“Race Day 5/6”
By Matt Nixon
21 October 2011 – Adelaide, Australia
Word’s out: America’s #1 solar car team is from the University of Michigan.
They took third in the 2011 World Solar Challenge. As in the 2009 event the team from Japan’s Tokai University took first and from the Netherland’s, Nuon took second. Déjà vu all over again?
Yes and no. The WSC is an event of the sort where each running is unique and anything can happen. I could go on about the details; brushfires, high winds, torn fairings – but those have all been born out by now. Let’s drill down into the emotions involved.
Nervous parents, excited cheerleaders, hand wringing U-M Solar alums and anticipatory media paced in the drizzle, jockeying for a position and the perfect view. All of us waiting to catch sight of the flashing lights atop the lead support vehicle.
Clutching hope like grim death, we were beyond eager to see our heroes finish what they’d started years ago. Yesterday, running on ozone and the team’s sheer force of will, Michigan’s Quantum rolled across the finish line in the nick of time.
I won’t spin it; there was something decidedly anticlimactic about the finish. None of us could put our finger on the feelings we were experiencing in the moment. It wasn’t disappointment. Certainly there was some of that because everyone wants to win. But what they’d accomplished was nothing to be dismissed as a loss.
Relief? There was loads of that. Our team was safe. No one was injured to any significant extent. Banged up to be sure – but nothing that time and rest can’t heal.
Pride? Yes, we were all proud of our team. They performed like champions leaving everything on this most unusual field of battle. Still, there was just nothing of gravity to be said. We mustered an awkward and hoarse Hail to the Victors.
Yet something in that moment felt like the severing of the strings that had been keeping us all connected during the 1,800-mile odyssey from Darwin to Adelaide. It was like helium slowly escaping a balloon. The adventure was over and we were all descending back down to earth.
When I got to my hotel room I couldn’t bring myself to write a single line. I just didn’t have the words. The closest I could come to a descriptor was confusion. What had I witnessed? It was something profound, every fiber of my body resonated with vibrations but what was it?
I thought about it as I washed the red Outback earth from my aching body. Walking the streets Adelaide late that night, alone I pondered. Where was my heart? Where was my head?
And then it struck me like boxer’s blow to solar plexus: I missed them.
I’m in a beautiful city, staying in a nice hotel and I have every comfort (that I went without while Outback) within easy reach. But I would trade it all to be back in the dirt with the team for just another day or two. No hyperbole, I would have died a completed man out there.
This was my tribe and now we lay scattered about by the four winds.
If ever again I’m gifted with a similar experience it won’t be anything like what I’d just gone through with them. And it wasn’t until the final night, prior to the last day of our race, that some of the quieter members of the team finally engaged me in discussion.
Santosh Kumar (the head strategist) asked me a question. Whoa. This man’s mind is made from the clockwork of the god’s and he had a question for me?
“Matt, what have you found to be the best thing about Australia?” he asked.
Without hesitation I replied, “Watching you guys work together.” No matter how awed I may be, I am not one to pay lip service to anyone. My statement was pure truth.
I’ve been humbled to witness the way this team operates. I’ve learned something about teamwork, collaboration and the ability to harness the passion that, when people are put under extreme pressure, often bubbles over into negative emotions.
Sitting back I remarked that under every situation they’d found themselves facing, they always seemed to be so calm. Calm. Even when moving at speeds that warped my perception. They problem-solved with an even-keeled coolness that just can’t be captured in words or pictures. It had to be felt. To have experienced it, I am thankful beyond expression.
Santosh chuckled, “Well, we just deal with the problems and keep moving forward. What you’re not seeing are some of the fireworks that go off when we pile back into the support vehicles.”
Well, that’s really it, isn’t it? Fix what needs to be fixed. So that Quantum can get back on course solve what needs to be solved – and then you can let out the steam. It’s simplicity itself but somewhere along the line we can forget that’s how winning is done. You must remember; a lot of these men and one very special woman aren’t even old enough to legally enjoy a beer.
