It could, perhaps, be defined as a bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to Sweet Home Alabama, a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash…
Irony could also be defined as follows:
A man swears under his breath and loudly and obnoxiously ridicules his team’s head coach while using demeaning rhetoric towards the state of West Virginia and towards the program for making the mistake to hire someone from such an inferior geographical region and inferior group of people.
Now, imagine this event occurring on a bench in the southwest corner of Michigan Stadium, and the man has cheered avidly all day for his maize and blue team, all while making multiple comments throughout the day about the beautiful venue steeped in history and tradition.
If you do not understand the irony, please read further.
We thankfully do not hear the belittling West Virginia rhetoric too often on the boards of mgoblog, but I am confident that we have all heard someone, somewhere, subversively or matter-of-factly, make snide, rude comments regarding the fact that our current head coach originates from the state of West Virginia.
I hear it often, and I laugh and shake my head at fans of our other rival schools who think it’s a funny joke that Rich Rodriguez was born, raised, played football and coached football in the state of West Virginia.
I do not laugh, however, when our own Michigan fans make the same snide remarks. I become frustrated and saddened, as our program’s proud history is intimately intertwined with that Wild and Wonderful state…
Fielding H. Yost, our man, our legend, the original epitome of a "Michigan Man" - who made our football tradition legendary, who oversaw 6 national championships, who designed and built our athletic campus including our beloved football stadium and hockey arena, and who gave our Athletic Department its strong identity which it maintains today - was born in West Virginia and played at WVU.
Every time a Michigan fan makes a sarcastic comment about Rich Rodriguez's West Virginian background, it is ironically ignorant - unless of course, they intended to throw Fielding Yost and the history of our program under the figurative bus too.
Now, do these things mean the current coach will be as wildly influential? I have no idea. Two data points do not equal correlation. This diary is not about his success or failure.
This diary is about our school’s history and our fans’ recognition of it, especially since we are always the first to flaunt our great history and tradition - a history and tradition footed in solid marble by Fielding H. Yost!
My plea to you is to please help educate our fan base to stop making silly remarks regarding West Virginia as some second tier state producing second tier people when the rich and beloved history of our program is based off, yes indeed, a man from West Virginia.
If you hear a Michigan fan make this mistake, simply kindly inform them of the facts about our history, as one can attempt to debate scheme, offense, recruiting, or leadership all day, but the history of the University of Michigan and its strong influences are not subject to debate.
Thanks for listening and thanks for your help!
Relevant aside: Lloyd Carr was hired from West Virginia prior to the 1980 season. Coach Carr was hired to serve under Don Nehlen when Nehlen was hired at WVU, but Carr did not stay long, as Bo Schembechler sought out his assistance only a few months later. Carr was only a coach at WVU during the offseason prior to the 1980 season.
Since Brian has been busy providing us with real content rather than trying to emulate the MSM and putting together an obligatory midseason report on (insert team here), I decided to fill that oh-so-important void.
But to make it a little more interesting and gauge the opinion of my fellow readers, I've made this one interactive; I'm looking for responses/votes rather than just throwing out my own opinions, as brilliant (or stupid) as they may be.
So here we go:
No need to waste time here.
Gotta be Mike Martin, right? I don't think there's much dispute about this one -- just look at the UFRs to get a quantifiable estimate of his value. And it's not like our defense is filled with all-Big Ten difference-makers.
(For the rest of these, I want votes. Maybe I can compile after a couple days and put up a new post that presents some imaginary MGoBloggies.)
1. Denard's 87-yard TD run against Notre Dame
2. Roundtree's third-down catch to set up the winning score against ND
3. Denard's game-winning TD run against ND
4. Hemingway's awesome catch to set up the winning TD against Indiana
5. Denard's game-winning TD run against Indiana
6. Denard's 43-yard touchdown run against Bowling Green
Clutch-est play (yes, I'm making "clutchest" a word for lack of an alternative)
1. Jordan Kovacs forcing a UMass fumble that turned what could have been a 10-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead in a game we won by seven.
2. Denard's third-down pass to Roundtree against ND to set up the game-winning TD
3. Hemingway's leaping catch to set up the game-winning score against Indiana
4. The defense forcing three straight stops in the fourth quarter against Indiana (not really a play, per se, but still worth considering)
5. Jonas Mouton's interception on the flea-flicker against Notre Dame, which (IMO) destroyed their offensive confidence and playcalling until Crist re-entered the game.
