landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
The (Little) Brown Jug. For fans it’s the oldest rivalry trophy in all of college sports. To Michigan alums, it’s a fine establishment on South U. Regardless, its time to kickoff the conference schedule in the Big Ten, starting with a home game, before hitting the road to Evanston.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.
Bowling Green (3-1) +6.0 @ Miami Ohio (0-3). Result: Bowling Green 37 Miami Ohio 23. [Props to BrewCityBlue]
@ Pittsburgh (2-2) +7.0 Notre Dame (2-2). Result: Notre Dame 15 Pittsburgh 12.
Southern Miss (3-1) +3.0 @ Virginia (2-2). Result: Southern Miss 30 Virginia 24.
New Mexico State (1-3) +10.5 @ San Jose State (1-3). Result: San Jose State 34 New Mexico State 24.
Missouri (2-2) +21.5 @ Oklahoma (3-0). Result: Oklahoma 38 Missouri 28. [Props to Picktown GoBlue, Gulo Gulo Luscus, althegreat23]
Army (1-3) -4.0 @ Ball State (3-1). Result: Ball State 48 Army 21.
San Diego State (3-1) +10.0 @ Michigan (4-0). Result: Michigan 28 San Diego State 7. [Props to M-Glow-Blue, snoopblue and for correctly predicting Michigan would cover].
Note on the Toledo game, the extra point that put Syracuse up by 3 (went up 30-27) should have been ruled as a miss. Therefore, props are in order for those selecting Toledo, namely M-Glow-Blue and Gulo Gulo Luscus.
Penn State (-28.5) failed to cover against Eastern, allowing a late field goal (34-6), and preserving a spread win for M-Glow-Blue, Trebor, and mfan_in_ohio.
Oklahoma State (+4) snuck by Texas A&M late, despite the Aggies leading most of the game (30-29). Props to preed1 and Number7 for calling this one.
Props to BrewCityBlue for correctly predicting that Nebraska would cover the 23.5 against Wyoming (38-14).
Temple’s 38-7 blow out of the Terps in College Park made Gulo Gulo Luscus’s prediction a winner.
New poster YoungArnold correctly called Arizona State’s cover against USC, winning 43-22.
Clemson upset the higher ranked Florida State, 35-30, but Trebor was sure excited about the correct pick.
Week 5 kicks off with an early elimination game in the Big East, with South Florida visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday (8:00 PM EST/ESPN).
Saturday football kicks off with an old Southwest Conference rivalry, Texas A&M (#14) and Arkansas (#18), both off conference losses, meeting at Jerryworld (12:00 PM EST/ESPN). Perfect records are on the line when upstart Clemson (#13) visits Blacksburg to take on perennial power Virginia Tech (#11) (6:00 PM/ESPN2). Alabama (#3) meets Florida (#12) for the fourth time in as many seasons (2008 and 2009 were conference title games) (8:00 PM EST/CBS). Big Ten country, and much of the country in general, will have their eyes on Nebraska (#8) at Wisconsin (#7) (8:00 PM/ABC), with the two teams last meeting in the 1970s.
Hawaii (2-2) +3.5 @ Louisiana Tech (1-3). Hawaii has the 56th ranked offense (104th rushing, but 12th in passing). Louisiana Tech has the 107th ranked pass defense (89th overall, 47th rushing defense). Look for Bryant Moniz to improve on his 7 TD first half performance from last week. The home team is 7-2 in this series, since 2000, including three straight wins, but Hawaii is 6-3 against the spread against the Bulldogs. Under Coach Greg McMackin, the Warriors are 16-8 against the spread in WAC play (8-4 against the spread on the road in the WAC and 7-5 against the spread as an underdog in the WAC). Take Hawaii to cover, and win, in Ruston.
