fair point that
ESPN provided some decent background information to allow me to analyze data on penalties in the Michigan-Michigan State game dating back to 2003. The results are very interesting, in my opinion, and also very telling about the differences in discipline and importance that is placed on this rivalry by the respective teams. See the below and draw your own conclusions:
(The "Against" row lists penalties called against Michigan and the total yardage lost and the "For" row lists penalties called against Michigan State and the total yardage gained due to these penalties.)
Based on the data, Michigan has averaged 4.14 penalties per game as compared to Michigan State's average of 8.71 penalties per game. That is a pretty large disparity and could have an impact on the game. Most glaringly, notice 2004 and 2006 data! Also, MSU appears to commit more penalties in Ann Arbor than playing at home in Spartan Stadium. This makes sense but its still an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
Another interesting discovery is that this game used to be played much later in the season than the past two years. I personally think its better played earlier in the Big Ten season like this year than later as it was in 2003.
Footnote: Does the disparity in penalties per game provide fuel for the fire that Desmond was purposely tripped in the end zone? (I'm still bitter about that one!)
All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded for all teams, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
At this point adjustments for strength of opponent are directional but still highly uncertain. They will be now be used in all situations except otherwise noted.
Rush Offense vs Michigan St
Michigan Off: +8 PAN, 2nd nationally, 1st Big Ten
Michigan St Def: -0 PAN allowed, 54th, 6th
[Chart note: positive numbers mean good performances for both offense and defense.]
Despite Michigan St holding Wisconsin to 24 points last week, they fared worse against Wisconsin’s running game than the average team has in 2010.
Michigan has been between good and ridiculous in every game this year. Michigan St’s rush defense is definitely an upgrade over the Hoosiers from last week, but it’s more of an “allow touchdowns in reasonably length drives” as opposed to a “regularly keep us out of the end zone” type matchup.
Robinson will obviously be the catalyst for Michigan. His rushing PAN is +9, over 3.5 points better than anyone else in the nation. Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw have both hovered right around zero, with Smith grading out higher due to a combination of the long run against Indiana and Shaw’s best performance coming against an FCS opponent.
Michigan will face a better rush defense than they have seen in the last month or so but Michigan St hasn’t shown anything yet to indicate they are good enough to slow Michigan’s run game down more than anyone else has. Look for at least a full touchdown worth of advantage from the Michigan rushing attack.
Pass Offense vs Michigan St
Michigan Off: +7, 4th, 2nd
Michigan St Def: –1 allowed, 46th, 4th
After struggling for the first month of the season, Michigan St’s pass defense was the difference in shutting down Wisconsin last week. Michigan’s pass game has continued to be very potent and last week at Indiana was the best game yet. Because Michigan’s passing success is built so much off the success of the running game, it’s not as clear as to how a good pass defense will be able to defend the Wolverine passing game.
Robinson has been +6 PAN on the season and is the 20th ranked passer in my ratings, which can reward for volume, which Michigan has very little of in the passing game. Robinson will be aided by a group of receivers who have been much more productive than last year. Hemingway and Roundtree are both averaging a solid +6 PAN per game and Odoms is at +3. Stonum is potentially a threat but has only been worth +2 against FBS competition.
Michigan St stepped up last week and did a great job limiting Wisconsin through the air. Although both Michigan and Wisconsin’s passing games are set up by strong ground games, the spread and shred is very different from old school Big Ten rushing. If Michigan St can replicate last week’s success this matchup could be a draw instead of the +6 for Michigan the numbers indicate.
Rush Defense vs Michigan St
Michigan Def: +1 allowed, 72nd, 7th
Michigan St Off: +3, 28th, 5th
This chart, with the exception the MSU-WMU game is a chart of averageness. Michigan hasn’t been gouged in the running game but they haven’t been closing the door on anyone either. Michigan St’s two-headed running attack came out big in Week 1 but has been relatively quiet since.
Michigan St’s +3 PAN is essentially split between Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker with both players contributing equally to the success. Bell had the big day against Western with a +7 showing but was shut down against Wisconsin by going –4 on the day. Baker has been much more consistent with all four games going between +1 and +3.
If you take out the beatdown Michigan St’s backs administered in Week 1, the Spartan ground game looks much more tameable. Michigan can not sleep on this matchup but is in better shape than I thought. Michigan should have a chance to reasonably contain the Spartan backs, shifting the challenge to the…
Pass Defense vs Michigan St
Michigan Def: –1 allowed, 42nd, 3rd
Michigan St Off: +2 allowed, 32nd, 6th
As I have stated previously, the high rating for Michigan’s pass defense against Indiana will not hold. I do agree with Brian that Indiana will probably still have the best pass offense in the Big Ten this year, but when you are compared to Akron and Western Kentucky in your performance, you should always come up looking good, even if you allow nearly 500 yards through the air.
