"You know how Kyle Flood still has a job? Yeah, all Jourdan."
OFFENSE (first number is 2008, second number is 2009)
- Points per game: 20.2 to 32 = +12
- Rushing yards per game: 147.6 to 208.3 = +61
- Yards per carry: 3.9 to 4.8 = +0.9
- Passing yards per game: 143.2 to 195.7 = +52
- Yards per pass attempt: 5.1 to 7.6 = +2.5
- Yards per completion: 10.4 to 13.7 = +3.3
- Yards per play: 4,4 to 5.9 = +1.5
- Yards per game: 290.8 to 404 = +113
- Total Turnovers: 30 to 22 = -8
- 3rd down conversions: 27% to 41% = +14%
- Sacks against: 22 to 23 = -1
- Total touchdowns: 31 to 42 = +11
DEFENSE (first number is 2008, second number is 2009)
- Points per game: 28.9 to 26.4 = -2.5
- Rushing yards per game: 137 to 158.3 = +21
- Yards per carry: 3.6 to 4.3 = +0.7
- Passing yards per game: 230 to 235 = +5
- Yards per pass attempt: 7.4 to 7.3 = -0.1
- Yards per completion: 12.8 to 12.1 = -0.7
- Yards per play: 5.3 to 5.7 = +0.4
- Yards per game: 367 to 393.3 = +26.3
- Total Turnovers: 20 to 13 = -7
- 3rd down conversions: 39% to 37% = -2%
- Sacks: 29 to 17 = -12
- Total touchdowns: 42 to 30 = -12
Based on this pure statistical break down the offense has made significant improvement while the defense has mostly regressed.
My personal opinion:
- While not unexpected, I think the improvement of the offense is pretty remarkable considering it has occured with two true freshman quarterbacks taking ALL of the significant snaps.
- Presumably, the mental mistakes will decrease over time (es[ecially the quarterbacks since they are the only offensive players in year one of this system) and the offense will continue to improve.
- The future of the offense is bright: both QBs back next year along with a heralded recruit, Shaw and Smith back at RB, all WRs back but for Matthews and Savoy, all TEs back, and almost all of the OL 2 deep returns.
- The defense is in some ways a mystery (veteran linebackers that seem to be getting worse) and in other ways not at all surprising (two walk ons playing significant snaps/occasionally starting and the overall attrition picture, see: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/decimated-defense and http://mgoblog.com/diaries/decimated-defense-part-ii-statisticating )
- Next year's defense could be some what better with a potential line up of: DEs Van Bergen and Roh, DTs Martin and Campbell, LBs Mouton, Fitzgerald, ?, CBs Warren and Turner, Safeties Woolfolk and Emilien.
- Part of my hope for the defense's future is stability in the coordinator that MAY lead to more consistent play and fewer massive mistakes.
- Even if the defense gets better, the depth chart still seems scary thin. I don't know who the back ups will be at most spots other than next year's freshmen and freshmen who redshirted this year (some of whom may start next year).
- Best case scenario: the offense is on its way to being a consistent beast and the defense is as well but a year or even two behind.
The pace and field position of this game set up perfectly for Michigan. Despite giving away a possession to Purdue on the on-side kick, Michigan actually had the advantage in expected points in this game, 28 to 27. A pretty even game all around on the field position and the number of drives. Purdue had an extra possession but Michigan had better field position, helped by a rare +1 in the turnover margin for the game. Both teams had about the same opportunity and did the same things with them, 5 TD's and a field goal each. Obviously the missed PAT provided the difference.
The way these two teams have been playing, this could be anything from a huge advantage for M or Purdue, or it could be a total draw. There doesn't appear to be much consistency to either of these units.It turned out to be a huge advantage for Michigan. Only two teams in the country did better than a +13 on the ground last Saturday and none of them were from the Big 6 conferences. Minor posted an opponent adjusted +7, the 10th best performance in the country. Even after adjusting for quality of opposition, this performance was just behind Iowa and the 2nd best rushing performance in Big 10 play this year. A lot of positives for the ground game this weekend.
It does not appear that there is much in the past several games that indicates Purdue being a team Michigan can significantly exploit through the air.Although not a huge volume through the air or anything particularly spectacular, no team this year has created more points/play in the passing game against Purdue than Michigan did on Saturday. Northwestern and Toledo both had solid games in the air against Purdue, but both did on 47 and 67 plays, respectively. Michigan produced 5 points of value on only 28 attempts, its best performance through the air since opening
week against Western.
This appears to be as good of a chance as Michigan is going to have to shut down a running game the rest of the season.I don't know if shut down is the right word to describe what Michigan's run defense did on Saturday, but after the hemorrhaging that was our run defense against Illinois, this was a solid but not spectacular bounce back.
