Synopsis: This is fracking beyond insanity. Bend Don't Break My Ass! It's time for Kamikaze Defense!! I hate the 3 man rush because it is passive and football is not a passive sport. Bend don't break is also passive. I've just watched 2 NFL teams compensate for really bad secondaries by blitzing on just about every down. The DBs only have to cover for a few yards because they know it has to be a quick pass. It also puts lots of people in the box to stop the run. The only other hope is takeaways – lots, and lots, and lots of takeaways (each takeaway = one defensive stop!).
After 8 games, Michigan is currently ranked #19 in scoring offense and #89 in scoring defense. Only 1 FBS-AQ team in the last 5 years has had a defense ranked worse than #80 and a +5 WLM (UCLA in 2005: #5 Offense, #108 Defense, +8 WLM). Only 21% of FBS-AQ teams ranked #80 or worse in defense had winning records.
I use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. That said, being #89 in scoring defense is simply horrible and getting worse every week. Since these are cumulative stats, getting worse every week is quite a
fete feat. According to the FEI rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan's defense continues to plummet and is now ranked #112.
Based on the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), Michigan is predicted to win between 6.7 and 6.8 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 4.1 FBS games to date (we have won 4.0 FBS games to date).
FEI has the game at Illinois 30 - Michigan 28 with a Projected Win Expectation of 53.3% for the Illini. Using the Sagarin Predictor, Illinois is favored by 3.2 points. Vegas has M favored by 3 (really?). Unless M plays their best game of the year AND we get at least +2 TOM, this is going to be deja vu all over again. I have a very bad feeling about this game. Derek Dimke (ILL) is ranked #20 in FGs.
This line chart differentiates between OOC and Big10 points per possession. It shows what has happened since the start of conference play. In the Big 10, M is averaging only 2.7 points per possession (PPP) and 43 YPP. The defense is giving up 3.3 PPP and 43 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into a 7.2 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. Penn State 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.
(Author's note: sorry I'm late, work exploded on me yesterday).
Before we begin, no, I don't think Michigan versus Illinois belongs on the list. Both teams have functional offenses, and have a measurable level of success. Now that's out of the way, on to the festivities.
If I had a picture of a cupcake with teeth, I'd put it here. Cupcake-apalooza went less well than expected, but at least none of them lost. Auburn only punted once and gave up two TDs in the 4th quarter after the game was well in hand. Oregon had a game against USC until Oregon ended the scoring with 3 TDs and a field goal. Boise State double up on LaTech, and TCU dutifully stopped UNLV, holding the Rebels That Probably Have Little To Do With The Civil War to under 200 yards as a team. TCU also only punted once. Going 7-11 on third down, plus 2-2 on 4th makes things like that happen.
I'm probably in for some karmic schadenfreude somehow as Kansas plays Colorado in a "Someone Gets a Conference Win, And Someone Gets Fired" game. My wife is a Jayhawk, and on a clear day I can see Boulder. I'm still not convinced Colorado isn't playing intramurals. Kansas fans, such as they are, are already looking to dump Turner Gil after such performances as: losing to Iowa State 28-16, and losing to North Dakota State 6-3.
Tennessee versus Memphis is a "The Bad Playing the Really Bad" game as both still need a conference win. Tennessee has been competitive in the SEC, but is only 93rd in scoring. Memphis is 0-5 in C-USA, which should just about sum that up. They are 117th in points for, and 118th in points against, so they get "We're Bad, But We're Consistent" award.
The "It's MAC-tacular" game of the week is Akron versus Ball State. Akron is 0-7 on the season, and The Fightin' Lettermen have losses to Liberty and EMU on the season. I predict the final score to be 4-2, with all points scored on safeties from snaps over the punter's head.
Post Week Analysis can be found here: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/post-week-8-yardage-analysis-and-predictions-...
The analysis above for the Penn State game basically found that the only way UM was going to leave Happy Valley with a loss was for the offense to end up on the low end of the prediction and for PSU's offense to gain on the high end of UMs predicted defense. What happened was exactly that.
UMs offense low end was predicted 417 yards. UM gained 423 yards. PSU's offense gained 435 yards with a predicted high end of 438.
What is even more disturbing is that with the yards that PSU gained, they should have only scored around 28 points when you take their yards/point metric for their season average. PSU scored 41 points. This can only be attributed to PSU ridiculous starting field position. Once again, special teams woes have hurt the team. Blame could also be put on the defense for failure to get off the field. UM lost the time of possession by 15 minutes.
When looking at the PSU game and where UMs offensive and defensive efforts rank, we see much the same thing. PSU gained 29.13% more yards than their season average, which is good for 4th worst finish this season (46.28% vs. Indiana, 38.83% vs. UMass, 29.63% vs. MSU).
UMs offense gained 27.41% more yards than the PSU defense averages per game. Normally, you'd think that number was pretty good, except for the fact that, for the season, UMs offense is gaining almost 54% more yards than their opponents give up. That 27% mark is the offense's second lowest mark this season, only beaten out by 14.46% mark put up against MSU.