With all of our egos, insecurities and human frailties it’s easy to lose sight of this when you see full-on grown-ups who can’t behave like civil human beings. Still, this team of youngsters could be trusted get you through hell and back. And in a sense (if you know the Outback) they did that very thing.
This morning when I arrived at Victoria Square and found the three winning teams joyfully splashing about in the fountain (appropriately named the “Three Rivers Fountain” taking its namesake from the three rivers, the Torrens, the Onkaparinga and the Murray – all of which feed Adelaide most of its fresh water) I found my writer’s inspiration renewed. Competitors, now comrades, swapped jerseys and reveled in the joie de vivre that the World Solar Challenge and the fountain so adequately represent.
When they emerged from the waters, I asked some of the individual team members how they were feeling. Not surprisingly it was Team Manager Rachel Kramer who put a fine point on what I was seeing.
“All of the bad feelings just melted away the minute we jumped into the fountain,” said Rachel.
My heart swelled like a torrent about to burst a dam. It was in that moment that I finally got it. It was through their smiles that I understood my own emotions. I was witnessing the stuff of legend.
Celebrations at the official finish line at Victoria Square in Adelaide where #3 University of Michigan’s Quantum solar car arrived on Friday, October 21, 2011 during the World Solar Challenge race across Australia. All photos courtesy of Marcin Szczepanski, Multimedia Content Producer/College of Engineering, U-M
U-M’s Blaine Riley, head of sourcing, celebrates at the official finish line where #3 University of Michigan’s Quantum solar cars arrived on Friday, October 21, 2011.
Always smiling and a volcano of energy, U-M’s solar car biggest supporter and cheerleader Charles S. Hutchins sports a University of Michigan beret at the official finish line at Victoria Square. [Ed. - A lot of the support directed toward the team is courtesy of Mr. Hutchins. He is certainly one of the reasons the team is a HUGE success. "Volcano of energy" is an apt description. Thank you Sir!]
Shoes left after jumping into the fountain at Victoria Square where U-M, Nuon and Tokai University solar car team members celebrated at the official finish line
U-M, Nuon and Tokai University solar car teams celebrate together after exchanging jerseys at the official finish line at Victoria Square’s fountain in Adelaide.
Link to the celebration video. Watch the team sing 'The Victors' in the Three Rivers Fountain! Click here
Thanks for following along. As before, I'll be reading thru the comments and will do my best to answer questions or find answers for you. The American Solar Challenge will be held next Summer. I'll be happy to "cover" that event as well. Go Blue!
As expected the Top 25 ate their cupcakes without any problems. The six teams that lost moved down and everybody else moved up around them. Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Arizona State all stayed in the poll while Baylor and Texas dropped out of the rankings. The teams that won or were on a bye moved up to replace them without much excitement. The only big jumps in the poll were Kansas State getting up to 12th and Michigan State jumping from 23rd to 15th.
The AP voters did decide that Georgia is good enough to be ranked again. After starting out the season 0-2, they’ve won 5 in a row and look like the leader in the SEC East now that Marcus Lattimore is done at South Carolina. There are now 2 teams from Group D ranked, the most since week 2.
Washington became the 12th team to enter the polls after starting the season unranked. That should lift the spirits of the 9 people who forgot Jake Locker graduated and picked Washington in their ballot. I hope they don’t get too excited though because the Huskies are about to get beat by Stanford.
Individual Ballot Analysis
Willhouse is in first place for the third week in a row and the second week in sole possession of the lead. In 2nd place 30rackchamp rode Michigan State and Washington up from 53rd place last week. (Is 30rack a play on 30 Rock and Rackham? Just 30 Rock? Something totally different? Enquiring minds want to know.)
After 6 weeks of first place being within 6 points of the perfect ballot, that mythical prize is pulling away. The perfect ballot is the same this week as last: LSU, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, West Virginia and Clemson. That’s worth 111 points while Willhouse has only 97 points since he didn’t pick Michigan State. 97 points is the highest point total of the season.
