Michigan (20-11, 4-2)
Illinois (15-13, 3-3)
|Friday 6pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Alan Oaks (3-4, 4.02 ERA)||vs||Will Strack (1-1, 6.29 ERA)|
|Notes: Michigan is 128-95-3 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss. |
Note game times are local to the game site, Central time.
|Saturday 3:05pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Bobby Brosnahan(4-2, 4.54 ERA)||vs||Kevin Johnson (2-1, 5.77 ERA)|
|Sunday 1:05pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Brandon Sinnery (3-0, 3.34 ERA)||vs||Lee Zerrusen (2-2, 5.62 ERA)|
Michigan travels to Illinois this week to take on the Illini in what has been a pretty even series over the last few years. Michigan is just 19-20 against the Illini since 2000, having won just one series in 2008. That said, they've only lost 3 series in that time due to several four game splits, but the Illini have continuously been a throne in Michigan baseball's side. This year looks to be no different.
Just a reminder, Q&A with Illinois Baseball Report happened. Preview is there.
Abbreviated thoughts after the jump:
From a press release sent out this afternoon by Michigan Athletics. Teams are tentative, but everyone on the roster should be in for at least one play:
Coach: Desmond Howard (1989-91), Wide Receiver
Captain: Vada Murray (1987-90), Defensive Back
Ron Bellamy (1999-02), Wide Receiver
Tom Brigstock (1962-65), Halfback
Gasper Calandrino (1978), Defensive Back
Jim Conley (1961-64), End
Zia Combs (2000-02), Defensive Back/Wide Receiver
B.J. Dickey (1977-81), Quarterback
Don Dufek (1972-75), Defensive Back
Chris Floyd (1994-97), Tailback/Fullback
Jermaine Gonzales (2000-04), Wide Receiver
Livetius Johnson (1988-91), Running Back
Rich Leach (1975-78), Quarterback
Triando Markray (1982-84), Wide Receiver
Ben Mast (1997-01), Offensive Line
Chris Matsos (2002-04), Wide Receiver
Zoltan Mesko (2006-09), Punter
Anthony Mitchell (1985-88), Defensive Back
Ohene Opong-Owusu (2007-09), Linebacker
Darren Petterson (1995-98), Wide Receiver
Marcus Ray (1995-98), Safety
LaTerryal Savoy (2006-09), Wide Receiver
Lasker Smith (1992), Defensive Back
Phil Webb (1983-87), Tailback
Josh Williams (1995-99), Defensive Tackle
Chuck Winters (1992-96), Safety
Pierre Woods (2002-05), Defensive End
Coach: LaMarr Woodley (2003-06), Defensive End
Captain: Phil Brabbs (2000-03), Kicker
Tony Blackenship (1989-93), Safety
Alijah Bradley (2003-06), Running Back
Jason Carr (1991-95), Quarterback
Will Carr (1993-96), Defensive Tackle
Bob Cernak (1984-87), Quarterback/Tight End
Bill Dufek (1974-77), Offensive Line
Dan Jokisch (1987-90), Wide Receiver/Tight End
Brian Lafer (2001-03), Wide Receiver
Andy Mignery (1999-03), Quarterback/Tight End/Punter
John Navarre (1999-03), Quarterback
Troy Nienberg (2001-04), Kicker
B.J. Opong-Owusu (2003-06), Safety
Tom Parkhill (1962-65), End
Marc Ramirez (1986-89), Offensive Line
Aaron Richards (1998-01), Wide Receiver
Todd Richards (1992-95), Wide Receiver
Jim Sinclair (1988), Fullback
Walter Smith (1990-94), Wide Receiver
Dorian Taylor (1992), Linebacker
Michael Taylor (1985-89), Quarterback
Anthony Thomas (1997-00), Tailback
John Thompson (2004-08), Linebacker
Dwayne Ware (1988-92), Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
Gerald White (1983-86), Tailback/Fullback
Very nice touch to have Murray and Brabbs as the team captains. I think we all know why that is. My money's on team Howard.
I gave a bit of insight into my methodology in the last lacrosse bracketology, so I'll spare that discussion. This time, I'm going to compare resumes rather than going by the polls, to try to figure out what the committee will do when seeding the teams.
Don't forget, the Wolverines play Purdue this Saturday at 7PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (Preview Here). It's their fourth and final home game of the year, so I encourage anyone who can make it to do so. It's the perfect post-spring game activity!
The loss to Colorado over the weekend, thankfully, will not be enough to bump Michigan out of the number one spot. As long as they take care of business for the rest of the year (and hopefully the loss can be a motivating factor to do so), the top line is locked up.
