Thursday 6:35pm ET
(4-5, 3.81 ERA)
(4-3, 6.68 ERA)
Notes: Michigan is 34-42 all time,
Last year: 1-2 series loss.
Friday 5:35 ET
(2-6, 5.75 ERA)
Saturday 1:05pm ET
Michigan is on the road for the Big Ten finale. With just a game separating Michigan from first place Minnesota, they'll be giving it all with the Big Ten Title on the line. The Wolverines need just one win to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, but they'll need quite a bit more to secure a coveted bye, presented to the top two teams in conference.
Brief look at the Ball State game and a Penn State preview after the jump.
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH THE SHREDDER
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this new weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Since the dawn of Man, the artist has played a pivotal role in society, serving to preserve culture, inspire the masses, and express the human condition. Every great civilization has had its aesthetic authorities, and MGoBlog is no different. Call it art, call it satire, call it pure Colombian awesome—but whatever you prefer, it’s hard to argue that Shredder’s creations have become some of the most memorable and hilarious sights ever to grace our Blog. It is my pleasure to present
this interview with the one and only Shredder:
1. I think I have a vague recollection of when you first starting posting, and also when “The Shredder’ truly became ‘The Shredder.’ How did you discover MGoBlog, and how long were you a member before finding your calling and developing your signature ‘Midnight Maize’ style?
Well as much as I don’t want to admit this, I had a melt down and went off on UMGOBLUE board right after the 2005 Alamo Bowl when Tyler Ecker didn’t pitch it back to Steven Breaston. He instead opted for the human bull dozer lunge and went out of bounds at the 15 yard line. I mean, cmon, Steve was right there! Alright I won’t get into it. It’s still a touchy subject for me. As a result of my verbal beatings on Ecker I was banned from UMGOBLUE board. I was forumless and had no where to go. As I wandered the internet streets aimlessly looking for a home, I stumbled upon The Mother Ship (My term for Mgoblog) August 29th, 2006 at 6:00 PM when Brian said:
“A late turnover and constant buggering at the hands of incompetent Sun Belt refs are almost overcome by the most improbable play since Stanford-Cal, but Tyler Ecker plows into two defenders instead of pitching it to Steve Freakin' Breaston.”
When I read “Steve Freakin’ Breaston” I knew I was home. At first, I did my fair share of lurking. Finally in August of 2009, I decided to join up. I posted a bit here and there but not much. Then the board became nuts over the huge jumbo HD video screens that lived in SEC country. Everyone was wondering when Michigan would get theirs. I became sick of it and MS Painted the Big House in the year 2025. In all honesty, I expected to be ran off the board for such a crappy outrageous picture but to my delight, it was the exact opposite and my rendition of the Big House Year 2025 became two plus pages of replies and even made it on the front page. Thus, the Shredder rose from the ashes to become the villain that he is today. If you look at that paint you will see how bad it is compared to others but it still seems to be a favorite for some. I have since went on to start Midnight Maize so I could get paid to live blog and have a place to post the art that doesn’t always make it to Mgoblog. I have no doubt that I have Mgoblog to thank for the launching pad.
The Shredder. Eastman and Laird’s pre-eminent villain for the Heroes on the Half-Shell. Of all the possibilities, why did you choose him above all else as your name and avatar on MGoBlog?
I feel like at Mgoblog there are so many great posters, so I needed to find a way to stand out from the crowd. I wanted a name that no one would forget. I didn’t want to be “goblue1982” or “wegotwings.” I wanted something iconic, something that was fierce and had no mercy. My love for movies, video games, comic books and all kinds of media runs pretty deep (if you can’t tell).
I was pretty close to going with the Cobra Kai master John Crease but then it donned on me that my avatar wouldn’t be that great. I mean sure he looks bad ass but mixing some Michigan elements into it would be tough. I was running through all my favorite movies and comics. My roommate happened to buy me TMNT season one for my birthday that last winter. While looking through my dvds for an idea, I saw that dvd set. I popped in the dvd and The Shredder spoke to me through the TV. Alright, he didn’t literally speak to me, but I realized that he a villain I always had loved as a kid and some one that no one could mistake for anyone else. Another plus is that his helmet looked like the wings from the Michigan helmet. It was a perfect marriage.
