If you were Santa Claus would the Michigan football program be on your Naughty list or your Nice list this year? How about Coach Rich Rodriguez? Do you approve of the behavior of Athletic Director Dave Brandon? Whatever your position, I have a Christmas gift for you. I've created two holiday-themed wallpapers so that you can choose the one that best represents your spirit this football season. If you had Santa's freakish ability to squeeze down chimneys (and his immunity from breaking and entering charges) would you deliver a lump of coal or a tasty gingerbread treat?
Feel free to regift.
The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
The lump of coal for the Naughty image came together rather painlessly but as you can see from the video I really struggled with the Nice image. If you watch closely you'll see several discarded concepts including a gift box with a bow (looked too tacky) and a candy cane (colors were too Ohio State-ish) so I landed on the gingerbread house (which is arguably more tacky than the gift, but you get what you get and you don't get upset). I sped up the footage to condense several life-wastingly long design sessions into a little under 3 minutes of video. If you're looking for an alcohol-free way to numb your emotional distress this holiday season this video is for you.
Bonus Wallpaper (or that one gift I hid behind the tree only to be unveiled after all the other gifts were opened)
In late October I stumbled across a fantastic high resolution Tron Legacy publicity image showing off the new light cycles. The combination of colors (blue and gold) and the futuristic protective gear made me think of Michigan's modern, high speed offense and Denard Robinson at the controls. After his record setting season, Denard Robinson has laid the foundation for a Michigan football legacy sure to last. Man, this is super nerdy but I like it.
All of the 2010 Wallpapers
(Sorry for the double whammy, I've been working on these for a couple weeks and now they're done.)
Part two of the double feature. This should be a little more positive than the defense UFR, if only because the offense doesn’t consist of Martin, Roh, and RVB, then true freshman, walk-ons, and duct tape. I planned to get all philosophical about the defense, and ended up talking about coaching change and scheme. Why? Because I just love watching Michigan football. I watched the 2009 Michigan/Illinois game on Big Ten Classics before the season started. I told my wife “I must be crazy, because I know they’re going to lose this game and I’m watching anyway.” So call me crazy, but I want to watch this group of kids work their butts off and do crazy stuff on offense and hopefully win some games.
Onto the festivities.
Mercy. Tate comes back in, manages one more good drive, but Michigan has 2 TODs and a punt.
So, big-picture, waxing philosophical stuff yet?
The first two drives Michigan rolled down the field. Michigan did stuff like this:
Dear OSU, you are about to get 0wn3d.
Everybody got somebody? Good.
Bye Michael! Let us know if there’s anyone out there.
Stiff arm? Stiff arm.
The only reason they didn’t get points was because of FG kicking (or lack thereof). Then a bad punt, and they still scored a TD. Then OSU returned a kick for a TD, Roundtree never got the butter off his gloves and Denard hurt his hand. They had to play a perfect game and didn’t. I still don’t care. If OSU and Wisconsin are road-graders, this team is fireworks. And I’d rather watch fireworks than road construction any day.
Speaking of fireworks, how about some dilithium?
Damn, I wish that had been the TD. I also wish ABC hadn’t missed the start of that play.
Honestly, no. Whatever I say will be spun into a constant “Fire the coach/keep the coach” argument, so I’ll just shut up. We saw some new plays, they moved the ball well against an established defense, lots of great individual effort, and lots of hope for next year. Yes, they stalled out in the second half, with an injured Denard or non-Superman Tate. Yes, Denard was 8/18 for 87 yards. Pick your stat, it wasn’t the greatest game of the year. I still say “Great job, kids” and proudly applaud my team for leaving it all on the field. Hail to the victors valiant, hail to the conquering heroes, hail, hail, to Michigan, the leaders and best!
(Misopogon, if you can fix my tables, I'd appreciate it)
Alright class, I’m going to be your substitute teacher for the day, since Mr. Cook is taking some well-needed R & R. Consider this my Christmas present to you all, as I jump on the grenade that was the Ohio State game for the second year running.
