As you know, I diarize weekly on the subject of Denard Robinson's record-setting season. At the suggestion of Comrade Raoul, I thought I would add some research on some of the team offense records that this year's Wolverines are chasing, especially given that some of our fellow MGoProletarians are arguing that Michigan's offense is "inconsistent."
Did you know that Michigan is averaging 518.4 yards per game in total offense, higher than any other team in Big Ten history? (Second place belongs to Penn State's 1994 team, which averaged 512.7 yards per game.) This year's team is on pace to demolish the old Michigan total offense record of 466.9, set in 1992, when Gary Moeller roamed the sidelines, barking orders to Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and Tyrone Wheatley.
|Big Ten All-Time Leaders||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|2. Penn State||1994||512.7|
|4. Ohio State||1998||497.6|
|5. Michigan State||2005||497.3|
|8. Ohio State||1974||493.2|
|9. Ohio State||1996||490.4|
|10. Michigan State||1978||481.3|
|11. Ohio State||1995||478.6|
|Michigan All-Time Leaders (QB/WR/RB)||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|1. Robinson / Roundtree / Smith||2010||518.4|
|2. Grbac / Howard / Wheatley||1992||466.9|
|3. Navarre / Edwards / Perry||2003||446.7|
|4. Henson / Terrell / Thomas||2000||446.1|
|5. Grbac / Howard / Vaughn||1990||432.5|
Here are some other impressive stats:
- Michigan is averaging 7.4 yards per play, which is most all-time in Michigan history (the existing record is 6.4 yards, in 1992 and 1947).
- Michigan is averaging 35.1 points per game, good for 10th all-time in Michigan history, and the fourth-highest Michigan total in 63 years.
- Michigan is averaging 275.5 rushing yards per game, 6th all-time in Big Ten history and 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The Big Ten record is 349.9 in 1974 by Ohio State; the Michigan record is 345.3 in 1976.)
- Michigan is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, higher than any other Michigan team in history (the current record is 5.9 per carry in 1976).
- Michigan is averaging 246.1 passing yards per game, 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The record is 270.8 in 2003.)
- Michigan is averaging 23.1 first downs per game, second-highest in Michigan history. (The record is 23.9 in 2003.)
None of this is to excuse the performance on the defensive side of the ball -- but merely to remind people that our offense as a unit is one of the best Michigan has ever fielded.
As noted above, this year's team is averaging 35.1 points per game, one of Michigan's best in recent memory. But the Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" teams averaged 50.5, 58.5, 47.1, 56.7, and 38.1 points per game from 1901 to 1905. Fritz Crisler's 1947 national championship team of Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, nicknamed the "Mad Magicians," averaged 39.4.
Dynamic offenses have been few and far between in the postwar era. The 1976 Bo Schembechler team, led by Rick Leach and Rob Lytle, scored 36.0 points per game, and owns the rushing season record with 345.3 yards per game. The aforementioned 1992 team averaged 35.9 points; and the 2003 team averaged 35.4.
The difference between the Rodriguez offense and the previous two is that for Carr and Moeller, an all-time offense came around once or twice a decade, when there was a unique confluence of talent at every position. If Rodriguez is allowed to stay on, there is every reason to believe that this offense will get even better next year and the year after.
By all means, fix the defense, using whatever means necessary. But let's not send our offense back into the Dust Age. The Hegelian dialectic tells us that only Spread and Shred can lead us to a workers' paradise.
Omaha is my hometown, Michigan my school. Living in the heart of Big Red Country, if you want to be included in sports conversations you better be ready to talk about the Huskers. The ultimate villains in Nebraska are not Barry Switzer or Mack Brown, but Steve Peterson and Bill Callahan. Peterson fired Frank Solich and hired Callahan. Callahan was the first head coach that had no direct ties to the University either as a player or assistant coach since Bob Devaney. He was brought in to bring an offensive spark to an “outdated” system. In his first season, Nebraska had their first losing season since 1961 and ended their 35-year bowl streak.
When they were both fired following the 2007 season, people put mock gravestones in the backyards reading "RIP Bill Callahan and Steve Peterson".
Sound eerily familiar? So does the 30-35 years prior to the outside hires.