2. Tell us about your creative process. How does a typical Shredder piece evolve from an idea to a front page bump?
Most of my ideas just come from pop culture. I just try and think how I can blend some sort of pop culture with what’s going on at Michigan. I always just make a quick scribble of it on paper or if I have my laptop I’ll do a quick “sketch” in MS paint. Some of my ideas have come to me when I least expect them to. For instance, I was at a Game Stop right after the Notre Dame game. I was looking at the new Punch Out game and I thought King Hippo and Charlie Weiss had a lot in common as well as Little Mac and Tate Forcier. When I got home I found the perfect picture on the internet and started to go to work. When it’s done and if I feel its good enough, I will post it on the Mgoboard. However, there are many things I have MS painted that don’t make it to the board, and they usually just stay on my laptop or get uploaded to Midnight Maize only. I felt the jerseys were a Midnight Maize only post and then I figured what the hell. So you just never know what people will respond to. Some people might love something I find not that great and vice versa.
I can totally relate—I was surprised during my MGoShirt series how difficult it was to predict audience reaction. Some of my favorite designs were eaten alive, and others that I personally less enthralled by are now sitting in the store. But art, and especially graphic design, is funny like that. Audience has the last laugh.
3. Your work has a tongue-in-cheek quality that is often more about the humor than the art itself. But you’re not fooling me-- as a professional, I can personally see that you put serious time into some of your designs. What was the single most difficult Shredder MS Paint piece to create? And of them all, which is your personal favorite? (Personally, I have to go with the Buckeye OSUbusters.)
Yes, you are right about the time I put into some of them. There are some that I have whipped together in 15 minutes, but there are have been a couple that have taken me a few nights to complete. My hardest one was “The Game Wars." I did five MS paints, one for everyday of the week, during OSU week. I worked on all of them throughout the season but that one took the cake for the most work. It took me a good week and I used another… well I won’t dive into all my secrets but lets just say I needed a bit more muscle to pull off what I was trying to depict. Armando Allen's foot was one that took me no time to complete. I thought nothing big of the quick paint but it ended up on nymag.com in the sports section. You just don’t know where the humor or the art may take you.
As for my favorites, well that is tough. It’s like asking what kid you love the most. I like certain ones for all kinds of different reasons. I love the Punch Out ones because I think they may be some of the best stuff I have done as far as looking professional and not hokey. They also ended up on Adam Rittenberg’s ESPN blog so that was an honor in its own right. I even like the SS Troy which has little to do with Michigan and more to do with USC. People really got a kick out of the Seahawkcopter which by itself took longer to complete than the actual artwork as a whole. The Ghostbusters and my Denard Back to the Future pieces have been favs of mine since those are some of my favorite movies. Another favorite of mine would be “Fetuatitus,” the only MS Paint work that got banned on Mgoboard due to people thinking it was a real medical condition that Tate Forcier had on his wrist. One medical student even posted how dumb he felt since he was googling the internet for “Fetuatitus” and found nothing. I guess a large picture of Tate Forcier with a fetus coming off his wrist and riding Falcor from Never Ending Story can be more impactful than I thought.
All right. Let’s get one point out of the way. It’s no secret that (ahem) some personalities (ahem, excuse me, something in my throat) have been critical not of your art, but rather your choice of medium as an artist. Why MS Paint? Some have argued that your stuff is so cool because it’s made in simplistic style of MS Paint, but I think your work is primarily about good ideas first and visual style second. Any thoughts?
My paints are more about what they say rather than how they look. MS Paint makes things so easy and simple. Even if I am slightly limited by it, MS Paint just has this “soul” to it. It expresses me exactly how I see my artistic self…. As a “wannabe”. My mom has the talent and my Grandpa is a painter (mostly nature art) and I have always wanted to possess those artistic talents but never did. I found that MS Paint was a medium that I could use to get my point across without having to look perfect. People got the jokes, and the story behind whatever I was making. If you have ever seen Laser Cats on SNL, it’s kind of like the same thing. There are so many editing errors and camera angle issues but that’s what makes it so damn funny. I just play to my strength which is my humor. I have seen your comments in the past about using a “real program” but that just wouldn’t be me. Being a master of Photoshop and many other programs, I can see where you would have distaste for using such a weak program. I was the same way in my old video editing days. I moved to digital and never wanted to look back while others were still making great stuff on linear video editing and my main question would be “Why?”
