there would have to be some to wash away
[Ed.: Bump. As the OP notes, this data is still very shaky four games in, but the amount of improvement in the offense is so great it can hardly be a mirage.]
In my post the other day, Why should 2010 not be another 2009?, I looked at what our offense has accomplished in 2010 relative to what it had accomplished at this point in the season in 2009. It had two meaningful results:
1) This years' offense draws its potency from highly reproduceable, base set offensive plays, unlike the high variance scrambles and special teams play of 2009.
2) This year's offense is putting up far superior numbers to what they did a year ago (up 28%!!) against as-good or slightly-better competition (77th strength-of-schedule in 2010 vs 114th in 2009).
The Conclusion From the Former:
Our offense will come back to earth from meteoric numbers in out-of-conference play, BUT we have statistically significant evidence to believe that our offense will be far more reliable than last year due to depth, experience, and dilithium.
Our defense cannot stop any team that is executing, whether it's UMass or that-team-down-south. In other words, our wins and losses are going to be determined by how good an offense we face each week, and how well they execute.
Examples: UConn played bad (dropped passes, poor throws) and we stopped them. On the flip side UMass played well (good schemes, good execution) and they had their way with us.
Each and every Big10 offense we play is going to put up at least or slightly better numbers than their normalized offensive output.
So let's find out how bad it's going to be against us with a--
Chart of Infinite Defensive Gloom (after 4 weeks)
|2009 Rank||2009 Opponent||Expected N-PPG||Expected N-YPG||Actual PPG||Actual YPG|
Normalized Offensive Output - The important thing we're doing here is not looking at the raw PPG and YPG of these teams because it does not account for how good of competition they have played. Four weeks in, the SoS data is far from reliable, but it is at least forming.
Our opponent with the strongest SoS serves as the baseline (Notre Dame with 3 Big10 teams and Stanford). In other words, these numbers estimate what all of these teams' offenses would have generated if they had all played Notre Dame's schedule thus far (Purdue, Michigan, MSU, and Stanford).
Strength of Schedule is taken from Sagarin rankings. (BGSU and UMass are going to have way-inflated numbers at this time, but I included them on the chart anyway as a reminder this is not a perfect analysis and as an interesting couple of data points to track as the season progresses.)
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).
I am only tracking our 12 opponents because the only thing that matters is the twelve games Michigan plays and I don't want to get depressed that we are playing Wisconsin and Iowa instead of NW and Minnesota.
This chart pans out as expected. That-team-down-south is the clearcut leader. (Michigan is actually second in N-PPG with 36.3 but FIRST in N-YPG with a staggering 494.5).
We see a clearly defined pecking order in the Big10 that matches very closely the general consensus: clear-cut leaders in OSU-Wisconsin, a muddled middle of Iowa-MSU-Indiana, and a struggling bottom of offenses PSU-Illinois-Purdue.
The exceptions are Indiana, which is trending higher up the rankings due to its offense, and Penn St, which was generally considered a top-4 team in the Big10 going into the season (but is clearly not the case with their offense).
UMass and BGSU will continue to fall down this chart as their SoS gets watered down with conference and 1-AA play.
Conclusions Based on Not Enough Data
NSFMF! Teams always seem to play their lights out when they play Michigan. Michigan's defense has a way of making teams look better than they are. Notre Dame for instance had their highest offensive output of the year against Michigan, operating at 125% of their average YPG.
If we take the MOST pessimistic view and give our opponents 125% of their offensive AND scoring outputs against us and only give ourselves 80% (assumption our offense slows down entering league play) of our average going into the Big10, Michigan ends the season 7-5 with wins over PSU, Illinois, and Purdue.
If instead we give ourselves just our average offensive production going into this weekend - our Big10 expected record jumps to 6-2... 10-2 overall!! - with losses coming from Wisconsin and that-team-down-south.
Where does the truth lie? Probably somewhere in between 6-2 and 3-5. Would you take that outcome at the start of the season? In a heartbeat? I know I would.
