(Author's note: sorry I'm late, work exploded on me yesterday).
Before we begin, no, I don't think Michigan versus Illinois belongs on the list. Both teams have functional offenses, and have a measurable level of success. Now that's out of the way, on to the festivities.
If I had a picture of a cupcake with teeth, I'd put it here. Cupcake-apalooza went less well than expected, but at least none of them lost. Auburn only punted once and gave up two TDs in the 4th quarter after the game was well in hand. Oregon had a game against USC until Oregon ended the scoring with 3 TDs and a field goal. Boise State double up on LaTech, and TCU dutifully stopped UNLV, holding the Rebels That Probably Have Little To Do With The Civil War to under 200 yards as a team. TCU also only punted once. Going 7-11 on third down, plus 2-2 on 4th makes things like that happen.
I'm probably in for some karmic schadenfreude somehow as Kansas plays Colorado in a "Someone Gets a Conference Win, And Someone Gets Fired" game. My wife is a Jayhawk, and on a clear day I can see Boulder. I'm still not convinced Colorado isn't playing intramurals. Kansas fans, such as they are, are already looking to dump Turner Gil after such performances as: losing to Iowa State 28-16, and losing to North Dakota State 6-3.
Tennessee versus Memphis is a "The Bad Playing the Really Bad" game as both still need a conference win. Tennessee has been competitive in the SEC, but is only 93rd in scoring. Memphis is 0-5 in C-USA, which should just about sum that up. They are 117th in points for, and 118th in points against, so they get "We're Bad, But We're Consistent" award.
The "It's MAC-tacular" game of the week is Akron versus Ball State. Akron is 0-7 on the season, and The Fightin' Lettermen have losses to Liberty and EMU on the season. I predict the final score to be 4-2, with all points scored on safeties from snaps over the punter's head.
Post Week Analysis can be found here: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/post-week-8-yardage-analysis-and-predictions-...
The analysis above for the Penn State game basically found that the only way UM was going to leave Happy Valley with a loss was for the offense to end up on the low end of the prediction and for PSU's offense to gain on the high end of UMs predicted defense. What happened was exactly that.
UMs offense low end was predicted 417 yards. UM gained 423 yards. PSU's offense gained 435 yards with a predicted high end of 438.
What is even more disturbing is that with the yards that PSU gained, they should have only scored around 28 points when you take their yards/point metric for their season average. PSU scored 41 points. This can only be attributed to PSU ridiculous starting field position. Once again, special teams woes have hurt the team. Blame could also be put on the defense for failure to get off the field. UM lost the time of possession by 15 minutes.
When looking at the PSU game and where UMs offensive and defensive efforts rank, we see much the same thing. PSU gained 29.13% more yards than their season average, which is good for 4th worst finish this season (46.28% vs. Indiana, 38.83% vs. UMass, 29.63% vs. MSU).
UMs offense gained 27.41% more yards than the PSU defense averages per game. Normally, you'd think that number was pretty good, except for the fact that, for the season, UMs offense is gaining almost 54% more yards than their opponents give up. That 27% mark is the offense's second lowest mark this season, only beaten out by 14.46% mark put up against MSU.
What's significantly dissappointing about the PSU game numbers? The disastrous showing by the offense and defense come after not only a two-week preperation window, but also after the offense's and defense's best games of the year against Iowa. It seemed there was progress being made on both sides, but the PSU game was a major let down.
Now, moving on to Week 10 of the college football season and UM showdown with Illinois.
Let's bring up the charts....
This game isn't looking too promising for Michigan. It looks like UM is going to need one of their better offensive days of the season AND one of their better defensive days of the season against Illinois. Perhaps if homefield advantage is worth 3 points, then we have a dead heat and only a bad defensive showing will spell doom for UM. That is, of course, given UMs offense gets back on track. It's going to be a tall task against the 15th ranked defense (yards/game) and 12th ranked scoring defense. The only bit of hope is that Iowa is the 12th ranked defense and 8th ranked scoring defense and UM had a good game on both sides of the field.