Michigan’s pass defense is very difficult to assess right now. Indiana doesn’t have good comps to measure against. The BG performance mostly looks bad because of one fluke play where BG got away with a massive hold. ND and UConn both look like respectable performances in comparison with how other teams have defended them.
Michigan St has really stepped up their passing game in the last two FBS games, with a pair of +7’s against legitimate opponents. After two sub-zero PANs for Kirk Cousins to start the season, he has been +11 and +12 in his last two games (the difference between the team and his score is that sacks count against the team but not the player).
The receiving has been pretty balanced with three Spartans checking in at +4 on the season. BJ Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Mark Dell have carried most of the load this year. All three have a game-rated +9 or higher on the season.
If Kirk Cousins can keep up his recent success this where it starts to get scary for Michigan. The Spartan passing attack will not be as good we saw last week in Indiana but if Michigan does improve in the secondary, the results could be nearly as bad, especially if Michigan St can keep Michigan looking in the backfield on play action.
Special Teams vs Michigan St
Keshawn Martin. That’s the two big green bars on the graph. He has three big returns on the year, one going the distance against Wisconsin last week. Let’s not kick to him, although he has lost a fumble on a return this season. Michigan’s blue bars have gotten closer to zero, mostly because we have chosen to forgo special teams altogether. The Spartan kicking situation is a polar opposite to Michigan. Michigan’s kickers have cost the team 5 points vs an average kicker while Michigan St’s kicker has been 5 points better than the average kicker. If this game is decided by special teams it is very unlikely to be a Wolverine win.
Predictions Almost Certain to Cost You Money if Taken Seriously
At a neutral site, this matchup is pretty much a tossup. Luckily its in Ann Arbor. If Michigan can keep Keshawn Martin from breaking a long return and is at least even in turnovers I would feel really good about the chances.
Michigan 35 Michigan St 32
Elsewhere in the Big Ten:
Northwestern 27 Purdue 20 – Northwestern continues to be college football’s worst undefeated team
Ohio St 40 Indiana 21 – Chappell has a bunch of yards but also throws a couple picks while Ohio St runs all over Indiana
Penn St 13 Illinois 10 – Basically a repeat of every game Penn St has played this year
Wisconsin 31 Minnesota 24 – Going with my numbers. I think they are underrating Wisconsin but I still think they are overrated overall.
I guess I’ll pick the Bama game again since Game Day dissed Ann Arbor for them this week.
Alabama 24 South Carolina 20 – A virtual mirror of the Alabama/Arkansas game.
The upcoming Michigan - Michigan State game has a certain life all its own inside my brain right now. There are weird images (a feral MSU linebacker with no facial features except glowing eyes gnawing on Denard's bad knee after a tackle)...
...uninformed thoughts (why doesn’t GERG use press coverage when blitzing?), stark colors (radiant maize, cerebral blue, chyme green and an ink cloud of black despair waiting to descend, hovering just out of view), graphic sounds (Fight Club quality bone crunching, the Victors after the winning touchdown, a cartoon whoosh whoosh whoosh sound in my mind that accompanies every Denard breakaway), numbers (200/200, 120, 0.73663, 480, 9-3, 877, 16, 4) and a whole lot of emotions; quite honestly, more bad ones than good ones. All this wraps up into an ill-defined knot inside me as I both anticipate and dread the opening kickoff.
It occurred to me that 25 years ago my impressions of Saturday's contest would be so different as to be unrecognizable. I was just as big a fan back then. Yet, today, my love of Michigan football has so many more data points as to render my 1980s fandom a primitive, low-tech thing resembling Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13 sweating inside a simulator with a flashlight between his teeth trying to figure out how to splash down a spaceship on 20 amps of power.
All this data has, I think, distorted our view of the game. We have analyzed our way into believing that Michigan State is an emerging power that inevitably must eviscerate a statistically helpless Michigan defense.
I say hogwash.
Two decades ago, I would be moving about my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory, because two decades ago it would be the résumé that mattered, not hyper-analysis of data that promotes fear and generates such concepts as RPS-3, Chappellbombing and PAN. My understanding of the team would be that we have a great offense with a great quarterback and a schizophrenic defense, but that we were still winning. I would never have tried (and failed) to figure out a Cover-2 zone or known our national pass defense ranking or even known where Greg Robinson had coached before.
But I would know the résumés, and based upon the résumés, I would have concluded that an oddly unbalanced, uncharacteristic Michigan team nonetheless possessed the strongest résumé of any team in the Big 10.
