to play football, not to play trumpet
Programming note: Next week will be pretty busy with thanksgiving break and all, so I'm gonna go ahead and put up all my OSU stuff this week. The Nebraska game wrap might be a week late too, especially if we don't win.
Old Scouting Report is Old
There are just way too many red and white teams in this league now.
I had watched this game when it happened and had written up some notes and was planning to post it after the MSU game, but then I spent the week cursing at inanimate objects and hoping MSU's random bands of roving thugs would target Gholston.
There's been a lot of personnel changes since then so I've thrown out the old notes and started from scratch.
Both teams were coming off loses, Nebraska had just been blown out by Wisconsin thanks to a handful of Martinez interceptions and OSU had been blitzed to death by sparty. You can see the effect of both those games on some of the early playcalling in this one.
OSU on offense
No Dan Herron, and Shugarts hadn't gotten hurt yet. The offense was all about Hall and Stonebrunner and Miller's legs until he got hurt.
Miller is a scrambler
Like I said in the QB comparisons, Miller is more of a natural scrambler rather than an option runner.
On this play, the left side of the Nebraska D-line is going to stunt to get pressure on third down.
There's a missed holding call, but whatever. The DT gets around and tries an outside speedrush against Shugarts
This is a mistake against Miller. You want to keep him in front of you and don't open up big lanes like this. As soon as he feels the end rushers go past him, his first instinct is to scramble upfield. If you rush under control, he'll scramble laterally and can be coralled for a sack.
MSU had a lot of success the previous week by timing the snap and sending blitzers up the A gap. Nebraska tried it early, but didn't really get there because their timing wasn't as good. After this play they didn't really blitz much until Bauserman was in the game.
This is a 6 man blitz with one of the linebackers dropping into coverage.
There's a little bit of a twist going on with the right DE, but this was a called QB lead draw all the way. The blitzer gets blocked by the RB and Miller jabs his back foot and is off into the secondary.
Without any LBs on that side and the secondary playing man coverage, this turned into a big run for MIller.
This play shows just how quickly Miller will bail on a play. It's just a flare to hall at the top of the screen, but the Nebraska rusher gets a good bull rush.
When the defender jumps, Braxton decides he's seen enough and pulls down the ball.
Instead of looking for another target, he tucks the ball and runs.
Hyde got a lot of carries in the early part of the season when both Hall and Herron were doing their NCAA penance. That's dropped off considerably since Herron came back. He's got good straight line speed, especially for being a larger back, but his vision isn't very good. He's like Stephen Hopkins but with more speed. He still gets some duty on kickoffs, but mostly as the lead blocker for Hall.
You can see OSU's commitment to zone blocking on this play. It looks like a lead play because of the FB, but Hyde's route on the handoff indicates that he's free to pick whatever hole opens up. At the snap, all the motion is to the left. The Nebraska D-Line responds by moving with the slanting linemen. Miller does a reverse pivot.
But Hyde's aiming poing is not following Boren, the FB, instead he's aiming for the center of the line and bending back against the grain. For some reason, nebraska has a DB playing backside contain, and the Will linebacker has been fooled by Boren's path.
That DB doesn't understand "run fits" so he wasn't flowing the the D-Line and there's a huge gap between him and the DE that Hyde thanks him very much for. The weakside LB has over run the play and can't get back to make an arm tackle. Once Hyde gets past those two, he's pretty much untouched all the way to the endzone.
Throwback to Stonebrunner
With Corey Brown out and no one sure what Devier Posey will do, the RB's and Stonebrunner will be the focus of the passing game. This throwback screen should look familiar to Michigan fans, with the exception of the TE getting the ball instead of Vincent Smith.
Miller is going to roll out to the right while the O-line shows pass blocking.
Stonebrunner does an excellent job of selling the block and the OLB is completely caught flatfooted.
Stonebrunner comes off of contact and opens up for the pass, it's the center that gets the OLB and the other interior linemen are heading downfield
The blocking is setup well and Stonebrunner has enough speed for an easy 30+ yard TD
Nebraska on offense
Nebraska does a lot of different things on offense. They have the spread/zone read stuff, the power running game, and also the veer option offense. Burkehead will even get back in the shotgun to run some wildcat, probably because he's better at READING on the zone read plays than Martinez.