Arizona (1-3) +13.5 @ USC (3-1).Despite being 1-3, Arizona has the 39th ranked offense (4th passing, but 119th rushing); USC has the 40th ranked defense (71st passing, but 35th rushing). Coach Lane Kiffin is 5-7-1 against the spread as a favorite (6-5 against the spread in the PAC 12). Arizona is 3-8 against USC since 1999; however, Arizona is 7-4 against the spread over the same time period, (6-3 as an underdog). The last four meetings between the Wildcats and the Trojans have been decided by no more than seven points. Arizona’s losses have been to Oklahoma State (#5/#6), Stanford (#6/#4) and Oregon (#9/#11). While Arizona has failed to cover the points in each of their losses, USC’s offense is nowhere as explosive as the previously mentioned teams. The Wildcats should cover the points, but likely won’t win the game.
SMU (2-1) +11.5 @ TCU (2-0). TCU has the 85th ranked defense (69th rushing, 87th passing); SMU the 9th ranked defense (9th rushing, 31th passing). TCU the 38th ranked offense (25th rushing, 68th passing); SMU the 31st ranked offense (88th rushing, 15th passing). I realize that SMU has feasted on UTEP, Northwestern State and Memphis, laying an egg against Texas A&M. With that said, TCU was exposed against Baylor and has played Portland State. Old Southwest Conference members, these teams have met 13 times since 1997, with TCU holding an 11-2 advantage (3-0 against Coach June Jones). SMU holds a 7-6 advantage against the spread (2-1 under Coach June Jones with the only spread loss being in 2008, when SMU went 1-11 straight up). Coach June Jones is 14-20-8 against the spread at SMU, and 8-10-5 as an underdog (11-14-6 against the spread since 2009 and 5-5-3 against the spread as an underdog since 2009). JJ McDermott (1133 passing 59.7% completion and 4 TD, but 3 INT) has taken over at QB for the Mustangs, leading the impressive offense, in addition to RB Zach Line (463 rushing 5.9/carry and 11 TD). TCU got involved in a shootout against Baylor earlier in the year. Expect this game to be closer; TCU should win, but take SMU on the spread.
@ Indiana (1-3) +17.0 Penn State (3-1).Indiana has never beaten Penn State since the Nittany Lions joined the conference (0-14), with the average margin of defeat by 17. Indiana is 3-1 against the spread against Penn State since 2007 (average spread is 19 since 2007). Since 2007, Indiana is 15-17 against the spread in Big Ten play; Penn State is 16-16 against the spread in the Big Ten over the same stretch (14-12 against the spread as a favorite). The Penn State offense is 89th in the country (75th passing, 75th rushing). The QB situation has yet to be settled in State College, and the Nittany Lions are 0-4 against the spread this season (0-3 as a favorite). Indiana has been bad, but look for them to cover the points, due to the ineptness of the Penn State offense, minus Silas Redd (303 rushing 4.9/carry and 4 TD).
Western Michigan (2-2) +3.0 @ Connecticut (2-2).Coach Paul Pasqualoni is no stranger to the Big East, having coached Syracuse during the Donovan McNabb heyday, prior to being fired. Coach Pasqualoni is no Randy Edsall. Coach Edsall built the Connecticut program, from 2007 to 2010 going 33-19, 16-12 in conference and a BCS berth in 2010. More impressive were his stats against the spread: 32-18-1, 13-8-1 as a favorite against the spread, and 14-7 against the spread in non-conference. The Huskies are 1-3 against the spread this year; sure, they are 5-3 against the spread, against MAC opponents since 2007, but 3 of those wins against the spread have come against Buffalo (2008, 2010, and 2011). Western Michigan comes into Storrs having throttled Central Michigan and almost knocking off Illinois. Iowa State threw for 240 yards against Connecticut in week 3 in Storrs. Expect Alex Carder’s (987 passing 68.7% completion and 8 total TD) numbers to be similar to Steele Jantz’s. Take the Broncos to cover, if not win, against the Huskies.