Judging Your Pick
MGoBlog seemed to have done a good job of making their picks. For the first 6 weeks of the season the MGoBlog median and mean were higher than what a randomly picked ballot would expect to earn. People who read about Michigan football for hours every day had a good knowledge of the wider world of college football.
Week 7 politely steps in and says that we actually have no more idea of what we’re talking about than a bunch of monkeys.
A picture of the author at his desk.
Games to Watch
Not as many terrible cupcakes as last week but there still aren’t a lot of elite matchups. The daytime is full of semi-interesting to terrible games with the most relevant games on at night.
#20 Auburn at #1 LSU - 3:30 on CBS
USC at Notre Dame - 7:30 pm on NBC
#6 Wisconsin at #16 Michigan State – 8:00 pm on ESPN
#25 Washington at #8 Stanford – 8:00 pm on ABC
The winner of USC and Notre Dame is almost guaranteed to be ranked next week. This week’s “also receiving votes” is #26 Penn State, #27 Notre Dame, #28 USC. With a good win over a decent opponent either Notre Dame or USC is going to take the spot of whichever team at the bottom of the poll loses.
The other games might be good games but more likely they are going to be beatdowns.
Well that blew. So did the game. As the hopes and dreams of a rose covered field similar to the bed in American Beauty got ugly, so did the rules and reactions of Michiganders everywhere. Riding high on a drug better than K2 or bath salts, our HOKE supply dried up. Like junkies hooked on a drug, Michigan fans in withdrawal began lashing out with a bowie knife everywhere and on everyone. Some of the slashing was justified, but some was just pent up rage left over from three disappointing seasons previous.
Pass the Asparagus:
As the first quarter reared its ugly head on my boob tube, I instantly recognized this game was going to be peculiar. It seemed that the Oregon Ducks broke out their 379th uniform combo and some clown college broke out of a birthday party training and took the field in Michigan’s place. I would find out that the real clowns were the other team and the other dudes wearing stripes. When the graceful intelligence of the sportscasters acknowledged that this was actually Little Brother University and Michigan I felt a queasy feeling I hadn’t experienced since my friend's pet mongoose swallowed a family of ducklings and its mother whole at a local pond in front a group of Catholic school kids. The poor kids got a real life lesson on life’s abrupt and messy ends at any age. I’m sure the nuns got a kick out of it and turned it into a behavioral incentive program.
After gaining my orientation back from the kick to the senses the uniforms of both teams provided, I was shocked and disappointed. I was shocked that the Fingerpaint Department at LBU did not whisper into Dantonio’s ear that their colors and fight song include the colors green AND white. Maybe they did, but his school’s Napoleonic Complex was in the way. I was disappointed that even though it was most likely planned, the boys in blue went in to the locker room a half an hour before kickoff to change into their uniforms. It gave off the feeling of a combination of Project Runway and keeping up with the Joneses.
The uniforms were not the only disgusting factor in a game that blew more than two ways from Tuesday. The play calling as you all have noticed or heard by now was less than stellar. Why have a QB that has just an average pass game pass into tropical depression strength winds? Maybe Gorgeous Borges didn’t notice his own hair blowing in the wind. The wind was devastating and underrated in the game in my opinion. Combined with the wind and Gorgeous Borges’ play calling, Gardner’s sporadic appearances in the game wasted plays. At one point a wide open tailback was left hanging out playing jacks in the middle of the field with nothing but end zone and ugly sorority girls in front of him. If Denard was also supposed to find any rhythm in the howling winds of autumn, then he surely wouldn’t get it knowing he could be pulled at any second with the thought in the back of his mind that Gardner was getting in because Gorgeous Borges got frustrated with his pass game and put in Gardner to spark the offense. That kind of thing in a hostile territory like East Lansing would eat at your brain like a super dose of E.