So, my prediction based on these statistics....
UM - 470 yards
Illinois - 460 yards
UM - 28
Illinois - 31
Normally, this would be the time frame in which I would create one of my all-killa-no-filla-and-nothing-remotely-resembling-an-opponent-highlight highlight reels, but I find myself with a little free time thanks to Saturday night's dong-punching (because when Michigan loses, There Are No Highlights).
Naturally, I used this time to revisit a three-week-old dong punch, the MSU game. This is the video companion to the Backside DE Pursuit Picture Page. But enough about my dong and punches thereto.
Wha'happon: It's early in the second quarter; MSU just scored on a 61-yard run that illustrates what can happen when you don't get any backside pursuit (which moment of defensive glory I'll be MPP'ing soon; I can only deal with one catastrophe at a time). Michigan runs Denard off left tackle with Hopkins as lead blocker. Schilling pulls around, but because his pull is disrupted by the MSU DT, he's not a factor. Lewan and Webb destroy the right side of the MSU DL, Molk takes out the WLB, and Hopkins gets a solid block on the SLB. Even without Schilling helping lead the charge, this looks like a huge play or even an answering 60-yard TD after Denard WOOP!s Greg Jones. HOWEVA, Dorrestein can't maintain his block on the DE, who hauls ass all the way across the formation and trips Denard up after seven yards.
I slowed the captions down considerably from my previous two efforts (for those of you doing videography at home, the rule of thumb is to leave a title up for THREE TIMES AS LONG as it takes you to read it aloud, but that seemed bloody ponderous when I tried it, so I cut all those times back somewhat). I'd say "Enjoy," but you're really not going to enjoy it. I'll just say "Watch and learn," because I sure as hell did.
[Ed: Bumped for interestingness. Here's where you're at.]
[UPDATE: The new poll was not functioning at the bottom of the page, please retake it]
Last night, I posted a poll to see what MGoBoard’s opinion is regarding the state of the program. Much has been said over these topics in the past few days, but there truly hasn’t been an accurate way to see how the board has reacted as a whole. The bickering has been not only annoying, but unhelpful in determining what people are really thinking. Unfortunately, I can’t post the results directly from the host (as I don’t want to shell out the $200 to be able to share the information other than copy and paste), but here are the results. This poll was flawed and there are more questions that can be asked after seeing this data, so a follow-up poll will be conducted at the end of the post.
Question #1 - Has Michigan's offense improved enough in the past three years?
- Yes – 82%
- No - 18%
This is pretty unsurprising, considering how the offense has come from being one of the worst in the country in 2008 to arguably being one of the best in 2010. There has been improvement from year to year, and with Michigan’s young talent at many offensive players, including Denard Robinson, this looks to continue.
Question #2 - What has been the single biggest reason Michigan's defense has struggled?
- Lack of talent – 30%
- Youth - 22%
- Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense - 18%
- Attrition – 18%
- Greg Robinson has coached poorly schematically – 12%
Admittedly, all of these reasons have probably been a contributing factor to how unsuccessful the defense has been this year. Nothing has really stood out as the main factor, but a combination of all of these has definitely crippled the defense. The two biggest factors, the lack of talent and youth, combine together with attrition to make the biggest reason for the failure of the defense to be the personnel for 70% of the respondents, while coaching was signaled out by 30% as the biggest reason.
Note: I am not questioning the effort of the players on defense; they have worked and played as hard as they can. They are great representatives for the University of Michigan in how they conduct themselves on the field. They may have struggled, but they haven’t quit.
Question #3 - Should Greg Robinson be retained as Michigan's defensive coordinator?
- No – 54%
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 37%
- Yes – 9%
Over half of MGoBoard wants Greg Robinson to be removed from the defensive coordinator position at the end of the season, and more than a third will reevaluate their position after the conclusion of the season. After the struggles on defense this season, there seems to be a consensus that someone should take the fall after the season.
