to the corner the left wing crashes.
At this point they have a variety of options, the center is not one of them. They can try back door, the pinching defensemen or get risky and go for the other blueliner who isnt pictured. Our penalty killers have to haul back to the net, but they can't get back in time so he takes it himself.
Hunwick is playing the deflection, expecting a pass through the middle or the back door. Right over his head
Still playing at a high level, nothing he could really do about the PP goals last weekend.
I underestimated NMU the last time we played them, I thought we would roll over them pretty easy. I still think we will this weekend, mostly because NMU is really bad on the road. Also we need these points, we need to finish the season strong for the tourney.
I don’t think Success Rate is a misguided stat as much as I think it is a misguided strategy. I think the overall concept of S&P that Bill uses is very sound, I just think the emphasis should be more on the P than the S.
My biggest problem with the stat is that it is black and white. As comments on his article note, a metric that works on a sliding scale would a significant step in the right direction. On 1st and 10 losses and gains of 4 aren’t and shouldn’t all be treated the same. Just as gains of 5 and up are all valuable, just not equally as valuable. For my metric the sliding scale is factored into the expected points at any play. So there is some element of success rate built into PAN, but it is an integrated, sliding scale as opposed to a separate, black and white component.
There are only three things that matter for evaluating a team on a drive, where did you start, how many points did you score and what position did you give the ball back to your defense/special teams. Plays taken to achieve results and time elapsed off of the clock can be valuable in certain situations, but in general those three data points are the key. If we can effectively measure each play in how it contributes to those three key factors at once, why break it up into two pieces and why make it black and white?
Even though there are some differences and I got things off on a bit of the wrong foot, I think there is more in common than different with the two approaches. What I think is the ultimate issue, however, is coaches calling plays with success rate in mind. Advanced NFL Stats did a great article on this very subject (especially the Importance of Run Success Rate section). He found evidence at the NFL level that coaches are coaching to down by down success rate as opposed to drive success rate. Coaches appear to be attempting to win each battle and at times losing sight of the war.
The battle/war concept is what I think is the most interesting of this so you’ll have to wait until part 3 of this series where I’ll look at how strategy can adapt to score more points while risking a bit of short term success rate. Early next week I’ll post part 2, a look at how Wisconsin’s offense runs and how Russell Wilson was really the most dangerous part of the Badger offense.
Programming note: Brian is out for the day and I've got a pretty busy non-blogging day myself. We've got a lot of content ready to go, and I'll be checking in throughout the day, but Friday Recruitin' will either come late this afternoon or will morph into Saturday Recruitin', depending on my schedule.
Everett (MA) OL John Montelus recently earned a place at #214 overall in the Rivals250, making him one of the top prospect for 2013 on the East Coast. Standing at 6'5", 295 pounds, Montelus already has a college-ready body and holds early offers from Michigan, Boston College, UConn, Florida, N.C. State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, and West Virginia. I caught up with John recently to talk about his recruitment and his interest in the Wolverines:
ACE: Which schools have you been in contact with the most right now?
JOHN: Right now I'm contacting pretty much all the schools that have offered.
ACE: I know you got the Michigan offer relatively recently. Who have you been talking to from Michigan?
JOHN: I've been talking to Coach Funk and Coach Mallory. Both these guys are really good and I can't wait to go down there to make my unofficial visit soon.
ACE: Do you know when you want to visit the school or is that still up in the air right now?
JOHN: It's still up in the air right now, but I'm definitely going to make a visit soon.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan as a program?
JOHN: They have really good academics and they produce a lot of good offensive linemen.
ACE: Looking back at your junior year, how do you think you performed on the field?
JOHN: I played well. I did better than my sophomore year. I got way bigger; my sophomore year I was 245 and my junior year I was 295.
ACE: What would you say are the biggest strengths of your game, and what are you looking to improve to get to that next level?
JOHN: My biggest strength is definitely pass-blocking. I can run-block, but next year we're going to run more. I need to work, basically, on run-blocking.
ACE: You mentioned wanting to visit Michigan. Are there any other schools you want to visit at this point?
