the season has truly begun now
Well, had you guaranteed me my beloved Maize and Blue would be 5-2 after the first 7 games, I would have signed on the dotted line. That would have meant a 2-1 result through UConn, ND and MSU – because believe me, at no point did I expect a win against Iowa. I’d be surprised if many of us had expected better than 5-2 at this point. And after 7 games, though a mixed blessing, we should all recognize that this year’s version of the Wolverines are exactly what many of us thought they’d be: improved on offense, unbearably young on defense.
It’s amazing what happens along the journey though: a lightening quick Sophomore gives you hope beyond reason by doing in 5 games what few others could accomplish in 10 and a suspect defense stops what many expected to be a top tier running game in the opener.
And suddenly, irrational emotions take over as visions of 10 or more wins replaced what we all knew to be true – 8-4 would be both a good step forward and likely a best case outcome.
Without memory of our August expectations, we’ve experienced 2 games we should have seen coming, but none-the-less: our lightening fast savior finally played like a Sophomore with only 5 starts to his name, our defense made spirited stops at times but couldn’t do it with consistency or when it mattered most, and our highly efficient offense gave the ball away 7 times.
Now our emotion has reared its ugly head in how many of us are responding, as we jump off cliffs: the offense is flawed, the defense is worse than anticipated and regressing and now every team in the Big Ten will torch us. To top it off, we’re looking for someone to blame for pushing us; Robinson, Rodriguez, anybody, because someone has to pay for our inflated expectations.
Two years ago, we were in some games for a half, then just blown away. Last year, it became a couple plays here, a couple plays there and we win a few more. For contrast, last week, we were two offensive mistakes from leading 14-0. And we can only speculate how crippling Lewan’s 1st quarter personal foul may have been this week, but despite playing as poorly as the team did, they were still very much alive in the 4th, and moved up and down the field on one of the best defenses in the country. Does that mean we should, would or could have one of the two games? Not sure, and it doesn’t matter.
What matters is this – this is your team, to encourage, to cheer, and to support. These are young men who appear to be representing the university with far greater class than some of us. And this team deserves our passion for them to succeed, without our inflated expectations for what we think they should be.
Here’s to win #6 in 2 weeks. Go Blue!
This was originally a response to an earlier post, but I figured it would be fun to make it a post and expand a bit.
As told through Bruce Willis movie posters.
Game started out with the team looking:
and the team taking an early 7-0 lead with some nice stops. Then Iowa went on a run, scoring 21 straight points before the half as the offense imploded somewhat and everyone had a
that things were falling apart. The scene started to look bad as the fans began to boo with everyone's
Then Denard was hurt in the 3rd quarter and everyone was
Tate came in, but everything seemed a little off initially as him lining up under center felt like
Iowa then scored again to take a 21-point lead and the scene was pure
But then Tate led the team on a string of impressive scoring drives, and they refused to
UM pulled within and it looked like the game would be a classic in which the
would win. Unfortunately, the kicker then booted his second (!) kickoff out of bounds, leaving every fan seeing as Iowa was able to tag on a field goal to finish the scoring at 38-28, a tough loss but one that most felt had some bright spots, even though others feel that sentiment is a
Now for the next two weeks, there will be rumblings that perhaps Tate should be the starter over Denard, that an issue exists. I expect the airwaves to be held for the next two weeks as people wonder about this team and if a collapse is going to follow, though I ultimately expect this team play like they are and ultimately emerge as a
David Molk and Mike Martin were "a little bit banged up during the week," and both came out during the game. Denard's shoulder was bothering him during the week, but he felt better in pregame. He took a shot on it and Tate had to come in. "I would hope. I would think... Molk, Martin, Denard with an open week should be good to go for the next one." Mike Shaw has been a little banged up the past couple weeks. The extra rest should help him.
"Turnovers, it's ridiculous. We were so good earlier in the year at taking care of the ball. We're not good enough to make mistakes and beat anybody." The turnovers and field goals were major wasted opportunities. Penalties also really hurt the team, particularly in the first half.
"Denard Robinson's our starting quarterback. Tate Forcier's a pretty good quarterback too, and so is Devin Gardner." All three quarterbacks get plenty of reps every week. Tate made some good throws and good decisions, some he'd like to have back.
What was said when you had kickoffs go OOB? "Do you really want me to say? Twice? I don't think I should repeat what I was saying to myself." That hadn't happened in practice.
