this guy evidently hired to work for AD
Summer is upon is, and with it, a bit of a lull in our mgoblogging fervor - there are simply not as many sports to talk about. The great wait for the football season begins.
With this in mind, what better time to celebrate this very blog in some bizarre and uniquely mgobloggish way? Hence I present: MGoStats, a statistical look at this blog over the years since its inception.
It began on December 4th, 2004, with the following post at 6:30am by some guy named Brian:
An inauspicious beginning, to say the least, but thus mgoblog was born. In the years since, we have all come here for a multitude of reasons: to celebrate the highs, commiserate during the lows, but mostly for one single reason, which is to hear what one Brian Cook has to say about all matters Michigan Football (and occasionally other sports).
So I found myself wondering: how much has Brian said over the years? A couple of python scripts later, I had some answers. I wrote a trivial script to download the entire blog (old pages are available through links of the form
http://www.mgoblog.com/?page=X, where higher
X values link to older pages), and then a less trivial script to parse the downloaded content into a more manageable form. The python SGML parser is amazing, for those of you who care about such things.
What I found follows below. Note: there may be some errors, but I believe the results to be in the right ballpark.
Perhaps the single most amazing fact is that Brian himself has written something on the order of 3 million words (or typed about 17 million characters) over about 3600 articles. Wow! That's a lot of content, from his hands to our eyeballs.
|Who||Articles||Words (Millions)||Characters (Millions)|
The table shows these sums, as well as the sums across all contributed articles (including ones from Tim, TomVH, formerlyanonymous, and anyone else who has made the front page). It might be interesting to see how these counts (number of articles, number of words, number of comments made by users) play out on a week-by-week basis. So interesting one could even make a ... chart? Chart. Or actually, Charts.
The first chart I present is the number of articles published per week over the entire existence of mgoblog.
From the chart, one can observe some interesting facts. First, from mgoblog we should expect about 14 articles per week on average over the course of a year. Second, that number is notably higher in the fall (no surprise), and lower in the spring. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, one can see the growth of the mgoblog community in the orange bars, which represent articles written by somebody other than Brian; this content, which now represents a significant portion of mgoblog, picked up halfway through last year and has continued to get stronger. Brian's efforts at making the blog more than just himself are clearly having an impact.
The second chart just shows the number of words on a per week basis:
The graph reflects the same trends seen above, but in word counts. Even early on, Brian was producing above 10,000 words per week during football season, and last year during the same season, we were spoiled with over 30,000 words per week about the sport and team we love.
Finally, I show the number of comments per article:
The big effect in this graph is the lack of comments before the switch to the new blog infrastructure (e.g., the Haloscan era). The other effect is the growth of the community: the difference in the number of comments in Fall '08 and Fall '09 is likely a sign of the increased importance of this site as a place for the broad UM football community. Aside: the one early outlier which has a large number of comments (Fall '06) is just full of a bunch of comment spam: Unverified Voracity 99 Bonus Guest. Who knows why it's there, but Brian should probably remove those comments.
