Given Iowa's defense, in terms of straight point production it was a pretty strong day for Michigan. The offense scored 3 TDs and based on starting field position they should have scored 23 points on the game. Warren's pick 6 does not count on either side.
What is not reflected in that number is all of the bad field position they gave the defense. An average team given Iowa's field position would have averaged 37 points given where Iowa started on the day. That's a +7 for the defense to go with a pick 6.
The bottom line is when you are -4 in turnovers, you are going to lose the expected points game and Michigan gave itself a huge hurdle to overcome on Saturday. Michigan was a -14 for the day on field position and even if you add back in the TD on the return, they still had a full touchdown disadvantage. The 14 point gap was the 4th largest in any game this week.
In my abbreviated preview this matchup was listed as a 3 point disadvantage for Michigan, but it was a huge win. Michigan was +8 in the running game even before you adjust to the quality of Iowa's defense. The best any rush offense had done YTD against Iowa was +1.
Most of the value came from Minor (+4) and Robinson (+3 on the ground), however Shaw's (+1) limited carries netted out positive, as well.
Coming in, this was not going to be Michigan's strong suit and it turned out just so. I noted it as a -7 coming in and the final tally was -6. The performance was a flat 0 apart from the two picks, each costing about 3 points. Overall, Tate was only a -1 but that was bolstered by Iowa's strong defense, unadjusted we was -5. Denard was a +4 including his rushing, but only +1 as a passer.
Michigan's run defense did slightly better than expected, going +1 on the ground vs a predicted even matchup.
This one started hot and as a game in total was good, with several plays being glaring exceptions. This was predicted to be a 4 point advantage for M going in and the early TD started things well in front. The unit even posted an unadjusted +9 for the day. However, Mr. Tony Moeaki's big day was good for +9 himself, best in the Big 10 this week. Take away his catches and it was a huge day for the pass defense.
The Matthews fumble was a 4 point swing (would have had 2 points on average starting where he dropped and Iowa started 2 points better FP than where they would have gotten had Michigan gone 3 and out). Other than that, Michigan special teams were rather nondescript apart from another outstanding day from Zoltan.
Very difficult game to measure. Taking out the fumbles and adjusting for the quality of Iowa, Michigan garnered a +6 for the game. However, taking out the fumbles is great for overall evaluation, but they still happen in the course of the game and were very much the swing of the game.
It was definitely a game of pros and cons. A lot of good things happening but still some major red flags. If the fumbles prove out to be random and not an issue going forward, this performance solidifies them in my projections as 8-4 on the season. Picking up 1 of the 3 big ones and winning out the rest. If the fumble disparity continues, 8-4 will continue to be a stretch.
So in the last installment of this series of statistics, I gave you some indications on how the defense is performing on 3rd down. In this one, I look more at how Michigan approaches 1st down and the results thereof. I currently plan on having one of these for 2nd down as well, but we'll see how it goes. Same stipulations as last time:
This is from ESPN box scores so they may not match up perfectly with UFR (as I found at least one error in the last installment). Yards-to-go might vary slightly.
- Most of this was done typing through quickly without double checking every little detail. I wouldn't be surprised if I was missing one play. I'm also not worried if I did.
- This is only 6 games, so there are only so many snaps available in some situations. So if we're 1/1 on 1st&50 (which we're not), it could make some statistics look unlike you'd expect.
- My box scores don't distinguish passing plays that go to scrambles.
- My definition of successful on 1st or 2nd down is gaining half the yards needed for a new 1st down. So on 1st&10, 5 yards would be considered successful. If it's 1st&20, it would take 10 yards to be successful. This way I can use a common formula for every play, as 3-5 yards isn't enough when it's 2nd&20 type scenarios. It does make it kind of strange to classify runs of 4 yards on 1st&10 as unsuccessful when they probably should be considered successful. So keep that in mind as well. With that said, we'll start with 1st down. Michigan has taken a snap on 1st down a total of 175 times (excluding kneel plays). On those plays, we've had 158 that are 1st&10, the others either being 1st&goal, or 1&5/1&15/1st&20 after a penalty.
- Again, I'm trying not to draw too many conclusions, but rather just provide information. Do with it as you wish.
- On 1st&10, Michigan has run the ball 109 times while passing the ball 46 times (plus 3 sacks, kept separate because they are pass plays that go for rushing yardage). That's about 69% rushing plays on 1st&10, again, taking into account scrambles weight that number a little bit higher than what it really is. On those 1st&10 plays, here is a break down of what I consider successful plays by rush/pass:
S-Rush are successful runs (gains at least 5 yards in this case), U-Rush are "unsuccessful runs" (gains less than 5 yards), S-Pass are passes for at least 5 yards, and U-Pass are either incomplete or complete for less than 5 yards.