It is going to be tremendous to watch this Michigan team storm into the Big10 season knowing that our offense only needs to hold serve and our defense can surrender season-best performances from every single opponent and we still have a fighting chance in all of those games! And lest we forget... DILITIHIUM!
For now, I think we can look at this and add one more reason to the growing pile of why 2010 is NOT 2009! Get excited! Indiana here we come!
Prediction for Indiana:
Michigan's ground game operates at MINIMUM of 100% our normalized average and puts up above-average PPG, but since we only score touchdowns we go to the next closest number after 36! Indiana plays their lights out and operates at 125% of their normalized efficiency, mostly through the air.
It's only fall, but that means spring is just around the corner (ok, a couple corners), which means it's time for an update on the 3-time defending National Champion Michigan Lacrosse team.
First things first, the CCLA (Michigan's conference) underwent a bit of restructuring, and the Wolverines will face a different slate in conference. Last year, Michigan was in the CCLA North, along with Michigan State and the trio of directional Michigans. The CCLA South included Buffalo, Miami (NTM), Pitt, West Virginia, and Ball State. Here are the changes, via the @UmichLacrosse Twitter feed:
CCLA D1 admits Ohio U and Toledo. Loses Miami, EMU, Buffalo, West Virginia.
UM now in CCLA East with Pitt, Ohio and Toledo.
That means the conference now looks like this:
|Team||2010 Record||Team||2010 Record|
Toledo and Ohio are new programs, but it shouldn't make a huge difference. Michigan and Michigan State are clearly the class of the conference, with the rest being dregs. The conference tournament will be held May 7th and 8th at Saline High School, with the top seed on each side facing the #2 from the opposite division.
That brings us to the schedule, which you can find in its entirety on the Michigan Lacrosse website. The Wolverines have a trio of preseason games against D-1 Bellarmine and D-3 squads Wittenberg and Kenyon. The first two teams may sound familiar, as they were Wolverine opponents in the 2010 preseason, and Michigan handled each of them comfortably.
The Wolverines open the regular season at home against Florida, before embarking on their spring break trip to Los Angeles. They'll play a neutral-site game against Oregon at Harvard-Westlake High School, and road contests at Loyola-Marymount and Chapman.
Following that trip, the Wolverines will hit the road again, heading to Athens, Ohio to kick off conference play against the Ohio Bobcats before starting a seven-game home stand (I guess this makes up for having only four home games all of last year). Rival BYU and Pittsburgh come in one weekend, followed by Boston College and UC-Santa Barbara, then Colorado State and Arizona State. Missouri is the only opponent on the final weekend.
Following the home stand, the Wolverines take on Michigan State at Birmingham Seaholm High School in the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic. On the final weekend of the regular season, the Wolverines head to The Glass City for their third and final divisional game against Toledo.
The Wolverines are certainly testing themselves in the non-conference. All were MCLA tournament teams last year (as was conference-mate Michigan State) except Loyola-Marymount and Florida (and the Gators were one of the first teams out). Colorado State, Arizona State, Chapman, Oregon, and BYU finished in spots 2-6 in the final LaxPower MCLA power rankings, with Arizona State falling to Michigan in the MCLA finals, and Chapman meeting the same fate in the semis.
Michigan lost the following players following last season:
|Zach Mueller*||Defense||21GB, 1A|
|Jordan Kirshner||Midfield||13G, 11A , 3rd Tm AA|
|Jamie Goldberg||Midfield||11G, 15A, 14GB|
|Anthony Hrusovsky||Midfield||12G, 12A, 2nd Tm AA|
|Kevin Zorovich||Attack||14G, 26A, 88GB, 2nd Tm AA|
|Clark McIntyre*||Attack||22G, 23GB|
|David Reinhard||FOGO||.721FO%, 110GB, 1st-Tm AA|
|Michael Bartomioli||Midfield||3G, 21GB|
|David Rogers||Midfield||9G, 8A|
|Svet Tintchev||Midfield||13G, 5A|
|Josh Ein||Attack||22G, 9A, 28GB|
The graduating seniors lost a single game in their final three years (last year at Colorado).