These thoughts came to the front of Denard’s mind as Gholston spun the front of his head 180 degrees. Gholston decided to celebrate Halloween early by becoming his all time role model of football, Steve Lattimer. Like Lattimer, Gholston couldn’t control his inner thugness by doing most of his hitting after the whistles. Why Lewan didn’t gouge his fucking eyes out and pitchfork his dome into a crowd of three legged mules, I will not know until the day I die. The referees acted like 80 year old substitute teachers in Watts by tossing their hankies when they should have brought a hammer down and thrown their asses out for showing up to a NCAA football game with an XFL mentality. Then they should have thrown their crowd, stadium, waste management, and coaches out for unnecessary ugliness.
With the distractions of nauseating uniforms and cage match free for all rules the offensive line must have been confused with the concept of snap counts and picking up blitzes. This compounded the problems listed above that already made for a miserable day that even Poe wouldn’t touch with a 34 and a ½ inch pole.
As the results reverberated through MGoBlogdom and beyond, the crazies made an appearance and rationality of the season at large checked out. Even though I would be the first to panic on a ship with water on it in the middle of the Sahara, I did not feel a sense of panic as the previous two years…yet. The defense for all of the problems had on offense this sad day still looked eleventy billion times better than last year. The offense with a pinch of logic and constant practice can still improve. No we are not a national contender nor do I think even a B1G championship contender right now, but I didn’t think we were going to be August 31st either. So far I am pleased with the progress, not necessarily losing to LBU, but given the growing pains of a tumultuous three years of coaching changes, roster exoduses, and a Pimp Hand looking to sponsor the ring on his hand with Evil Pop while bringing back consistent winning ways doesn’t seem that bad. This could all change but I am willing to stay to be a champion and because I have donated way too much emotional and physical time with a team since I graduate from pull ups and mushy dinners.
CCHA opener: NMU preview
#1 Michigan At #17 Northern Michigan
Not an overly impressive team so far. Through four games they have shown almost no balance on the offensive side of the puck. The top forward line shoots a lot and scores all of the points, after top line scoring drops way down. That could be a product of only scoring 13 goals, but stats indicate that the lower lines really aren't shooting. It is hard to tell how they are scoring without video, but from looking at stats it would indicate that they have a strong presence in front of the net and capitalize on rebounds.
As for the defensive outlook this group has been weak, they don't have a good offensive output and most of them sit around even in +/-. Reports from NMU bloggers have said the team is falling into the same destructive patterns that plagued them last season, inexperience and penalties. So far they have averaged 15.2 PIMS per game and most of it comes from the blueliners. The overall youth of the team makes the alternatives to Follmer and Macauly less than serviceable players who Michigan should have no problem taking advantage of.
|Name||Games Played||Goals Against||GA AVG||Saves||Record|
Reid Ellingson: GP 2, GA 4, AVG 1.92, saves 54 2-0
Jared Coreau: GP 2, GA 5, AVG 2.53, saves 50 1-1
Tough to tell how the goalies have played without video and the quality of defense, but statistically Reid Ellingson has been solid. NMU has split goalies with Ellinson starting two games and Jared Coreau playing two. The number of close games that the wildcats have played so far speaks to the ability of the goaltenders, as three of four games have been decided by one goal.
(NMU's chart was much smaller because the scoring was top heavy, Michigans chart is smaller because everyone scores and it would take up the entire page. Lynch (1-3-4), Guptil (2-1-3), and Mofatt (1-3-4) are left off.)
Team overview: Coming into the season the fear of every fan who followed the team was that scoring would drop to levels that could not sustain an NCAA tournament run. So far the team is showing Michigan finesse and scoring at will, although the level of competition is weak they are punishing teams that they should be punishing. It's a good sign because any continuation of last years habits, losing to teams you should crush and winning games you should be crushed in, would have resulted in a very bad season.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||3-2-5||+6||12||2|
Early on the scoring output has been great, the upperclassmen have stepped into bigger roles and the younger players are making a case for more ice time. Di Giuseppe has been making the most of his opportunity so far, preseason he was so much of an unknown that I didn't even include him in my preview. As for the rest of the group they still have the speed and skill that we seen in the past, and much more than enough to give the inexperienced wildcats hell.
