Watching the videos from the Illinois game, and then going back to the Michigan State game, have confirmed something for me: Denard's mechanics have broken down a bit over the course of the season. This is, in a way, good news. It is good news because it can be accounted for in the play-calling, and because it is fixable.
Denard throws with quite the rotating motion of his upper body. This is not unusual, and is more common with QBs with more of a sidearm delivery. Because of this technque, however, Denard often releases the ball with his chest rotated past the point where it is directly at his target. This can lead to inaccuracy.
To see where this is a problem, watch the Michigan State interceptions. Both were on patterns where the receivers crossed from Denard's right toward the middle of the field. He rushes, and doesn't quite rotate his body enough, leaving the ball behind the receiver.
It is important to note that QBs rarely have their chests perfectly pointed at their target. The target changes slightly even in the moment between when a QB begins his throwing motion, and when the QB releases the pass. So, QBs make small, usually unconscious adjustments with their arm and shoulder - their feet, hips, and chest are already set. THis is not a big deal when a QB is well-squared to his target, but when his technique involves an overrotation of his chest, it makes it more difficult for a right-handed QB to adjust his pass further left. On the other hand, adjusting further right on a throw is easy.
To see this, watch the last two TDs Denard through to Roundtree. Both were routes moving from Denard's left to right - the better route for him. On the shorter, Denard was able to adjust the throw a bit behind the receiver - but still catchable - to avoid a safety. On the longer, he threw one of the prettiest touch passes of his career. I submit that these throws - and any other crossing routes, posts, or slants coming from his left to right - are well-suited to his technique and likely to be accurate.
This is a very common technique problems with a young QB. The fact that he had better technique at the beginning of the year means that he was well-coached in the offseason, but that it hasn't become permanent yet. These technique issues take quite awhile to perfect. But they'll be even better next year, and the year after...
This year, this suggests the play-calling can be done in a way to maximize Denard's effectiveness. Throw posts, slants, and crossing routes to receivers to the left. To the right, throw outs, curls, gos - anything vertical or to the outside. Those are going to be the money plays for the next three games.
|QB||Kevin Sousa||6"2, 210 lbs||Orlando, Florida||***|
|RB||Demetrius Hart||5"8, 190lbs||Orlando, Florida||****|
|RB||Malcolm Crockett||5"11, 180 lbs||Washington D.C.||***|
|WR||Shawn Conway||6"4, 185 lbs||Birmingham, Michigan||***|
|WR||Kris Frost||6"3, 210 lbs||Mathews, North Carolina||****|
|WR||Sammy Watkins||6"1, 180 lbs||Fort Myers, Florida||****|
|OL||Jake Fisher||6"7, 260 lbs||Traverse City, Michigan||***|
|OL||Jack Miller||6"4, 260 lbs||Perrysburg, Ohio||***|
|OL||Tony Posada||6"5, 330 lbs||Tampa, Florida||***|
|OL||Chris Bryant||6"5, 310 lbs||Chicago, Illinois||****|
|DE||Brennen Beyer||6"4, 230 lbs||Plymouth, Michigan||****|
|DT||Darian Cooper||6"3, 275 lbs||Hyattsville, Maryland||****|
|DE||Chris Rock||6"5, 250 lbs||Columbus, Ohio||***|
|DE||Anthony Zettel||6"4, 260 lbs||West Branch, Michigan||****|
|LB||Kellen Jones||6"1, 210 lbs||Houston, Texas||***|
|LB||Desmond Morgan||6"1, 225 lbs||Ottawa, Michigan||***|
|LB||Antonio Kinard||6"4, 215 lbs||Youngstown, Ohio||***|
|DB||Dallas Crawford||5"10, 180 lbs||Fort Myers, Florida||***|
|DB||Greg Brown||5"10, 180 lbs||Fremont, Ohio||***|
|DB||Delonte Hollowell||5"8, 170 lbs||Detroit, Michigan||***|
|DB||Blake Countess||5"10, 170 lbs||Owings Mills, Maryland||****|
|S||Avery Walls||5"11, 185 lbs||McDonough, Georgia||****|
National signing day is still three months away, but many teams seasons are wrapping up and players are taking their official visits to schools. Michigan currently has 11 known commitments, and this list is extremely tentative and not indicative of where recruits are going.