Say what?! Prove it.
No numbers; we are in a variable-free zone and channeling both 1985 and common sense at the same time.
Michigan Wolverines Résumé
Michigan has beaten two major teams back to back, the second one on the road. The first was a beatdown of a bowl winning team from the year before with almost everyone back. The second was an always talented and very emotional Notre Dame team at home with an unexpected bonus: a competent coach. Michigan won its first Big 10 game, an away game against a serious offense. A shaky squeaker against a good FCS team mars the résumé.
- Ohio State? Four home games with a solid win against a charitable Miami team, three cupcakes, and a lackluster win over a bad Illinois team. Fail.
- Iowa? Not bad, but they lost to Arizona. Fail.
- Wisconsin? Three cupcakes, a squeaker and a beatdown. Fail.
- Northwestern? Five cupcakes with extra icing, cherries, sprinkles and a cream filling. Fail.
- And Michigan State? Five home games, three cupcakes, a less impressive win against a common opponent at home, and a solid win against an overrated Big 10 “power.” Fail.
If preseason polls were outlawed and this year’s Big 10 teams, like 11 sprinters in the blocks, were off at the sound of the gun, Michigan would be in the lead. That’s what I would have known.
I am going to finish my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory.
Okay, now that I've got your attention... this really isn't just about a tee shirt, and it's certainly not about me.
Cancer fighter. Source of inspiration. Devoted Father. Wolverine.
Most of you all know his story by now. Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at a very rare early age, Phil has made a choice to aggressively fight this thing with a pride and passion only a former Wolverine could muster. Spend some time on his blog, and I'm sure you'll be more appreciative of your own family and life this weekend.
Some of you may already know that Phil is an honorary captain for tomorrow's game. Look for him to be featured in the first quarter, and I almost dare you not to stand at your feet for this courageous guy. But, perhaps you feel compelled to help, and would like to do more. Well, you can!
Phil and his foundation CancerKicker.org/DomiNATION are hosting a TAILGATE event tomorrow morning/afternoon to raise awareness and (hopefully) funds to help fight Multiple Myeloma at UM. There'll be balloons, bracelets and other items there, including a t-shirt I designed in Phil's honor:
To my knowledge these shirts will be available for purchase, although they're sure to go quickly. If you want one stop by, or if you just want to help, Phil's team, led by his sister Brooke, are always looking for more volunteers to pitch a hand. If you'd like to get involved, the team offered this information:
They're meeting at 6am on the north end of the golf course, and hopefully looking to get a prime spot in the first row. Their spot will feature maroon balloons with 'MM' on them. And their itinerary is as follows:
- :: Cold Breakfast & Hot Coffee (you do not need to show up at )
- :: MM domiNATION Outreach Instructions (Teams pick up maps, bracelets and shirts)
- :: Pep talk from Phil Brabbs
- 11:00-1:00/30 :: MM domiNATION Outreach
- :: Tailgate (food and drinks provided)
- * :: MSU vs UM Game (Phil will be honored as the Honorary Captain in the 1st Quarter)
- :: Post-game Tailgate (food and drinks provided)
- *if you aren't going to the game, you are welcome to hang out and watch the game from the tailgate
My only wish is that I could be there!! But I hope to hear that you all stop by, and do your part in helping Phil fight the good fight not only for himself, but for all of the other patients sharing his diagnosis at UM and across the globe. Do your part to help KICK CANCER!
|Kicking Team Position||42|
|Kicking Team Probability||25%|
|Kicking Team Expected Pts From Own 42||2.71|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts||.68|
|Receiving Team Position (Onside)||58|
|Receiving Team Probability (Onside)||75%|
|Receiving Team Expected Pts From Opp 42||3.47|
|Receiving Team Net Expected Pts||2.60|
|Kicking Team Expected Pts (Normal)||0|
|Receiving Team Position (Normal)||25|
|Receiving Team Probability (Normal)||100%|
|Receiving Team Expected Pts From Own 25||1.90|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts (Onside) = .68-2.60||-1.93|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts (Normal)||-1.90|
|Advantage of Normal||.03|
(please allow for rounding adjustments)
So, yeah. That works a lot better in Excel, but hopefully you get the point.
A few other scenarios from Excel:
- If the kicking team has a 26% chance of recovery, as Brian cites in his post, there is no advantage to a deep kick (-1.90 expected points onside, -1.90 expected points normal).
- If the kicking team has a 25% chance of recovery, but the normal kick results in a drive starting at the receiving team's own 32 (maybe more likely with our kickers), there is a predicted .30 point advantage (-1.93 vs. -2.23) for an onside kick.