4. Do you do any other sort of artistic endeavors outside of your signature style? And without divulging too much information, what sort of work do you do for a living?
I haven’t done a whole lot of other kinds of painting, but I have painted helmets, cowbells and corn hole boards. I actually just started to transform a Tony Romo action figure into a Michigan Chad Henne. We will see how that pans out. Time will only tell. I also like video editing, and it’s something I might do more of this season. As for my job, I work for an agency that houses abused and neglected male teens from 12-18. I am a 3rd shift guidance counselor. I’m there for the kids who have issues sleeping at night, getting up in the morning, etc. Although sometimes very demanding and stressful, it is a rewarding position in which I am able to help guide and mold young boys into respectable men.
Very impressive-- I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who is so generous with their time and talents. So, when not inspiring future generations to succeed or creating Drupal-powered digital equivalents of the Sistine Chapel, what does the Shredder like to do for fun?
I do all kinds of things. I play disc golf with the wife. I love basketball and I play in a men’s basketball league at the crack of dawn every Monday and Friday at 5 am. I even officiate basketball during basketball season at all levels (mostly varsity). I am a huge movie fan, even though I find most movies suck these days. I play the XBox from time to time and even dust off the NES for some old school gaming. I eat, drink, and sleep the show LOST. I take heat for that over at Midnight Maize but the show is out of this world. EVERYONE HURRY! GO WATCH LOST BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!
5. This week’s episode is still waiting on the DVR—don’t spoil it for me! Uhh, quick—FOOD!! Describe the perfect meal.
Well, I kind of have a tradition going on. Every Tuesday night at 9pm my wife, my dog Chilly and my cat Dori enjoy a huge plate of spaghetti and a new episode of LOST. That’s life and I love it.
6. Speaking of love, can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I grew up in Greenville, Michigan sitting next to my Dad as he watched Michigan sports. I started paying attention as Desmond Howard danced into the end zone to the famous line by the great Keith Jackson. I got my first jersey the next Christmas. My dad’s passion would even scare me at times. During the infamous Fab Five time out, he threw his beloved weather radio that gave him 24/7 weather reports. It smashed into the wall into a bunch of pieces. My mom yelled at my dad for scaring me, but I saw it in the old man’s eyes. I saw his deep love for Michigan and the fire that burns in all us as fans. Even after a kick to my father’s dong by Chris Webber, he was still there the next season holding that little weather radio. All that was left was circuit board and a small speaker that was dangling by some wires. We Michigan fans always come back for more no matter how dark times get. My father was a Michigan fan. I’m a Michigan fan no matter what happens. I’m a Michigan fan because I love the passion that we all carry.
Well said. Finally, who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
Carl Tabb… No I kid. I still love you Carl. But really, it has to be Braylon Edwards. What I saw on that late October night in 2004 was nothing short of amazing. Mike Hart has a special place in my heart as well. I even love me some Charles Woodson.
Shredder, in my opinion, is easily one of the funniest guys on the blog, and while he didn’t let me down in that category, I was even more impressed with the other facets of his personality that came through in the interview. I guess it’s easy to just categorize each other according to the things we seem to ‘specialize’ in on MGoblog, but all of us are complex individuals with different reasons to be here. Perhaps that’s the best part about MGoProfile, getting to learn not just who a person is, but who else they are on top of what we already know. Either way, it’s been my pleasure to give you this perspective of The Shredder, and I’ll see you next week for another edition of MGoProfile!
[Ed: This week's Mathlete column expands on fourth down decision-making. I haven't seen a graph anywhere near as clear as those included below about how shifting the parameters of the offenses and defenses in question makes major impact on what a correct decision is. This is not a situation where you can just read the decision off a chart. Feel and personal preference will always play a role. It's a complex decision.]
