Right before the UConn game, I made some incendiary remarks about this coaching staff’s ability to coach. Clearly, my emotional state contributed to much hyperbole.
Now, with the standard disclaimers in place (the Big 10 season hasn’t begun, we started 4-0 last year, etc.), I offer an interesting development on Rich Rodriguez’s coaching ability.
In three years, RR has transformed an ungainly, Benny Hill offense into one of the best in the country. Some perspective on this is useful. He inherited offensive personnel as mismatched to his system as…well…words fail me:
The Borens, Malletts, Threets and Arringtons fled at the prospect of playground, Chinese fire drill ball that required a level of fitness beyond their experience and surely would destroy NFL aspirations like Taylor Lewan destroys donkeys. Three years later, it is safe to say that there is not a defense in the land that wouldn’t be gibbering in fear at the thought of playing Michigan this coming Saturday. Project yourself into the film room in Bloomington and imagine the discussion they are having.
Given his exploits at WVU, all of us wondered what RR would do with a higher level of talent. I think we are getting a sense of that. Yet, would anyone have said, after Tressel pulled in this class…
…and after Threetsheridammit debuted that RR would have passed Tressel two years later?
I touched upon the tantalizing potential of RR finding diamonds in the rough like Denard, Omameh and Odoms in my McBean series (to be continued in the off-season), and it appears that, both as a unit and player by player, Michigan has a superior offense to Ohio State. (For comparison, I am using Rivals Ratings [RR] for a finer comparison.)
Is the blossoming of the Michigan personnel heredity or environment? If the former, RR knows talent. If the latter, RR makes talent. If a combo, even better.
Some might say that more than one offensive line position would be up for debate. However, living in Ohio as I do, I had the pleasure of listening to some Buckeye postmortem radio show about three hours ago, and several callers complained that Ohio State's offensive line could not get a push against Eastern Michigan. Complaining about underperformance of offensive lines is an October ritual in Columbus. As a unit and especially considering backups, I wouldn't even look twice at Ohio State's offensive line, pedigree or no.
Quarterback? In my opinion only, I think Pryor is a very good quarterback with enormous potential to implode. Their backs? Eh. Their receivers; yes, a couple are very nice, but how can one be discontented with Roy and Clark Kent and the Billy goat?
What's the point of all this? Besides being stunned at how deep RR's reclamation project runs on the offensive side of the ball, it has not translated to the defensive side of the ball, which is why OSU would be a double digit favorite if we played THE game tomorrow. Our purpose is not the rehash the trail of tears that has been the defense, but to ask a more pointed question (and I ask sharik directly):
- How is it possible for a coach with such a sophisticated understanding of offensive schemes to not have an equally sophisticated understanding of the defenses most effective at stopping those schemes? In other words, can he do for our defense what he has already done for our offense, or is he a half of a coach?
With some talk about how the conferences compare, and the recent article disparaging the Big Ten, I thought it would be helpful to have a look at how the Big Ten is faring against the other "Big Six" conferences (and Notre Dame). I have the chart broken down into the Big Ten vs. each other conference, and included the scores for each game. Obviously I included the total record versus the conference and the total conference record versus BCS level competition. I have also included the Sagarin Rankings for each team in each matchup (Big Ten teams are listed first, regardless of outcome). Note that these rankings are updated weekly, and will be reflected as such in the charts.
|Big Ten records vs. BCS Conferences|
|vs SEC||Win||Loss||Sagarin Rankings|
|NW 23 Vanderbilt 21||x||35 vs 59|
|PSU 3 Alabama 24||x||22 vs 1|
|OSU 36 Miami 24||x||6 vs 11|
|Iowa 35 Iowa St 7||x||27 vs 65|
|Illinois 13 Missouri 23||x||61 vs 30|
|Michigan 30 Uconn 10||x||26 vs 69|
|Wisconsin 20 ASU 19||x||31 vs 45|
|Minnesota 21 USC 32||x||102 vs 10|
|Iowa 27 Arizona 34||x||27 vs 12|
|Michigan 28 ND 24||x||26 vs 64|
|MSU 34 ND 31||x||41 vs 64|
|Purdue 12 ND 23||x||96 vs 64|
I included the Sagarin Rankings if only to give an idea of whether the Big Ten was supposed to win, compete, or lose each game. I feel that this is important for perspective, especially in the small sample sizes. I understand that the sample size is STILL small, so this should be taken with a grain of salt (a big loss to a team could be a contributor to the disparity in rankings with so few games played, instead of solely the other way around).
It seems that the Big Ten is very competitive with all the other conferences. The losses the Big Ten incurred are somewhat understandable to this point. We may revisit this chart later in the year to see how these wins and losses hold up throughout the year. Thoughts?
Note: I thought this might be diary worthy since it has a chart and might be of interest to people for more than a couple hours, and yea this is my first one. If it needs to be bumped down, do it to it. I know there are a lot of amazing diaries on here that I don't like to push back a page.
We've all seen our offense's ridiculous red zone numbers (for a quick refresher, Michigan is 18/19 in the red zone with 17 touchdowns) and I wanted to see how that stacks up against the rest of the NCAA. I started here:
According to that, Michigan is 11th in red zone efficiency. But for anybody who knows football, we know that simply scoring when in the red zone is not the ultimate goal. If team A got 20 red zone chances and kicked 20 field goals while team B got 20 red zone chances and scored 15 touchdowns, I think we all realize that we'd rather be team B. Yet according to the above link, team A did better.