I was also interested in what the longest articles were, but that should have been obvious: UFRs. Here are the ten longest articles (by number of letters in the article):
- 10. Upon Further Review: Defense vs Notre Dame (by Brian on September/16/2009, 48949 letters long)
- 9. Upon Further Review: Defense vs Iowa (by Brian on October/14/2009, 49477 letters long)
- 8. Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana (by Brian on September/30/2009, 49913 letters long)
- 7. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Iowa (by Brian on October/15/2009, 50279 letters long)
- 6. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Illinois (by Brian on November/5/2009, 50421 letters long)
- 5. Upon Further Review: Defense vs Purdue (by Brian on November/11/2009, 51002 letters long)
- 4. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Purdue (by Brian on November/12/2009, 51279 letters long)
- 3. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Notre Dame (by Brian on September/17/2009, 51572 letters long)
- 2. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Western Michigan (by Brian on September/10/2009, 51616 letters long)
- 1. Upon Further Review: Offense vs Indiana (by Brian on October/1/2009, 51721 letters long)
If you remove the UFRs from the list, these ten get the longest billing. A number of previews and various other summaries show up:
- 10. Michigan 2007, Part II: Defense (by Brian on August/31/2007, 28513 letters long)
- 9. Michigan State: Sometimes The Bar Eats You (by Brian on August/13/2007, 28636 letters long)
- 8. Purdue 2007: You're Killing Your Father, Larry (by Brian on August/23/2007, 29656 letters long)
- 7. Purdue 2008: Tiller On A Treadmill (by Brian on July/31/2008, 29964 letters long)
- 6. Illinois Preview: Redact This (by Brian on August/9/2007, 30014 letters long)
- 5. Michigan Preview 2005: A Tale Of Two Units, Part I (by Brian on August/30/2005, 30163 letters long)
- 4. Offense Unit By Unit, 2008 (by Brian on August/26/2008, 33989 letters long)
- 3. Michigan Preview Part I: Offense (by Brian on August/29/2006, 34844 letters long)
- 2. Penn State Preview: Stupefying (by Brian on July/20/2007, 35006 letters long)
- 1. Michigan 2007, Part I: Offense (by Brian on August/30/2007, 38809 letters long)
Most-Commented Upon Articles
I was also interested in the most commented-on articles. They were:
Nothing gets people rev'd up like the Offense's Units, or RAWK MUSIC, I guess.
Finally, I was generally curious as to what words show up in the blog. Sounds like a case for a ... chart? Nope. But close, a wordle:
The word cloud here shows a list of the most popular words used in this blog, with some editing done by y.t. to remove words like "the" (actually the most popular word on the site) and so forth.
Anyhow, that's all for now. An amazing amount of content, built up over the years on the backs of UFRs and other regular features we all know and love. Thanks Brian for all the hard work - it is truly staggering to see the sheer verbiage that has powered the site over the years.
This is an offer that I was expecting to happen sooner, rather than later. QB Brett Hundley out of Chandler High School, in Arizona, received an offer from Michigan today. "They called my coach, Coach Ewan, and then he told me they had offered," said Hundley.
This one is exciting for me, because it's another Michigan recruit in my home state. I saw Brett play this past season, and he's the real deal. He's a 6-foot-4, 210-pound athletic dual threat quarterback. He says his strengths are, "Leadership, mobility, I'm coachable, and I have a pretty strong arm. I do think I need to work on my footwork, though." I would add that academics are a strong point for Brett, since he carries a 3.9 GPA.
Hundley holds offers now from Arizona, ASU, LSU, Oregon, Nebraska, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, and Michigan just to name a few. He hasn't started to focus on recruiting yet, and told me, "No one's in the lead right now. Everything is wide open for me. I'm going to start taking trips in June, or July. After that I'll start all my officials, when I'm allowed to." When asked if Michigan will receive one of those visits, he said, "I'm definitely going to talk to my dad about that one."
Chandler High is in spring practice right now, and I will be heading out to watch this coming week. I'll have some practice footage, and possibly a video interview sometime later this week.
Game starts at 9:30 on Fox College Sports (UPDATE: It'll be later, because there was a weather delay for the first game), chat should get started shortly after 9. Here's an excerpt from the preview,
Friday May 14, 7:30PM MDT, Dick's Sporting Goods Park (Main Stadium), Denver CO.
TV: Fox College Sports.
Record: 14-2 (5-0 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference).
Rankings: #4 MCLA LaxMag, #3 Prodigy, #4 LaxPower.
Common Opponents: BYU (W 12-11), Colorado (W 13-8), Oregon (L 11-14), Simon Fraser (W 11-8), Arizona State (L 11-12), Minnesota-Duluth (W 15-8)
Previous Meetings: 2008 National Championship Game (Michigan W 14-11), 2009 Regular Season (Michigan W 13-10), 2009 National Championship Game (Michigan W 12-11) Official Site Recap/VB Recap/VB Liveblog.
Depending on which poll you use, Chapman is the #4 (MCLA LaxMag/LaxPower) or #3 (Prodigy only) team in the country. As a testament to Michigan's strength of schedule, they're the only squad in the top 7 (LaxMag) or 9 (LaxPower/Prodigy), that Michigan hasn't faced yet this year. The men from SoCal went 14-2 on the year, with the only losses coming to Oregon (11-14 on the road) and Arizona State (11-12 in the SLC playoffs at Chapman).