Last week I wrote on the value of special teams but a very interesting side topic arose: fourth down decision making. It started with this chart:
About which I remarked:
The going for it actually peaks between 30 and 35 as more coaches don’t really know what to do so they just go for it.
So I decided to look and see what the decision chart should look like on an expected points basis.
Anything close to two different colors is a virtual toss-up. Any gains near a color transition are negligible and not worth noting, but there are very real gains to be made in the heart of the yellow section, where coaches are taking their offenses off of the field far too quickly.
A couple of quick rules of thumb:
- Don’t punt on the opponent’s side of the field.
- Really consider going for it on 4th down after crossing your own 40.
- Field goals only make sense if there are more than 5 yards to go and you are between the 10 and 30 yard lines. If you’re in opponent territory and these two criteria aren’t true, you should be going for it.
I know this is not the first time a topic like this has been presented, David Romer was mostly criticized for his paper on the topic a couple years back (thanks for the reminder Colin). [Ed: Not around here.] Of course there was the great Patriot debate last season when the Patriots elected to go for it on 4th and 2 with the lead in their own territory. Even though the majority of the arguments against this work amount to "people like David Romer and The Mathlete don’t know anything about football and just live in their parent’s basement" I did want to look at the main objections and see if they had any validity.
Objection 1: Does not account for “quick change” momentum
Below you’ll see a chart of the expected points on a drive based on field position, and how teams have actually fared. I also included drives obtained by turnover as comparison to the other “quick change” drive source.
There could be a case that drives started on a short field due to a 4th down stop generate more points than normal drives, but the small sample size reduces how strongly that argument can be made. From 2007-2009, the total points accounted for on drives obtained by 4th down stops (2523) is less than the projected points would be for any drives starting at the same field position (2580). This difference is meaningless statistically, something very damaging to the idea "momentum" helps the opposing offense after their defense gets a fourth down stop.
Adding in the turnovers does nothing to build a case for momentum after big defensive stops or turnovers. The turnover-started drive line tightly hugs the average line. As a whole, the turnover expected points line is slightly higher than the average line, but only by enough to generate an extra touchdown every 50 drives. That's about one every two years or so.
Although it can often feel like there is a big momentum swing after a big stop or turnover, there is scant evidence that it is more than our memories selecting the most traumatic or exhilarating scenes to hold onto. [Ed: for an example of this human tendency to ascribe meaning to unusual events where there is none, see any of the zillion "hot hand" studies.]
Objection 2: It assumes all offenses and defenses are average
To get a gauge on what “good” can mean in comparison to average, I plotted the best offense and best defense of the last three years against the average team’s expected points per drive.
As a rough approximation, the best offense is about a 1 point per drive better than average and the best defense makes offenses about a point worse per drive.
Scenario 1: Good offense
If your offense is as good as Florida, you should never punt against an average defense. Maybe if you are deep in your own territory, but only in the most extreme situations. This assumes that a new first down gives the Florida offense an extra point over an average team in expected value and a 10 percentage point increase in the likelihood that they convert.
A punt is conceding any chance of scoring and an offense this good should not give up that right so easily. This is the basic philosophy behind the vaunted no punting HS coach in Arkansas. His team isn’t necessary good because he doesn’t punt. He doesn’t punt because his offense is good. Why waste another scoring opportunity?
Scenario 2: Going against a good defense
Playing against a good defense changes the dynamic extensively but it does not mean forgoing the fourth down attempt altogether. With a reduced likelihood of success on 4th down and a reduced payout if the conversion is successful, the 4th down attempt still is an optimal strategy more than is currently utilized. Even against a top national defense, you should still not punt in opponent territory. The field goal becomes a more viable option against the stronger defense and punting becomes a much better idea all the way out to midfield.
[Ed: I think this is moving towards correct strategy since it takes a caveman or a seriously long-yardage situation for someone to punt from inside the opponent's 40 these days. That range from midfield to the opponent 40 is a spot we might see move towards fourth-down aggression in the next few years.
Also note that coventional current strategy gets way less wrong once you ramp up the ability of the defense. If we jacked it up even farther, it might get to the point where punting from the 36 (or even on third down) is a good idea. The flaws in strategy here are leftovers from an era when punting was actually the best option. Thinking has not kept pace with scoring since.]
