the season has truly begun now
It's days like this that I envy Brian. He, as a blogger, has a great way of venting that is a great balance of emotions and statistical data. I don't have the time at this point in my life to give priority to writing a blog devoted to Michigan football, and the market on that topic has been very well cornered anyway. But after another game slips through the cracks, I have to offer my take on the situation just to get past it. My reaction to Michigan football has always been almost strictly emotional (as opposed to statistical or charting), so I will post my reflections in that vein.
As the game ended against Penn State and I drove home from BW3 where I was watching the game, I felt surprisingly unemotional. Usually I feel strongly one way or the other, but tonight it was like I knew what was going to happen even though it seems like Michigan should have an advantage on the field given the circumstances going into the game (Penn State injuries, walk on QB, etc.). I feel like I've seen this movie played out for the last 2.5 years. This loss is extremely frustrating because I've supported Rodriguez from day one, arguing with my father from almost the end of the year one about how Michigan would improve and that the valuable development earned in year one would eventually justify the rapid improvement that would happen in year one.
Even in my full support of Rodriguez, he has fallen below even my already shrunken expectations every year, including the first. I seem to find myself stuck between the two loudest group of commenters on mgoblog. The first group is the commenters who don't like Rodriguez, haven't from day one, but hide behind irrational logic like "this offense doesn't work in the Big 10," when they should just admit they don't like Rodriguez. To this group I would say that if you only offer criticism that is valid when Michigan wins as well as when it loses, you probably don't deserve the benefit of sharing those opinions/critiques.
Then, there is the overly optimistic group. I have no problem with being optimistic or supporting Rodriguez and the team. The problem I have is with the similarly irrational logic and constant dismissal of valid concern as well as repeatedly blaming problems on anyone but the coach, unless it's the last coach....
I find myself strangely in the middle. I came into this season cautiously optimistic and not liking the fact that I had no clue what team I would see or what results to expect. I guess I should have known in hindsight, but I fell for it again and got excited. I was almost done in last year after Illinois and Purdue. I'm afraid Penn State has done me in this year, because I don't see a likely win the rest of the way.
Even with my negative outlook on the rest of the season, I still maintain that the best case scenario is to win two more and bring Rodriguez back, but some of the things that are happening are his fault. Whether Rodriguez supporters like it or not, he made choices that impacted every issue this team has today. I can no longer simply excuse continual failure and blame it on someone or something else.
Furthermore, it is ridiculous to say that no one else could do better given the situation. That is insane. Good coaches build their success by getting results with subpar talent. Good coaches adapt to their situation and their personnel. Good coaches take responsibility and don't make excuses for what goes wrong in the program. You can make a strong case that Rodriguez has been weak in all of those areas. I choose to measure by results and if Michigan doesn't finish 7-5 I hope they decide to go a different direction, which pains me to say because with all the ridiculous criticism that has gone on, the spoiled part of the fanbase whining incessantly, the douschiness of opposing coaches and programs becoming what they have always accused M of, I really wanted to see Rodriguez have a long career here filled with success. Sadly what stands out in my head is the look of frustration displayed above, as well as similar looks of frustration, and I hate that that is how Rod may be remembered. Most of all I hate how losing makes idiots think they're right when they're just idiots.
Sorry if this was a waste. I think I feel a little better.
Well, I've got nothing left. I watched that game and after three years of hoping that we would take the world by storm, I'm now just hoping that we'll win one more game. I can't even believe it.
I know many of you are in exactly the same boat. I like to tell my friends that at least understand sports that before 2008, the last time Michigan missed a bowl, I wasn't born. I hope they understand that losing just wasn't part of my DNA, particularly when it comes to my college team. Now it's been just about 3 years since we actually had a post season. I don't know how I'd endure another absence. I'm sure you've said something similar to your friends.
Don't you just want to punch the folks who don't think this is a big deal? Or who decide they're going to be a fair weather fan so they can irk you? I've got a bet with someone like that (yeah, I guess I asked for it) and I am not looking forward to paying it off because after 2 years of pain, I was hoping for a little redemption - I guess not.
So, back to present, it's hard for me not to think that the confidence of the team is now gone. I'm glad they battled back, but I don't know how this will go. I fear an implosion will lead to a loss of recruits, which leads to another 3 years of frustration. Can we survive a coaching change without a "lost generation?" Could this really go on 6 years? is it possible that we won't beat OSU for a decade? Is there any other option than to make a change after going 4-16 in conference? I just want to be sick.
And I'm just some fan. I can't imagine what it is like for a player. To be somewhere between 18 and 22 and to have your heart stomped after being so close so many times.
I just want Michigan to win - it's all I want. If I could go out and play to help them win, I would. But I'm too old, slow, fat, weak to do that. All I can do is cheer. I guess that is what I want you to do - just cheer them on. Make sure you do what you can so we have 5 more games instead of 4. After that, the situation will take care of itself.