, but to read the whole thing, click here.
Michigan (29-18, 10-8)
Northwestern (21-27, 10-8)
Friday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
|Alan Oaks (4-5, 3.75 ERA)||vs||Eric Jokisch (4-5, 4.59 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||BTN.com ($)|
Notes: Michigan is 108-27 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss. Jokisch
is a LHP.
Saturday 1:05 ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
|Bobby Brosnahan(5-4, 4.64 ERA)||vs||Francis Brooke (5-3, 4.28 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (MGo)||BTN.com ($)|
Sunday 1:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
|Stats||Audio (MGo)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: Could see Katzman or Sinnery.|
It's the first round of Big Ten Elimination as we've reached the final two weeks of regular season Big Ten baseball. Michigan faces one of the three other teams tied for the Big Ten lead in the Northwestern Wildcats, a team with a solid pitching staff and a surprisingly decent offense that came together just in time for conference play. This is also a series for revenge as Northwestern was the team to knock Michigan out of the Big Ten Tournament in 2009. Vengeance must be had.
Quick look at the midweek game against Michigan State, as well as a preview of Northwestern after the jump:
UPDATE: Due to popular demand, there WILL be a CoverItLive chat for tonight's game. Find it here.
With a 16-11 victory over rival BYU, the Michigan Wolverines have advanced to the semifinals of the MCLA National Tournament, where they'll face the #4 seed Chapman Panthers.
The game against BYU started with the Cougars controlling the run of play early, though they were unable to earn a substantial lead. Midway through the first and into the second, Michigan's faceoff specialist David Reinhard took over the game, winning several consecutive faceoffs (some of them procedure violations against BYU) and giving Michigan the vast majority of possessions. That led to a 9-5 halftime lead for the Wolverines.
[ed: Thrilling conclusion + Chapman preview after the jump.]
In a recent forum post I put out a request for diary ideas and Brian requested a deeper look at special teams. So here goes.
As any good Michigan fan knows, punting from the opponents 35 yard line is excruciating to watch. But how painful is it?
As you can see above, net punting holds pretty steady in the 37-38 yard range all the way till around the 40 yard line. At that point it drops a couple yards into 35 yards per punt range. It’s when you get to midfield that the averages really start to tank. Over the next 15-20 yards of the field, the average drops from 35 yards per punt all the way down to 20. This is somewhat obvious as the field shrinks the longer punts turn into touchbacks where they would have been 50 yarders on the other side of the field.
But lets look at it another way. On average, where can you expect to start your defensive drive based on where you are punting from.
It’s a pretty linear relationship all the way to midfield and then it stops. On your side of the field, one more yard on offense takes one away from the opposition if you have to punt. You get to the other side of the field and that relationship disappears. At the 50, the other team will, on average, start their next drive at the 16. If you drive all way inside the opponent’s 35 and decide your punter is still the best call, the 16 becomes the 12. The 15-20 yards of offense only translate into about 4 yards of worse field position for the other team. A punt from the 37 should realistically only be expected to cover a net of 25.
All of this is accounted for in my special teams rankings. Punters evaluations on each punt are measured on gross distance, net distance and then compared to punts from that spot on the field. A punt from your own 20 yards that nets 35 is below average but a punt from the opponents 40 that has a net of 30 is above average.
Last year, Georgia led the nation in my measurements in gross punting, it was worth 8.2 points above average on the season. Zoltan came in 7th (1st in the Big 10) at 4.3 points above average.
Punt returners and coverage teams are evaluated in the same manner. A 50 yard punt that isn’t a touchback or out of bounds (but including fair catches and downed punts) will average 6 yards per return but a 30 yard punt should only expect a 2 yard return. Again, teams are only evaluated against the situation they are given, a 4 yard return on a 50 yard punt is a positive play for the coverage team and a negative one for the return team. A 4 yard return on a 30 yard punt is a negative for the coverage team and a positive for the return team. I don’t currently have a way to split the value between the punter and the coverage, so the coverage is a joint metric.