After taking a lot heat for the interceptions against Wisconsin, you got the feeling that he started out the game a little gunshy against TSIO.
That's his passing chart with about 4 minutes to go in the first half. Nothing deep or risky, and a double digit deficit to show for his 100% completion percentage. So Nebraska gets the ball realizing they've got to pass deep to soften up the defense.
This is Martinez trying to throw a deep ball.
And this is the result. That receiver is kinda open. I mean, yes, he's got 4 guys around him, but none within a 5 yard radius. Nebraska fans understand our pain when it comes to armpunts.
Where Martinez is realy dangerous is when he gets to accelerate straight ahead. This is a midline option keeper even though it looks like an outside zone read. You can tell by the pulling guard who goes off tackle. I think the sideline tells Martinez before the play whether or not to keep the ball on most plays. That would explain a lot of his "bad reads" and it makes sense that Bo Pelini would be a control freak (see below).
Burkehead's fake holds the contain man. The pulling lineman takes out the LB and the rest of the O-line is getting a good push up the middle.
This is the kind of run that Martinez loves. He's not the kind of guy that will cut back across the entire field, but he's very good at reading the blocks in front of him and making quick cuts without losing any speed.
Inverted T series
The way you design an offense is that you have a series of plays that work together or are out of the same formation. Sometimes during the game you have to scrap a series if the first couple plays don't work. But if the first play works for a big gainer, you can expect the defense to adjust and that opens up the companion plays.
Nebraska stumbled across such an opportunity in the middle of the 3rd quarter with this Inverted T formation. Some people call this a Diamond, but with the QB in the shotgun it looks more like a "T" to me. But the stumpy part is away from the LOS so I call it inverted. Here's what the standard T form looks like.
This is just a power sweep option. The odd thing is that Burkehead has a longer ways to go to get to his block, but he's a fast guy, so it's not a problem. The neat thing about this formation is that you can envision all kinds of counters and double option plays where the person in #2's position can pitch it to Burkehead or handoff to the the other HB coming back on the counter.
OSU is overreacting the motion and the whole right side of the defense is flowing. Ironically, the backside of the defense isn't reacting enough and the result is a gaping hole down the middle of the field.
I don't the think DE ever actually saw the ball because he keeps running with #2 even after Martinez zooms past him.
Against a normal QB, the safety and LB should have been able to stop this for a large gainer, but because they reacted slowly and because Martinez is already up to full speed, he blows by them like they're standing still.
From the endzone shot you can see just how wide open that running lane was.
A little later, they come back to the same formation, but this time the give is called. It doesn't work as well because the ball is on the hash and they're running into the sideline. But the point is to see how the defense has adjusted. The weakside linebacker is way closer to the play this time and #7 Howard is up in bump and run to take on the blocking in case there's a counter or reverse coming.
The DE is completely befuddled by this play. He's nowhere near the mesh point so he can't help on a Martinez keep. He's pointing out Burkehead to .....uh.... And he's not quick enough to get #2.
Again the backside has been completely sealed off, and Martinez woulda had plenty of room for a big gain if not enough for a TD like before. But I'm getting more convinced that he's not actually allowed to "read" the play. As it is, this play gets about 10 yards which coulda been a lot more if they hadn't run into the sideline.
A little later comes the payoff. They've got bump and run on the short side and they give them the same backfield motion.
But if the LB's and Safeties had been reading the O-line better, they'd have seen this was a pass.
Martinez drops a couple steps to give his receiver time to get open.
And the safeties are both dead. It's interesting that they run the same route with both WR, this shows a kind of lack of sophistication in the passing game. And it's only a 2 man route. But both WR had gotten a step on the DB's and this play get's Nebraska back within one TD.
He's not the fastest guy, but he's a solid football player. Martinez is probably more dangerous, but you've got to stop Burkehead first to slow down this offense.
This is an inside zone that should look pretty familiar to michigan fans. the H-back is coming across to either block the DE or go out in a pass route. There's also some bubblesceen motion with the slot receiver.
The DE is crashing hard and the H-back completely misses him. Martinez either missed the read, or it was a give all the way called by the sideline. .