What's significantly dissappointing about the PSU game numbers? The disastrous showing by the offense and defense come after not only a two-week preperation window, but also after the offense's and defense's best games of the year against Iowa. It seemed there was progress being made on both sides, but the PSU game was a major let down.
Now, moving on to Week 10 of the college football season and UM showdown with Illinois.
Let's bring up the charts....
This game isn't looking too promising for Michigan. It looks like UM is going to need one of their better offensive days of the season AND one of their better defensive days of the season against Illinois. Perhaps if homefield advantage is worth 3 points, then we have a dead heat and only a bad defensive showing will spell doom for UM. That is, of course, given UMs offense gets back on track. It's going to be a tall task against the 15th ranked defense (yards/game) and 12th ranked scoring defense. The only bit of hope is that Iowa is the 12th ranked defense and 8th ranked scoring defense and UM had a good game on both sides of the field.
So, my prediction based on these statistics....
UM - 470 yards
Illinois - 460 yards
UM - 28
Illinois - 31
Normally, this would be the time frame in which I would create one of my all-killa-no-filla-and-nothing-remotely-resembling-an-opponent-highlight highlight reels, but I find myself with a little free time thanks to Saturday night's dong-punching (because when Michigan loses, There Are No Highlights).
Naturally, I used this time to revisit a three-week-old dong punch, the MSU game. This is the video companion to the Backside DE Pursuit Picture Page. But enough about my dong and punches thereto.
Wha'happon: It's early in the second quarter; MSU just scored on a 61-yard run that illustrates what can happen when you don't get any backside pursuit (which moment of defensive glory I'll be MPP'ing soon; I can only deal with one catastrophe at a time). Michigan runs Denard off left tackle with Hopkins as lead blocker. Schilling pulls around, but because his pull is disrupted by the MSU DT, he's not a factor. Lewan and Webb destroy the right side of the MSU DL, Molk takes out the WLB, and Hopkins gets a solid block on the SLB. Even without Schilling helping lead the charge, this looks like a huge play or even an answering 60-yard TD after Denard WOOP!s Greg Jones. HOWEVA, Dorrestein can't maintain his block on the DE, who hauls ass all the way across the formation and trips Denard up after seven yards.
I slowed the captions down considerably from my previous two efforts (for those of you doing videography at home, the rule of thumb is to leave a title up for THREE TIMES AS LONG as it takes you to read it aloud, but that seemed bloody ponderous when I tried it, so I cut all those times back somewhat). I'd say "Enjoy," but you're really not going to enjoy it. I'll just say "Watch and learn," because I sure as hell did.
[Ed: Bumped for interestingness. Here's where you're at.]
[UPDATE: The new poll was not functioning at the bottom of the page, please retake it]
Last night, I posted a poll to see what MGoBoard’s opinion is regarding the state of the program. Much has been said over these topics in the past few days, but there truly hasn’t been an accurate way to see how the board has reacted as a whole. The bickering has been not only annoying, but unhelpful in determining what people are really thinking. Unfortunately, I can’t post the results directly from the host (as I don’t want to shell out the $200 to be able to share the information other than copy and paste), but here are the results. This poll was flawed and there are more questions that can be asked after seeing this data, so a follow-up poll will be conducted at the end of the post.
Question #1 - Has Michigan's offense improved enough in the past three years?
- Yes – 82%
- No - 18%
This is pretty unsurprising, considering how the offense has come from being one of the worst in the country in 2008 to arguably being one of the best in 2010. There has been improvement from year to year, and with Michigan’s young talent at many offensive players, including Denard Robinson, this looks to continue.
Question #2 - What has been the single biggest reason Michigan's defense has struggled?
- Lack of talent – 30%
- Youth - 22%
- Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense - 18%
- Attrition – 18%
- Greg Robinson has coached poorly schematically – 12%
Admittedly, all of these reasons have probably been a contributing factor to how unsuccessful the defense has been this year. Nothing has really stood out as the main factor, but a combination of all of these has definitely crippled the defense. The two biggest factors, the lack of talent and youth, combine together with attrition to make the biggest reason for the failure of the defense to be the personnel for 70% of the respondents, while coaching was signaled out by 30% as the biggest reason.
Note: I am not questioning the effort of the players on defense; they have worked and played as hard as they can. They are great representatives for the University of Michigan in how they conduct themselves on the field. They may have struggled, but they haven’t quit.
Question #3 - Should Greg Robinson be retained as Michigan's defensive coordinator?
- No – 54%
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 37%
- Yes – 9%
Over half of MGoBoard wants Greg Robinson to be removed from the defensive coordinator position at the end of the season, and more than a third will reevaluate their position after the conclusion of the season. After the struggles on defense this season, there seems to be a consensus that someone should take the fall after the season.
Question #4 - What was Rich Rodriguez's most egregious off-the-field mistake?