LSU led the nation last year, gaining 9.7 points more than average on their punt coverage. Michigan came in 28th, 3.7 point above average.
What ultimately matters is the total punting rating, the combination of the punt and the cover. Michigan’s combined value of 8.0 points above average was 3rd nationally behind only Oklahoma and Missouri.
Michigan was somewhat unique in that even when adjusting the coverage rating for distance of punt, there is a negative correlation between punt coverage and gross punting. Possibly meaning that the punters getting the most distance on their punts are doing so by kicking more returnable punts than their peers who aren’t kicking as far as consistently.
Michigan did not fare so well on the returning end of the punt game. Michigan averaged a mere 2.35 yards of return per punt (excluding touchbacks and out of bounds) and was 3.9 points below average on the season. LSU again led the nation with 19.3 points above average for their return team.
Kick - Offs
I approached the kick off in the same manner as the punt, with the obvious exception that almost all kick offs are from a fixed spot on the field.
Unlike punting, kick offs have a correlation between good kick offs and good coverage, even when adjusting coverage for kick length. Good kick off specialists provide a more coverable kick than when weaker kickers get a kick of the same distance.
Michigan had another strong showing out of their kick off teams. Ranking 16th nationally at 6.3 points above average. The coverage wasn’t as good, 1.6 paa and 49th nationally. The 7.9 paa was 25th overall in a category that was dominated by Nebraska. Nebraska’s kickoff team was worth 27.9 paa on the season. 50 of their 74 kickoffs either went for touchbacks or were stopped inside of the 20 yardline.
The Wolverine kick return team was a respectable 36th overall, 2.6 paa. Cincinnati dominated the country at 19.7 paa.
Field goal kickers have never really had a good stat with which to measure them by. So much depends on where you are kicking from. Leigh Tiffin from Alabama garnered All-American honors despite missing 4 extra points and making 24 of his 30 field goals from inside 40 yards. Meanwhile in the same conference, Blair Walsh from Georgia makes a nation leading 12 field goals of 40 yards or longer versus only one miss from the same distance and is perfect on extra points and doesn’t even sniff All-American. Walsh’s performance gave Georgia 21.6 paa where Tiffin providing a respectable but not that close 7.4 paa. So how do you evaluate kickers. The easiest way would be to put up a chart.
A nice straight line, right? Look closely at the attempts and something changes around the 30 yard line. With the 30 as a general benchmark, coaches become more and more reluctant to trot the kicker out from that distance or beyond. With this selection bias, the true field goal percentage of field goals from 47 yards and longer is almost certainly overstated. By only getting attempts from the better kickers, the percentage is artificially high.
So now it’s time for a new chart, right?
Using the assumed misses from coaches foregoing the field goal, the true field goal percent drops. The straight line out to the 25-30 yard line goes south fast as the distance is stretched.
Last year Michigan’s kicking game came in at 44th with 1.6 paa on the season.
In attempting to determine how much coaches were passing up field goals in “no man’s land” I did also produce one more interesting but not necessarily special teams chart. The 4th down decision chart.
Between the 3 and 25 yard lines its a consistent trend, 80-85% field goal attempt 15-20 % go for the touchdown. It rises to 60/40 at the 2 and flips to 20/80 at the 1. The going for it actually peaks between 30 and 35 as more coaches don’t really know what to do so they just go for it.
Final Thoughts and Notes
There are a couple of things not included in this analysis. Exception plays such as blocked punts and kicks and their returns, fumbled returns (not that those ever happen) and the like are all excluded. These play obviously have huge impacts on the game in which they occur but they are so rare and have little or no impact on other plays of that type that they are excluded . The very best teams in the country may block 4-5 kicks in a season and for all but a few teams, these plays have virtually no net effect.
In general, for any one special team unit, the difference between average and the best and worst is about 2 touchdowns in either direction over the course of the season. Being the best at special teams is worth about a half game a season versus the average team and a full game a season versus the worst team. If there is one unit to excel at, the opportunity is on the kickoff team where last year there was a 53 point differential between the best (Nebraska) and the worst (West Viriginia).