Reviewing this game is like being Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five looked at life, or like the plot of Lost ended up: the end is pre-determined because you’ve lived through it, and you are powerless to change it. You know what’s coming, but you have to sit through it anyway. I honestly didn’t really go into this game with a realistic expectation of victory. The team is/was too young, too small, too slow. Greater upsets have happened, but when I heard that Hagerup would be out, I just put my feet up to cheer for good plays and progress. Were there any? Let’s see. Michigan kicks off.
Mercy. OSU runs out the clock and punts twice. I don't think there's anything more to be gained by charting the rest of this.
Great, I’ve got to do Brian’s internal monologue now?
Yes, now make with the chart
There will be no chart for the following reasons: 1. Just doing the play chart is hard enough. Give Brian more money for doing this. 2. Since the chart is subjective, my opinion on people’s performance is largely worthless to compare to anything. I think it was net positive for tackling, probably slightly negative for coverage, RPS slightly negative, with Demens, Kovacs, Avery, Roh and Gordon being mentioned most often.
Alright then, do you have any opinion on coaches, scheme, players or anything?
I think that except for the OSU drive in the second quarter where OSU went hurry-up and the defense seemed to scramble around, they really played pretty solid. I mean, one kickoff for touchdown, one touchdown from a shanked punt, and maybe two blown coverages are the majority of the points. Comparing OSU’s defense to Michigan’s has some validity. I got to the point that I was typing in 3-4 before even starting to watch the play. Aside from goalline, there were only a few instances where OSU played anything other than base 3-4, with one LB standing on the line strongside, and one LB lined up over the slot receiver. That, compared to what Michigan did/does, says a lot. While I won’t go so far as to say that the 3-3-5 can’t work in the Big Ten, I will say that there seems to be a lot to learn to run it, and that would be hard for young players to pick up. Now, I don’t know if a simple 4-3 cover 2 would be effective, simply because you have to have the players to put into positions. I’ll give the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that they looked at the talent on the roster, the available spots for the defense, and decided that trying to keep the opposing offense guessing is/was a key to victory.
Wow, that was long. So, fire GERG or what?
I may have an opinion on that, but ultimately it’s pointless to argue about it, since I don’t have a vote. The defense held OSU to 3-and-outs to start the game and ended three drives with field goals. Look, it’s not world-beating, but it’s a far cry from the Illinois game already. I’m maybe not excited, but maybe cautiously optimistic?
+1’s for everyone!
New commits for Michigan and it's time to hit the front page. Action since last rankings:
12-13-10 Michigan gains commitment from Desmond Morgan. Minnesota loses commitment from Matt LaCosse, Illinois gains commitment from Matt LaCosse. Illinois gains commitment from Nick North. Indiana loses commitment from Nick VanHoose, Northwestern gains commitment from Nick VanHoose.
12-14-10 Minnesota loses commitment from Marquise Vann. Northwestern gains commitment from CJ Robbins.
12-15-10 Illinois gains commitment from Patrick Flavin. Iowa gains commitment from Dan Heiar. Purdue gains commitment from Sterling Carter. Minnesota gains commitment from Foster Bush.
12-16-10 Michigan State loses commitment from Mika'il McCall. Nebraska gains commitment from Darien Bryant.
12-17-10 Illinois gains commitment from Jeremy Whitlow. Michigan gains commitment from Blake Countess. Wisconsin loses commitment from Trayion Durham. Ohio State gains commitment from Ryan Shazier.
12-18-10 Nebraska loses commitment from Darien Bryant. Minnesota gains commitment from Josh Campion.
12-19-10 Iowa gains commitments from Jacob Hillyer, Rodney Coe, and Mika'il McCall.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
Full data after the jump.
Coaching Change / Offensive Philosophy Change: Time of Possession v. Defense
I originally wasn’t going to post this because I thought it was just a question in my own head, and I didn’t find a signficant result. However, given the top item in Brian’s mailbag today, and since I had already done the quick analysis, I thought it would be worthwhile to share.