Despite losing a number of exceptional players, the Wolverines aren't coming into the year with a bare cupboard. In fact, Michigan's pair of 2011 captains, attack Trevor Yealy and defenseman Harry Freid, were first-team All-Americans last year. Long-stick midfielder Matt Asperheim and goalie Mark Stone were third-team and honorable mention, respectively. Thomas Paras was second on the team in scoring last year, and he'll be just a sophomore in 2011. With a number of young defensive players ready to step up, and Edward Ernst stepping in to replace Reinhard on faceoffs, there is plenty of returning talent on this squad.
The Wolverines add an excellent recruiting class (most likely the tops in the MCLA, though there are no rankings for such things that I know of), comprised of 13 players to an already-strong team. Even East Coast lacrosse fans will recognize some of the schools: Philadelphia Conestoga (Jeff Chu was the team's captain and leading scorer, and six of his teammates ended up going to Division-1 schools), Georgetown Prep (Fern Murias is pictured at right - seven of his teammates will play D-1 ball this spring), and Brunswick (Brett Moscati saw four teammates go D-1). The Wolverines even picked up a transfer from a D-1 school in Ann Arbor Native Patrick Stansik, returning home from Bucknell (where his brother was an All-American).
More on the team as the season approaches. For Michigan Lacrosse fans in Central Ohio, you can see the Wolverines' lone fall ball scrimmages against Denison University on October 24th... though the Grand Valley State Lacrosse page on Facebook says the Wolverines will also host the MCLA D2 Lakers on October 13th in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. If there are more fall ball updates, I'll post them.
There are times in every person's life that are special: getting your driver's license, graduation, your wedding day, the birth of a child. However, for many of us who are too young to experience many of the aforementioned events, one of those times is being on the field of the Big House during a game. Well, this past Saturday, I had the privilege, nay, the HONOR to be on the field for pre-game warm-ups. Some of you may recall me posting about this earlier before the game against BGSU, and some of you wished me to tell you how it went...so here we go.
We arrived near the Eastern Gate entrance around 11 AM. At first we didn't see who we were supposed to meet, but eventually they found us in order to give us our field passes. I was initially anticipating awesome laminated passes that hung around my neck, but I soon realized that I would be getting a Willy Wonka style "golden ticket" stuck on the back of my ticket. Regardless of the "disappointment," I will cherish this ticket forever.
We made our way to the gate to the tunnel, and at this point, my heart is pounding, my palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there's vomit...wait, sorry got off track there. I was excited as hell to walk through the tunnel for the first time EVER! We stopped just shy of the gate to wait for the team. After taking way too many pictures of nothing, the team finally emerged from the locker room:
Then, finally, it was our turn. Never before have I experienced such pride. Here I was, walking in the hallowed steps of such athletes as Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard, and of course, coaches like Lloyd Carr, Bo Schembechler and now Rich Rodriguez. Needless to say, I got goosebumps (goosepimples maybe?). Enjoy the vicarious experience:
We slowly (on purpose) made our way to the north endzone, where I was given the treat of watching the DL do warm-ups. As per blogger suggestions. I said NOTHING (although very hard) and instead took many pictures and a couple of vids of the players and drills. I don't know how many of you have stood less than 10 feet away from Big Will and Mike Martin, but they are HUGE!
After the joy of watching the DL do their thing, it got a bit hectic. We were being told to "move along" towards our seats by the event staff, while the offense was getting their reps in. I was trying my best to get a shot of Denard in action, but my crappy digital camera has the worst zoom quality ever. Sorry I have no evidence, but it was COOL!