Scenarios 3/4: Good defense or opponent good offense
The conventional wisdom is that if you trust your defense, you don’t go for it on fourth down. [Ed: In my experience the conventional wisdom is remarkably malleable on this point. If you have a good D and the announcer agrees with the call, the good D will be cited as a reason why.] In reality, the strength of your own defense (or the strength of the opposing offense) is largely irrelevant to the decision. Fourth down decisions are all about offensive opportunity. A 4th down decision to punt is the decision to take the ball out of your offense’s hand, leaving the relative impacts on your defense to negate each other. A 4th down failure puts your defense in a worse situation, but it doesn’t guarantee points for the other team; a good defense is still a major asset in stopping or limiting the other team with good field position. A punt doesn’t guarantee that the other team is going to be stopped, but a good defense makes it more likely. In the end, it’s still all about the offense.
Objection 3: Does not account for game specific situations
This objection does ring true, but its application is much narrower than most people believe. The main flaw with the expected points model is that for most of the game all points are largely equal but at the end of the game, a field goal or even time can become crucially important. If a field goal can tie a game, take the lead, or move said lead from one possession to two (or vice-versa), the decision-making process suggested above can shift radically. This could mean punting near midfield to prevent a short field goal drive for the other team or taking a field goal instead going for it on fourth in field goal range.
These situations are rare, however, and only come into effect in the fourth quarter. When there are likely to be even 2-3 additional possessions, the expected points model still holds up.
Another potential game situation not accounted for above is the presence of a high quality field goal kicker. A very accurate field goal kicker will move the blue field goal “bubble” in the above charts down, making fields more practical in short yardage situations. An above average kicker from long range will move the bubble left. Even a great kicker won’t make kicking inside the 5 practical in very many situations.
Conclusion: In Which Romer Is Re-Iterated
Teams need to be using kickers and punters less and their offenses more. Especially teams with good offenses. If you have a good offense, bringing out the punter should only be done in long distance situations or when deep in your own territory. Scoring touchdowns is the valuable thing in football and giving away a quarter of your plays to kick on fourth down greatly reduces your ability to score them, the gain in field position from a punt is worth less than it is currently perceived to be and the idea that momentum is obtained from a quick change of possession is to be slight at best and most likely non-existent.
One final thought I haven’t been able to quantify yet: if you switch to a fourth down mindset, what opportunities does it open up in play calling during the first three downs of a series. Planning on four plays for a first down instead of three would surely have some value for an offense to adjust and re-optimize their play calling, and the total offensive value could become even greater.
Note: apparently Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats and I have been having some of the same offseason thoughts as he just put up another piece on 4th down decision making, and this after we both introduced similar defensive player evaluation metrics within a month of each other.
Coach Schiano here. You might remember me from such fine diaries as MGoStatistics, Visualizing the Hennechart (aka the Hennegraph), and some other forgotten gems (the last being a drug-induced haloscan rant of epic proportion). Or you might not. But at least those stats got some front page love from blogmaster-in-chief Brian, despite the purported "diss". PYTHON RULES!
In last week's post, we summarized some word counts over the years to definitively show that Brian is awesome, which he is. What left a bad taste, however, was the weak attempt at the end of that diary to summarize word usage via a single Wordle. Yes, Wordle is awesome, but no one Wordle can this blog describe, as someone famous once said; probably not somebody associated with Wordle, though.
Thus we bring you a deeper analysis of the blog via the simple tool of Word Frequency Analysis (WFA). By simply counting how many times a word is used, great insight into this blog and its content can be achieved. Or, at least, mild amusement can your way be brought. Minimally, sentences can in Yoda style be written.
The results below come from (somewhat arbitrary) comparisons of the frequencies of different words. The conclusions come from my brain. Thus, the former can be trusted, and the latter should likely be dismissed. But hopefully each analysis is clear: a table, with a list of (frequency, word) pairs, where frequency is the number of times that particular word appeared in mgoblog over its entire lifetime, 2004 until present.
And now, for the results! Brace yourselves, this gets ugly.