As far as the passing, Michigan has a very high completion rate on 1st&10. Only 18 of the U-Passes are incomplete, which says something both about our passers' and the easy throws they tend to be making. If you excise those 18 incompletions, that leaves you with only 5 passes that are brought down for less than 5 yards, which is a pretty good number in my e-pinion. Our average pass play on 1st&10 is going for just over 5 yards, while the average completion is going for about 8.
The running game needs a little bit more explaining. Since this is based on 5 yards to be successful, the ratio of successful to unsuccessful is somewhat skewed toward unsuccessful. Seven of those 52 runs still went for 4 yards, and another 6 runs went for 3 yards.
I would argue that those would be generally accepted to be still pretty successful. If that's the case, you're looking at a ratio closer to 70 successful runs to 39 unsuccessful runs. If that's not enough for you, to support the success we're having on the ground on 1st&10, I'll point to the ~5.7 yards per carry we're averaging. That's pretty good.
In 1st and less than 10, 8 of which of the 1st&GL situations, Michigan has 10 1st down attempts. Of those attempts, we've run the ball 9 times, the lone passing attempt being a non-1st&GL attempt after a Notre Dame offsides penalty.
Of the runs, only 3 were considered successful, which can be explained by being in the redzone where defenses tend to clamp down on the run. That said, we also only averaged 1.1 yards per carry in this situation. A look:
|EMU||1||5||-4||Not in redzone|
Take that for what you will.
On 1st and longer than 10, we don't have too many examples to choose from, but we did have one wildly successful play come from it. Chart:
That touchdown gets the edge over the interception as the INT only lead to 3 points, IIRC. Passing obviously hasn't gone well here. Teams obviously are gearing up for the pass when we're in these long situations, and it shows as we can hardly get off screen passes.
*Edit* sorry for the edit, but i had to rush off to practice, i meant to say one more thing... If you have a problem with me, feel free to drive south, till you hear someone screaming, but you better ask somebody first, and bring your friends.. (joking of course, i would never advocate violence)
Over the past year i have been posting less and less mainly for a couple of reasons
2. Old dogs/new tricks.... Most people dont seem to be interested in being positive if they are by nature negative, and vice versa.. As i expressed last year (http://gsimmons85.blogspot.com/2008/11/unbelieveable-fandom-in-new-world-order.html ) it was becoming LESS enjoyable for me to watch michigan last year becasue of trying to temper the negativity around here.. Although its fun when we win, i have a hard time being around people that dont enjoy the process as much as the result. If you are like that, that is fine, its my choice to move away from it.. I actually feel bad for people that have so much passion about things that they know so little about. I admire the fact that many of you love football, in particular michigan football as much as you do. I just wish people could learn to enjoy being a fan, and not try to comment on things they dont have a clue about. but to each his own i suppose. Im sure some of you regret not being invovled in football growing up, or now, like i do about not trying to play at Air force, i know it must be hard to not be able to effect the outcome like you wish you could. Coaching is fun, football is fun, playing is fun, and being a fan is fun.. fortunatley for me, i get to see it from all the sides. As a coach i get to be crazy psycho, so that allows me to be calmer as a fan, i suppose.
3. Lack of need.... The whole purpose i had around here was to offer a different perspective. THere are others around here now that can offer that same perspective, i might not always agree with those people, i think that just shows that there are many ways to skin a cat. Without knowing the call sheets, the techniques being implemented, and the terminolgy, its impossible to know exactly what is going on, but there are others around here now that offer as much insight as i could.
Not that i will be missed, but being narcissistic like i am, i felt like telling people that i wont be posting around these parts anymore. I think this past weekend really made me realize how bad people are at second guessing. Maybe when football is no longer my career i will be able to look at being a fan differently but right now, i am struggling with taking my view point and consolidating it with this blog. I choose to believe that people that know more about something than I do, will make the right descions.. My inclenation when i see s descion that i dont understand is to assume that someone knows something i dont. If I (with 20 years of experience, and a list of who's who among coaching circles knowing who i am) can not arm chair Qb, why cant others? Is something that i wont understand, and thats ok. this just isnt the place for people like me.... Just like i assume that pilots know more about flying then i do, michigan coaches know more about michigan football than i do..
I cant be around people that question coaches on every matter and who's first thoughts are "what is he doing?" It is like someone disrespecting my profession every day. Are there bad coaches? yeah im sure there are, do coaches make mistakes? yeah sure they do. But in both of those questions nobody on this blog is qualified to answer, no matter how much football you watch...