If Martinez had kept it, there was a lot of open space once he cleared the DE. The lead blocker would have taken out the safety, 54 is taking to strong of an angle, and the other DB is too concerned with the bubble to have stopped Taylor. Instead #94 gets the TFL on Burkehead since #93 had gotten good penetration and Burkehead had to stop his feet.
On the game tying TD, Burkehead showed a nice jumpcut. (If you're not sure what a jumpcut is, here's a nice example of Miller doing one.) He gets the ball on the flare after Martinez scrambles around a bit to avoid the pressure.
The DB had him lined up for a big hit, except he jumps out of the way.
And with the big blitz called, the rest of the secondary is in tight man coverage and Burkehead has no one between him and the endzone.
So it was raining off and on during that game, which led to some amusing moments and a lot of slipping.
Martinez's throwing motion is even uglier when he's falling down.
Both sides were having trouble with it.
And Miller turned his ankle as he slipped on a cut.
Then Bauserman came in and promptly did this.
At least on that previous picture he was under pressure. On this one he's got no one to blame but himself.
That ball is JUUUUUSSST a bit overthrown.
Ok, maybe a bit more. But if you're wondering about the genesis of the the Bauserman Passing Chart, it was probably this play.
- Bo Pelini has anger issues.
Here are the standings. Don’t mock using Ctrl+F to find your name or else half of your teams will lose, your score will go down by 17 points and you’ll drop 57 places in the rankings. Just ask BlueBarron. If you’ve forgotten your username or have any other questions email [email protected]
Lots of “new” teams entered the poll this week. TCU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Baylor re-enter the poll to replace Georgia Tech, Texas, Cincinnati and Auburn. Florida State and Notre Dame will make a lot of readers happy since they were 2 of the top 4 most popular teams to be picked -- 36% and 35% of the people picked them. Texas was the most popular unranked team so their loss hurt 30% of the contestants. At the same time only 99 total people picked Georgia Tech, Cincinnati or Auburn, so basically nobody would notice if I didn’t point out their loss.
Individual Ballot Analysis
Brooklyn Blue stays on top of the rankings this week with 93 points. His highest ranked team is Oklahoma at 5th but he also has the 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th place team. The perfect ballot has 110 points this week coming from the same six teams: LSU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Michigan State, Southern Cal and Clemson.
At the other end of the standings there was a lot of shakeup in the race for worst. TCU, Florida State and Notre Dame had been killing people the last few weeks. Now that they’re ranked again there is a new person all alone in last place with 25 points. It’s also the first time in several weeks that the person in last place does not have the worst possible entry. They chose Notre Dame and are getting a whole 2 points more than the theoretical worst possibility.
Judging Your Picks
This week the MGoBlogosphere is bringing negative value to their picks. A completely random entry should earn 54 points but the contest’s median and mean is 52 points. If you have more than 52 points you’re an above average MGoBlog. Cheer up though, if you’re reading this, then you’re above average in my mind no matter what your Pick 6 score is.
Games to Watch
According to ESPN’s schedule the weekly ESPN3D game is Vanderbilt at Tennessee. That is 5-5 Vanderbilt with roughly the 75th best offense in the country playing at 4-6 Tennessee with roughly the 86th best offense in the country. Wouldn’t the offenses have to be able to move the ball to take advantage of that 3rd dimension?
I guess the punts will look spectacular.
Here are the games that could shake up the Pick Six standings.
#18 USC at #4 Oregon
8 pm on ABC
Oregon has one last test before they crush Oregon State and then crush whoever manages to not lose themselves out of contention for the Pac-12 South title.
#17 Nebraska at #20 Michigan
Noon on ESPN
I don’t need to talk you into watching this game.
#5 Oklahoma at #25 Baylor
8 pm on ABC
Which 8 pm game will score more points? This one or the USC-Oregon game? My money is on this one. Five of Baylor’s nine games have had a total of more than 80 points.
#13 Kansas State at NR Texas
8 pm on FX
If Texas can beat Kansas State at home they should be ranked next week. I’m not sure if Texas will be able to catch up to Auburn’s record for number of entrances and exits from the poll, but they can try.