Cincinnati (3-1) -13.5 @ Miami (OH) (0-3).For readers of the “Upset Watch: Week 3”, you’ll notice this is Cincinnati’s second appearance. I’m not a Bearcats fan, to be honest, I don’t like the team at all, but boy do they find a way to run up the scores on inferior non-conference opponents (since 2007, they have outscored non-conference opponents in the regular season by an average of 44-14, with the average spread being the Bearcats by 21.0). Since 1997, Cincinnati is 9-5 straight up against Miami (OH) in the Battle for the Victory Bell. More importantly Cincinnati is 9-4 against the spread against Miami (OH) (5-3 against the spread as a favorite). Miami (OH) is Minnesota’s only win. Take the Bearcats and rest easy.
First of all, thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Kill and his family. Here’s to hoping his health improves and he is able to make his way back onto the gridiron soon.
Jerry Kill is 1-3 straight up at Minnesota (23-16 at Northern Illinois, from 2008-2010). Coach Kill is 9-11 on the road, 2-7 against BCS teams, and 0-2 against the top 25. Since 2008, Coach Kill is 23-19-1 against the spread and 7-5 as an underdog against the spread.
Brady Hoke is 51-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 26-15-2 against the spread as a favorite and 41-23-2 overall since 2006.
Coach Hoke and Coach Kill met once, in 2008, with #16 Ball State beating Northern Illinois 45-14, and easily covering the 9-point spread.
Minnesota’s defense is ranked 76th (108th passing [278.50 yards/game], 33rd rushing [104.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 33rd (110th passing [156.0 yards/game], 9th rushing [270.0 yards/game])
Minnesota’s offense is ranked 87th (97th passing [179.3 yards/game], 44th rushing [173.75 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 71st (41st passing [199.0 yards/game], 86th rushing [176.0 yards/game]).
Since 1997, Michigan is 9-1 straight up against Minnesota (6-4 against the spread; Michigan has been a favorite in all but the 2008 game). Michigan has averaged 435 offensive yards, with 246.3 of those yards being passing.
Historically, Michigan has been known for strong QB play, as evidenced by the number of Michigan QBs who made it to the NFL. As much as Michigan has been synonymous with good QB play, Minnesota has been synonymous with a sieve for a secondary. The Gophers averaged giving up 226 yards per game through the air last year.
Da’Jon McKnight (260 yards 13.7/catch and 1 TD) and Donnell Kirkwood (125 yards 5.4/carry and 3 TD) have been the lone bright spots on an otherwise awful offense. The Gophers right now are in the midst of a QB controversy between starter, and once WR, Marqueis Gray (521 passing, 351 rushing 50.6% completion and 3 TD, but 3 INT) and backup, 3-star recruit, Max Shortell (196 yards passing 46.4% completion and 2 TD, but 2 INT). Minnesota was torched by USC’s WR Robert Woods, in week 1, for 177 receiving yards and 3 TDs; 8 USC players caught at least 1 pass. In the home opener against New Mexico State, the Aggies had 288 yards through the air, including WR Taveon Rogers having 88 yards receiving and 2 TD, in a 28-21 loss, despite being a 22.5-point favorite. In a win over Miami (OH), the Gophers gave up 325 yards through the air, including 162 yards receiving to WR Nick Harwell. The North Dakota State Bison passing game accounted for 197 yards through the air, but did their real damage on the ground.
Michigan MUST get passing game going and expose an absolutely awful secondary. WRs Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway should each have a TD and at least 75 yards receiving apiece. Denard should still be able to run the ball, though it should be tougher than it was last week.
@ Michigan -19.5 @ Minnesota.
Michigan 38 Minnesota 10
Who ya got?
[ED: PGB - I took the liberty of adding each of these courses to the MGoHallofFame: http://mgoblog.com/content/user-curated-mgohalloffame. ED: bump.]