6. JT Floyd forcing a UConn fumble near the Michigan goal line that was recovered by Obi Ezeh. Instead of UConn being down only a touchdown, we went down and scored to effectively end the game.
Best freshman (redshirt or otherwise)
IMO, this one comes down to two players: Taylor Lewan and Cameron Gordon. Lewan has been pretty dominant since taking over at left tackle, while Gordon has had two games with a handful of epic busts (Notre Dame and you know who) and a bunch of other pretty good games featuring big hits, a crucial interception against Indiana and a lot of good run support. Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson also warrant consideration. Right now, I give the edge to Lewan.
What say you?
1. Jordan Kovacs had the aforementioned forced fumble (and the recovery!) against UMass and -- for everything he lacks athletically -- seems to be in the right place a lot more than just about anybody else on defense, even the seniors.
2. How about Junior Hemingway? Had the huge catch against Indiana and has made numerous other big plays -- he's averaging almost 30 yards a catch. But I rarely hear him mentioned along with Roundtree, Stonum and Odoms.
3. Steve Schilling. Molk get a lot of deserved attention and the young guys (Omameh and Lewan) get a lot of deserved hype, but Schilling has quietly turned into an excellent guard. On plays when we don't let someone in clean (like the crappy third-and-1 plays against UMass and MSU), the left side of our line is flat-out dominant.
4. JT Floyd. I was extremely skeptical that he'd be even a competent Big Ten corner after what we saw last year, but he's made huge strides and looks like a legitimate starter going forward.
1. Vincent Smith. I'm with Brian on this one -- there's nothing wrong with Vincent Smith and he does plenty of things well (receiving and blocking, specifically), but defenses aren't respecting him right now because he's clearly lost some burst. He doesn't pose the same threat Shaw does in the running game.
2. Craig Roh. This is at least partially (and probably in large part) due to his lack of pass-rushing opportunities, but me and a lot of other people expected him to take THE LEAP this year, and that obviously hasn't happened. Hopefully he gets more opportunties to put his hand down over the next six games.
3. James Rogers? I'm not sure if it's fair to call him a disappointment or not -- expectations were fairly low to begin with -- but I held out hope that our secondary would be something resembling functional, and he's probably the biggest reason that it has instead been a nuclear crater.
4. Obi Ezeh. No explanation needed.
5. Will Campbell. I wasn't expecting a huge jump this year, especially when we found out Martin would be starting at nose tackle, but man ... so much hype for a guy who's stuck behind Adam Patterson on the depth chart right now.
Brock Mealer touching the banner. I started to list some other stuff, but I don't think anything else compares.
Update: A couple additions based on comments: To "most disappointing" I've added Obi Ezeh (seems obvious in hindsight) and Will Campbell. To "clutch-est play" I've added the JT Floyd forced fumble against UConn. To "unsung hero" I've added JT Floyd.
Also, I considered a "worst moment," but I figured that'd basically just be a list of the most frustrating plays from the MSU game since we won all the others.
Update Part II: In hindsight, praising Lewan and Cam Gordon as best freshmen seemed to be a devastating jinx. I hate it when that happens.
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 UConn 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 getting better. Opponent adjustment is included unless otherwise noted.
Rush Offense vs Iowa
Michigan Off +8 PAN, 1st nationally, 1st Big Ten
Iowa Def +5 PAN, 3rd, 1st
Despite a season worst showing last week against Michigan St, Michigan still enters with the number one rated rush offense in the country. The tests don’t get any easier as Michigan will look to hold the title against the #3 ranked rush defense. Neither team has had a below average game on the season and both teams have put up multiple +5 performances, which are very difficult to come by on the ground.
Taylor Martinez of Nebraska may have taken the headlines for a week, but the season totals are not even close. Denard is the nation’s top rusher at any position with a +9 himself. No other player has exceeded +5.
Even with the tough Hawkeye ground game, Michigan still should be able to manage several points of positive value out of the ground game on Saturday.
Pass Offense vs Iowa
Michigan Off +5, 15th, 2nd
Iowa Def –0, 57th, 6th
Michigan’s biggest advantage coming in will be passing against Iowa’s defense. The Hawkeye pass defense hasn’t been bad, but it is about as close to average as a group can be. Michigan has had three great games passing and two that have been subpar, including last week’s 3 interception outing. Iowa has only one great performance and that was against Iowa St.