JOHN: I'm going down to Florida on my April vacation.
ACE: Do you have an idea of when you want to narrow down your choices?
JOHN: At the end of the summer I'll probably have my top five favorite schools.
ACE: When it comes time to pick a school, what are going to be the main factors that you're looking at?
JOHN: Good academics and a winning team, that's all I want.
ACE: In terms of position, I know you play offensive tackle in high school. Is that where you think you fit best at the college level?
JOHN: I could play offensive tackle in college, but if coaches think I can play guard I'll play guard. It doesn't matter what position.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's something about you that you think people should know about you?
JOHN: What do I do after football? Mostly I lift in the weight room.
ACE: Always working hard, it sounds like.
I think we need a UFR to confirm that Michigan didn't lose this game 35-0. Or that they did. I'm not sure, because there's no UFR.
Pickerington (OH) North tight end Jake Butt recently was named as the #96 overall prospect in the Rivals250, and he's seen his recruitment take off in recent weeks. Butt now holds offers from Michigan, Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, and a handful of MAC schools while also generating interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. I caught up with Jake this week to talk about his recruitment, top schools, and upcoming visit to Michigan:
ACE: How many offers are you up to at this point, and which schools have been in contact with you the most lately?
JAKE: I'm up to 18 offers, and the most contact I've been getting is from Michigan—I've gotten a lot of stuff [from them]—Tennessee, Northwestern, Purdue, Maryland, and Iowa.
ACE: You've said that Michigan was your leader in the past. If you had to make a top five right now, which teams stand out to you the most?
JAKE: My top five would have to be Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan, Tennessee, and Stanford. Michigan I'd say is my leader just because of the attention I've been getting from all the coaches, and they said I'm the number one tight end on their board. They've got the number one quarterback in our class committed, Shane Morris, he's a beast. There's just a lot of plusses going on with them. But it's still early, so it's all subject to change.
ACE: You mentioned Shane Morris. Has he been making his recruiting pitch at all to you, and if so, what's he telling you?
JAKE: Yeah, I've been talking to him a lot. He's got like 6,000 followers [on Twitter], so he'll tweet me and get all his little followers, Michigan fans, to really show their love. [They'll say] "I want to see you break records with Shane Morris when you go there," or "I want to see you catching touchdown passes from Shane," and stuff like that. I'm going to be going up [to Michigan] this Saturday and he's supposed to be there with some other recruits.
ACE: I know you've been to Michigan a couple times before. Is there anything specific you're going to be looking for this weekend?
JAKE: No, just kinda getting to know my position coach, Coach Ferrigno, a little bit better, spend a bit of time with him. Then get to see the campus, talk to some of the academic advisors, just kinda get a feel for what life is like up there.
ACE: You mentioned the coaches talking about using you as a tight end. I know with Michigan they use their tight ends in multiple ways. Do the coaches talk a lot about what your role would be like there?
JAKE: They said that they could use me at multiple position. They could use me anywhere from receiver, with a foot on the line, tight end with my hand down, or fullback even. They have a U-back and a Y-back, something like that, they have two different tight ends and they said I could play either, so I'll be playing both if I go there.
ACE: What else have the coaches been telling you when they're recruiting you?
JAKE: Different little things like "I can't wait to see you in the blue and gold," or "you'd look great in the winged helmet." They sent me an article about some of their top tight ends that they've had. Five different coaches have come down to the school, and I've talked to five different coaches by myself, too, so they're showing a lot of love there.
ACE: I've seen a concern among Michigan fans after you said the Wolverines were your leader, and that's with you not holding an Ohio State offer yet. Growing up as a Buckeye fan, if Ohio State were to come into play, how do you think that would change the landscape of your recruitment?
JAKE: You know, Ohio State is definitely a great school. They've got a lot of good things to offer. Urban Meyer is a great coach. That being said, there's a lot of great coaches out there and there's a lot of great programs out there. I like the fact that I got early offers and my early offers definitely stand out having thought of me on top of their list. I wouldn't worry about if from some of the fans's standpoint, I guess, because I'm going to pick my early offers over my late offers any day.