The coaching legends: Tom Osborne (25 years): 255-49-3 (.835) Bo Schembechler (21 seasons): 194-48-5 (.802)
The understudies (not including Gary Moeller): Frank Solich (6 seasons): 58-19 (.753) Lloyd Carr (13 seasons): 122-40 (.753)
Callahan and Rodriguez were both hired because of their offensive expertise. Both came in after the successful understudies of legends were fired or “retired”. Other than record, they would be judged by their teams’ offensive outputs. Here is a simplified analysis of their results by points per game (excluding 1-AA opponents):
Bill Callahan Rich Rodriguez
2004: 21.9 ppg 2008: 20.25 ppg
2005: 24.6 ppg 2009: 24.25 ppg
2006: 28.6 ppg 2010 (through PSU): 34.4 ppg
2007: 33.4 ppg 2011: ?
Both programs clearly improved offensively from year to year, delivering on their promise to improve offensively. However, for both the other side of the ball was a different story. Here are the points allowed per game (excluding 1AA opponents) for both programs:
Bill Callahan Rich Rodriguez
2004: 28.1 ppg 2008: 28.9 ppg
2005: 22.3 ppg 2009: 29.45 ppg
2006: 19.2 ppg 2010 (through PSU): 29 ppg
2007: 37.9 ppg 2011: ?
The interesting divergence is that through the first three years of Callahan’s regime the defense improved from year to year. Then in 2007, the wheels came off when in a crazy Big 12 North loaded with teams who had similar team structures to the 2010 version of Michigan, they lost to Missouri 41-6, Kansas 76(!)-39, and Colorado 65-51.
Thus far in Rich Rodriguez’s tenure, the most points allowed in a game has been 46 to Penn State in 2008. Instead, his defenses have been more consistently pathetic by giving up at least 30 points in 16 of 20 Big 10 games.
One note of optimism is that it seems once the Nebraska defense was entirely rid of Solich’s players, the defense took a complete nosedive. While in Ann Arbor, the defense has been on a steady decline since the great 2006 defense. Perhaps Michigan’s defense could turn around as Rodriguez’s defensive talent from the 2009 and 2010 classes mature and take greater control of the defense…or perhaps not.
Finally, a look at their records:
Bill Callahan Rich Rodriguez
2004: 5-6 (3-5 Big 12) 2008: 3-9 (2-6 Big 10)
2005: 8-4 (4-4 Big 12) 2009: 5-7 (1-7 Big 10)
2006: 9-5 (6-3 Big 12) 2010 (through PSU): 5-3 (1-3 Big 10)
2007: 5-7 (2-6 Big 12) 2011: ?
(2007 record worst in Nebraska history)
After four years of underachievement, frustration, and an entire state deep in depression, new AD Tom Osborne (people claim Nebraskans didn’t vote him in as governor because the AD job was more important) fired Bill Callahan and his defensive staff led by Kevin Cosgrove.
Instead of starting from scratch, Osborne kept OC Shawn Watson and hired defensive guru Bo Pelini as head coach. In year one, the Huskers went 9-4 while still giving up 30.33 ppg. In year two, they went 10-4 and had a Rodriguez-like leap on defense giving up only 10.5 ppg, all with Callahan’s recruits (Larry Asante, Prince Amukamara, Jared Crick, Phillip Dillard, Zach Potter, and of course, Ndominatin Suh). Interestingly enough, Pelini was Solich’s DC during his last year at Nebraska and took over as interim head coach for the bowl game (they beat Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl 17-3). It would be pretty weird if Michigan managed to keep the offensive staff and hire Ron English as head coach. Of course, that is probably about as stupid as it is unlikely.
Now, if I’m going to point out their similarities, I should also go into their differences. This begins with their coaching resumes prior to their respective jobs. Bill Callahan spent 15 years as an offensive assistant in the college ranks (primarily coaching OL) at most notably Illinois and Wisconsin before moving on to the NFL. He spent a few years as the OL coach for the Eagles until he was hired as Jon Gruden’s OC in Oakland. As many remember, he took over for Gruden when he left for the Bucs and ended up losing to his old boss in the Super Bowl. The following season, the Raiders finished 4-12 and many of the veterans (like say, Tim Brown and Charles Woodson) publically criticized him, some even saying he was purposely sabotaging the team. Those two years in Oakland represent his entire head coaching experience prior to Nebraska. Meanwhile, Rich Rodriguez had 15 years of successful head coaching experience at different levels of college football prior to his arrival in Ann Arbor.