Question #4 - What was Rich Rodriguez's most egregious off-the-field mistake?
- Nothing was particularly egregious – 25%
- Attrition – 22%
- The NCAA practice violations – 22%
- Poor choices on recruits who did not make admissions standards – 20%
- Other (leave in comments) - 7%
- Comments he's made in press conferences - 3%
- Not being a "Michigan Man" - 1%
Despite this being a poorly worded question (one commenter stated: “egregious may be a little strong” and I agree), the responses have been all across the board for this question as well as Question #2. I think that the top three have been mistakes on Rodriguez’s part, but I wouldn’t call anything that he’s done “egregious” per se. Some of the comments left in other that have been echoed in others:
There's not a whole lot that RR has done that many or all other coaches go through.
Remember the way he left West Virginia?
Not giving his DC enough freedom to install his own staff.
Hiring Scott Shafer
Forcing out Scott Schafer
Too much focus on offense, not enough on defense or special teams. Not enough recruiting there (or recruiting ones that can enroll), not enough coaching there. This is a team based on offense first, I see no whole team concept.
Neglecting to recruit defense enough until the late stages of the 2010 cycle. If we had gotten some of those freshman DBs in for spring practice, they would be further along than they are now.
He ruined the sanctity of Michigan Football.
the audacity of having a west virginia accent /s
Question #5 - Has Michigan shown enough improvement in Rodriguez's tenure?
- No – 70%
- Yes – 30%
Agreed, although I think this figure would change a lot when Michigan makes or fails to make a bowl game. In year three, I think the fanbase has reasonably expected the team to make a bowl game and have a winning record but it remains to be seen if that will happen or not.
Question #6 - Should Rich Rodriguez be retained after the season?
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 41%
- Yes – 37%
- No – 21%
Very interesting, despite all the anger and frustration voiced on the board after the Penn State game, only a fifth of MGoBoard wants a different coach for 2011. Personally, I think that it’s fair to wait until after the season to assess final judgment and that will be addressed in the follow-up poll.
There is something interesting of note though: the 257 people who indicated that they would like to see Rodriguez stay around for 2011 responded that Michigan has improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (62%), Michigan will beat Illinois (61%), and that the defense’s struggles are not his fault (2% selected “Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense” as the biggest reason).
On the other hand, however, the 147 respondents who do not want Rodriguez to be retained said that Michigan has not improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (only one said that they have), only 9% think that none of Rodriguez’s off the field mistakes were particularly egregious, and 47% think that his poor decisions in trying to influence the defense is the biggest reason why the defense has struggled.
Questions #7, 8, 9, and 10 – Will Michigan beat each of its final four opponents?
- Michigan will lose to Illinois – 65%
- Michigan will beat Purdue – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Wisconsin – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Ohio State – 85%
The board has been pretty clear; most of us see a 6-6 conclusion to the season, with 7-5 being possible and 5-7, 8-4, and 9-3 as being pretty improbable. This is pretty obvious; Illinois should be coming in as a favorite, Michigan should be heavily favored against Purdue, and Wisconsin and Ohio State look to be heavy favorites against Michigan.
Here’s the follow-up poll. [FIXED]
Dave Brandon is a smart guy. He played football for Bo, he was a successful fortune 500 CEO at Dominoes, and he was a UM Regent.
I would be willing to bet that he was on the advisory committee to help (tell) Bill Martin who to hire to replace Lloyd Carr.
Brandon is now CEO of UM athletics.
Football is his cash cow.
He MUST make football work. This means winning. It also means graduating his athletes and keeping them out of trouble.
Part of his football program is doing pretty well. The offense is one of the best in the country. But the defense is failing.
His department head in football is a good man. He is a young family man, he is intelligent, engaging, well spoken, and represents the university well. He is an excellent offensive coach and recruiter. His players really like him.
So how to fix football?