FF210: Screen Package
Whatchya know, I still exist. That’s right, I’m like either Santa Clause or the red M&M in that commercial. If you haven’t been here for more than a year, or worse yet, if you have a life outside of here, then you either don’t know or don’t remember about the series above. I’m formerly [name redacted] and am now a Space Coyote (deal with it, mostly because a Space Coyote from Space is awesome), and I’m going to do a slight continuation of the previous series. Heck, let’s call it FF210: Football Packages. Rather than talk about what the title suggests (wrong website), I’ll add this little section about screen packages. Other classes could include: blitz packages, coverage packages, bunch formation packages, etc. The fun could be never ending.
(Aside: If you’re wondering why the previous series seems a bit incomplete, like “where’s the defense?” it’s because it is incomplete. If you’re wondering why I didn’t finish it…yes. Also, I’ve been a bit busy.)
Lately there has been much confusion about screen type substances around these parts and I figured I would be a bit of a guest professor for a second and teach a few things. If you are looking for how to install a screen door, this is not the place for you, so I’ll just let Menard’s do that for you.
Not all screens are created equal. And as they are not all created equal, they are also not all designed to take advantage of the same things. There is a lot in common with many screen passes, but there are also key differences. There are lots of different types of screen passes, and I’m not going to cover them all. What I will cover today is probably the more fundamental screens. The discussion below will consist of what these screens are attempting to constrain (“constrain play” has become a favorite word around here), what the keys are to the type of screen, and how to successfully run the screen. Note, as I said above, there are many, many more screens out there that I won’t cover. There are also many variations of these screens that I won’t begin to touch. This is only meant to be an introduction to these basic concepts. The types of screens included are:
1. The ones where you throw to the WR, we’ll call those WR screens
- Bubble Screen
- Tunnel/ Jailbreak Screen
2. The ones where you screen to the RB, we’ll call those RB screens
- Slow Screen
- Crack Screen
Screens not covered: middle screen, TE screen, throwback screen, transcontinental (even though it’s a crowd favorite), etc.
Screens in College Football
In college football linemen can block down field at the snap as long as the pass play is completed behind the line of scrimmage. This is not the same in the NFL, but is a big reason why screens are so successful at the college level.
Wide Receiver Screen
Just because you’re throwing a screen pass to a wide receiver doesn’t mean it is in an attempt to do the same thing. There are two main types of WR screens that I will discuss, and each have very different keys and are constraints of different things. They are the bubble screen and the tunnel/jailbreak screen.
Better image with some play action
mgoblog bubble screen picture paged
This is essentially a run play constraint. The bubble screen is intended to strength the defense horizontally. It is an easy way to reach the edge without a clumsy pitch out of the shotgun. It is typically run to get defenders out of the box. It takes advantage of defenders peaking into the back field and reacting quickly and out of control to flow. Gap sound teams with safeties in the box with responsibilities in gaps will have trouble on bubble screens because they are not stretched horizontally and are focused on the play in the backfield.
Running the bubble screen will:
Running the bubble screen will open up lanes in the middle of the field as defenders must flex from sideline to sideline. This will give gaps for RBs/QBs on Zone Reads, RB power, and QB draws. This also opens up the deep middle of the field by often forcing safeties to play off the edge of the line rather than in the box as linebackers or OLBs out of the box to respect the sideline threat more. This makes it much more difficult for defenders to play both the run and the pass. If run correctly it will leave a WR one on one on a corner in space, or better yet, with both corner taken out of the play and a score up the sideline.
When to run it:
Typically you run it when corners aren’t pressing. If corners are pressing the pass can become very dangerous. More importantly, you run it when safeties and LBs are shaded too far inside in an attempt to play both run and pass. The danger: make sure the corners respect routes enough to not quickly jump the bubble.
How to run it:
It’s not as simple as just taking a snap and winging it out there. As I have been told before, a QB throwing a bubble screen is kind of like a short stop turning a double play as far as the importance of footwork, body position, grip, and not rushing.