The team should be able to get stops even when they start in bad field position. "When you know they're gonna run it and need to run it, you gotta stop 'em."
Defensive staff will be disappointed with the cutbacks that opened up for Adam Robinson. "That seemed to happen 4-5 times - let him out of there." The crowd was providing enthusiasm for the defense, and they couldn't close.
Lewan penalties - He's a little anxious to get on some good d-linemen. He just needed a few minutes to settle down. "We ran the ball OK, we threw the ball at times ok, but we just didn't finish drives. That's the thing that killed us today."
"A loss is a loss, and you know it's going to hurt. Our team fought to the end. I'm proud of our guys, but we've gotta correct the mistakes we had and bounce back the next week."
"It was just a few missed reads. I think that comes with repetition, working with those guys. I think that will come throughout the weeks."
Junior had the DB beat on the bomb to the 2. "After I saw what Junior did for Denard against Indiana, I trusted him. So I just threw it up there and he went up and got it."
"That's what they do, they try to prepare all three of us." Got a few more reps this week with Denard banged up. Never thought during the week Denard wouldn't be able to go. For the next game "I think he'll be alright. He'll be alright." Coach Rod will make QB decisions. "I don't have any say in that. I'm just going to keep working hard and doing what I have to do."
"I think we need it as a team." The extra week will help correct mistakes and prepare for PSU. "When we get that corrected, we should be good."
It felt good to get on the field, but the loss still hurts. "I'm just happy to be a part of this team. I think this is a special team and I'm happy to be a part of it."
Iowa wasn't expecting to play against Tate. Michigan threw the ball a bit more with him in the game. "I think that's when we started moving the ball a lot." Iowa defense is good enough to adjust.
Tate stays warm on the sidelines each week in case his name gets called. This week, it was.
Will there be another second-half collapse? "It's a different team. Our team, we keep fighting. This isn't last year's team, it's just not."
Tate's been in the rotation in practice all week. When he gets into the game, he does his job.
"I just saw the ball in the air and knew that I just had to get position on him and make a play on it." Used basketball skills to box out.
"We lost to two really good teams the past two weeks." Need to use the bye week to clean up the mistakes they made.
The offense doesn't change when the backup QB comes in. All three QBs can throw as well as run.
The bye week falls at a good time to help the team get better, because the last two games were physical, gives some guys who are beat up a chance to rest. Losses will serve as motivation during the week off. "Coming off a loss, obviously we have a bad taste in our mouth so we're gonna get after it this week." They're hungry after two losses, and this will prevent a spiral. The team will be ready for Happy Valley in two weeks.
"I just saw the quarterback throwing the ball and realized that I had to make the play." On the interception he couldn't snag. "I felt like I could have made it."
Never happy after a loss. "Obviously we're disappointed, but we did show some good things out there. We fought, you know we played hard."
Being on a short field gives you a disadvantage, but the defense has to be ready to make stops no matter where they start.
When they're missing stops on run plays. "Guys just coming downhill hard, and maybe somebody wasn't in the right gap."
Excited to make the plays when they were only down 7, but couldn't get it done.
What did he see from Kenny Demens? "Good things. You know, Kenny's a good ballplayer. He stuck his nose in a few times and made some big plays for us. You know, I think he's got a bright future here."
This week is an abbreviated session due to being out of town for a wedding.
Blargh! That is all.
The numbers predicted 35.1 points and 536 yards for Michigan State vs Michigan.
MSU had 34 points and... 536 yards.
Yikes. Not enough weeks of predictions to conclude a meaningful predictive trend, but still frightening.
- As predicted, turnovers were the critical difference as Michigan left anywhere from 18 to 21 points on the field in losing the turnover battle.
- Special teams didn't cost us the game, because the game was never close enough to be lost by special teams.
- MSU rolled on us exactly as we would have expected.
- Michigan's offense slowed down exactly as we feared.
- Prediction wise, Michigan should have an offensive multiplier less than 100% against all remaining opponents until they can prove they can play otherwise vs. Big Ten opponents.
- Defensively speaking, there's no need to modify how we are predicting our opponents' scoring/yardage at this time.
- Without a way to predict turnovers, it appears these scoring predictions are only as good as the game remains turnover-neutral.
How about the rest of our opponents?
Chart of Offensive Expectations (through 6 weeks)
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.
