this may be of some local interest
It is our nature to assign narratives to games. Against UConn it was brutal offensive efficiency. Against Notre Dame it was the first appearance of clutch Denard. UMass and Indiana it was praying our offense would have the ball last and Bowling Green was relief that we finally took care of business.
For me, Michigan St was a game of 7 plays. There were seven big plays on Saturday, and all of them went Michigan St’s way. There was plenty that didn’t go right in between, but those seven plays, but the seven plays masked what in some ways was a better performance than it felt, and in some ways worse. Denard’s three interceptions, two in the end zone (-10 points). Edwin Baker 61 yards, +5. Le’Veon Bell 41 yards, +4. Cousins to Dell for 41 yards +4. Cousins to Dell again, 44 yards, +3. Those seven plays, a 26 point swing. Only two plays for the offense +3 or higher, no running plays worth more than 1.4 points. All of the big plays went Sparty’s way.
What we hoped was not true now appears to be so: this team will not win Big Ten games without exceptional offensive performances. We are who we are at this point.
Rush Off: +5
Pass Off: 0
Rush Def: –15
Pass Def: –10
Field Position: Michigan +4
Denard was +3 on the ground and a +1 through the air.
Shaw and Smith were both +0 and Hopkins was +1 on two strong carries.
Cousins was +13 combined.
Baker was +7
Caper was +3
Bell was +7
I went 4-1 against the spread last weekend in my picks. I did not pick MSU, Purdue, Wisconsin or S Carolina to win like three of them did, but all four managed to cover as I predicted. Only Indiana let me down. The game went down as I predicted but the Indiana offense couldn’t quite put together enough garbage time points to cover the spread.
Michigan’s poor showing on Saturday, along with increases from Illinois, Ohio St, Purdue and Wisconsin, move the win projections down a game and a half or so. That is a huge drop for one week.
Win odds drop across the board, Illinois is probably over valued but after back to back strong showings they look to be better than expected this season. Wisconsin is starting to come closer to conventional feelings, but is still too high.
Team – National Rank – Win Odds
Iowa – 26 – 54%
@ Penn St – 57 – 59%
Illinois – 23 – 48%
@ Purdue – 77 – 73%
Wisconsin – 52 – 72%
@ Ohio St – 9 – 17%
Projected Big Ten Standings
1. Ohio St
2. Michigan St
9. Penn St
Just like last week, Illinois and Wisconsin feel like they are reversed, but to date, the computer likes what Illinois has done a lot and still isn’t sold on the Badgers.
Prologue: As I watched the parachute spiral down towards Michigan stadium, I never thought for a moment that it was a metaphor for what was about to happen over the next 3 hours. There have been tens of thousands of words already written and there will be tens of thousands more written. But, this game was decided by just a single word – turnovers.
Synopsis for Turnovers: Well, that was a total fracking debacle! Even elite teams rarely overcome a –3 turnover margin. The likelihood that Michigan can win any game against any team (except the baby seals) with a –3 turnover margin is close to zero (and the –3 TOs does not include the blocked FG). This looks way too familiar. It can not continue. Throw the god damn ball to OUR receivers! Hold on to the god damn ball!
This has now become the one statistic that almost always determines whether M wins or loses. A great hit by Floyd (and recovery by Ezeh) in the UConn game kept the score at 20-10 instead of 20-17. Without the 3 interceptions in the ND game, the result would have likely been different. In the UMass game, Ms 2 TOs lost were offset by 2 TOs gained but the blocked punt by UMass at the end of the game made it too close for comfort. At Indiana, an interception thrown in the end zone was offset by an interception made by Cam Gordon in our end zone. For the MSU game, the three turnovers lost (plus the blocked FG) and no turnovers gained was virtually a death sentence.
Turnovers are NOT primarily due to luck. Turnovers ARE primarily due to poor performance and/or inexperienced players. Look at the 3 ints from Saturday. The first int was a bad throw by DRob who was not any under pressure at all – Roundtree was open and a good throw would have resulted in a TD. The second interception was also a bad throw – Hemingway was open and the throw was behind him. The long pass to Grady, was thrown off DRob's back foot and was another very bad throw. If the pass was thrown to the middle of the field, the safety can't get there.
Turnover margins often increase when the relative experience and skill of the opposing teams are significantly different. Over the next 6 games, M will face 3 teams (Penn State, Illinois, Purdue) with similar (or perhaps less) experience at key positions and 3 teams (Iowa, Wisconsin, osu) with more experience at key positions. How the turnover battle shakes out will have a major impact on how many of those games Michigan can win. If we can maintain a neutral or positive TOM, all of those games are winnable. If not……(last year, M was –13 in TOM for the last 6 conference games).
BTW, blocked punts, blocked field goals, on-side kick recovered by the opposing team, roughing the kicker penalties, etc. are not considered to be "official" turnovers but have the same effect. I will continue to track these also.