It's hard to find anything wrong with a group that has only given up five goals all season and has put up good scoring numbers. The upperclassmen are solid, and the freshman are freshman. From an individual perspective Mike Chiasson is adjusting well and Brennan Serville may not get to the first line as quickly as I projected.
(Janecyk is excluded because he has not started)
As expected Hunwick is still awesome. The defense has been great around him and he is playing with confidence, I expect it to continue throughout this series.
There is a reason Michigan is ranked number one. Talent, speed, skill, coaching, and any other intangible is in our favor. All signs point to a comfortable win and if Michigan stays out of the box this could be a blowout.
10/21/11- Michigan 4-2
10/22/11 Michigan 3-0
World Solar Challenge - Day5
Iconic wind mill, so symbolic of the Australian outback, towers over Glen Dambo, a control stop where the team spends the night on day four of the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011.
University of Michigan’s Quantum pulled over on the side of the road to deal with a missing faring (wheel cover) that was blown away by the strong wind. At the end of the day and after a series of technical issues, Quantum fell 1.5 hour behind Challenger and an hour behind Nuna6. It’s day four at at the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 The cars crossed over to South Australia from Northern Territory this morning.
Cole Witte works on fixing the problem after University of Michigan’s Quantum pulled over on the side of the road to deal with a missing faring (wheel cover) that was blown away by the strong wind. Today was supposed to be the day of a big push on the side of the U-M’s team that planned on overtaking Nuna 6 and maybe even getting close to the #1 Tokai University’s Challenger. Challenger was 30 minutes ahead of both Nuna 6 and Quantum at the end of the previous day. At the end of the day and after a series of technical issues, Quantum fell 1.5 hour behind Challenger and an hour behind Nuna6. It’s day four at at the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 The cars crossed over to South Australia from Northern Territory this morning.
Gerald Chang (left) and Cole Witte work on fixing the problem after University of Michigan’s Quantum pulled over on the side of the road to deal with a missing faring (wheel cover) that was blown away by the strong wind. Today was supposed to be the day of a big push on the side of the U-M’s team that planned on overtaking Nuna 6 and maybe even getting close to the #1 Tokai University’s Challenger. Challenger was 30 minutes ahead of both Nuna 6 and Quantum at the end of the previous day. At the end of the day and after a series of technical issues, Quantum fell 1.5 hour behind Challenger and an hour behind Nuna6. It’s day four at at the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 The cars crossed over to South Australia from Northern Territory this morning.
A quiet, sad and frustrated but also somehow relaxed mood spreads over the U-M solar car team as they realize their dream of the 1st place at the World Solar Challenge may be unreachable this year due to broken faring (wheel cover) on the car. Daily team meeting. Day four at at the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011.
U-M solar car is getting close to the finish line in Adelaide after it crossed Australian continent in 5 days. It’s Thursday, October 20th and the last day of the World Solar Challenge race.
U-M solar car approaches the end of the timed route outside of Adelaide in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia on Thursday, October 20, 2011.
U-M solar car team members celebrate winning the third place in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia as Rachel Kramer touches the head of the driver Ryan Mazur just outside of Adelaide. Formal crossing of the finish line will be the next day.
A faring that fell off the U-M solar car hit the cockpit near the driver’s head leaving a mark there on the second-to-last day of the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The accident effectively ruined the U-M solar car team’s chances to win gold in the race.
After five days on the road, U-M solar car team members celebrate winning the third place in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia. The end of the timed route was just outside of Adelaide on Thursday, October 20, 2011. It’s a bitter-sweet day for the team who have come third in four WSC races before. This year, the team was really hoping to win. Formal crossing of the finish line will be the next day.