Michigan’s pass offense still checks in at #15, even after last week. Look for the Denard and the receivers to bounce back for a potential big day through air if Michigan can find even a little success on the ground.
Rush Defense vs Iowa
Michigan Def –2, 92nd, 9th
Iowa Off +0, 54th, 6th
Michigan defensive backs : Iowa running backs ::
We wish the answer was Michigan pass defense : Iowa ground game. But unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Michigan hasn’t found a solution to slowing down the pass but Iowa has found enough of a running game to survive. You’ll notice no breakout games from the Hawkeye crew but they haven’t exactly struggled either. Adam Robinson has been –1 on the season and is the worst back left on Michigan’s schedule.
Michigan was gashed last week in their worst performance to date. Michigan can not allow another big game on the ground this week but luckily Iowa doesn’t appear to have the horses for a big day. Should be slight advantage Hawkeyes but hopefully not any worse.
Pass Defense vs Iowa
Michigan Def –2, 81st, 10th
Iowa Off +4, 22nd, 3rd
Stanzi ball has been transformed in 2010. After the pick six disasters of last season, Stanzi has become an asset for his own team instead of the opposition. Arizona was the only below average performance on the season and the other three games were all solid, consistent outcomes.
Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt are the two primary targets. The two are combined +11 PAN on the season and their output is nearly equivalent to what Hemingway and Roundtree have done this year. The four are all grouped together at positions 5 through 8 in my Big Ten rankings.
The big advantage Michigan is that with as consistent as this group has been, they haven’t put up any monster games. Unless 2009 Stanzi makes a welcome appearance, Michigan should be glad to have this matchup end up anywhere less than a major victory for Iowa.
Special Teams vs Iowa
Over the last several games Michigan has done a good job of limiting their exposure to poor special teams. Iowa hasn’t done much of note on special teams yet this year outside of another poor showing in Arizona. I am guessing both teams would be content to let special teams play little to no role in the outcome Saturday.
Predictions Almost Certain to Cost You Money if Taken Seriously
Michigan 28 Iowa 27
There was certainly a correction in expectations last week, but as Brian noted, that doesn’t change the other data points we had. The defense is still bad, the offense wasn’t their usual spectacular selves last week but their resume to date is still outstanding. The offense is still #1 nationally in my rankings and the difference between Denard and the #2 QB nationally in my ratings (Cam Newton) is the same as the difference between Newton and #22, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi.
Denard has very strong bounce back performance, this time against an elite defense and the defense limits two Iowa trips to field goals instead of touchdowns to provide the difference.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten
Michigan St 28 Illinois 22 – Another close but no cigar for [name redacted] against a quality Big Ten opponent
Indiana 35 Arkansas St 34 – Hoosier’s escape with an ugly victory against their best non-conference opponent
Purdue 26 Minnesota 21 – The schedule favors Purdue as the Boilermakers move to 2-0 in the Big Ten
Ohio St 23 Wisconsin 14 – And probably not as close as the score shows. Ohio St controls this one throughout. My numbers continue to place Wisconsin at the top of my overrated list.
Around the country
Auburn 35 Arkansas 28 – Cam Newton > Ryan Mallett. Newton, Martinez and of course Robinson all have big days and the rise of the mobile QB becomes the official theme of the 2010 football season until Boise St and TCU are 1 and 2 in the BCS standings and the world ends.
Follow me @The_Mathlete
Synopsis: After 6 games, Michigan is currently ranked #14 in scoring offense and #75 in scoring defense. Based on these rankings, M has a 43% chance for a +5 WLM (9-4 or better) season and an 83% chance for a winning season. The offense definitely had its worse game of the season scoring only 17 points (primarily due to TOs). Rushing yardage was about 50% of the average for the year whereas passing yards were fairly close to the average. The defense continued to struggle allowing 9 more points than average and about twice the average rushing yardage. Defense passing yardage was slightly below the average. Michigan's current PPG is 26.8 so the defense must hold teams below this number to improve their performance.
I always use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. Being #75 in scoring defense is not good but U-Ms defense is not as bad as the #112 in total defense indicates. According to the S&P+ rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan is ranked #62 in total defense.
Based on the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), Michigan is predicted to win between
7.5 and 8.1 8.1 and 8.5 (ED: corrected) games (excluding bowl game but adjusted with +1 for U-M's one FCS opponent).