Overall, M spiraled down from +4 TOM to just +1 TOM and the national ranking soared from #15 to #53. MSU had just a single fumble (which they recovered) and no interceptions. Turnovers lost are less than the average team but turnovers gained are also less than the average team resulting in basically a –0- TOM for the year. Historically, TOs tend to come in bunches rather than a consistent number from game to game. (BTW, TOM was +1.0 after 6 equivalent games last year [including all 4 OOC games last year and the first 2 Big10 games played last year].)
Synopsis for Special Teams: Mixed reviews for special teams. Hagerup ended up with 47.0 average yards per punt and a net of 44.8 yards per punt. Punting continues to improve each week. One concern is that he has had several short punts that are getting good bounces. Starting field position for the opposition after our kickoff remains at the 29 yard line (slightly better than average). Broekhuizen kicked a 34 yard field goal but had a 42 yard FG blocked.
Details for Turnovers: Here is the Summary by Game. According to the folks at Football Outsiders a first down TO is worth 5 points, second down TO is worth 4.5 points, and a third down TO is worth 4.0 points (regardless of field position!).
The extrapolation is a straight line [Totals] X [13 Total Games / Games Played]. AQ Best and AQ average is over the past 10 years. AQ Best is kind of funky because the team with the "best" in each category is different so the numbers don't add. But, it does provide a point of reference.
Here is the detail of each fumble/interception and a comment providing insight if the turnover (or lack thereof) was significant. Note, blocked punts are not considered a turnover and an interception of an extra point is not considered a turnover (player does not get credit for a interception).
Here is the overall summary by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Details for Special Teams: Here are the Punting and Kickoff statistics. (Touchbacks are included as –20 yards when determining net yards.)
Remember here are the correlations of TOM to WLM at season's end.
There will be no belittling of the Spartans in this post. No silly twists of their name or bringing up academics. Yesterday Michigan St handed us a beating that they should be proud of. It wasn't handed to them by the refs or by luck. They were simply well coached and their game plan was well executed. The Spartans didn't make mistakes and were solid in all phases of the game, and that is why they won.
Michigan was, in most part, what we have been seeing so far this season. That wasn't their worst performance so far (I would still give the UMass game the edge there), and it was far from the best they can play, but nothing really stood out to me as unexpected. Well, perhaps the lack of running room for Denard Robinson could be described as surprising. State had a great game plan for stopping (or slowing at least) our offense, and more importantly they had the personnel to execute it.
This is scary if you, as a fan, had pinned your hopes on what the numbers have been telling us. The problem with much of the statistical analysis you see is that it shows everything in a linear fashion. X team's offense meets Y team's defense at this point on the chart and there you have your expected outcome. College football has too many teams with to large a range of player talent for anything linear to come out of it. Extrapolating the results of this season based on our first 5 opponents is asking for disappointment.
Michigan St's defense is an order of magnitude better than any Michigan has faced this year. They have DBs that can run with our receivers and a front seven that can stand up to our OLine. Their coaches also made great decisions for
stopping slowing Denard Robinson by keeping the ball out of his hands past the line of scrimmage. Michigan ran quite a bit of read option yesterday, and I don't recall a single read leading to Denard Robinson keeping the ball. That is good execution of a solid game plan: Make the other Michigan backs hurt you. Shaw, Smith, and Co. didn't do horribly at all, but the lack of Denard Robinson in space was obvious. When Michigan ran the lead QB draw Michigan St showed that they had practiced well for defending it.
The rest of the game was pretty much what we have seen so far, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything from it (especially coupled with the Indiana game):
- Denard Robinson is not an Ice-in-his-veins gunslinger. His throws have great zip and are largely accurate, especially so when the throw is shortish or his target is stationary. Against Indiana (and the rest of the schedule so far) his receivers have been so open that a slightly inaccurate ball wasn't noticeable. Against Michigan St the receivers were covered much better, and the picks in the end zone were the result. Both balls were thrown to where the receiver was, not leading the receiver to where only he would have a chance at the ball. With lesser coverage both are touchdowns. We must remember that Denard Robinson is still a true soph and this game another set of lessons to learn from for him.
- Obi Ezeh is the biggest reason Michigan's defense sucks balls. Watching him jump out of the hole on Michigan St's second long running TD felt like Deja Vu after all of the UFR videos of the last two years. This is not going to change, not that anyone reading here expects it to. Ezeh can make thumping tackles, but is rarely lined up squarely to do so.
- Kovacs is the opposite of Ezeh for this defense, never the reason they suck balls. When Kovacs took down the State tight end in space to sew up a 3-and-out in the 4th Qtr, all I could think was "He could have made that play from MLB." I would love to see him get a shot at playing in the middle. The dude is second on the team in tackles for a reason, he makes the right decisions and that keeps him in the play.