Thanks for hearing my rant. I hope that, in some small way, it makes you feel better that you're not the only one wrecked over this football team. Keep that hope alive - Go Blue.
Ed-M: Bumped due to info/graphic awesome.
Diarist Note: The Pick-4 contest is up and running at the JCB. We have an assortment of good football and soccer coverage over there to set you up for the weekend. I’ll have weekend picks up later, so you’ll know exactly which teams to fade while I try to gamble my way out last week’s slump.
In a season of transition for both programs, Penn State and Michigan meet in Happy Valley tomorrow night in what could prove to be a signature game for the winner. Neither club has any Big 10 Title aspirations, but critical bowl positioning and perhaps even the inside track to the Gator Bowl, will be on the line when the ball finally kicks off in anger in primetime.
This week’s Big 10 slate is highlighted by the showdown in Iowa City between the Hawkeyes and Spartans, but this contest has implications that loom as large, just in a different venue. What happens to the loser of this game? For Penn State, it means they probably will do no better than a 6-6 record. Or worse. Will the cries for Joe Pa’s head reach the levels of 2003 and 2004 if the Nits revert to their losing ways from the early portion of that decade?
And speaking of cries for heads, how about Rich Rodriguez. There isn't a coach in the country taking more heat for a 5-2 record than Rodriguez, the remaining residue from his 8-16 mark during his first two seasons. A third loss in a row and November might end up being more kind to turkeys than the Wolverines current head coach.
5-2 by year three is just unacceptable, dear.
Everyone here knows all those storylines, so I wont bloviate on and on there. Tomorrow night’s game should be a blast and it will help define what sort of final month either club will have. Here are some of the keys to the game, as I see it through the MGo Over/Under Board. Place your bets accordingly.
First, however, it should be noted that with the conference breaking into two divisions and Michigan and Penn State being seated on different sides, this will be the last PSU/UM in at least a couple of years. Who knows when the Maize and Blue will be back in Happy Valley, so to honor the moment let’s go back in the Way Back Machine, courtesy of Wolverine Historian, and remember the Wolverines' first-ever visit to Beaver Stadium:
Ah, memories. You shall be missed, oh second-largest.
(The picks, after the jump.)
I love MGoBlog's Picture Pages posts, but I'm so obtuse that sometimes I can't follow them in still shots or even the unadorned play video. To overcome this, I created an annotated video companion to the two latest Picture Pages. I'll probably keep doing this for the rest of the year [Ed-M: Yes, please!] as making them really helped me figure out what Brian was talking about in the original posts (included text is with his permission, BTW).
Apologies in advance to those who have already seen part of this in the Iowa UFR Errata post, but there's new stuff here too.
Losing Contain, Again Again:
The sitch: Iowa has a 3rd and 3 from Michigan's 11 yard line, late in the 3rd quarter. They come out with an unbalanced I-form which they've used to little effect during the day, Michigan answers with a 4-4 with both cornerbacks lined up over the two receivers on the weakside. M blitzes the strongside safety (Kovacs), meaning Jonas Mouton is now the outside guy. He takes the inside shoulder of Iowa's tackle, meaning there's nobody left to contain outside. Iowa scores.
(More) Freshman DB Doom:
The sitch: Iowa has a 3rd and 10 from the Michigan 14, and M rolls Cover 2. Freshman nickelback Courtney Avery turns his head around and chases the inside vertical receiver way too far, abandoning his zone and turning the underneath drag into a wide-open path to the endzone. Iowa scores.
Hopefully these will make the plays make more sense to the more video-inclined.
Abbreviated Version: As expected, after a bye week, most of the data did not change. However, the computer analysis (Fremeau and Sagarin) did have significant changes – primarily due to strength of schedule adjustments. Michigan's SoS went from #52 to #77 in the FEI and from #49 to #64 for Sagarin. At the same time, PSU beat lowly Minnesota and their SoS improved slightly from #40 to #36 for the FEI but declined from #45 to #47 for Sagarin. The SoS adjustments have more to do with how all of your opponents did that week rather than whether you win or lose. This significantly changed the rankings and game predictions (see below). Thus, my prediction that the computer analysis would not change very much after the bye week was absolutely wrong!
Synopsis: After 7 games and a bye week, Michigan is currently ranked #17 in scoring offense and #80 in scoring defense (wooo hooo, the defense improved by not playing). According to the FEI rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan is ranked #93 in total defense (a significant drop from #83 prior to the bye week).
Due to the large swing in computer rankings during the bye week, FEI has Michigan favored by 7 points over Penn State (an initial rough estimate showed M favored by 16 prior to the bye week). Using the Sagarin Predictor, PSU is now favored by 1.5 points (before the bye week M was favored by 2.8 points). Sagarin Elo-Chess has M favored by 3.1 and the Sagarin Overall ranking has M by 0.7 points. (Vegas Odds now have M favored by 3).