ACE: You just mentioned the early offers being important. When it comes down to making a decision, what else are going to be the main factors when you ultimately decide on a school?
JAKE: The early offers are kind of like a tiebreaker, it's not that big of a deal. Definitely academics is a big deal, having a good football program with a good tradition is a big deal. Then somewhere my parents want me to go. Someone told me that you want to pick a college where if you were to get hurt playing football, you can see yourself living there without football in your life, so that's another factor.
ACE: Other than coming up to Michigan this weekend, do you have any other planned visits or schools you'd want to check out?
JAKE: As of right now I don't. I'm just waiting for basketball season to end before I take other visits, but I'm going to have to get down to some schools because some schools won't give you an offer unless you show you're willing to make the trip down there, so I'll be going to some other schools too.
ACE: In terms of a timeline for when you'd want to get your recruitment wrapped up, do you know when that would be?
JAKE: Probably before next football season I'd like to get it done, but if not, I can wait until after.
ACE: How's basketball season going for you?
JAKE: Pretty good. I'm the leading scorer and rebounder for our team. I think I lead our team in steals, too, so it's going pretty good. Our team as a whole is kinda underachieving, but that being said, I set the bar high for us. I'm the only guy returning with experience right now. We had ten seniors last year, so we lost all of them, and those were our top ten guys other than me, I was the sixth man off the bench. We really don't have any experience coming back, but we're 11-8 right now and we've got a tough game coming up on Friday, too.
ACE: Just to go away from the football field and the basketball court for a second, what's one thing about yourself—whether it's a hobby that you've got outside of sports or whatever—what's something outside of sports that you think people would like to know about you?
JAKE: I'm a leader. I've been selected, not for sports, but for other activities, for leadership conferences. As a sophomore I was one out of four kids in our school that got to go to a leadership conference at Ohio State, and I got selected to a school leadership program called Sunny Side Up in our group where you have to get nominated by teachers other students from your school to go there. You get a three-day trip where you go down you get to do different things, leadership-building activities and such, so I got to do that.
ACE: It sounds like that would obviously translate well to the field and help you there.
JAKE: Yes, sir.
Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton is coming off an extremely impressive junior season, and his recruitment is beginning to gain steam as a result. Standing at 6'2", 290 pounds, Crayton currently holds offers from Arizona, Auburn, FAU, Louisville, LSU, Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Penn State, and Washington State. He's one of several top-flight visitors who will be in Ann Arbor this weekend, and he's expecting to get some big news when he's on campus:
ACE: First of all, what schools have been showing interest in you lately?
ROD: LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, FAU, Memphis, Louisville, Michigan, Penn State, Washington State, and Arizona, and also Auburn and Alabama.
ACE: Talking about Michigan specifically, have they offered you, and do you have any plans to come up and visit?
ROD: I'm visiting Michigan on Sunday. They tell me they have some good news for me when I come up there, so I'm expecting an offer.
ACE: Who are you talking to from Michigan?
ROD: Coach Montgomery.
ACE: When you come up to visit, what are you going to be looking for in terms of checking out the school?
ROD: I'm just going to see how it is. See the campus, see the coaches and get to know them a little bit. See how everything is up there.
ACE: Going back to your junior season, how do you think you performed on the field, and what kind of numbers did you put up?
ROD: I did pretty good. I had 162 tackles and 11 sacks.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself as a player, what would you say are your biggest strengths and what are you looking to improve for your senior season and the next level?
ROD: To improve, I have to stay low. My strengths are working with my hands, pushing back the pocket, and making plays down the line of scrimmage.
ACE: Do you know what schools you'd like to check out over the offseason?
ROD: I'm actually going to Penn State on Saturday, then Michigan on Sunday.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline of when you'd like to make a commitment?
ROD: That's not gonna be any time soon. I'm trying to [take some visits first].
ACE: What are going to be the main factors that you're looking for when it comes down to picking a school?
ROD: Somewhere where I feel comfortable at, where I've got a good relationship with the coach, and where I can play at—I want to go somewhere that best fits me.