- Talbot (CB) seems to be a positive addition to the defense when he sees the field. Cullen Christian does not, at least at CB. The touchdown on which CC was burned crispy displayed his lack of CB rated hips and recovery speed. I would think that CC has a move to safety (or OLB?) in his future [edit: As many have pointed out in the comments, this is probably premature. With the other freshmen looking decent though, and CC not getting much PT, I still see this move happening eventually.]
- No amount of tweeking this defense is going to make it good, or even average. More time and experience will bring up the level of play for the younger players, and in that the defense will improve. Several of the younger players are actually showing quite a bit of promise. The Gordons, Jabreel Black, and Talbot and Avery at CB have all shown signs that they will be solid contributors with more experience. With some good recruiting to give depth, I think Michigan's defense will rise from the ashes in 2011 and 2012. Mike Martin (plz be OK) coming back next year would help immensely of course.
Iowa is going to be tough, and probably another loss. Their defense is top 5 with the personnel to mimic the game plan Michigan St was very effective with. Their offense is also pretty good, coming in 33rd in total with fairly even passing and running ratings. Michigan can win this game in the same way it could have beaten State, with an offensive performance bordering on perfection. Think yesterday with two TDs in place of end zone Ints and Roundtree hauling in that TD as well, then add another TD drive as well and I think Michigan beats Iowa. This is not very likely.
The rest of the season I am still optimistic about. Penn St shouldn't be able to torch us with their issues on offense, and I think we can score on anyone. Illinois looks to be improving, but I can see our offense winning that one ala the Indiana game. Purdue is simply a must win, and assuming Michigan does not suffer a rash of injuries, I could see our young defensive players improving enough to make the Wisky game a toss-up late in the season. OSU is always a throw stats out the window type game where emotion can win the day.
I realistically see this team winning 7-8 games, with a possibly 9th win in a hypothetical bowl match-up. Despite how I view the rest of the season's games individually, none of the wins is assured, and I wouldn't give any but Purdue more than a 75% chance of winning. Winning the first 5 games will probably end up saving RR's job (and thank god for that), but we should all look at our pre-season expectations and realize that this team is right about where we thought, obviously better than last year but still climbing the mountain.
Of course Denard Robinson can change this outcome by himself. If he can learn quickly from his mistakes in this game, and RR and Co. and come up with some killer counters for him in the run game, Denard Robinson can lead this team to a New Year's Day bowl. The man is special and a true "X-Factor" the likes of which we seldom get to see. So enjoy the ride my fellow Wolverines.
A new commit for Michigan means we're hitting the front page. Action since last rankings:
3-14-09 Michigan gains commitment from Antonio Kinard.
10-4-10 Indiana gains commitment from Cody Latimer.
10-6-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Denzel Doe.
10-8-10 Michigan gains commitment from Demetrius Hart. Iowa gains commitment from Melvin Spears.
10-9-10 Wisconsin gain commitment from Tyler Marz.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|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 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 20 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
With their higher commit numbers, Notre Dame is actually pretty close to passing Ohio State, though a deflated ranking on Scout (which hasn't rated kickers) keeps them well behind on the average at that site.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
No change for Nebraska.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 11 Commits|
Yay! Michigan picks up Dee Hart finally. The MSU loss might slow down anything else from happening soon, though. I've also added Antonio Kinard, as U Recruit reports he'll join the team this winter.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
Rivals is far higher on the Hoosiers' new commit Cody Latimer than are the other two services.
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
No changes for the LOLphers.
|#10 Wisconsin - 13 Commits|
Two new pickups for the Badgers, though neither is highly-rated.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
Nothing new. The sites still aren't in agreement over whether Hayden Daniels is committed.
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
Just thought I would throw this out there after Demetrius Hart's commitment. Here are the recruits in Rivals top 250 that are still listing Michigan in their top group.
- #5 De'Anthony Thomas- 5 star, 5'9", 160 lbs., Athlete/Defensive Back
- #9 Curtis Grant- 5 star, 6'3", 222 lbs, Linebacker
- #10 Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix- 5 star, 6'2", 190 lbs, Safety
- #11 Karlos Williams- 5 star, 6'2", 210 lbs, Safety
- #18 Ray Drew- 4 star, 6'5", 243 lbs, Defensive end
- #33 Kris Frost- 4 star, 6'3", 210 lbs, Wide Receiver/Linebacker
- #43 Sammy Watkins- 4 star, 6'1", 180 lbs, Wide Receiver
- #53 Timmy Jernigan- 4 star, 6'2", 275 lbs, Defensive tackle
- #65 Anthony Zettel - 4 star, 6'4", 245 lbs, Defensive End
- #87 Wayne Lyons- 4 star, 6'0", 190 lbs, Safety
- #118 Charles Jackson- 4 star, 5'11", 180 lbs, Defensive back
- #148 Deion Barnes- 4 star, 6'5", 225 lbs, Defensive end
- #157 Avery Walls - 4 star, 5'11", 184 lbs, Safety
- #185 Mickey Johnson- 4 star, 6'1", 310 lbs, Defensive tackle
- #193 Chris Bryant- 4 star, 6'5", 330 lbs, Offensive line
- #214 Austin Traylor- 4 star, 6'4", 210 lbs, Defensive end
- #216 Sheldon Royster- 4 star, 6'0", 185 lbs, Defensive back
With the commitments of Demetrius Hart (#37) and Brennen Beyer (#191) Michigan already has two prospects in the top 250. So on that list who do we have the most realistic shot at?