With that being said Michigan is in great position to land a number of non-committed players. If Dallas Crawford does announce tomorrow, it will likely be to Michigan. And if he does commit, that will only help with his teammate Sammy Watkins. Watkins currently has Michigan in his top five, but in reality we're likely in his top two along with Clemson.
Missing out on Arnett did hurt, but with Watkins still on the board, Conway committed, and no senior receivers this year, it will not be terrible if Michigan misses out on both.
Many are wondering who will be the complementary back to Demetrius Hart.. Thomas Rawls would likely be that candidate but his grades are not yet in order. Michigan also recently offered both Tre Mason and Malcolm Crockett, but Auburn desperately needs a running back and they want Mason so I see Michigan making a push for Crockett. He is currently committed to Cincinnati but visited Michigan this past weekend.
Defensively Michigan needs a defensive tackle prospect. Darian Cooper (now a four-star, 250 rivals member) has Michigan in his top five and will be visiting in the winter. He's got a great relationship with Delonte Hollowell, so that can only help. If they miss out on Cooper, I think Michigan's coaches will continue to evaluate other tackles and maybe offer some in the coming weeks.
Also, Michigan recently offered Maryland CB Blake Countess. Tom caught up with his coaches and Michigan may have surged near the top of his list. Countess is very highly ranked and would be a steal if Michigan can secure his services.
Edit: I realized Devondrick Nealy is not included here.. Michigan leads for his services right now as well. 23!
Updated to include both wheel route plays.
WHEEL OF DOOM #1 (1st play of 4th quarter):
Sharik has broken down the mistake on the first wheel route, but I thought that it might be worth picture paging. I used the video so generously provided by Boyz in da Pahokee. Here is what it looks like pre-snap; the Michigan defenders are settling in after some initial confusion about where they should be aligned:
You can see that Michigan is in a 3-deep look, with four players rushing the passer and four underneath zone defenders -- that is, a standard 3 deep zone. Brian in the UFR calls Michigan's formation 4-3 light. Illinois' formation is Shotgun 2-back twins.
Here we are, immediately post-snap. There is a run fake to the RB on the far side of the field, Troy Pollard (I think). The Illinois LG is pulling to the right to provide protection to Sheelhaase when he rolls to the right. Both receivers get a clean release and will run post routes, clearing out the near side of the field for the wheel route. LeShoure will run the wheel route, Pollard will go into the flat to keep the short defender honest.
We have to use ESPN's cameras, so it is hard to see what has happened, but the three deep has totally broken down. Rogers and Vinopal (the latter is barely visible at the top of the photo above), have both followed the slot receiver to the far side of the field, presumably because Sheelhaase has rolled to that side.
Avery, meanwhile, has taken the outside receiver into the center of the field. T. Gordon doesn't stay with LeShoure, presumably because he sees Pollard in the flat. The result is that LeShoure is wide open.
In the UFR, Brian writes:
Who's responsibility is this? I'm not sure anyone's except GERG. T. Gordon does not know to carry the running back vertical. If he does the other running back will be vastly open in the flat because Demens is bugging out for the deep middle. Avery's going with the post, as is Vinopal, and Rogers is covering no one on the far side of the field. So... who and what can Michigan do to make no obvious touchdowns on this play? Don't know. T. Gordon -2, Cover -3, RPS -3.
My football knowledge is minimal, but I think that Avery needs to stay in his deep third on the near side of the field, Vinopal needs to take the outside receiver into the center and Rogers the slot receiver to the far side of the field. Rogers plays this well, so I conclude that the fault lies with the true freshmen, Vinopal and Avery, for not maintaining their responsibilities.
Sharik concludes that this is on T. Gordon for not picking up LeShoure, but if he does this, then Pollard is wide open. If Avery maintains his position, however, every receiver will be covered.