After 5 days, 1800 miles, brush fires, dust storms, heavy winds, rain, and extreme temperature swings, Quantum finished 3rd in the Veolia World Solar Challenge.
It was an extremely close race, as for 3 days we kept pace with 1st place Tokai, and 2nd place Nuon. To put this in perspective, we camped out within 1 KM of Nuon 3 nights in a row. Unfortunately, heavy cross winds caused technical issues with the fairing mechanism, requiring repairs on the side of the road. Tokai and Nuon, spent zero time for roadside repairs, which was a key factor in the race outcome.
Further followup, regarding the race outcome, will be posted in the coming days.
We look forward to celebrating in Victoria Square with the other top teams tomorrow morning. We are all proud of our accomplishments, especially knowing that we are the first US team to win 2 consecutive top 3 finishes.
Through a smoldering brush fire, past wind-shearing road trains, across the Australian continent, the University of Michigan’s Quantum was the first American car to finish the World Solar Challenge today. The Solar Car team placed third overall in the international competition.
No other U.S. team has had back-to-back top-three World Solar Challenge finishes.
After driving for 35 hours and 33 minutes over five days, the U-M team crossed the end-of-timing line in Angle Vale, South Australia at 3:55 p.m. race time (2:25 a.m. U.S. ET). They are spending the night there. In the morning they will drive the remaining 20 miles to the ceremonial finish line in Adelaide’s Victoria Square. [Ed. - similar to the Tour de France, no racing on the last day]
“It was an incredibly close race, especially due to the unexpected elements such as the brush fire which delayed the race, dust storms, major cloud cover at the end of the race, and the ultra reliable cars of Nuon and Tokai,” said Chris Hilger, the team’s business director.
With an average speed of 56 mph, Japan’s Tokai University finished first. The Netherlands’ Nuon took second.
U-M’s Quantum, which averaged 52 mph, kept pace with the leaders for the first day, said Santosh Kumar, the team’s head strategist and engineering director.
On the second day, officials stopped the race because of a brush fire. All three teams had a unique mid-race opportunity to fully charge their batteries. When they hit the road again on Day 3, brush was still smoking on the side of the road. Clouds and rain were forecast, and the team drove conservatively to prepare for it, Kumar said. But Tokai didn’t. They extended their lead.
“At the beginning of the fourth day, we launched a counter attack, hurtling down the Stuart Highway at 64 mph attempting to reel Tokai in,” Kumar said.
The team was just three minutes from overtaking the second place Nuon when a strong gust of wind ripped the right wheel fairing from the chassis. The students made roadside repairs while the other two teams pulled ahead. By the time they were back on the Stuart Highway, though, Michigan was 30 minutes behind the leading teams.
En route to the next control stop, “bad luck hit Quantum again with just the wrong combination of cross winds and road train wakes to pull the (fairing) off a second time,” race manager Rachel Kramer wrote in a guest blog post on Life @ Michigan.
A road train is a long tractor-trailer, and in this year’s race, teams had to contend with several carrying wide loads.
“We never gave up the chase,” Kumar said.
The team “crawled” across the finish, according to their final race tweet. They had emptied their battery trying.
“We’re really proud,” said Caitlin Sadler, the team’s head of public relations. “We built a great car. They raced an amazing race and they’ve really held up the tradition.”
U-M placed third in the World Solar Challenge in 2009 as well. This is the fifth time in the race’s 20-year history that the U-M team has placed third. Reigning national champions, the team has finished first in the North American Solar Challenge three times in a row and six times total.
During the past two years of intense preparation, the team shaved 200 pounds off its 2009 car by weighing the vehicle bolt by bolt and streamlining nearly every part. They improved its aerodynamics by an estimated 30 percent. They tested in practice races across Michigan and in Australia. And they strategized with computer scientists and sailboat racers to come up with more accurate weather forecasting models.