NR Cincinnati at NR Rutgers
Noon on ESPNU
There are no Big East teams in the AP poll this week. West Virginia is receiving the most votes but they aren’t playing this week. With a strong win this week and a couple of losses Cincinnati might make it back into the poll. But you shouldn’t actually watch the game. First, it will probably be terrible. Second, it is on at the same time as the Michigan game. Third, only 4 people actually picked Cincinnati as their unranked team so chances are you don’t care at all whether or not they’re ranked.
I do not live in Michigan anymore so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to catch a local screening of Black and Blue. However, the producers of the film, Stunt3 Multimedia, already have the documentary available on DVD, and I took advantage of a special offer through MVictors.com to buy the DVD with free shipping. I watched the film today and was enthralled.
For those of you who do not know, Black and Blue is the story of the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech game, where Michigan and Georgia Tech forced black Michigan player Willis Ward to sit out due to racial prejudice, and the stand that his teammate and future Speaker of the House and US President Gerald R. Ford took in support of his friend.
Black and Blue is done in Ken Burns style, with narration and music over slowly-panning still photographs, a few film clips, and interviews with experts, including Greg Dooley of MVictors, John U. Bacon, Civil Rights historian Tyran Steward, Richard Norton Smith, a prominent biographer of US Presidents who has worked at several presidential libraries and got to know Ford on a personal level, one of Ward’s grandsons Samuel Thomas, and For’d son Steve Ford. The film also includes audio and video of interviews with Willis Ward done in the 1970s. The music is all recordings of the Men’s Glee Club singing traditional Michigan songs, and Black and Blue includes many great photos of the Michigan campus of the day.
If Three and Out paints an unflattering portrait of Lloyd Carr, Black and Blue does the same for Fielding Yost, who is set up as the primary antagonist--and for good reason. Bacon talks about Yost’s racial attitudes, both known and assumed, and relates a story where Yost and football coach Harry Kipke had an intense argument over Kipke’s desire to recruit Willis Ward out of Detroit Northwestern High School. Bacon says account vary, but some say that the two men actually came to blows.
One of the most interesting parts of the documentary is that it shows some of the correspondence from Georgia Tech to Michigan, begging Yost to sit Ward out (in accordance to the practices of the time, Georgia Tech would sit out a player of “equal ability”) or cancel the game before either school received bad press over the incident. Yost made his decision over the summer, but his attempts to keep the story quiet backfired and blew up into a national story.
Black and Blue then covers the controversy, including several letters and telegrams sent to Yost and Kipke by alumni who objected to Michigan bowing to southern racism. It even includes the transcript of a meeting of the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics where the members tried to manage the scandal. Yost even hired Pinkerton Detectives to provide security to the Athletics administrators and to spy on the student groups that supported Willis Ward.
As the protests raged, doubt began to creep in that the game would be played. Even so, Gerald Ford told Harry Kipke and his father that he was quitting the team. He only decided to play when Willis Ward asked him to play the game. Though the whole team was bitter about Ward’s benching, at the 11th hour it was announced that the game would go on. In a final indignity, Yost banned Ward from the entire stadium, not just the sideline. He had to listen to the game on the radio at his frat house.
As the game started, a Georgia Tech sophomore, Charlie Prescott, started mouthing off an hurling racial remarks at the Michigan team. According to Ward, Prescott called Ford a “nigger-lover.” Ford, who was slow to anger his whole life, lost his temper. The next play, Ford and one of the guards hit Prescott so hard that they knocked him out of the game. They told Ward on Monday that they dedicated that block to him (Ward gave a big smile in the interview at the end of that story). In an excellent bit of film editing, the film ends this emotional moment with the Glee Club singing “The Victors” while panning a photo of Ford in his pre-snap position.
Unfortunately, Ford said later that the Georgia Tech game ruined the 1934 Michigan team, despite the ugly 9-2 victory against the Yellow Jackets (Michigan scored a punt return touchdown, and the lack of offense and two safeties, combined with terrible weather and the Ward scandal made for a really terrible day). Interestingly, as Michigan lost its last five games to end the year 1-7, they only scored 12 points. All 12 were scored by Willis Ward.