The question had to do with whether Michigan’s struggles on defense were related to the fact that its offensive philosophy often results in short possessions, exposing the defense to being on the field for a longer period of time. So I decided to see if there was a correlation between a team’s offensive Time of Possession and its defense.
R-squared is 0.03 - not significant.
“Ok,” I thought, “maybe the way that DFEI is calculated already takes Time of Possession into account. What if we looked at Time of Possession versus Total Defense (yards)? Surely there would be a correlation, especially since defenses that force short possessions by the opponent (3-and-outs, turnovers, etc.) would result in more possessions by their team’s offense, and more Time of Possession.”
R-squared is 0.14 - still not really significant.
“Fine,” I said, “maybe I should look at Time of Possession versus Scoring Defense - because that’s what really counts. An offense that can control the ball can help protect its defense, and keep the score down."
R-squared is 0.06 - not significant.
Finally, I reached back into one of the motivations for looking at this question to begin with. Why would anyone talk about Time of Possession on offense as if it were an important factor on defense, especially with respect to Michigan? Could it be because Stanford leads the country in Time of Possession, and one might try to argue that a CC that shifts the offensive philosophy towards a more ball-control, time-of-possession system would be a good way to help Michigan’s defense?
So what if we looked at the Change in Time of Possession from last year to this year, and compared it to the Change in Total Defense (least insignificant result from above)?
R-squared is 0.14 - still not really significant.
What this says to me is that there are too many variables that influence how a defense performs; one cannot boil it down to a simple thing like Time of Possession (or experience on a depth chart, for that matter). All of those factors may play a part, but no one individual factor is significantly correlated to a team’s performance on defense. Football is just too complex to boil down into simplistic truisms.
***** ADDENDUM *****
A related question has been raised - whether there is a link between the number of possessions and the performance of the defense. I used cfbstats.com to add up the number of 4th down conversion attempts, punts, passing TDs, rushing TDs, FG attempts, Interceptions thrown, and Fumbles lost to calculate the total number of offensive possessions (this may exclude offensive possessions at the end of each half where time simply runs out, and does not differentiate between an offense trying to score v. trying to run out the clock).
Looking at Offensive Possessions versus Defensive FEI:
R-squared is 0.004 - not significant.
What about Offensive Possessions versus Total Defense?
R-squared is 0.13 - still not really significant.
Finally, what about Offensive Possessions versus Scoring Defense?
R-squared is 0.12 - again, still not really significant.
Obviously, if the underlying parameters of a model do not show correlation, one should not expect a calculated value based on those parameters to show a correlation. Nevertheless, for the sake of completion, here is the Average Time per Possession versus Total Defense:
R-squared, as expected, is still only 0.12 - not really significant.
I'm afraid even looking at number of possessions rather than simply time of possession doesn't change the analysis. This suggests to me that the style of offense does not have a significant impact on the performance of the defense.
There was a post earlier about a "curious M-Den item" in which many people speculated about whether this Michigan Robot could actually play football. Well, after some research, I found out more about our mechanized friend, and it appears that in all the buzz about Blake Countess(WOOOO!), people failed to realize that Michigan Robot also committed to play football for the University of Michigan. Therefore, to make up for this slight, I've compiled everything you need to know about this darkhorse athlete. Enjoy!
|5*, #1 CB, #5 Overall||6.0, #1 CB, #4 Overall||5*, 95, #2 CB|
Michigan Robot is a solid player who could contribute immediately in this defense. His size shouldn't be an issue, as Scout and Rivals have him listed at 11' 1" (ESPN, oddly, has him listed at just 10' 10"). He will also be playing in this year's U.S. Army All-Robotics Bowl. Here's is a breakdown of his game:
Michigan Robot is made of metal, he's indestructible, and he weighs the same as a truck. He literally destroys everything in his path. His speed could also be helpful in returns. He cannot kick, because he just obliterates the ball when he tries, which is a 5 yard penalty.