Based on the FEI, Iowa is favored by just a single point with just a 51% PWE (projected win expectation). Using the Sagarin Predictor, Iowa is favored by 3.4 points (note the Sagarin Elo-Chess actually has M as the favorite by 6.7 points and the Sagarin overall rating has M favored by 1.4 points). (Vegas Odds Opened with Iowa favored by 3.0).
I am surprised at how close this game is predicted. The SoS adjustments are especially interesting because the FEI SoS Algorithm (explained here) shows Iowa with a more difficult schedule than Michigan but Sagarin has just the opposite. Iowa has also had an extra week to prepare due to their bye last week. IMO, Michigan will have to play its best game of the year and end up with a positive turnover margin to win.
Overall this year, U-M is averaging 3.2 points per possession (PPP) and 46 YPP. The defense is giving up 2.2 PPP and 38 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into a 12 point advantage for Michigan.
DETAILS: Here are the FEI numbers ( FEI Forecasts and Football Outsiders FEI ). FEI is a weighted and opponent adjusted season efficiency and is expressed as a percentage as compared with an average FBS team.
Note that FEI completely excludes all non-FBS data (the W-L record is only for FBS games, etc.). Therefore, you need to add 1 to the projected numbers for FBS-MW to get the final predicted wins for U-M this year. Or, if using the FBS-RMW, add 1 to the current win-loss record to get the final predicted wins for the year.
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams. I've included the GE basic data so you can see the impact of adjusting for opponent. (See: Football Outsiders Our Basic College Stats )
Here are the Sagarin Ratings.
Sagarin uses two basic ratings: PREDICTOR (in which the score MARGIN is the only thing that matters) and ELO-CHESS (in which winning and losing only matters, the score margin is of no consequence). The overall rating is a synthesis of the two diametrical opposites, ELO-CHESS and PREDICTOR.
Per Sagarin: ELO-CHESS is “very politically correct. However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is PREDICTOR”.
Here is the U-M vs. Iowa National Statistical Rankings with the advantage for each category indicated (all categories within 10% are considered a "push").
Here are the week by week National Statistical Rankings for Michigan (cumulative thru the week indicated):
I have included the major rankings for offense and defense but scoring rankings show the best correlation to winning and losing. Scoring rankings are based on PPG. Rushing, Passing, and Total rankings are based on YPG.
Here is the basic data for Michigan (each individual week followed by totals and then average per game). I've included Total Possessions for Offense & Defense along with the calculated data per possession. Number of possessions do not include running out the clock at the half or end of game. Offense Plays and Defense Plays are better indicators than Time of Possession.
Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).
Each year, of the 66 FBS AQ teams, 65% (43 teams) end up with a + WLM and 36% (24 teams) end up with a +5 WLM.
Below is an analysis of historical data on penalties in the Michigan-Iowa game dating back to 2003. (FYI - The "Against" row lists penalties called against Michigan and the total yardage lost and the "For" row lists penalties called against Iowa and the total yardage gained due to these penalties.)
|Win/Loss||Loss||Win||Win||Win||DNP||DNP||Loss||Record - 3-2|
Based on the data, Michigan has averaged 4.2 penalties per game as compared to Iowa's average of 6.4 penalties per game. Not nearly as big of a disparity as the 4 penalty-per-game difference between Michigan and Michigan State, but a slight advantage nonethelss. Interestingly, Michigan has been very consistent historically at around 4 penalties per game for about 40 yards lost per game in most rivalries that I have researched. And Michigan appears to be on that same track this year (with the one abberation coming against Notre Dame in Week 2).
|2010||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Totals||Averages|
What it means for Saturday: In a game where Michigan's offense is facing a strong defense and gaining yards may be more difficult than usual, penalties (like turnovers) can play a large role. If you see 4 penalties from Michigan for 40 yards then do not fret. However, if you see a flood of penalties from Michigan it might have a real impact on the game. That's probably an obvious statement, but still something to consider nonetheless.
Saturday night, while we were doing our best to avoid the bros, the volleyball team upset #6 Illinois at Cliff Keen Arena. It was a huge game for the spikers with Lexi Zimmerman posting her second career triple double (43 assists, 13 digs and 13 kills) in an epic performance, even for the best volleyball player in the history of the program. Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten standings at 5-1 along with Illinois and Northwestern.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman is a two time All-American. She's got ups.