Afterwards, the players all gathered in a circle (you know what's coming!), and I was literally within arm's length of such players as: Roy Roundtree, Mike Shaw, Vincent Smith, Taylor Lewan, Devin Gardner, and Denard "Dilithium" Robinson. Oh, and before I show you the vid, yes, Lewan did the "Flying Denard" routine, but sadly I missed the chance to get it on film.
If you can see from the video, Barwis was in the middle of this Circle of Awesomeness, and he's freaking intense, so if you haven't already, sell your dog, buy a wolf, and name it Barwis (BE A MAN!). Shortly after that, things got uneventful. We were told to "move along" once again, and I ran into the refs. [Side Note: I told the referee to have a "good game" and he acknowledged me. Sorry to say, but seeing as how the refereeing in that game was shit, I may be partially to blame for jinxing the man. Just sayin'....]
Now comes the summit of the experience. As we're making our way to our seats, we are literally right behind the Michigan bench area. Obviously we aren't going to be here forever, but we lingered for as long as we could until someone found us out. Not only did I get to watch the team run onto the field, but afterwards I was less than 10 feet away from the likes of John U. Bacon, GERG, and GERG's hair.
Sadly, we were found out, and we were forced to exit the field. But before I ended this personal mecca of mine, I lingered near the top of the steps to the field for one last time, in order to see the march of the "M" to the north endzone:
It was a glorious time I spent on the field, and one I will never forget. It is my wish that one day you will all be able to share in the experience I had, to stand amongst the players you root for every Saturday, and to walk in the shoes of giants through the tunnel. Watching Michigan devour a weakling MAC school like BGSU was a joy in and of itself, but that, and no other game to precede it, will ever replace the memories of the time I spent in the presence of the Leaders and the Best. Go Blue!
For more vids: http://www.youtube.com/user/UMAmaizinBlue?feature=mhum
For more pics: http://img715.imageshack.us/g/img5810g.jpg/
Here's another update on Demetrius Hart, since there have been quite a few questions about him recently. I last posted that he will be announcing his decision sometime next week. I spoke with Dee's mom and she told me that he will be making his final decision Tuesday of next week, or Wednesday at the latest.
Remember that Demetrius and his family are going up to Alabama for an official visit this weekend. They will also be joined by teammates Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (Current Alabama commit) and Chris Gallon, along with Demetrius' running back coach, who happens to be an Alabama fan.
I also spoke with Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix yesterday about a recent comment he made about the weather being a factor at Michigan. He had said that it was too cold, and he didn't think he would like that. It now seems that he is taking a different stance.
I would have to get used to the weather eventually anyway, so it's not a big deal anymore. Dee and I are going to be coming back up there for an unofficial, I'm just not sure when yet.
2012 Nick Patti will also be coming back up to Michigan for the Wisconsin game, and I also gave an update the other day about another Dr. Phillips teammate in Roderick Ryles, who has started to hear from the Michigan coaches.
For this week's installment of opponents' press conferences, we have Bill Lynch, head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers. I personally think they make a better vacuum than a football team (I have a Hoosier Wind Tunnel which sees basement duty), but the Big Ten being what it is, our boys in blue take to the field against these guys Saturday, so here we go with Other People's Pressers!
(P.S. a friend of mine sold Kirby vacs in college for a week, but got sick of it when he kept getting lost on his way to prospective buyers' homes - oh, if only we had GPS back in the mid-late 90's.)
On Michigan's Offense:
- "Denard Robinson is scary good. Then the way the other two kids came in and played it shows the depth that they have. "
- Credit to RR and how the team has really bought into his offensive philosophy with the success UM is having. Says we have a great scheme with the right players, execute well, good depth (esp. at QB), and are well-coached.
- On Denard, every team (on film) has tried to do something different to stop him and none of them have succeeded. IU has to stay within their system (on D) and try to stop M's offense.