Black and Blue asserts that not only did the incident wreck the Michigan football program until the arrival of Fritz Crisler in 1938, it also had an obviously negative impact on Willis Ward to the point that he lost his love of athletics. Ward was the star of the football team but was a much better track athlete. He was one of the only athletes to ever beat Ohio State’s Jesse Owens on the track, and Ward was widely considered to be a favorite to win gold medals for the US Olympic team in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. But the Georgia Tech game scarred him so badly that he did not want to suffer similar humiliation at the hands of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, so he refused to join the US Olympic team.
Black and Blue also covers the friendship between Ford and Ward after graduation, when Ford helped Ward campaign for office and encouraged his appointment to a judgeship. Their friendship also informed Ford’s support of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s and his public support for the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies that may have played a role in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote in favor of its legality. Also to the film’s credit, it covers Yost’s softened racial stand after the Georgia Tech game when he forced the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago (where the Big Ten was founded and where all Big Ten teams stayed when they played Northwestern or Chicago) to accept Ward as their second-ever black customer.
In the end, Black and Blue is a wonderful and interesting story about the friendship of two men, one white from Grand Rapids and one black from Detroit, who were involved in an ugly incident of racial prejudice, and how Ford used the incident to champion Civil Rights for African-Americans for the rest of his life. I knew about the Willis Ward incident before I saw Black and Blue, but I learned quite a lot. I would like to have seen some more coverage of Harry Kipke’s role and the role of University administrators in the incident, and they discuss an unpublished Michigan Daily editorial covering the incident by Arthur Miller, but do not show it (I am not sure it exists, but if it does it would have been really interesting to see). If you have the time, I highly recommend going to see it, it is very well done and it is an important but not widely-known part of Michigan football history and ultimately American history.
Synopsis: There have been literally thousands of posts about the decline in Michigan's offense and the improvement of the defense this year. After 10 games, some of the raw numbers are staggering. Michigan's defense has allowed 52% fewer points per game and the offense is scoring 14% fewer points per game. There were also literally thousands of posts debating what effect the tempo offense had on both offense and defense. If we had tried to create an experiment to answer these questions, we probably could not have done as well as the comparison we now have between 2011 and 2010.
To provide valid comparisons, it is necessary to make two adjustments; (1) Delete the impact of the OT game in 2010 – both points and plays, and (2) adjust for turnovers in 2011 and 2010. After these adjustments, we can incorporate tempo by calculating points per play. Here are the results.
As you can see, after adjusting for tempo and turnovers, Michigan's offense is actually scoring more points per play this year as compared to last year. And, after those same adjustments, about 55% of the improvement in defense can be attributed to tempo and turnovers. Of that 55%, approximately 18% is due to tempo and 37% is due to turnovers.
Michigan's offense has had 12% fewer plays this year and the defense has had been on the field for 16% fewer plays. This is primarily due to the tempo of the offense. There can be no doubt that the tempo of the offense was a significant reason for poorer performance of the defense in 2010.
BTW, turnovers are NOT primarily a matter of just luck but are a result of better performance. Better performing offenses will have fewer turnovers, better performing defenses will force more turnovers. And, these turnovers help make the offense and defense even better.
A Look At The Numbers: A direct comparison of raw data from 2011 and 2010 is simply not valid. The most common error is a failure to recognize the impact of a 3 OT game in 2010. This added 22 points to the offense and 20 points against the defense. This is approximately a 6% increase.
In order to determine the impact of turnovers, I already had the numbers from 2011 because of my weekly turnover analysis. But, I had to go back to 2010 and calculate all the expected points for each turnover of each game. This was not a pleasant experience as I had to relive the catastrophe of 27 giveaways and only 18 takeaways (over 10 games).
Each turnover usually results in a loss of expected points to the team losing the TO and, usually a gain in expected points to the team gaining the TO. In most cases, the loss in expected points is greater than the gain. Unless a team has no turnovers, the net result is that both teams lose points. The team with fewer turnovers simply loses fewer points.
In 2010 Michigan's offense lost 22 turnovers thru 10 games and the defense had only 15 takeaways. Without the TOs, M would have scored 31 more points and the opponents would have scored 18 more points.