The next few weekends have some very important games between ranked teams that could radically alter the way the field looks. Take this post as a snapshot in time right now, not a prediction for the future. There are enough games left to be played that the field can look very different from what it would be if selected today. The resumes will be much easier to shake out at that time as well.
Last 2 in: UC Santa Barbara, Florida
First 2 out: Simon Fraser, Loyola Marymount
New since last time: Illinois, UC Santa Barbara
Out from last time: Lindenwood, Loyola Marymount
Next Bracketology: April 29, 2010
There are a few distinct groups right now, with a solid top 3 of Michigan-Colorado State-Chapman, A few schools who will only get in by winning their conference's autobid in Texas and Illinois, a group of BYU-Arizona State-Duluth-Florida State-Oregon that are all in the tournament barring complete disaster, and then a muddled middle. I compared resumes within those groups to end up with the seeding as I did.
The Illinois/Lindenwood switcheroo from last Bracketology post was based solely on the fact that the Illini have fewer losses at this time. Either way, the winner of the conference tournament is in, and the other is out. One of the SELC teams could miss out as well. I would guess Florida misses the tournament unless they, at the very least, make it to the finals in their conference tournament.
The top group is still volatile, with Michigan State playing a key role. They play Colorado, Colorado State, and Michigan, with two of those squads vying for the #1 overall seed and the Buffaloes trying to play their way back into the tournament field.
The WCLL, GRLC, and PCLL bids are still too close to call definitively. Once conference tournaments are over, I'll know who's in for autobids, and fill in the remaining six slots much more easily. The next bracketology will come April 29th, before the CCLA conference tournament that weekend.
If you're interested in learning a bit more about lacrosse (particularly the riding game), or finding out what went wrong against Colorado last week, check out the comments of my previous lax post. Lots of knowledgeable people, including the awesome "laxalum" are more than willing to educate some fools.
Michigan took both games in the midweek, beating Toledo by a score of 8-4 and Bowling Green State by a score of 8-5. I'm not going to get into either game too much as the midweek games are pretty meaningless from a long term perspective, but there were a few notable players and storylines worth recapping.
Eric Katzman was brilliant in relief of Matt Miller on Tuesday. Katzman went 5 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks to earn the win. It was great to see him get a solid long relief appearance and hopefully this builds his confidence when it comes to the weekend relief corps. He was mixing up pitches really well, and had some stretches of "effective wildness" that kept hitters off balance and rolling over pitches.
On offense, Ryan LaMarre kept his offensive tear rolling, knocking a 2-run homer in the first inning, his first long ball since returning from the injury. But not everyone enjoyed the LaMarre homer. Chris Berset, still feeling the "sting" of losing his 3-hole spot last weekend, came up on the next pitch to hit a solo home run of his own, the first back-to-back homers Michigan has had since February 2009.
John Lorenz also added on in the early innings to remind some of us that he's just as capable of producing in the 8-hole. Biondi also went 3/4.
This game was a bit more bothersome from an offensive perspective. For the most part, Michigan was kept off base for the first 5 innings. Biondi and Toth combined to produce a run in the first inning, and then the offense went into hibernation mode as Apthorpe chewed through our lineup.
Upon Apthorpe's exit, things picked up. Anthony Toth picked up his first career homer, and LaMarre and Berset both followed that up with hits. After a Crank hit by pitch, the Falcons made their only error of the game on a would be double play ball to end the inning. Instead, it opened the flood gates to a 5 run Michigan inning.
Things weren't all sunshine and happy following the inning. On Berset's double, LaMarre went 1st to 3rd and came up holding his hamstring, stretching it out thoroughly during a pitching conference at the mound. LaMarre would stay in and score on a Dufek sac fly, but he left the game as a precautionary move to start the next inning. He's expected to be fine for the Illinois series.
On the mound, Matt Gerbe made a good start, making it through 4 innings and giving up just one run. He gave up a lot of baserunners, but he managed to escape time and again. That changed in the 5th inning. After loading the bases, with only one out, Gerbe threw a wild pitch through Crank's legs. That plated the first Falcon run of the inning. The next batter would line one right back to Gerbe who made a great snag to catch the ball for an out, but when Gerbe went to throw out the runner at third for not tagging up, the ball was thrown away. Two more runners would score and Gerbe would be pulled.
Kolby Wood came in and did alright in earning the win, but the team did have to use Burgoon again for 2 innings. Tyler was lights out as usual, but I have to wonder what his availability is this weekend. I imagine he won't be in Friday unless it's a dire necessity.