- On whether having had Kellen Lewis helps gameplan against Denard: "One of the unique things with Denard is that in so many situations, he's the lead runner. The tailback or the other back is really the blocking back. And that is what makes it difficult because the quarterback in many cases is the unaccounted for guy. And now you have to account for him as well as everybody else... That's why it is very difficult to defend their offense."
- Have to play the gaps well in order to have a chance at defending Michigan's offense: "The biggest thing is that you have to be very gap-sound. If you get a guy out of a gap they will gash you. "
- On Michigan having outscored its opponents 56-10 in the first quarter - "They're explosive. " Talks about being confident and matching UM's speed/intensity early.
On Michigan's Defense:
- Mentions that 3-3-stack or 3-5-stack is similar to the D employed when RR was at WVU. Key is that LBs show a lot of movement and attack from different positions/angles. Need to be aware of where the LBs are lining up.
- Michigan's defense will have to decide how to stop IU's offense, just as IU has to gameplan for M's offense. In-game adjustments also important.
- UM has "good pass rushers and they have a blitzing type scheme where they can bring people from a lot of different directions."
On individual players:
- Tandon Doss: Didn't put up big numbers last week, but great job blocking downfield. Also very versatile, able to play any position.
- Ben Chappell: Needs to keep up his level of play and execution. Preparation is key and feels like Chappell is well-prepared.
On team execution:
- "...it is very important that we go back and work on fundamentals. So often, history tells me that when you get into creating new schemes in a week, and you play poorly because you are thinking too much instead of just playing. That's why you must trust the system, and it goes back to great fundamental play."
- Mentions that they need to block and tackle better, and spending a lot of time on this.
- On tackling, says players sometimes too focused on making the big hits rather than wrapping up - again going back to stressing fundamentals.
- On turnovers, can have a huge impact. Sounds like he is stressing ball protection on offense, as he cites the Colts winning 26 straight games (really?) without a turnover (really really??)
- Special teams did a good job, especially on kick returns. Did a good job fielding kicks (us too, please!)
On the gameplan against Michigan:
- On defense, gap discipline, if they don't maintain gap discipline, will get gashed by RB or QB.
- On offense, need to have good run-pass balance in order to take pressure off Chappell.
- Can't try to change up what they do on offense as a reaction to Michigan's offense (I guess I'm assuming he thinks UM will score some points), but must stick to their playbook and execute to be successful.
- On defense, need to create turnovers, which they haven't done the last 2 weeks.
- "We're a little different than we were a year ago. We were a sellout blitz team, where we played zero-coverage behind it, where there was no help. We were sending as many as we could and still have each receiver accounted for, so it was a little more of a high-risk blitz than we're running right now."
Other game-related notes:
- Health - says team is healthy, shouldn't be a problem there. No mention of any specific injuries.
- "It's the first conference game and they're all important. The one we have in front of us is always the most important and that will be the approach we're going to be taking. I'm sure our players expect that when they come in here this afternoon."
- Confident in this team. "This team has been an easy team to coach, in that they come to work every day."
- The level of play and intensity has to go up now that they're in conference play. His players understand that.
*note: this is a reproduction of post on my blog: productivesweatpants.com
Indiana fans are pumped up about their 3-0 start to the season. And well why not? It's exciting to win. But more importantly they have revenge on their minds after last year's game in which Tate Forcier did Tate-like things: thing 1 and thing 2.
With a very similar start to the 2010 season as in 2009, we need to know things will be different this year, right? Well let's take a look at these two team so far.
I came across a couple of interesting statistics that I think will help give us a picture of the two teams. Instead of looking at the total and scoring offense numbers, or total and scoring defense numbers, we are going to look at how efficient the offenses and defenses are. We will also look at strength of schedule and Sagarin rank of each team to get an idea of what we can expect.
To find out how efficient an offense is we are going to take the total yards and divide it by points scored. It gives us a yards per point score. This will give us an indication of how efficiently an offense scores. It's good indicator of total team success.