This year M has lost 19 turnovers but the defense has had 23 takeaways. Without the TOs, M would have scored 15 more points this year and the opponents would have scored 50 more points.
Why The Difference In Expected Points?: The expected points for each TO are calculated based on the down, spot TO was lost, and spot TO was gained. The maximum value for a turnover is 11.7 EP (1-10 at the 1 yard line and the TO is returned for a TD), and the minimum is –1.2 (4th down on the 40 and the pass is intercepted on the 1 yard line – ball should have been knocked down and team would have taken over at the 40). This year, M had a TO worth 11.03 EP (Heron's return from the M04 for a TD) and another TO worth –0.53 (interception by EMU on a 4-5 from the V34 that resulted in EMU getting the ball at the V27).
In addition to the turnover margin, several other reasons the EP are significantly different between 2011 and 2010 are:
1. M has 3 returns for TD this year – none in 2010.
2. Opponents have lost 6 TOs in the red zone this year – just 3 in 2010.
3. M has 5 fumbles lost and 14 interceptions this year – 10 fumbles lost and 12 interceptions in 2010 (fumbles have greater impact).
4. Opponents have lost 16 fumbles and 7 interceptions this year – 6 fumbles and 9 interceptions in 2010 (fumbles have greater impact).
[Ed: Credit for this post goes to user M Wolve.]
11/17: Union Ballroom 2:00 - 8:00pm
11/18: East Quad- Benz Library* 2:00 - 8:00pm
11/18: Business School 10:00-4:00pm
11/18: Union Ballroom 2:00 - 8:00pm
(Drives marked with an * are limited to members of the residence halls only.)
This week was essentially a pick-em so we’ll skip the spread and chart it straight up.
I have been making a few tweaks to the math behind the chart to take out some of the noise, especially on possession changes, hopefully it’s becoming a better product.
Michigan jumps out early, is in good position but can’t close it out for the second and third quarters before finally putting it a way in the fourth.
1. +12.5%, Play 3, Toussaint for 65 on the opening drive.
2. +5.2%, Play 5, Robinson punches it in for the opening score.
3. +5.0%, Play 153, JT Floyd picks Scheelhaase (+1.5%) and takes it back 43 yards (+3.5%).
1. –5.8%, Play 65, Michigan stopped on 4th and goal from the 1.
2. –4.9%, Play 33, Robinson’s first fumble with Michigan driving.
3. –2.7%, Play 137, Scheelhaase runs for a 31 yard score to cut the lead to 10.
Other Notes from Illinois
Last year we had a consistent defense and hoped our offense was good enough to win the game for us. This year we have a consistent defense and hope our offense is good enough to win the game for us. The difference is last year the D was so bad that the offense had to hit home runs to pull it out. This year the defense has consistently held serve and the offensive variability has largely dictated our success or failure.
This week the narrative expanded and not only did the defense hold serve, it produced extra value. This is the first game all season that offense had a negative win percent added (-13%) and the team still won the game. Iowa and Michigan St both saw negative scores but the defense couldn’t do enough to overcome.
How you feel about this game is largely dependent on how you view Illinois. If you view them as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team you probably are part of the group that was uninspired about the showing on Saturday. You would probably point to stats such as Michigan had the best field position of any BCS conference team in any game so far this season and still only had 31 points (vs an expected 39 based on field position).
If you view Illinois as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team with a stout defense and some weapons on offense, you are probably Brian. I have Illinois’ defense ranked #14 nationally at +7 and third in the Big Ten behind Penn St and MSU. Scheelhaase is a ranked as a top 20 BCS conference QB (+5) and AJ Jenkins is a top 10 receiver (+8, catches only) who was limited to +1 on a season-high 19 targets. I am in the second camp here. The offensive performance was far from perfect but the total performance of the team accounting for Illinois’ stout defense probably puts Saturday as the best/most important win of the year to date.