WHEEL OF DOOM #2 (1st play of 2nd overtime):
Sharik says the following about this play:
On the 2nd one (in the 2nd OT), we were bringing 6 with 3-deep, 2-under behind it. When you bring 6 and play zone behind it, you can't zone the flat, let alone a wheel route. When you bring 6, whether it be man or zone behind it, the contain rusher must either hug up a releasing back or peel and cover him. Therefore, it was the blitzing safety's responsibility.
Here is the setup:
So, Illinois is in the same formation, two backs and two receivers on the same size of the field. Michigan is again in a 3-deep look, again with four down linemen.
Immediately after the snap. This play is very similar to Wheel of Doom #1. There is run action to Jason Ford (#21), who was lined up to Sheelhaase's right. The inside receiver is running a post, the outside receiver is running a 15-yard in. Leshoure is running a wheel route, and Ford is drifting into the flat. You can see the Michigan CBs and FS going into a 3-deep look. We are actually only bringing 5 (not 6): Kovacs is blitzing off the short side of the field.
Same mistake as Wheel of Doom #1: Avery (red arrow) is following the inside receiver who is running a post, leaving vast amounts of green behind him. Mouton is on the 13 yard line, stopping the in route of the outside receiver.
The result is a very grainy TD.
So Sharik may be right about the blitzing safety needing to pick up the RB, but it doesn't look like Kovacs is aware of this at all. Even if that is so, I don't think that Avery can follow the post route here, since that's Vinopal's responsibility. So the cause and the result of Wheel of doom #2 is substantially the same as #1.
Moving Picture Pages version of http://www.mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-snag-package. After what seems like a dozen MPPs that all end badly for Michigan (even the one that showed Denard gaining seven yards was a woulda-coulda-shoulda been a lot more), I finally get a chance to do one that shows something going right. Don't worry, I'm right back to working through the backlog after this one, and the next one will definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth.
I don't have a whole lot to add to this one except that there's a whole lot of analysis after the last picture that didn't translate well to a clip, so go read it again (I say this because it's safe to assume you've read it once already). And I'm still working out the timings on the titles.
The other thing that struck me about this, as I learn more of the intricacies of the game, is that there's a whole lot more to a simple 5-yard slant-and-hitch than just running a 5-yard slant and stopping. It also makes me realize just how difficult it is to play a zone defense, as you have to make split-second decisions about what to do when someone (or multiple someones) enters or leaves your zone.
Synopsis: Wooo Baby – Now we can all relax! With all the points we scored and all the points they scored, the stats are going to be pretty funky. After 9 games, Michigan is currently ranked #12 in scoring offense and #104 in scoring defense. Without the 20 points allowed in OT, the D would be ranked #97. The 5 TOs put the D in terrible field position and resulted in 17 possessions for Illinois. M allowed 2.6 points per possession in regulation which is actually the best we have done in Big10 play. So, yes, the D played better this week!
I use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. According to the FEI rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan's defense actually improved and is now ranked #109 (it was #112 last week).
Based on the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), Michigan is ranked #41 overall (7.8% better than the average FBS team) with a SoS ranking of #82. The offense is ranked #1 and the defense is ranked #109. Field Position Advantage is #84 while Field Goal Efficiency is #117.
M is predicted to win between 7.2 and 7.4 games (excluding bowl game but adjusted with +1 for M's one FCS opponent). Based on the FEI, M would have been expected to win 4.8 FBS games to date (we have won 5.0 FBS games to date).
FEI has the game as M 42 - Purdue 20 with a 89.7% predicted win expectation (Purdue has the #113 ranked O and #64 D). Using the Sagarin Predictor, Michigan is favored by 11.7 points. Vegas has M favored by 13.
This line chart differentiates between OOC and Big10 points per possession. Note that the defense PPP did not get worse even including the 6.7 PPP in OT. In the Big 10, M is averaging 2.9 points per possession (PPP) and 41 YPP. The defense is giving up 3.3 PPP and 38 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into a 4.8 point disadvantage for Michigan. (In OOC games, this was a 20 point advantage.)
For those who want yardage stats, here they are – split by OOC and Big10 games. The good news is that the yardage defense has been pretty consistent for the last 3 games. The bad news is that the defense is consistently horrible.
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. The average team will have an index of approximately 0.00. Teams below average have negative index values.