Those of you who pay attention to basketball eFG% know where I'm going with this, and I believe Brian has also touched on something along these lines. [Ed: Aye.]
Here's how things play out if you weight red zone scores (7 for a TD and 3 for a FG). Weighted Efficiency is (7*TD + 3*FG)/(7*RZ):
|Rank||Name||Gm||Red Zone||Scores||FG||TD||Weighted Efficiency|
Shown are the top 20 teams along with the Big Ten (including Nebraska) and Notre Dame. I find this pretty interesting because not only can we hit the home run w/ Denard breaking a long run or hitting a receiver deep, but we're also extremely efficient when we get near the goal line.
Disclaimer: I have to admit to a bit of subjective criteria -- if you weight a TD as six points rather than seven, Michigan comes in second behind East Carolina.
I just went to a talk by David Pahl, ESPN's general counsel and VP (and a Michigan Law alum!), and thought I'd share a few of the highlights.
The most interesting stuff to me was about online video. They're working with YouTube and Justin.tv to take down highlights and broadcasts, which from a consumer's perspective kind of sucks - I'm not always in front of a TV, but I want to be able to catch the game. They really want to get more material online, though - they're working on setting up a website to do a live simulcast of everything that's on ESPN. Sometime this fall, Time Warner customers - no deal with Comcast yet, what a shock - will be able to go to espnlivebroadcast.com (or something like that) and watch whatever's on at the time.
They're also trying to get more material on ESPN3, but the problem is that with a lot of their contracts it's not entirely clear whether they're allowed to broadcast stuff online. Older contracts didn't even mention web stuff, and newer ones are inconsistent. Their NFL contract, for example, says that they can put stuff online only if it's simulcast with what's on TV. Their contract for Olympics broadcasting, on the other hand, explicitly says that they aren't allowed to put video online - so when you're watching ESPN online in 2012, you'll just get a black screen when they're showing Olympic highlights. Fun.
One other thing that people kept coming back to was the Erin Andrews videotape. Apparently this guy was the one who acknowledged that it was actually her in the tape. He admitted that wasn't his brightest move. ESPN provided all of her legal counsel during that time because they were petrified that it was an ESPN employee who had made the tape. It seems Erin doesn't really understand how the internet works - she kept insisting that they take down every copy of it everywhere. But once it's out there, it's too late - it'll never die.
What else... there was some interesting talk about gambling. ESPN has to walk a fine line, trying to phrase things as "predictions" rather than "the spread" or "the over/under." Somebody brought up a pick-em feature on their website, and David's response was a gentle "shhhhhhhhh." They're especially in a tight spot since they're owned by Disney, who probably doesn't want to be associated with gambling.
He mentioned that there was some real soul-searching at ESPN about whether to air LeBron and "the Decision" because they didn't want to establish a precedent, but in the end it came down to money (surprise!). It wound up getting great ratings, unfortunately, and ESPN's president said he'd probably do it again.
Oh, and apparently Chris Berman isn't nearly as annoying in person as he is on TV. FYI.
I added Special Teams (Punting & Kickoffs).
Synopsis for Turnovers: So, we finally had a game where turnovers had no impact at all (most blowouts are going to be that way). The TOM ended at –0- even though it took another interception followed immediately by a fumble to do that. Is this some kind of a record – do they even keep track of interceptions followed by a fumble?
For the BGSU game, M had more fumbles than average (2.0 versus 1.63) and more lost fumbles than average (2.0 versus 0.80). With no interceptions again this week, M continues to do fantastic in this category. No forced fumbles persists with M now being at just 29% of the average for forcing fumbles. But, the secondary is smokin with 2 more interceptions (if we can just quit fumbling after the int!).
Overall, M is about average for TOs gained but doing great with TOs lost for a current TOM of 4.0 (which is what is was after the first 2 games). This is definitely surprising considering the relative strength of the last 2 opponents. The better team should usually force more TOs. That said, historically, TOs tend to come in bunches rather than a consistent number from game to game. (BTW, TOM was 1.0 after 4 games last year.)
Synopsis for Special Teams: Fugly, fugly, fugly. Field Goals are 1-5, net punting is 31.6 yards/punt (#105), punt returns are 5.4 yards/return (#96), average starting position for the opposition after our kickoff is the 29 yard line, and we average 18.1 yards per KO return (#107). Details for each game are below.
Summary by Game:
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).
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.
I was about to post about how upset I am over penalties, and how this is going to ruin our season and coaches need to get players to do a better job. I was going to post that Rich Rod is not getting the right players and all kinds of other nasty things.
But it turns out UofM is 87th in the nation with 19 for 186 yards through 4 games tied with ND, BYU, ILL and others
It does seem they have come at bad times and ruined drives but not as bad as I thought
And a few might have come during garbage time and on special teams and should probably not be the basis for a crazy rant
However, Indiana is pretty disciplined. They have only committed 11 penalties for a total of 110 yards. I know it may seem like I am looking for something to worry about... but this worry seems as important as the D or the special teams
I believe the only thing that can stop Denard is a false start.
FWIW MSU is 3rd in the nation at 37. So our stereotypes are still somewhat intact
PSU is the best team penalty wise in an automatically qualifying league (they have only committed 11 for 70 yards)