So, congratulations to Tokai University on defending their 2009 Championship. And, congratulations to Nuon for a strong second place finish. While I'm sure the team is disppointed, there is no shame in finishing third to those two teams. Encountering a 'trash tornado', down under, seems to be par for the course this week. Plans are already being formulated for changes to Quantum and the foundations for the successor to Quantum. I plan to follow up with 'closing ceremonies' as well as shedding some light on the alums that have firmly planted the seeds of this program. A BIG thanks to Diane Thach, of UMSolar, who provided a lot of background info. Also another BIG thanks to Marcin Szczepanski, Multimedia Content Producer/College of Engineering, U-M. He provided all of the images you've seen (and many you have not).
Thanks for reading and following along. I read through the comments so if you have questions, feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer or get answers for you.
[Ed-M: diary bbbbbump]
Back in August, MGoUser "Undefeated dream season of 1992" did this fabulous diary on predicting a team's FEI rankings using previous seasons rankings and combining it with regression to the mean, returning starters (and bonus to an offense for bring a quarterback back), coaching change, and Rivals star rankings over the previous three recruiting cycles. This model predicted that Michigan's offense would settle in at #16, down from #2, and the defense would move up from #108 to #71.
Here we are after Week 7. The first set of FEI rankings specific to offense and defense have been released. Our Wolverines are ranked #15 on offense and surprising #17 on defense. The offense is right where UDSO92 predicted it would be (well, one spot higher). However, how did Michigan so dramatically improve on defense when it was only supposed to jump up to around #71, especially considering that the model has generally found that coordinator changes generally have a negative affect on the defense? Let's look at what UDSO92 himself had to say at the time:
One year is not definitive (except in the case of GERG, natch); in fact, a team that woefully underperformed the previous year could look great just by rebounding the following year.
What exactly were the expectations of the Michigan defense in 2010? The 2010 defense was predicted by the model to finish 46th. GEEEEEEEEERG indeed. Futher, over the period of 3 years, Michigan's defense underperformed by a whooping 37 positions of FEI. Now while this might not be an empirically correct thing to do, let's assume for a moment that we can adjust Michigan's 2011 FEI expectation. Let's say that perhaps Michigan was an exception to the general rule that changing coordinators hurts your defense in the immediate season, just because of how horrendously poorly the defense appeared to have been coached. Using this idea, Michigan's predicted finish of 71st can be improved to 34th (the difference of the 37 positions) by removing a product of the underperformance (GEEEEEEEEERG). Considering the previous seasons projection, the fact that Michigan has a good recruiting profile, along with 9 returning starters, this seems like a reasonable enough projection.
The rest of the increase up to 17th, while it may be an early season abberation, is quite possibly due to the fact that our new Greg, Greg Mattison, is not only a good coordinator, but an excellent one and is not a stuffed animal waving lunatic. Now, had someone tried predicting this at the beginning of the year, they certainly would have been called crazy. However, I figured it would be nice to throw out that little bit of overperformance as some actual evidence that not only was the previous coaching staff bad at coaching defense, but that the current one is good (based on the fact that they are overperforming their expectation).
That being said, the offense is exactly where it was figured to be, so despite our disappointment over the MSU game, let's remember that it was the first real road test (Northwestern was not a hostile crowd), and against FEI's #5 rated defense.
Let's take a look at the 7 opponents Michigan has faced thus far to see how they rank compared to our teams performance against them.
|Team||Michigan Yards||Avg/play||Opp Defense (FEI)||Opp Yards||Avg/play||Opp Offense (FEI)|
And now for what we'll be up against the next five weeks after we return from a bye.
|Team||Offense FEI||Defense FEI|
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Also, mods, if you want, please move this to diaries if you deem it worthy. I would put it there myself, but I typed the whole thing out on the Board and can't copy for some reason. So I'm just gonna post it here. Move as you deem worthy/not-worthy.