Rushing: –1, good and bad even out versus strong rush defense
Passing: +8, found some big plays and no meaningful interceptions
Rush defense: +1, decent day against a mediocre run game
Pass defense: +7, in JT we trust, apparently
Special Team: +1, a narrow miss on a FG away from best score of the year
Denard: +1 overall, +4 pass -3 rush, no games higher than +3 since Northwestern
Devin: +3, +5 pass –2 rush, best number of the year
Toussaint: +4, 3rd best of the year for a Michigan back (Fitz vs Purdue and VS vs E Mich, +6)
Scheelhaase: +4, +0 pass, +4 rush
Jenkins: +8 but took a season high 19 targets to get there
Third and Done
So I wrote this up on early in the week only to find that its become a topic across Michigan blogdom this week. Hopefully there is something new for you here, if not rest assured knowing that we own third and one.
Michigan hasn’t just been good on third (or fourth) and one, they have been amazing. Michigan has 15 stops in 27 competitive attempts against them this year. That’s a 44% offensive success rate. The national average is 72%. Michigan is literally getting twice as many stops as the average defense would on third or fourth and one.
Michigan is currently 12th over the last 9 seasons on the conversion rate in this situation. Only 1 of the 11 teams ahead of them have faced more than 18 attempts. The only comparison to what Michigan is doing so far this year is Boston College of 2008 who had 16 stops out of 25 attempts against. In fact, if Michigan gets two more stops on third or fourth and 1, they will have the most stops over the last 9 years in that situation. Michigan has ended a full 7 drives more than the average team would on super short yardage situations.
B1G Championship Game
The loss to Iowa effectively ended Michigan’s chances. I have them listed at 0.3% chance of making the inaugural title game but that assumes that Indiana has a chance to win on the road against Michigan St. A Sparty No on Saturday and a Michigan win puts the odds up over 20%. In total, Michigan needs wins over Nebraska and Ohio and Michigan St to lose to both Indiana and Northwestern. The Spartans hold a commanding 91% chance of making the title game, a win by both Michigan teams on Saturday would clinch it. Nebraska stands at about 8% but need to win out and have Michigan St slip to have any real chance. Iowa technically could win some 3 or 4 way tiebreakers but at less than 1 in 2000 odds, things don’t look so bright.
On the other side of the standings both Wisconsin and Penn St control their own destinies. I give Wisconsin an 84% chance of winning the head to head matchup so they have a 67% chance of reaching the title game. Penn St sits at 27% and thanks the Boilermakers upset over Ohio, those two schools both sit at 3% apiece. For Purdue the path is win out, Ohio beat Penn St, Illinois beat Wisconsin, Michigan beat Ohio and Wisconsin beat Penn St. Ohio isn’t dependent on as many game, but the odds are the same. Win out, Penn St lose out, and Wisconsin lose to Illinois.
My Heisman Thoughts
With some new chaos at the top of the polls, Wisconsin has got to be killing themselves for not being able to defend the deep ball late. It’s put them out of the National Championship race and buried Russell Wilson’s Heisman campaign. I think it should still be kicking. I have him leading in WPA (+3.0) ahead of Case Keenum (+2.8) and Brandon Weedon (+2.2) and EV (+13) ahead of Keenum (+12) and RG3 (+11).
Kellen Moore: +1.5/+10
Andrew Luck: +1.7/+6
Trent Richardson: +.3/+4
Denard still holds up well on WPA at +2.07 but his EV is way down at +4 and barely in the top quarter of all QBs.
PAN, National Rank (leader), Big Ten Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 12th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: –0, 63rd, 8th
Fitz: +1 (now in top 30 RB’s)
Michigan: +1, 50th (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: +2, 30th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 21st (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs. Nebraska O: +0, 53rd, 7th
Taylor Martinez: +1
Rex Burkhead: –1 (24th of 28 back that average 100 yards per game)
Michigan: +2, 39th (Oregon), 7th (Penn St)
vs. Nebraksa O: +3, 25th, 4th
Taylor Martinez: +4
Michigan: –0, 79th (Florida St), 9th (Purdue)
Nebraska: +2, 27th, 3rd
Rex Burkhead has the yards and the carries but my per play valuation point to a Nebraska team that pounds the ball on the ground for yards, but puts points on the board through the air courtesy of a throwing motion that makes Tebow look like Tom Brady. These teams are pretty evenly matched. Mobile QBs that are flawed passers who can succeed on the back of the run game and defenses far below historical precedent but not major deficiencies either. Michigan 31-28