First, we analyze how often particular sports are mentioned:
Now, an analysis of how often various places are mentioned:
Now we study the popularity of various coaches:
You might find yourself wondering about the dominant mgoblog receiver. If so, we give you the receiver analysis:
Who is mgoblog's favorite running back? Well, this was an easy one to guess:
Onto the quarterback competition:
And now we study two particular schools of football philosophy: Lloydball and Tresselball.
Speaking of football philosophy, we also study the dominance of the spread:
Now we move onto more important matters, like the study mascot names:
Finally, if you'll indulge, we'll get into some slightly more off-topic terms. Let's start with food. What about the food preferences of mgoblog? Sadly, not much data here, making us wonder if Brian eats very much or is rather some kind of blog-creating Cyborg sent from our future UofM overlords to get us through these rough times (possible, no? hmm? HMMM?). But from what we could find:
Being a blog of international repute, mgoblog also mentions some people of differing nationalities:
Brian also uses his fair share of saltier language. For example:
"I suppose it is possible that Germany is a plant biology major and spends his time before the snap screaming "I gonna sprout all up in your ass, mothafucka*" at the quarterback, but it seems unlikely."Classic.
Sorry, one last set of bad words:
Just keep moving folks, keep moving. And let them never be mentioned again. Speaking of which:
Just keep moving folks, keep moving. And let them never be mentioned again. Speaking of which:
We end with some fairly random studies. First, a gender study yielded the following information about the different types of "boys" mentioned on the blog:
And we conclude with some word counts that we noticed "coincidentally" ended up at the same frequency. Or did they?????
The Final Home Game of the Season
Ball State (27-24)
Tuesday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Notes: Michigan beat Ball State 12-8 at the Coastal Tournament. That made the
all time series 17-1.
Much has happened since these two teams squared off just 2 months ago (formatting on that has changed by itself, taking out all of my paragraphs breaks). Michigan has seen their Preseason-All American return to the lineup. Ball State has turned their season back around after starting 3-9. Both teams are in the thick of tight conference pennant races.
This time around, the stakes are equally unimportant in the long run, but both teams need to keep their momentum going as they enter their last full week of regular season games.
Quick preview after the jump.
That just happened. Michigan wins the series 2-1 on the most stunning senior day in recent memory. This series has it all - A pitcher's duel, a stunning heart breaker, a come-from-behind win on senior day featuring the two co-captains completing a walk off. If you have ever been a baseball fan, this was the series for you.
W – Gerbe (2-0)… Save – Burgoon (9)
Game one was the pitchers' duel. Michigan managed the early lead thanks to a leadoff walk of Patrick Biondi. After going to third on a perfectly placed hit and run by Toth, going right through the hole vacated by the second baseman, LaMarre would knock him in on a would-be double play, but Northwestern's second baseman double clutched, giving LaMarre just enough time to beat out the throw. After Berset's single, Crank would line out deep to left, gaining an easy sacrifice fly, and Michigan led 2-0.
Alan Oaks was on the mound for Michigan and had a pretty good game. In his 6 innings of work, he gave up 7 hits and 3 runs. Two of those came in the form of solo home runs by Northwestern's third baseman Chris Lashmet. The third run also involved Lashmet. In the 6th, he would single and score on a Zach Morton double that screamed past a diving Lorenz and took a strange hop off the wall, evading Ryan LaMarre in left.
LaMarre would lead the response for Michigan, knocking a triple off the center field wall. This set up Chris Berset up for an easy RBI single.
Oaks would open the 7th with a hard hit double, and the bullpen would take over for Oaks after that, with the game tied at 3 a piece. Gerbe would give up a sac bunt to move the runner to third, but Mike Dufek made a great play on a slow roller by the next batter to gun the runner trying to score and preserve the tie.
In the bottom of the 7th, Biondi got the offense started on a two-out rally. His walk was followed by back-to-back singles by Toth and LaMarre to bring in a run. With the lead, 4-3, it was all Burgoon from here on out.
- The Pen – 3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, W, Save
- Anthony Toth – 3/4
- Ryan LaMarre – 2/4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3B
- Game Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
- Attendance: 1385
- Coley Crank – 0/3 RBI, 3 LOB, SACF
The rest of the series, including the THRILLING CONCLUSION, after the jump.