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 FBS-MW to get the final predicted wins for M this year. Or, if you use FBS-RMW, you need to add 1 to the current W-L record to get the final predicted wins for M this year. BTW, the difference between FBS-MW and FBS-RMW is the number of FBS games each team would have been expected to win to date.
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. Opponent 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.
What do the numbers say?
The Bradley-Terry method applied to college football.
A couple of notes regarding the calculations. I use the Bradley-Terry method for determining the ratings. This is an iterative, statistical rating that computes a hypothetical round-robin winning percentage if all teams played each other. Clearly, that's not the case in college football, and this method gives infinite results if teams are undefeated. This problem is 'solved' for the sake of comparison by adding a fictitious tie to each team's record.
- Game results are pulled from the NCAAFootball.com.
- Blogpoll results are pulled from SBNation.
- There are a lot of explanatory notes and links; I put those at the end of the post so people who don't care about them can skip them and get right to the results. There is also a link to all my results.
- For brevity, I only listed the top 20 here. For those who are interested, I also listed Michigan's position, FYI.
- I release this after all the major polls come out to avoid 'influencing' anybody's vote.
To the numbers...
|Through games of 2010.11.06|
Auburn is pulling away as the number one team. Oregon has finally caught up with everybody's ranking due to strength of schedule, and Boise St. has begun to fall for the same reason. The bonus for being undefeated this far into the season is starting to balance out with perceived strength of schedule, as LSU is nipping at the Broncos heels.
As a point of comparison, it lines up really well with the blogpoll. Two outliers: blogpollers really like Ohio State, and they really dislike Virginia Tech (see discussion of limitations, below).
There's a pretty significant drop-off from #5 LSU to #6 Stanford, and another notable drop-off from #10 Wisconsin to #11 Utah. I think this supports the notion that a 16-team tournament would be sufficient to include all the top teams. If you're in the muddle around 16, there really isn't all that much to complain about if you're left out.
The conference breakdown in the top 10 and top 16 (non-BCS conferences in parentheses):
|Conference||Top 10||Top 16|
The top 10 has roughly equal representation from the BCS conferences. Looking at the top 16, a bias toward the SEC begins to emerge, with 5 teams, including those in spots 14-16. Not surprisingly, the Big East is absent, and the ACC is, well, underrepresented. TCU, Boise St. and Utah are ranked above all comers from these conferences, including Virginia Tech, who lost to Boise St. and, as we all know, James Madison. The nagging question remains: how do you compare the relative strengths of conferences when they don't play each other?
The next few weeks should be interesting.
Discussion of limitations
That said, there's always a bit of resistance when I post this rating. It's one additional data point. It's not even my opinion, and it doesn't mean your team is better or worse than you think it is. It attempts to look objectively at how teams would fare, should they play every other team. There are some limitations, namely the infinite results, and incomparability, of undefeated teams. As with any statistical calculation, sample size is important; while there are only ~12 games per team, there are ~120 teams. One could argue the merits of using any sort of statistical calculation on said sample. Also, it should be pointed out that games against FCS teams are ignored. This is a double-edged sword: teams don't get credit for beating up on FCS teams, but Virginia Tech effectively gets a pass for losing to James Madison.
Brian pointed out another interesting anomaly (it's the double star at the very bottom) in last year's end-of-season college hockey KRACH. A similar effect can be seen in this rating, as discussed above. So, why does this happen? Like college football, there's little overlap between conferences, teams tend to get compartmentalised.
As with any tool, it's only as good as its user; we can't blindly take the results as fact. One possible solution is to take the top 30 teams at the end of the season and run a KRACH on only those teams. Although, for any hypothetical tournament, I would strongly support the inclusion of all conference champions.
What if I want to see the entire rating, and results for each week?
All the results are available, if you'd like to see the numbers yourself. As I said last year, John Whelan freely gave me the perl script in 1998 to calculate KRACH for ACHA club hockey teams, so I'm happy to share the script and input data if you don't want to write it yourself. And I am fallible. There's a lot of data to crunch, and I copied and pasted from the NCAA site; there may be errors. If you find one, please bring it to my attention and I'll make the fix posthaste.