Michigan - 13.64 yds/point good for 55th in the nation
Indiana - 10.09 yds/point good for 6th in the nation
That might be a little surprising for some given the performance of the Michigan's offense to date. But when we look at Time of Possession we see that Michigan is holding the ball longer at 31:37 TOP/game vs IU's 28:44. Also, consider that Michigan is averaging 25.8 first downs per game to IU's 22. And Michigan is averaging two more third down attempts per game than Indiana. It makes me believe that Indiana, being a passing team, is scoring on longer plays where Michigan, being a running team, is going on long drives.
Similar to the offensive efficiency number, we take the total yards given up and divide that by the number of points surrendered to give us a Yard per point given up, or a defensive efficiency number. In the converse to the offensive number the larger the number here means that offenses have to work a lot harder to score against that team. This is a great way for teams that play a bend-but-don't-break style (like Michigan) to measure up to other teams. For example: Alabama is ranked first with a 30.28 yds/point (they are number one by almost 4 yards. They're good). Let's look at UM and IU.
Michigan - 17.39 yds/point for 41st in the nation
Indiana - 17.5 yds/point for 39th in the nation
Virtually the same. I was shocked to see that Michigan although 93rd in total defense, fared so well by this metric. This my friends, gives me hope.
Looking at the efficiency numbers alone, it would seem that Indiana should be primed to take down the Wolverines. But, "Not So Fast My Friend!"
Let's take a look at the strength of schedule for each team.
Michigan - 66th ranked schedule
Indiana - 120th ranked schedule
That's right dead last. Indiana's schedule is ranked the worst in the FBS. "It's early, everybody schedules cupcakes." Sure I can give you that. But let's look at the particular flavor of cupcake Indiana has been munching on:
Towson - 1-3
OEff - 15.71 - 90*
DEff - 9.25 - 120*
SOS - NA
Sagarin - 195
Western Kentucky - 0-4
OEff - 16.69 - 99
DEff - 10.15 - 119
SOS - 93
Sagarin - 144
Akron - 0-4
OEff - 15.17 - 84
DEff - 12.02 - 106
SOS - 96
Sagarin - 175
Holy Schnikies that is awful. The only victory any IU opponent has was over Coastal Carolina in five OTs (for the record Coastal Carolina's Sagarin ranking is 185). Look at those DEff numbers. These teams are revolving doors. It's no wonder IU ranks 6th in OEff. Now, I will say IU pasted Towson, but they only beat the other two by 15 and 16 respectively.
By comparison let's look at Michigan's foes:
UConn - 2-2
OEff - 11.82 - 27
DEff - 16.26 - 51
SOS - 51
Sagarin - 69
ND - 1-3
OEff - 18.53 - 110
DEff - 15.63 - 58
SOS - 22
Sagarin - 64
UMass - 3-1
OEff - 15.23 - 84*
DEff - 15.17 - 67*
SOS - NA
Sagarin - 84
Bowling Green - 1-3
OEff - 11.67 - 94
DEff - 13.5 - 85
SOS - 77
Sagarin - 94
Of the cupcake variety? Maybe, although it is good for the 66th ranked schedule. UConn and Bowling Green have pretty efficient offenses. BG is ahead of Nebraska and Nevada. And, hell, at least all the teams have a win. Even our FCS snackcake is ranked higher by Sagarin than Indiana (85). The only team that is not ranked lower than any team on IU's schedule is Bowling Green and you saw that outcome.
So what has this little exercise taught us? A few things I think:
1) None of Indiana's statistical rankings stand up. I'm not sure you can take any of them seriously given the competition.
2) Michigan's defense efficiency is better than any of us expected. And they've been tested by some decent, offensively efficient teams.
3) Indiana's defensive efficiency is basically the same as Michigan's but against offensively efficient teams ranked near dead last in the nation.
4) I'm not nearly as nervous as I was before I did this little exercise.
*this is where they would rank among FBS teams although I didn't include all FCS teams.