Morn me not, for i am not dead, just not going to post anymore...
unless i do..
There's been plenty said on just how bad the third down defense has been, and I thought I'd chronicle that for you. For starters, our NCAA rank is currently #66 out of 120 FBS teams when it comes to overall defensive 3rd down conversion percentage (how often the opposing offense succeeds). We are listed at 38.78% with 38 conversions in 98 attempts.
From going over box scores, I found only 97, so note that discrepancy now. I'm not worried about one missing right now. Also worth noting, I used ESPN's box scores, not Brian's UFRs. So that may cause discrepancy if you go back and check plays there.
I'm not going to offer much more than interesting stats in this. I'll let you guys draw your own conclusions and leave them in the comments. Any thoughts or explanations are welcome.
So let's take a look at the different third down plays the defense has gone up against by yardage:
|Yards To Go||Conversions||Attempts||Percentage|
There's obviously a couple outliers out there. The 3rd and 18/24 plays against MSU and Iowa respectively definitely throw a wrench in the numbers. The number that is the most disturbing, though, has to the 3rd and 6 metric. Let's take a slightly closer look at that:
|WMU||3||6||pass||23||Fly play where a blanketing Warren dives and WR comes up with it|
|EMU||3||6||rush||13||Brown misreads zone read with running qb|
|EMU||3||6||pass||12||Umbrella coverage, missed tackle|
|EMU||3||6||rush||-4||2nd team scrubs were in|
|Indiana||3||6||rush||0||Rollout pass turned scramble for no gain.|
|Indiana||3||6||pass||18||3-man rush, as hit, throws skinny post against Mouton for 15 yards|
|MSU||3||6||pass||0||Stevie Brown Interception |
|MSU||3||6||pass||9||Crossing under routes confuses our LBs|
|MSU||3||6||pass||15||Woolfolk stares down QB in man coverage instead of WR. Misses route. Misses tackle to allow 1st|
|MSU||3||6||pass||0||Blitz house, man open but thrown wide|
|IOWA||3||6||pass||10||Curl short of the two guys we have deep on that side. Warren backed off presnap.|
|IOWA||3||6||pass||33||Pumpfake by Stanzi to a laid out Stross on a fly-ish route.|
Other than that pick and the four yard TFL against EMU by the scrubs, that's horrid. It doesn't seem to be laid squarely on blitzing too many, umbrella coverage, or anything in particular.
When you throw in those really long conversions, it looks pretty ugly. So what do you have to compare these numbers to? I've got two things. Brian did some extensive DIY Third Down Efficiency studies during the first few years of his blog, something he hopes to return to in the future, IIRC. There you can see that the normal conversion rate on a 3rd and 1 is ~68% (2007 statistics I believe). Michigan is outdoing that by about 7% on defense.
As you move down that trend line, however, you can see Michigan starts to approximate that line really quickly, then the extremely long conversions start to skew the results.
Also, we can look at how Michigan has done against opposing defenses.
|Yards To Go||Conversions||Attempts||Percentages|
As you can see, Michigan is doing much more poorly on offense when it comes to converting on third down. That said, we're also much better on converting on short yardage. When we get within 4 yards, we've got a very high percentage chance of converting.
Going back to the D for a minute, one of the other problems I'm noticing is how much worse we are on 1st and 2nd down. I'm not sure of too many metrics to gauge this, so I thought about a way to get a decent metric on this. While the standard 3 yards per play average will be fairly successful, it's probably not the best way to describe how successful you are. I decided to go with an arbitrary metric of half the distance needed instead. So, for example, if it's 1st and 10, 5 yards would be considered a successful pick up. So on a 2nd and 5, a 2.5 yard pick up would leave you with 3rd and 2 or 3. I would argue if you're able to do this, you'd probably be slightly more successful than just averaging three yards per snap.
I'll admit this metric is just my opinion, and I welcome ideas for a better way to measure success on 1st and 2nd down.
So with my metric in mind, here's the type of stats I'm seeing.
While Michigan does a decent job of stopping a team on 1st down, about 40.9%, second downs, Michigan is quite a bit worse on second down, around 53.8%. This is understandable as you generally need less yardage on 2nd down while still getting about the same number of yards. To explain, Michigan averages a 1st and 10.38 and gives up an average of 5.807 yards. Meanwhile, one second down, they average 2nd and 8.41 and give up an average of 5.629. The opposing team gains between 5-6 yards per play [ed. -cringe] on both first and second downs, while in my metric, they should need less.
I guess, if anything is good news, on third down, we face an average of 3rd and 6.56 and hold an average of 5.18 yards per play, over half a yard less per play than 1st or 2nd down.