Bonus update from The Daily's game wrap:
“I want to thank Tyler Burgoon for my inspiration for my first home run,” Toth said. “He inspired me by telling me I am never going to get one. He tells me that every single day, whether we have a game or not, so I’m glad I got that monkey off my back.”
Illinois questioning [ed: and awesome excel graph!] after the jump:
|Tuesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 6.89 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: 33-11-1 All Time, Last game was a 12-4 W in 2008. No game |
notes yet, so no official probable starters in either game. This gets
addressed in Series Thoughts below.
Bowling Green State (9-17-1)*
|Wednesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Gerbe (1-0, 2.84 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Notes: 38-13-1 All Time, Last game was a 3-8 L in 2009. *Record is |
as of Tuesday morning. They have a game with Cleveland State
Michigan takes on the second highest ranked remaining team on their schedule on Tuesday with a game against #83 RPI Toledo and will follow that up with a game against a lower tier MAC opponent (RPI of #215 is about equal to that of Purdue or Northwestern). Dare I say Michigan may lose to a MAC opponent this week?
Take the jump to find out:
In December, I put up a post on the top Heisman candidates and my thoughts on them. With the emergence of Ndamukong Suh and locally with Brandon Graham, I wondered the best way to evaluate defensive players strictly from the stat sheet. Defense is made is more for the UFR, not for stat comparisons. The problem is, with over 800 games played in the FBS every year, it would take an army to break down the film for all the players in all the games. My stats based approach has the advantage of being able to quickly look at every game played last year.
There is no way to evaluate from the play by play who is responsible for a bad play on defense, but you can get a decent idea of who is responsible for a good one. Sure someone else could have opened up the hole, taken on extra blockers or forced a cutback, but over the course of a season, if you you made a lot key tackles, chances are you did a lot of work on those plays.
I took all of the plays from the season and immediately cut out all the plays from the second half where one team led by more than 2 TDs, no garbage time stat padding (same goes for any games against Baby Seal U opponents, always excluded from all my work). I then reduced the list of plays to ones that put the offense in a worse position than were they started the play. This doesn’t just mean TFL plays. A 2nd and 8 is worse than a 1st and 10 for an offense, so a tackle on a 2 yard gain on first down counts. Any third down stop counts, and often these are the biggest plays a defender can make. Turnovers are obviously the holy grail, stop the offense, create field position for your offense. The players are measured by two metrics, number of plays and magnitude of plays. A defensive tackle might make a lot of plays but most of them for relatively small values. A cornerback probably doesn’t get the chance to make many plays on a down by down basis, but each interception is huge, and has a very high value.
I then compared each players production versus what the average player at his position accomplishes to get a sort of VOAP, Value Over Average Player. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get good enough roster data to split all positions, so everyone is either DL, LB or DB, not perfect but better than nothing. I assumed that the average team would split the majority of the playing time between 6 DL, 4 LB and 5 DB. From the best I can tell, there isn’t much variation between the safeties and the corners, but DE’s get a bit of a benefit being compared to DT’s and DT’s get a slight hit compared to DE’s.
Top National Players
All player data is available here. It is easier to work with if you download into Excel since G Docs doesn’t like pages with a lot of rows. There are some slight changes to the numbers from my Heisman post as I reloaded the 2009 data and tweaked the expected value formulas.
I don’t have all the historical data but I would be shocked if a defensive tackle has ever had a better season than Ndamukong Suh did in 2009. He made 52 plays more and was nearly 5 TDs better than the average d-lineman and that includes defensive ends. No player in the country had a VOAP within a touchdown of him.
The closest, none other than Michigan’s Brandon Graham. Graham produced 27 extra plays and over 27 points of value more than the average defensive lineman. This made him the top value adding defensive end in the country and second to Suh overall.
In fact, the Big 10 had four of the top 6 defensive lineman in the country. O’Brien Schofield, Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn all managed at least 23 points per page above replacement.
Luke Kuechly of Boston College led all linebackers with 57 plays and 25 points above average. Kuechly produced a ridiculous 87 negative plays on the season, 10 more than any other player at any position and 17 more than anyone else from a BCS a conference. Navorro Bowman, Nate Triplett and Brian Smith all cracked the bottom half of the top 10 linebackers at 17-18 points above average each.
Defensive backs were highly unproductive in the Big 10 relative to other conferences. Tyler Sash of Iowa came in at +12, 15th nationally and Donovan Warren was second best in the conference, but his +9 barely cracked the Top 40 nationally. Walter McFadden of Auburn was the top producing defensive back nationally, providing a +22 for the season.