ESPN was the only site not to give Michigan Robot the nod as the #1 CB. Here's their reasoning:
Michigan Robot has great speed, size, and just about everything you'd want in a football player. He's a tremendous athlete, but there's a problem: he's not human. Thus, his talents are artificial and not natural. Seeing as how DeAnthony Thomas is a naturally-gifted athlete, he is our #1 rated CB.
Nevermind the fact that Michigan Robot has lasers for eyes, but moving on. Michigan Robot's tackling also seems to be superb, as to be expected when you were built for destruction. Scout breaks down his tackling:
His hips are always on a swivel: no seriously, his hips are welded to a swivel. As a result, Michigan Robot can allow his body to follow a tackle through to completion even if he doesn't get the initial stop on first contact, which never happens, so disregard that. How is this guy even legally eligible to play against humans?
Scout loves this kid, and made no attempt to hide it. Instead of quoting them, I'm simply provided the Scout page for you to observe yourself:
Michigan Robot is obviously a great athlete who loves to compete, and his performances at combines and scout camps have shown that time and time again. MI Robot's ability to cover receivers won't ever be questioned, because he's about the same height as a single-story ranch home.
Who didn't offer this kid? I mean, come on, he's a giant robot! Among the schools that Michigan beat out to land MI Robot were Florida, Alabama, Auburn, OSU, and MIT (YTMIT). The MIT offer seems odd since they haven't had a football team since...ever, but when you look at their offer, it becomes clear that they merely wanted to research how MI Robot functioned as a mechanized automaton.
MI Robot's final three came down to Michigan, Florida, and OSU, but ultimately picked Michigan because, as he put it:
During manufacturing my cranial shell was affixed with maize and blue wings, thus it seemed logical that I was meant to play for Michigan.
Scout's profile on Michigan Robot gave the following numbers:
Michigan robot didn't play football his senior year due to concern over "bodily harm to other, more human, players." However his junior year he recorded 35 interceptions, 235 tackles, 17 returns for touchdowns, and he successfully tied the goal posts into origami cranes after winning the state championship.
So, yea, he's pretty good. The only slight was in a game against Cass Tech when he got burned by a receiver for a touchdown because opposing fans yelled out a paradox in unison, thus confusing MI Robot (paradoxical statements have since been banned from all games in which MI Robot is playing in order to avoid self-destruction).
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and Rivals have MI Robot's speed at 4.43 even, but Scout tends to give his speed a little more credit, citing a 4.37 40 time. Since these times were timed by MI Robot's inner computer and then verified using statistical probability analysis on 1,000 hypothetical attempts, I'd say these times are pretty accurate.
Still, there's always error involved in statistical analysis, so I'll give these times a one-half FAKE out of five.
This is just a short clip, but it should tell you everything you need to know:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When the only negative that scouts seem to give this kid is his "lack of humanity," you know you've got a good thing (as long as he's, well, not actually human). Still, it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff at Michigan will keep this kid at CB or use him, well, everywhere [Ed-M: My votes for hybrid FS/Terminator]. He's got the gifts to play nearly any position except QB (he tends to put too much mustard behind his throws, and he isn't made of Dilithium) and we could easily see him playing both ways a la Charles Woodson.
Don't look for MI Robot to redshirt since he is an obvious lock to start at an abhorrently depleted position (e.g. - the entire defense). There doesn't seem to be much Barwisizing to do because MI Robot isn't made from flesh and muscle, but never underestimate the power of milk.
Even as an underclassman, MI Robot has the potential to do special things, and I look forward to him being on All-American lists by season's end. Also, he could give Denard a run for the Heisman next year (but not really).
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
He's a freaking 11-foot robot who plays football, and he can play every position! Who cares? (Although it would still be nice to land a stud like
Walls Jernigan.) This could do wonders for our recruiting because, well, who the hell wouldn't want to play football with a football robot?