I'll probably be playing with these stats a bit more in the next few days. Unfortunately, most of my stats don't involve personnel, so that complicates things.
Yesterday was my first time in Iowa City, and now that I have been to 6 of the 11 Big Ten stadiums (and also Notre Dame) for Michigan games, I thought I would throw out my thoughts from the experience, including some comparisons and game observations.
Note: My rankings below are based purely on my opinion and obviously influenced by what my experiences were at each individual campus. Also, in some instances it was very hard to separate 2 or 3 schools. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't want this post to piss anyone off.
University of Iowa Campus:
I don't know about you guys, but I love college campuses. Every time I get a chance to visit a school, I make a point to get a feel for the campus. I am obviously biased, but the University of Michigan has the best campus I have ever been to (which is a lot more than the the seven mentioned above). Ann Arbor is the perfect size college town, and the campus itself seamlessly blends right into it. My view on Iowa's campus is that it was very nice, but mostly unspectacular. The town of Iowa City really is in the middle of nowhere, with Cedar Rapids being the biggest thing nearby. And all of the stereotypical jokes about corn, tractors, etc that are associated with Iowa are partially true from what I saw. The campus itself was pretty nice with a lot of the brick and stone buildings that I like and a riverside location. Their Union has nothing on Michigan's but thats the case almost everywhere. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I been: Michigan, Wisconsin, ND, Iowa, OSU, Northwestern, MSU.
Pre-game Atmosphere / Tailgating Scene
I've got to be pretty honest here and say that considering it was a night game with Iowa being ranked so high, I was a little disappointed with this part of the Iowa experience. Sure there were a ton of people, with a large number of parking areas that were completely packed, but other than that I felt it was business as usual. Maybe I was expecting too much, but to me it seemed like it easily could have been just an average day game from what I observed. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: Wisconsin, OSU, MSU, Iowa, Michigan, ND, Northwestern.
Kinnick Stadium has a reputation for being one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten, and again I have to say that I was a little disappointed considering where my expectations were. The "blackout" was excellent. The student section was there early, and they were loud. And the stadium itself is aesthetically very nice, if not for it being fairly small. Don't get me wrong, the place got LOUD at times, especially early. But as the game wore on, the crowd really only got up at obviously important moments. I am sure the freezing temperatures and other things played a role in this. But overall, OSU and even Wisconsin seemed to more consistently loud. And I was sitting in the 6th row from the field, just opposite the student section. One thing I will say about Kinnick is that the crowd is extremely close to the players. In the endzone nearest me, the people in the front row seats actually had their feet on the playing surface. Courtside baby! Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, ND, MSU, Northwestern.
EDIT: One thing I left out was how terrible the loud-speaker music and other jumbotron things were. Absolutely terrible. At one point on the jumbotron, there was a cartoon video of four pick-up trucks racing that obviously ended with the black Iowa one winning. A promotion for corn growers or something like that. Also -1000 for the Iowa band playing the Monday Night Football song (not "Are You Ready for Some Football" but the other one). Thinking of this stuff just dropped Iowa down one spot on my list.
Iowa Fans (Treatment of Opposing Fans)
Not sure how many of you are interested in this portion of my post, but I have to say that Iowa fans were definitely some of the more hospitable I have come in contact with. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting ribbed by opposing fans at away games, but some places definitely go too far on occasion (cough OSU cough). We had very little profanity thrown our way, and even the post-game trash talk was minimal. One issue I do have was the running the field thing that I know has already been brought up on this blog. Even the fans around me seemed to be celebrating the win as though they had just won the Big Ten. I just don't understand being that excited when your number 12 ranked team barely escapes at home against an unranked team that is extremely inexperienced. If the roles had been reversed, I would have let out a big WHEW and went back to my apartment feeling very lucky to still be undefeated. That was not the reaction I saw from Iowa fans. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been (I'm leaving out Michigan here because I have never been to the Big House as an opposing fan obviously): Iowa, Northwestern, ND, Wisconsin, MSU, OSU.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but despite the loss I am very encouraged about what I saw last night. In the moments after the game ended, part of me was very happy because the team played pretty well when they weren't making a monumental mistake. The other part of me was extremely disappointed because if we had not made as many monumental mistakes we would have won that game, sliding back into the top 20 and making a January bowl seem very likely.
For the first time since the Western Michigan game, I found myself really liking the way our defense looked at points in the game. Sure they allowed 30 points, but the offense gave them a short field at least twice and the TD that came after the 3rd and 24 conversion is credited to the coaches IMO (from my vantage point it looked like we went into three-man-rush death mode, but correct me if I am wrong).