Most of the time in the backfield there is some sort of zone read action. This means that the play looks like a zone read it terms of what the running back is doing. The process of the QB adjusting the ball and throwing means that an actual playaction is really necessary. What is so different about the bubble screen is that it doesn’t typically require linemen to block for a “screen”. The linemen also carry out the zone read play. This causes LBs and Ss to flow down to play the zone read, leaving the WR open on the edge.
The blocking WRs come off on the snap as if they are running routes. His job is to take the nearest threat, which is mostly the man covering him. As they converge on the man covering them, they square their bodies and force and get their backs to the sideline, blocking those covering them to the inside and leaving a lane down the sideline. If the defender does manage to get outside, continue to drive him to the sideline (this isn’t O-line blocking, there is a lot of space and the ball carrier will run off the blockers butt to the hole in the defense regardless). In most cases the WR blocks the man head up on him (or the man that appears to be covering him). In some cases the WR will crack down on the defender covering the screen receiver. It all depends on how the defense plays it at the snap. The reason that the WR usually blocks the man covering him is because it causes traffic for the inside cover guy to have to get through. You can, in essence, block two guys with one blocker, leaving a seal down the sideline. Some people crack the inside guy and hope the outside cover man follows inside, but you run the risk of the outside guy reading the play and blowing it up. All these decisions must be made based on the defenses alignment.
Oregon. The first one suffices (some of the others aren't really bubble screens). Note that they double the near man to the second corner. The second corner jumps outside and the WR kind of just blocks him straight up, making this play a first down rather than TD. This can be done with 3 or 2 WRs.
[Ed: others after the jump.]
Get out the globe and encyclopedia (ok, Google Earth and Wikipedia, since it's 2011), it's time for the Ugly Game of the Week. But first:
Georgia beat Ole Miss 27-14. When the ESPN summary calls your QB "efficient", that's about the faintest praise you can get for a win. Things we learned: 1. Ole Miss is officially not good. They had 8 first downs, two turnovers, and under 200 yards of total offense. 2. Ole Miss has now lost 10 of their last 11 SEC games. So they're like the SEC's Minnesota, then? 3. Mark Richt may still have a job, Huston Nutt may not. 4. Huston Nutt sounds like the mascot for the Astros or something, like the Philly Fanatic or the Capitol City Goofball. Can I play Baby Elephant Walk when he gets fired? Well, I'm going to.
Elsewhere, San Jose State beat New Mexico State 34-24 proving once and for all that Bad Team versus Bad Team equals entertaining game. SJSU came back from a 24-17 deficit to pull out the win in the 4th quarter.
Last, Ohio State handily defeated CU 37-17. Ohio debuted a new wrinkle in their offense called "Screw It, We're Not Passing" and it was effective. OSU passed for only 110 yards, but it didn't matter. The Buckeyes ran for 220 yards and that was that.
We start off with the "Historically Significant Mascot Bowl", featuring the Virginia Cavaliers(2-2) against the Idaho Vandals(1-3). Virginia has wins against Indiana and W&M, and loses to UNC and Southern Miss. Idaho has beaten NoDak, and loses to the likes of Bowling Green and Fresno State. But that's not even very important. For you non-history buffs out there, the Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in the 5th century. How they ended up in Idaho, I have no idea (ok, I do, but it's not very interesting. "Sports team named by quip from local sportswriter" does not a catchy byline make). Virginia, on the other hand, chose what could be the least intimidating mascot until someone names their team "The Yorkshire Terriers" or "Fightin' Lichen (We're Likin' the Lichen!". The Cavaliers get their name from people loyal to the crown during the American Revolution. Evidently the Commonwealth of Virginia was particularly partisan toward the King. I mean, it's this:
I don't know about you, but I'm picking against powdered wigs in this one.