- Nothing was particularly egregious – 25%
- Attrition – 22%
- The NCAA practice violations – 22%
- Poor choices on recruits who did not make admissions standards – 20%
- Other (leave in comments) - 7%
- Comments he's made in press conferences - 3%
- Not being a "Michigan Man" - 1%
Despite this being a poorly worded question (one commenter stated: “egregious may be a little strong” and I agree), the responses have been all across the board for this question as well as Question #2. I think that the top three have been mistakes on Rodriguez’s part, but I wouldn’t call anything that he’s done “egregious” per se. Some of the comments left in other that have been echoed in others:
There's not a whole lot that RR has done that many or all other coaches go through.
Remember the way he left West Virginia?
Not giving his DC enough freedom to install his own staff.
Hiring Scott Shafer
Forcing out Scott Schafer
Too much focus on offense, not enough on defense or special teams. Not enough recruiting there (or recruiting ones that can enroll), not enough coaching there. This is a team based on offense first, I see no whole team concept.
Neglecting to recruit defense enough until the late stages of the 2010 cycle. If we had gotten some of those freshman DBs in for spring practice, they would be further along than they are now.
He ruined the sanctity of Michigan Football.
the audacity of having a west virginia accent /s
Question #5 - Has Michigan shown enough improvement in Rodriguez's tenure?
- No – 70%
- Yes – 30%
Agreed, although I think this figure would change a lot when Michigan makes or fails to make a bowl game. In year three, I think the fanbase has reasonably expected the team to make a bowl game and have a winning record but it remains to be seen if that will happen or not.
Question #6 - Should Rich Rodriguez be retained after the season?
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 41%
- Yes – 37%
- No – 21%
Very interesting, despite all the anger and frustration voiced on the board after the Penn State game, only a fifth of MGoBoard wants a different coach for 2011. Personally, I think that it’s fair to wait until after the season to assess final judgment and that will be addressed in the follow-up poll.
There is something interesting of note though: the 257 people who indicated that they would like to see Rodriguez stay around for 2011 responded that Michigan has improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (62%), Michigan will beat Illinois (61%), and that the defense’s struggles are not his fault (2% selected “Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense” as the biggest reason).
On the other hand, however, the 147 respondents who do not want Rodriguez to be retained said that Michigan has not improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (only one said that they have), only 9% think that none of Rodriguez’s off the field mistakes were particularly egregious, and 47% think that his poor decisions in trying to influence the defense is the biggest reason why the defense has struggled.
Questions #7, 8, 9, and 10 – Will Michigan beat each of its final four opponents?
- Michigan will lose to Illinois – 65%
- Michigan will beat Purdue – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Wisconsin – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Ohio State – 85%
The board has been pretty clear; most of us see a 6-6 conclusion to the season, with 7-5 being possible and 5-7, 8-4, and 9-3 as being pretty improbable. This is pretty obvious; Illinois should be coming in as a favorite, Michigan should be heavily favored against Purdue, and Wisconsin and Ohio State look to be heavy favorites against Michigan.
Here’s the follow-up poll. [FIXED]
Dave Brandon is a smart guy. He played football for Bo, he was a successful fortune 500 CEO at Dominoes, and he was a UM Regent.
I would be willing to bet that he was on the advisory committee to help (tell) Bill Martin who to hire to replace Lloyd Carr.
Brandon is now CEO of UM athletics.
Football is his cash cow.
He MUST make football work. This means winning. It also means graduating his athletes and keeping them out of trouble.
Part of his football program is doing pretty well. The offense is one of the best in the country. But the defense is failing.
His department head in football is a good man. He is a young family man, he is intelligent, engaging, well spoken, and represents the university well. He is an excellent offensive coach and recruiter. His players really like him.
So how to fix football?
Brandon does NOT want to fire this department head.
Are there candidates as good as him out there & available? Not many.
What about negotiating with another university for their coach? How ugly is that?
How much would it cost to pay everyone off and start over?
Football would lose a year recruiting on top of what was lost the last time.
The university would look indecisive (Notre Dame?)
And the next guy: What baggage will he bring with him (a cheerleader in his closet)? And will he win?
No. Brandon will stay with his department head. He will sit down with him, talk about the big picture, and work with him to develop a plan to fix the defense. He will put together an advisory group of football guys to advise the department head on his plan. When the plan is completed, Brandon will help his department head execute the plan.
What is the plan? Basically, it involves getting the right personnel (defensive coordinator), giving that guy control / responsibility, and not interfering with him. Then holding him accountable.
We already tried that?
No, we did not. The department head did not use our brain trust / football family to identify and find the right man to run the defense. Then he did not give the D.C. freedom to hire his assistants, and the D.C. was told what scheme to run. This time it must be different: His personnel, his scheme.
This is what CEO Dave Brandon will do.
If the department head is smart, he will work with his CEO and everybody will look good. This might be difficult on the department head's ego, to admit that maybe his hires and his schemes did not work.
If he is a prima donna, he will not accept help and do it himself. If he does this, chances are he will make the same mistake again, and be fired in another year.
Brandon has other resources to bring to bear on the defensive problem, as long as his Department Head is willing to work with him and them.
My guess is that the Department Head is smart enough to work with the help offered by Dave Brandon to get the job done.