Brandon does NOT want to fire this department head.
Are there candidates as good as him out there & available? Not many.
What about negotiating with another university for their coach? How ugly is that?
How much would it cost to pay everyone off and start over?
Football would lose a year recruiting on top of what was lost the last time.
The university would look indecisive (Notre Dame?)
And the next guy: What baggage will he bring with him (a cheerleader in his closet)? And will he win?
No. Brandon will stay with his department head. He will sit down with him, talk about the big picture, and work with him to develop a plan to fix the defense. He will put together an advisory group of football guys to advise the department head on his plan. When the plan is completed, Brandon will help his department head execute the plan.
What is the plan? Basically, it involves getting the right personnel (defensive coordinator), giving that guy control / responsibility, and not interfering with him. Then holding him accountable.
We already tried that?
No, we did not. The department head did not use our brain trust / football family to identify and find the right man to run the defense. Then he did not give the D.C. freedom to hire his assistants, and the D.C. was told what scheme to run. This time it must be different: His personnel, his scheme.
This is what CEO Dave Brandon will do.
If the department head is smart, he will work with his CEO and everybody will look good. This might be difficult on the department head's ego, to admit that maybe his hires and his schemes did not work.
If he is a prima donna, he will not accept help and do it himself. If he does this, chances are he will make the same mistake again, and be fired in another year.
Brandon has other resources to bring to bear on the defensive problem, as long as his Department Head is willing to work with him and them.
My guess is that the Department Head is smart enough to work with the help offered by Dave Brandon to get the job done.
This weekly update will be a little sparse. Since there was a bye then an away game, there wasn't much that happened that I haven't reported already. This weekend should be a good one, however, with the Dr. Phillips clan coming to town.
As usual I will post this in a separate diary since the names will change as we get closer to the date. This is the only thing I'm going to say as far as everyone asking about a potential "secret recruit' visiting this weekend. I have confirmed he's coming, and I will let you know who it is when they give me the OK to tell you.
- Safety Roderick Ryles (6'1", 185 lbs, 3 Star): Currently committed to Arkansas, but he has said numerous times that anything can happen. If he likes this visit, I would expect Michigan to be a heavy contender.
- Linebacker Darryl Monore (6'1", 215 lbs, 3 Star): Darryl has not been offered by Michigan, but will be making the trip up this weekend. Currently committed to Washington State, he has said that basically means nothing and it's as soft a commit as you can be.
- Running Back Demetrius Hart (5'8", 190 lbs, 4 Star, Commit): You already know.
- Safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6'2", 190 lbs, 5 Star): Alabama commit coming up for the second time. I was a little optimistic until I spoke with someone in Florida that I trust. They said Ha'Sean is definitely committed to Alabama, and it would be hard to get him away from that. We'll see what happens.
- Wide Receiver Chris Gallon (6'5", 205 lbs, 3 Star): Chris does not have an offer, although the coaches have told him they're reviewing his film. It seems as though Chris may be a back up plan for Michigan at wide receiver.
- Quarterback Nick Patti (5'10", 180 lbs, 2012 Recruit): Nick has consistently said that Michigan is one of his favorites.
5'11", 205 lbs.
Will Mahone was in Ann Arbor this year to watch a Michigan game already, and this week traveled to Pennsylvania to see the Penn State game. He got a two for one, as he got to check out both the Lions and Wolverines offense.
It's great to have a quarterback like Denard, we have a versatile quarterback, too, so that's good. (Michigan's) running back (Vincent) Smith looks like he's good too. They had a rough game, but they made a little comeback too.
Mahone plays in a spread offense now that uses a lot of read options, much like Michigan. The new recruiting rules have slowed down offers, but Will is still hearing from a good amount of big time schools.
Alabama, Penn State, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Michigan and Notre Dame are all still sending letters. I have an offer from Cincinnati, too.
While running back may not be a big priority for Michigan in the 2012 class, Mahone would be a good option.