Another difference has been their success in big games against big opponents. Against ranked opponents Callahan had a 4-10 record, never beating a team ranked better than #20. And while Rich Rod’s record against ranked opponents is a paltry 2-8, all but one was ranked higher than #20, and four of those teams were ranked in the top 10. Furthermore, Rich Rod has a victory against a top ten team (#8 Wisconsin in 2008). It may seem like splitting hairs or grasping at straws (probably because it is), but all of Callahan’s top 25 victories came against weak Big 12 North opponents who soon vacated the national rankings.
Perhaps more than the losing, the way in which he ran the program was a key reason Callahan was let go. He understandably wanted to do things his way, but that involved largely ignoring in-state recruits who would give both their legs and a testicle to play for Nebraska. He also killed one of the most successful walk-on programs in the nation, thus leaving the program without the blue-collared identity that it and the state has had from the beginning. Players like Seth Olson (Iowa, 3rd round pick of the Broncos), Adam Shada (Iowa), Jeff Tarpinian (Iowa), and Paul Homer (Washington) left to go elsewhere when all they needed was an offer. He ran a loose ship like he was still coaching in the NFL and it showed; the teams were undisciplined (particularly on defense) and didn’t have much fight to them. Rodriguez, on the other hand, made an effort to learn Michigan’s traditions and incorporate them in with his own. Instead of turning a blind eye to former players like Callahan did at Nebraska, he welcomes them to the facilities.
What does this all mean? Hell if I know. There are some alarming similarities in the way in which the two situations have played out to date, but some important differences. I have been telling myself for the better part of three years that the differences matter more than the similarities and that everything will work out. Let’s just hope that sentiment is right. Go Blue!
I hadn't seen this discussed anywhere on the boards, but I was drunk for 48 hours after the PSU game (because of the PSU game) so I may have missed it.
I've been thinking about this for a little while now, and my gut tells me that after Kevin Koger's TD catch (and the subsequent facemask penalty on PSU), we should have gone for the onside kick.
Hypothesis: A normal kickoff will result in the opponent starting, on average, about the 25 yard line. Because we got to kick from the 45 rather than the 30, Penn State's expected starting field position from a normal kickoff (touchback) would be only about 5 yards worse. However, an onside kick from the 45 would probably result in PSU's ball at about the 50. Or we get it back, and the chances of us getting it back are actually greater than the increase Penn State gets from 25 free yards.
In order to test my theory, I'm willing to do some math. I'm going to be using the expected points charts found at Advanced NFL stats. I'll be assuming that we'll always force a touchback if we kick off and that whether we're successful or unsuccessful when we onside kick, the ball will be placed at the PSU 45. My goal is to find how often an onside kick needs to be successful to be better than kicking off.
First thing's first: 1st and 10 from the PSU 20 is worth approximately -.5 points to us. It's obviously worth more to any offense facing our defense and thus the negative number would actually be bigger, but for the sake of the argument I'm going to be as conservative as possible.
1st and 10 from the PSU 45 is worth about -1.7 points when PSU recovers. If M gets the ball it's worth 2.2. So we can represent the equilibrium (i.e. the point where kicking away and onside kicking are equal in value) like so: -.5 =2.2y - 1.7(1-y), where y is the likelihood that the onside kick succeeds.
Solve for y to get: .307 so we'd only have to be successful a little over 30% of the time with these parameters to make kicking an onside kick correct. Given that surprise onside kicks are successful 60% of the time in the NFL, it seems like a pretty large mistake not to onside kick in that situation.
In fact, it's pretty easy to imagine a scenario where a team has a very good offense and a very bad defense (just try to imagine such a thing) where we'd only need to be successful 25% of the time or less. For example, if receiving the ball at their 20 is worth a full point for PSU and recovering an onside kick is worth 2.5 for them and 3.5 for us*, the equation would look like: -1=3.5y-2.5(1-y). Then we'd only need to be successful 25% of the time to make going for the onside kick correct.
Add to all this the fact that in this particular game we were down by multiple scores and would have wanted to increase variance, onside kicking in that spot is an absolute no brainer.
*Numbers pulled from my ass
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