Reviewing All-American Teams
I was curious to see how the national All-American team selections would compare with this metric. For positions like defensive end, linebacker and safety I would hope quite well because these positions are very output oriented and most of the value is in making plays. For defensive tackles and corner backs, I wasn’t as confident. A good defensive tackle will often add value by making plays for others. A good cover corner will often see the action go away from him and might not get many opportunities.
There were five players that were selected as defensive ends on the All-American teams, four of them stack up very well in my ratings, one does not. Brandon Graham was rated 1st and was +27. Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech was 7th and +18. Von Miller of Texas A&M and Jason Pierre-Paul were 12th and 13th at about +15.5 for the season.
The outlier was TCU’s Jerry Hughes who came in 60th at +6 and was actually selected to the most All-American teams as any d-lineman. The large is probably due to the fact that 5 of his 11 sacks (10th nationally) came during garbage time.
Top non-selections were O’Brien Schofield, Wisconsin (2nd, +27), Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma (3rd, +25), Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue (4th, +25) and Adrian Clayborn, Iowa (5th, +23)
Again five players were picked to All-American teams as defensive tackles. Three had elite level production and 2 did not. Not to say that they were undeserving as discussed earlier, defensive tackles value can be difficult to attribute.
Suh was an obvious selection, and both Brian Price of UCLA (3rd, +20) and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma (7th, +9) were well-deserved. The two potentially questionable selections, Mount Cody had the reputation and the highlight but did not have the direct productio, 79th nationally and 1.4 points below average. The other low production selection was Penn State’s Jared Odrick who just made the top 50 and was only 1.7 points above average.
Other top non-selections were Nate Collins, Virignia (2nd, +21), Lamarr Houston (4th, +16), Jared Crick, Nebraska (5th, +15) and Corey Peters, Kentucky (6th, +14).
There wasn’t much consensus among the All-American teams on the linebacker position. A total of 10 different selections were made. It appears the selections are more weighted on quantity of plays instead of quality of plays. This makes sense because most linebackers don’t make a lot of big stat sheet plays like interceptions or sacks and so the good old tackle stat is the most used.
When looking at the top values for linebackers, Luke Kuechly at #1 is the only player from the top 14 to receive any All-American honors. When you look at the play quantity, Kuechly and 3 others are in the top 8. The three are Rennie Curran from Georgia (+13), Pat Angerer, Iowa (+8) and Greg Jones from Michigan State (+12). Consensus pick Rolando McClain of Alabama is in the top 50 in both quantity and quality, and played for the top defense in the country.
There was one player who seemed to make the team purely on reputation and team success alone, because his production was dramatically less than the rest of the group. In defense of the selections, I won’t even name this individual for he might be the scariest man alive that played for the 2008 Florida National Championship game. He only produced 2 more plays and was just below average (-.1) in point production versus average player, and still received recognition from three different groups.
Of the five cornerbacks named to an All-American team in 2009, four landed in the Top 11 of my rankings. Joe Haden, Florida (3rd, +18), Javier Arenas (4th, +15), Alterruan Verner, UCLA (8th, +13) and Patrick Peterson from LSU (11th, +11) all produced very highly. The only exception was Perrish Cox from Oklahoma State who still managed to make the top 40 with a +6 for the season.
Walter McFadden from Auburn and Brandon Brinkley from Houston were the top two rated cornerback and both produced over +20 for the season.
It took seven selections to cover all of the picks for safeties. Five of the seven fit nicely at the top, including the top 3. DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (1st, +20), Earl Thomas, Texas (2nd, +17), Rahim Moore, UCLA (3rd, +17), Tyler Sash, Iowa (7th, +12) and Eric Berry, Tennessee (11th, +10).
The two outliers were Kurt Coleman from Ohio State (44th, +1) and another apparent reputation selection, Taylor Mays, USC (77th, –3).
|Player||Position||Group||Plays||Value||Adj Plays||Adj Value|
|Ryan Van Bergen||DE||DL||23||16.1||5||6.5|
Michigan’s top two producers, Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren were covered above. After those two, only two players managed to be above +3 on the season. Ryan Van Bergen was +6.5 on the season on the defensive line and should have the potential for a big season this year. Stevie Brown was next at +6 (if you count him as a safety, +4 as a LB).
Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, Obi Ezeh, Jordan Kovacs and Craig Roh all sit around the average mark for their positions. The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.