Offensively, we definitely struggled at points. But our ability to consistently line up and push Iowa off the ball with the running game was what really got me excited. I also enjoyed being re-reminded of how important Brandon Minor is to our team. Watching the physicality of his running from the 6th row was incredible. I hope he can somehow stay healthy for the next 6 games.
Overall, a loss is still a loss. But going forward I feel really good about the rest of the season and the future. I think it's going to be a tough battle to make it to 7+ wins, but I think we can do it based on what I saw in Iowa City. For the first time this year, I feel that PSU and OSU are definitely winnable games. Hope some of this was helpful!
1. GERG is doing his job extremely well. At the time of his hiring, I questioned the wisdom of bringing in the former head coach of a losing program like Syracuse. I have since become a believer. The Michigan defensive line last night was absolutely terrific. I thought our linebacking was improved over MSU. Our corner play was, I thought, great. Obviously, the safety play was terrible, but when you have the always-hustling but not fast walk-on in Kovacs, and a disappearing Boubacar who is necessitating weekly personnel changes, what can you do? What really impresses me is the defense's ability to come on after an offensive turnover in the red zone and hold them to a field goal. One obvious point: our ineptitude on third and very long is more than a little weird. I don't think I've seen Michigan give up conversions on 3rd and 25 in consecutive games. Still and all -- the takeaway for me is that GERG is dramatically improving our defense and that they played well enough for us to win.
2. Our offensive line is also improving. First, hats off to Moosman, who has learned an entirely new position in just three weeks. I didn't see one errant snap. When I saw Iowa's defensive line eviscerate Penn State, I thought "Man are we screwed." I can't say enough about how well the O-Line set up the run game. If anything, I spent much of the game complaining that we weren't running more. Two of our scoring drives involved almost solely running -- and the first one (with Tate at the helm) involved a lot of I-formation and other non-spread sets. The O-Line got it done on the running front, and was passable in pass protection. Good job.
3. The team continues to show tremendous heart in hostile environments. I have never been to Kinnick, but I am told it is an Autzen-like place to play -- very devoted fans, who are loud and really come out for their team. To see this team, with two frosh QBs, a number of walk-ons, and a number of guys playing out of position, fight and fight and still have a chance to win notwitstanding all that went wrong was, for me, a key sign that Michigan is still Michigan. We never quit on you and we will fight to the end.
I think you can legitimately chalk this game up to turnovers (although you need to remember that we got a pick 6). If you view turnovers as something that (with respect to fumbles) is somewhat random and (with respect to picks) is part of Tate's continued learning process, this is one of the better ways to lose a game.
The takeaway -- this team is better than we hoped, and has a fighting spirit that impresses each week. I love this team. For my money, if we play that game ten times, we win 4 or 5 of them. If we play it at home, I think we win 6. The Vegas line was clearly way off.
A closing concern. From my vantage point, it has become faddish on Mgoblog to support Rodriguez no matter what. Rodriguez critique is typically roundly condemned. So I will start with my traditional caveats in the hopes of staving off some of the typical pushback: I am a supporter and continue to believe that we were very lucky to luck into a coach this good.
That being said, I have been watching Rodriguez closely and am not impressed with his in game demeanor. The guy rips into players virtually every time they come off the field. He was in Forcier's face 3 or 4 times. You have this nagging sense that Rodriguez's brain is wired to say to himself "Given that I am offensive genius, when things don't work out, it must be someone else's fault." Ripping Tate a new one repeatedly isn't being a coach -- it's being a brat. Saying "Tate needs to get that fixed" as you run off the field at the end of the first half when you are referring to a fluke slip of the hand is just petty. And allowing your fit of pique to lead you to take the ball away from a guy who has led three stunning fourth quarter comebacks is to allow emotion to control over reason. Through the entire first half, I was begging Rodriguez to run more. I really questioned the playcalling -- I think you have to dial it back a bit on the road and try to manage the game more. And no, I am not surprised that we turn the ball over a lot on the road when we have a super-complex offense that requires every player on the team to spend the last ten seconds of the pre-play NOT thinking about what they are going to do, but rather looking over at Rodriguez as he "makes adjustments" to "what he is seeing in the defense." Lloyd and Bo weren't ones to spare the lash -- but they did it with purpose in specific situations where it was merited. They didn't do it as a habit to vent stress. Hell, Bo was too busy shredding the refs to divert precious time to shredding his own players. I am not yet seeing an on-field leader in Rodriguez. An offensive coordinator and a brilliant one? Absolutely. A head coach? My jury is still out.