The Big Ten's collective strength of schedule takes a leap up and tightens. A lot of the numbers on this chart shift deceptively as a result.
- Penn St. continues to struggle mightily [Ed-M: Penn St. does everything mightily /PSU fan]. Purdue also did not impress.
- Wisconsin and MSU have separated themselves from the middle of the pack and established themselves.
- Iowa didn't play and suffered from some SoS modifications, but really we don't find out about them until after this week. Awesome.
- Illinois got a big boost this week and goes from a team we should definitely beat to a team we have to be concerned about.
- Our out-of-conference slate continues to weaken as the weeks go on. This trends us towards a 6-8 win season rather than 8-10 wins.
Conclusions Based on Almost Enough Data
Like last week, I am giving our opponents 125% of their N-PPG and 150% of their N-YPG for predictions vs Michigan.
This is what I said a week ago:
Last year, this is where Michigan's offense fell off a cliff. The last seven Big10 games they averaged 20.1 PPG. They did not outgain any of their opponents and they lost the turnover battle nearly every time.
Ugh. I wanted so badly to say that this was going to be a very different year than 2009, but now through six games I can't ignore the parallels.
Also, I need to define a scoring range based on turnover margins.
Michigan's new best-case scenario (Michigan offense operates at or near 100% N-PPG and opponents score 125%) in the Big Ten is 5-3. Purdue, Illinois, Penn St. and... Iowa. Statistically, we must win this weekend in order to go above .500 in conference play.
In a worst-case scenario, we fall behind our two remaining @Purdue and @Penn St. These are two road games against opponents whose offenses are struggling and for whom Michigan's defense might be the perfect medicine. Illinois looks scarier than a week ago. Iowa and Wisconsin are both very intimidating. Until our offense proves it can execute at a high level in a Big Ten game not named Indiana, this is the direction we are trending.
Our new outlook ranges between 7-5 and 9-3!
Prediction for Iowa:
Everything that we did not want to happen last weekend, happened.
Based strictly on the numbers:
|Team||PPG vs Mich||YPG vs Mich|
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.
THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE is always posted as a board topic, instead of as a diary
However, due to many nonsensical threads on the board this week, THE CHALLENGE may get bumped to the back pages within a couple of hours this time. Hence, as a one time event, THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE is posted today as a diary.
The winner of THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE: 3 was go16blue. That was the first time that someone has correctly predicted the exact score, and so far, remains the only such instance
Association with THE KNOWLEDGE is increasing the predictive power of the masses
The winner of THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE: 4 was longtime THE KNOWLEDGE follower Jim Harbaugh Scramble
THE KNOWLEDGE congratulates these new Protégés
Now on to the Iowa game
[Ed-M: Meta: Guys, he put a teaser break here, which you wouldn't see unless it's front-paged.
So you've probably heard by now about the cease & desist letter I received from legal representation of the University of Michigan and the Heisman Trust, and that I decided to take down all of my wallpaper artwork last week while I worked things out.
The original legal notice was founded on the misunderstanding that I was manufacturing Denard Robinson action figures. After I explained that the action figure is not real (but that I was amused that they thought it was) and that I am not trying to make money from the project, I received a follow-up e-mail indicating that their perspective was that I was promoting my business because the wallpapers were hosted on my business web site. Which, OK. I can see that perspective. I was honestly not trying to make a link between the two (and had actually taken specific steps to avoid the crossover) but I've moved all of my artwork to a new, personal blog and believe that satisfies the demands of the cease and desist.
I'm really going out of my way to be cooperative and the University's lawyer has been reasonable so there's a chance that the wallpapers could disappear again if they don't agree with my interpretation of their legal position and want to talk about it some more.
Let's move on to this week's wallpaper which you will be able to enjoy seeing on your bright shiny screens until 3:30 p.m. tomorrow and maybe for the duration of the bye week if we can pull off the upset...
Close your eyes (not literally because then you'll have to stop reading) and picture a typical Iowa family sitting down for dinner...
There's a plate full of charred animal flesh and a pile of home-grown corn. Dad sits down at the table. He offers thanks for the meal. He picks up a piece of corn. He takes a bite. He cracks an incisor in half on a little Michigan helmet! Yeah! Come on scientists! We can land a man on the moon but we can't inject a chemical that grows little Michigan helmets into Iowa corn crops?
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.