One more thing: as per the borrowed data, this assumes an average offense and defense (I've employed a DENARD Constant in my spreadsheet, but it is difficult to represent here).
In conclusion, this is as much an appeal to The Mathlete (and others) as it is an effort at meaningful contribution. I have no background in math or statistics, so if there are massive logical flaws in the above, please feel free to rip me in the comments.
I posted this a couple of days ago as a comment in a thread, but it got buried pretty quickly, so now that I can post diaries I thought I'd post it again.
I wanted to look at the breakdown of Rich Rodriguez's previous offenses, and in particular the main QB's run-pass balance and the fraction of runs by the QB. I'm only looking at RR in Div 1A (so Tulane OC, Clemson OC, WVU and Michigan), and I'm skipping the mess that was the 2008 offense. Data comes from the year-end statbooks for each team.
Here is the overall production chart. QB is the main QB (from what I could tell) - in 1999 Brandon Streeter got a lot of playing time (mostly passing), and in 2001 Rasheed Marshall got a decent amout of playing time.
|Year||Team||QB||Pass Plays||Pass Yards||Rush Plays||Rush Yards||Total Plays||Total Offense|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||357||1811||475||1992||832||3803|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||279||1753||714||3687||993||5440|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||252||2034||600||2762||852||4796|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||259||1993||590||3034||849||5027|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||193||1398||625||3269||818||4667|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||233||2059||590||3939||823||5998|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||265||2067||628||3864||893||5931|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||285.6||2887.2||547.2||3892.8||832.8||6780|
|Year||Team||QB||QB Pass||QB Pass Yards||QB Rushes||QB Rush Yards||QB Total Offense|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||237||1339||54||41||1380|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||259||1616||173||666||2282|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||215||1729||101||303||2032|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||171||1426||130||684||2110|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||114||828||131||952||1780|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||179||1655||165||1219||2874|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||216||1724||197||1335||3059|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||230.4||2419.2||235.2||2172||4591.2|
Denard has already had more passing yards and almost as many rushing yards as 2005-era Pat White. If he averages just over 100 yards passing per game for the rest of the season he'll have more passing yards than any of RR's QBs other than Shaun King. If he kept on his current pace (unlikely), he'd end up with almost as many yards as 1997-era Shaun King. If he averages just over 60 yards rushing per game for the rest of the season he'll have more rushing yards than 2007 era Pat White. For total offense he would need to average just over 160 yards per game to best Pat White's best season, and just over 315 to match Shaun King. At this point it looks like Denard is the best all-around QB Rodriguez has had to date: almost as good a passer as King and as good/better a runner as Pat White.
Next I want to look at the breakdown of plays and yards between run and pass, and in particular the QB's share of production.
|Year||Team||QB||% Rush Plays||% Rush Yards||% of Runs by QB||% of Rush Yards by QB||% of Total Plays by QB||% of Total Offense by QB||QB % Rush Plays||QB % Rush Yards|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||57%||52%||11%||2%||35%||36%||19%||3%|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||72%||68%||24%||18%||44%||42%||40%||29%|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||70%||58%||17%||11%||37%||42%||32%||15%|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||69%||60%||22%||23%||35%||42%||43%||32%|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||76%||70%||21%||29%||30%||38%||53%||53%|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||72%||66%||28%||31%||42%||48%||48%||42%|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||70%||65%||31%||35%||46%||52%||48%||44%|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||66%||57%||43%||56%||56%||68%||51%||47%|
The first two data columns are the percent of all plays and all yards that come from all runs. The third and fourth are the percent of all runs and rush yards that come from the QB. The fifth and sixth are the percent of all plays and all yards that come from the QB. The seventh and eight are the percent of the QB's total plays and yards that come from his runs.
RR has historically varied a fair amount in how much of his offense comes from running the ball - this year we're about average for what he's done in the past, and less run-oriented than for example 2005 West Virginia. However, our rush offense is by far the most QB-based of any previous offense, far outstripping the one-man show of 2000 Woody Dantzler, and 2007 Pat White. If we look at total offense, this year's team is more QB-focused than any of the Clemson or WVU teams, but actually on par with the Tulane teams. Looking at Denard's run-pass balance he's actually right around Pat White's typical split, though he is certainly more run-focused in his production than any of RR's other quarterbacks.
This is just a high-level overview. I can't break down the kinds of running or passing plays RR is using from this data. The offense certainly feels very different than the Pat White-era WVU teams in formation and play style, and the YouTube highlights of Woody Dantzler I've seen have the QB iso type feel that we're seeing a lot from this year's team. I think the main message is that even within his system RR will adapt his style, both at a high level and at the formation/play level, to match his talent - which is what he should do.