The granddaddy of the week is the World's Furthest Conference Game, with Louisiana Tech (1-3) taking a long layover to play Hawaii (2-2). That's a 4000 mile road trip.That's like Russian hockey league-level road trip. To put that in perspective, here are some things that are not 4000 miles apart: NYC to London. Ann Arbor to Anchorage. Hawaii to Tokyo. Low Earth Orbit. You get the picture. Yay jet lag. Hawaii has beaten CU and lost to UNLV. Louisiana Tech one win against Central Arkansas, and that was overtime. Enjoy the poi, guys. To be fair, they've got to OT twice, and lost three games by a total of nine points.
So I usually do not post a wallpaper until the end of the week. I try to get the time to work on it after the work that feeds the family is done. Last week I had a few people state that they really wish I had the wallpaper done at the beginning of the week so it could be enjoyed leading up to the game.
Blue Indy quickly agreed to get his work out a little quicker and was bumped in points so he could create content. Just check a couple diaries (here) below this and you can see his work for this week, and the past weeks. He has done some great work for all of the non-rivalry games.
I felt a little pressure to produce something and after taking in the Cowboys/Redskins game (my first ever NFL game) I was struggling to get some sleep. I thought it was a great opportunity to be productive and get something done.
My original idea was to take a good looking gopher and give it a Michigan branding. I was struggling to get a truly good "burn" look into the fur without it just being poorly done. The more I thought about it I figured Michigan does not really need to brand Minnesota and then there came a better idea. It's Minnesota and really deep down in their hearts they want to be a Michigan. I think every Golden Gopher fan, when no one is looking, really shows their secretive desire to be a wolverine... so much that they have the tattoo to prove it.
The picture is far from perfect but at least it is done earlier in the week.
Expected Point (EP) Calculations Dramatically Enhance Turnover Analysis!: This year I added EP calculations because I thought it would provide a more reasonable measure of the net effect of turnovers. (In previous years I had used an average of 4-5 points per TO based on sites like the Football Outsiders.) The benefit of using EP calculations for turnover analysis has been far greater than I could have ever imagined.
In the WMU game, M returned two TOs for touchdowns and the EP calculations reflected an additional 7.7 point advantage to Michigan (versus using just an average of 4-5 points per TO). This week, the EP calculations actually give Michigan an advantage of 1.91 expected points even though we had a negative one TOM! How could this be? Well, in retrospect, it is fairly obvious. Each turnover may result in a immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
For example, in the SDSU game, Denard threw an interception on third and 6 from the M28 and SDSU took over on the M39. If the pass had been incomplete, M would have punted on fourth down and SDSU would have gotten the ball at the SDSU 36 (based on a net punt of 36 yards from the M28). Therefore, the total effect of this TO was only 25 yards of field position which is about 1.00 EP. Contrast that to the SDSU fumble after a 30 yard run to the M07 yard line. SDSU would have had a first a goal at the M07 with an EP of 5.32. Michigan did have an EP of –0.72 because of recovering the ball on the M07 (poor field position) but this still is a net of 4.60 EP. The bottom line is that the M turnovers were far less damaging than the SDSU turnovers and this is reflected in the EP calculations.
In general, interceptions will have less impact than fumbles because an interception usually results in a smaller difference of field position. Also, turnovers on third down will have less impact than TOs on first or second down.
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the first time this year, M had a negative turnover margin. The game had a total of 7 turnovers. Michigan lost 4 and gained 3 from SDSU, leaving M with a TOM of -1 for the game and +5 for the year.
Turnovers did not impact which team won the game (TOs did impact which team won the WMU and ND games).
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the table below includes the WMU game and will NOT be the same as the (incorrect) NCAA Rankings. DRob continued his TO problems with 2 interceptions and a total of 6 for the year. Through the first four games last year, Denard had just one interception. Interceptions are ranked #104 Nationally. Overall, the –1.0 TOM for the week dropped M to #12 in TOM for the year.
The Gory Details
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the yard line that the offense is at (which seems fairly obvious in retrospect). Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
The expected point data has been revised this week to reflect updated data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau has updated his data to reflect all offensive possession played in 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.
Details for Turnovers: Here is overall summary for all games by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Here's a five word diary.