The prospects that Michigan has a very high chance with off that list are:
- #33 Kris Frost - listed in his top two with Auburn.
- #65 Anthony Zettel - Waiting until the end of the season to decide.
- #157 Avery Walls - Will be announcing within the month, visiting Cal this weekend.
- #193 Chris Bryant - Should be deciding relatively soon. Down to Michigan, Stanford, and Arizona.
The prospects that I think Michigan still has a good shot with are:
- #18 Ray Drew - I'm including him on this list because I think he has genuine interest in Michigan. His mom doesn't want him to leave home though so it may be tough.
- #43 Sammy Watkins - We're in great shape with his teammate Dallas Crawford. The more I hear, the more it sounds like Sammy might really be considering Michigan.
- #87 Wayne Lyons - I'll have a full update in the Weekly Update on Monday, but Michigan is back in his top list.
- #148 Deion Barnes - Penn State may lead, but he'll be visiting after his season so anything can happen.
Finally, off this list here are the prospects that we either need to wait and see with, or we may not have a great shot with:
- #5 De'Anthony Thomas - He told me he will visit if Michigan offers, but I'm not sure if there's enough to make him decommit from USC.
- #9 Curtis Grant - I think he ends up at Alabama or Florida. He insists that he will try to visit Michigan.
- #10 Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix - Recently told the Orlando Sentinel that he's 100% committed to Alabama, but they also reported that Demetrius Hart was an Alabama lean. If he takes his visit to Michigan for the Wisconsin game there's a chance.
- #11 Karlos Williams - Currently committed to Florida State told me that he will be taking an official visit after his season is over. Michigan needs to continue winning to impress him.
- #53 Timmy Jernigan - Timmy always mentions Michigan in his top group, but I just haven't seen enough to take him seriously.
- #118 Charles Jackson - I've heard that he may be favoring Nebraska right now. He told me he wants to visit Michigan. We'll have to wait to see if that actually happens.
- #185 Mickey Johnson - Mickey has a new leader every week. Michigan is listed in his top group with Tennessee, Nebraska, UCLA, and LSU. His group and list changes so much I don't know what to believe.
- #214 Austin Traylor - Told me recently that Michigan is in his top ten and that he would like to visit. Until he narrows his list down further we won't know how high his interest level actually is.
- #216 Sheldon Royster - New Jersey safety has been quiet with his recruitment, but has always had Michigan on his list. Until he visits I'm not including him on the high chance list.
Synopsis: After 5 games, Michigan is currently ranked #9 in scoring offense and #73 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. Offense continues to trend better each week. Defense, uh, not so much. The defense is definitely a significant concern. Only 8 teams in the last 5 years have had +5 WLM with a defense rated worse than #60. The most recent were in 2008 (Texas Tech O#13/D#74 +9 WLM, Oregon O#15/D#78 +7 WLM, Missouri O#6/D#69 +6 WLM, Nebraska O#25/D#80 +5 WLM, Oklahoma State O#17/D#76 +5 WLM). Michigan's current PPG is 25.4 so the defense must hold teams below this number to improve their performance.
I always use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. Poor teams will give up fewer passing yards and more rushing yards because opponents will stop passing once they have a late-game lead and will run out the clock instead. For winning teams, the opposite is true. Yardage per game does not take into account the pace of the game and it is obvious M plays at a faster pace than most teams (M is ranked #82 based on yards per play). Being #73 in scoring defense is not good but Ms defense is not as bad as the #102 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 8.6 and 9.4 games (excluding bowl game but adjusted with +1 for M's one FCS opponent).
Based on the FEI, M is favored by 8 points over MSU! Using the Sagarin Predictor, M is favored by 5.6 points (Vegas Odds Opened at 5.0). This is a classic "pick-em" game with the advantage going to U/M based on home field advantage and a slightly more difficult schedule to date. Michigan needs to play well but does not need that "perfect game" to beat Sparty.
Overall this year, M is averaging 3.6 points per possession (PPP) and 49 YPP. The defense is giving up 2.1 PPP and 36 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into an 18 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 MW and RMW to get the final predicted wins for M this 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. MSU 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.