This year the volleyball team expected a bit of a transition after making the elite eight and then losing outside hitters Juliana Paz and Megan Bower to graduation. However the team is off to a scorching 16-2 start to the season, with a loss coming early on to Toledo and more lately at powerhouse Penn State. How have they done it? It's been an exciting mix of veterans and rookies for the Maize and Blue:
Everyone knows, or should know Lexi Zimmerman - the two time (soon to be three) All-American setter for the Wolverines. Lexi is the floor general and has been doing what she does - DOMINATE - all season for the Wolverines.
Junior Alex Hunt needed to step up big this season for the Wolverines and she has. She led the team with 19 kills against Illinois last Saturday and has shown that she can pick up the slack left by Paz and Bower.
Junior libero Sloane Donhoff anchors the back line for Michigan, routinely leading the team in digs.
Junior middle blocker Courtney Fletcher got off to a solid start early and is well on her way to surpass her kill totals from last season.
Several underclassmen have made a big impact on the team this year early on in their careers. After appearing in only seven sets last season, RS Sophomore Claire McElheny is off to a great start to the 2010 season. She has started 15 matches for the Wolverines and recorded 10 kills in M's upset of the Illini. Her contribution has certainly been a big one and helped in the replacement of Paz and Bower.
True freshmen Molly Toon and Jennifer Cross have come on strong and are showing some promise for Michigan's future. Jennifer Cross, a 6-4 middle blocker, has started 16 times this year for the Wolverines and notched 8 kills and 6 blocks against Illinois. Molly Toon, daughter of the NFL's Al Toon, came up big in the Wolverines' win over Illinois, notching a career high-tying 9 kills.
How They Got Here: 16-2 (5-1)
Michigan opened the season at the Toledo Classic, winning their first two games of the year before falling to the host Rockets in the championship game in five sets. Since then the Wolverines have been on a tear.
M won 12 straight matches including an early season win at Oregon State and sweeps of the Michigan/adidas Invitational and the ASU Sheraton Tournament.
To start Big Ten play, Michigan hosted and defeated Iowa and #15 Minnesota before taking their first conference road trip. On the road M beat OSU in 4 sets before travelling to Penn State. While Penn State isn't the beast that they have been in years past (currently standing at 3-3 in B10 play), the Nittany Lions took care of the Wolverines in straight sets.
The Wolverines returned home this past weekend to defeat Wisconsin and Illinois.
Tonight: MSU at 7pm; Saturday #20 Northwestern at 7pm (Live on BTN)
If you want to feel better about little sister, come to Cliff Keen tonight, where the Wolverines should be able to take care of the Spartans. Alex Hunt currently sits are 989 career kills and the good money says that she will notch kill 1000 against MSU tonight.
As previously mentioned, Northwestern is tied with Michigan atop the Big Ten standings. So Saturday's matchup is a big one with a lot on the line. Michigan will head back out on the road so it's important to get this win to set up what could be a great Big Ten season.
|Wed., Oct. 13||vs. Michigan State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 15||vs. No. 20 Northwestern *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 22||at Indiana *||Bloomington, Ind.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Oct. 23||at Purdue *||West Lafayette, Ind.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 29||at Illinois *||Champaign, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Oct. 30||at Wisconsin *||Madison, Wis.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 5||vs. Penn State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 6||vs. Ohio State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Nov. 12||at Minnesota *||Minneapolis, Minn.||6:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Nov. 13||at Iowa *||Iowa City, Iowa||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 19||vs. Purdue *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 20||vs. Indiana *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Wed., Nov. 24||at Michigan State *||East Lansing, Mich.||6:30 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 27||at Northwestern *||Evanston, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
If Michigan can go to 7-1 in conference play this week, they set themselves up for a legitimate run at a Big Ten Championship. The Big Ten is one of the best volleyball conferences in the nation, though, so they'll need to show up every night. A westernish road trip to Indiana and Purdue should produce two victories, but road games are road games. It'll be the following week at Illinois where we see what this team is made of. In their first true road test they fell hard to the Lions. Can they show up and upset the Illini for the second time on the season?
After four on the road, it doesn't get any easier with Penn State coming to town. But with Penn State's losses to graduation this could be the year (last year M took them to 5 sets) that Cliff Keen witnesses a victory over the Nittany Lions.
NEEDS MOAR PAZ