I am confused this week why Sagarin has PSU favored and FEI as the game relatively close. Unless M implodes with TOs, IMO this should be a big win.
DETAILS: Here are the FEI numbers ( FEI Forecasts and Football Outsiders FEI ). FEI is a weighted and opponent adjusted season efficiency and is expressed as a percentage as compared with an average FBS team. The average team will have an index of approximately 0.00. Teams below average have negative index values.
Note that FEI completely excludes all non-FBS data (the W-L record is only for FBS games, etc.). Therefore, you need to add 1 to FBS-MW to get the final predicted wins for M this year. Or, if you use FBS-RMW, you need to add 1 to the current W-L record to get the final predicted wins for M this year. BTW, the difference between FBS-MW and FBS-RMW is the number of FBS games each team would have been expected to win to date.
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams. I've included the GE basic data so you can see the impact of adjusting for opponent. (See: Football Outsiders Our Basic College Stats )
Here are the Sagarin Ratings.
Sagarin uses two basic ratings: PREDICTOR (in which the score MARGIN is the only thing that matters) and ELO-CHESS (in which winning and losing only matters, the score margin is of no consequence). The overall rating is a synthesis of the two diametrical opposites, ELO-CHESS and PREDICTOR.
Per Sagarin: ELO-CHESS is “very politically correct. However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is PREDICTOR”.
Three weeks ago we predicted the MSU yardage exactly and modeled the score very closely for what would have been in a turnover neutral game. Two weeks ago vs Iowa we had this:
Dear god, help us.
It's about time for our defense to turn in a performance that exceeds expectations, and when these are your expectations one can only pray that they are exceeded.
If they are, Michigan might have a shot in this game - but only if our offense actually puts together a real game when it counts in the Big Ten.
Iowa did gain fewer yards than predicted, thank god. I feel like this was mostly due to conservative play-calling on Iowa's part. It was clear that when they desired greatly to move the ball, they were able to pull out the stops and march down with little resistance. But their coaches saw a path to victory that involved simply out-executing and took it.
- Turnovers killed.
- If turnovers didn't kill, special teams and penalties killed.
- The defense held Iowa to less yardage than expected but that could possibly be due to Iowa's average field position (40 yard line anyone?), our turnovers, and conservative play-calling from Iowa once they had a huge lead.
Enough emotional prognosticating, here be the numbers:
Chart of Expectations (through 7 games)
N-PPG or Normalized Points-per-game is taken from the teams average PPG with a SoS multiplier factored in to deflate numbers from playing bad competition and inflate numbers based on playing good competition.
N-YPG or Normalized Yards-per-game is calculated using the same SoS multiplier as N-PPG but using this metric will help us determine a less variant guess as to how offenses will perform (PPG is subject to wild variance based on turnovers and special teams).
Strength of Schedule is taken from Sagarin rankings.
Usage: The chart doesn't predict that #3 would beat #5. Instead it tries to predict with the most accuracy how many points/yards on average each of these teams would score against a common opponent.
Surprisingly boring results after a bye week.
- We have yet to play the best two N-PPG offenses we will face this year.
- Our other three games are against three of the bottom half, including arguably the two worst.
- I really hope that at some point we start converting the yardage gained disparity into the points column.
- But it could mean that we just have awful special teams and killer mistakes that make us have to move the ball a lot farther for every point we get.
- But at least we're moving the ball!
- All of our wins are looking cheaper by the week:
- Indiana is tied for last in the Big Ten.
- BGSU is last place in the MAC.
- UConn is last place in the Big East.
- UMass got rolled twice by some terrible Colonial teams.
- Notre Dame got blown out by Navy.
Conclusions Based on Saddening Data
What a big, big opportunity for the Maize and Blue this weekend. Penn State took a gracious Minnesota team to bring up it's averages (Minnesota fwiw would be a 22.1 NPPG team and 351 NYPG on the chart - better than BGSU, worse than UConn).
The yardage doesn't lie, Michigan has a potent - albeit highly volatile - offense. And the fact that the team has an great opportunity to improve from last years mark with a defense that's the worst we've ever seen is very encouraging if you believe that defense will eventually get better.
Michigan's new best-case scenario (Michigan offense operates at or near 100% N-PPG and opponents score 125%) in the Big Ten is 4-4. That means the next three games are must win to stay at .500 in Big Ten Play.
In a worst-case scenario our only remaining win is Purdue.
Our new outlook ranges between 6-6 and 8-4!
Prediction for Penn St:
Based strictly on the numbers:
|Team||PPG vs Mich||YPG vs Mich|
Penn State 24