How Purdue's passing attack fares could swing the game as there has been 4 touchdowns worth of variance in their performance this year in Big 10 play alone.After showing glimpses of disaster all Big 10 season, the Michigan pass defense finally put together a full show this weekend. It's a good thing Michigan got the two picks or this number would have really been ugly.
Make a 51 yard field goal, miss an extra point. In a game in which Michigan did a lot of things well it was obviously the negatives that ended up winning out. After a much better than expected start to the season, Michigan kicking game finally was an issue. The missed PAT was obviously a difference in the game and all in all, Michigan posted its first negative kicking game of the season, one of only 6 teams in the country to make it this far without a negative performance from their place kicker.
Overall, however ,the special teams were outstanding. The final result was a +5 for the game after outstanding results from all of the other four units. In totality, this was Michigan's best special teams performance of the season.
Somehow I feel much better about the team after writing this than I did at noon on Saturday (post-game out here on the west coast). Great performance from the running game, solid game through the air, rush defense that wasn't a sieve and quality results in the return game.
There are always two types of outcomes to look back at a football game for. The W or L coutcome. Obviously in that regard Saturday was a failure. The other outcome is how did you perform? So many facets of the team performed as well as they have all season on Saturday. But we also saw how one unit can ruin it for the rest of the class and man, we lost to Purdue at home for the first time since the days of Sterling Cooper and that really sucks. So in other words, I don't know what to say.
The thought popping into my head was this...what former/current college coach had a trajectory similar to Rich Rod's first 22 games at Michigan?
I don't think he is anything like the Gillespie guy who bombed out at Kentucky (and who is one serious head case and arrested recently for a DUI). It's clear he hasn't resembled Tressel or Urban Meyer who won NCs in their second seasons. Nor Charlie "sandwich" Weis who won big his 1st two years at ND and has since gone 3-9, 7-6, and is looking at anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3 this year.
Anyway, after the same walk (probably on the same darn path!) last night, I realized just whom I hope Rich Rod follows.
A bit of history first...in January 1982, Bo had just finished a 9-3 "disappointing" season with a rare bowl win against UCLA in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl. I was a freshman at UM and was in the Marching Band. We started the season Numero Uno in the country and were shocked by a Wisconsin team, 21-14, that we had shut out for FOUR consecutive years (by the combined score of 176 to nothing!). We recovered nicely only to lose to upstart Iowa at home, 9-7. Again, we recovered nicely until losing a stunner at home to OSU, 14-9. We tumbled all the way from the Rose Bowl to the Bluebonnet Bowl.
During those days, Bo worked off a 1-yr contract. Yes, there was always an implied "Bo is coach forever" belief, but coaching contracts were coming into vogue. In January, Texas A&M dumped its coach after a 7-4 season. They contacted Bo and offered him a deal for something like 10 yrs and $2 million (200 K per season). Peanuts today, but at that time it was HUGE money. Any UM fan at the time remembers where they were when Bo was mulling the offer on a Friday or Saturday night. Bo decided to stay at Michigan and Canham decided it was time for a contract to make Bo feel secure, if the guy really should have had to worry about his job!
Having missed on Bo, TAMU offered and got Jackie Sherrill, highly successful coach at Pitt, though they didn't have to pay him as much or for as long as TAMU offered Bo.
Sherrill's teams started with two 5 win seasons, no bowl game, and a frustrated fan base. If the guy fired in '81 could win 7 games, why is Sherrill here winning 5 games! Things really boiled over early in the 1984 season. I was living in Texas at the time and TAMU stumbled to start the season. After a tough home loss to a weaker opponent (think Purdue in '09), Sherrill, even with troopers around, was harassed by fans as he was leaving the field. I still remember seeing the news coverage on the Houston TV station, thinking "Sherrill is toast!" TAMU was 5-5 going into its final game at Texas, which was playing for the SWC Title. TAMU blew out the Horns in Austin, something like 38-12, sending the Horns to one of those nondefunct bowls. The 6-5 record wasn't good enough for a bowl game in those days (unless you were ND or UM) so TAMU stayed home but the win in Austin took all of the heat off of Sherrill.
TAMU went on to win 3 consecutive SWC titles in 85-86-87 and beat Texas each year. Sherrill had finally "arrived" at a school where Football is king over the other sports.
Thinking to today...highly successful coach at one school, goes to a football-mad school (even though the school didn't first offer the job to him), stumbles the first few years, fan-base erupts, coach is harassed, calls for his head, and FINALLY said coach beat's the school's hated rival. Then the wins and conference titles start rolling in.
Can it happen here? Stay tuned!
Let's look back. This was our preseason rank from CFN as of January 17 2008:
21. Michigan 2007 Record: 9-4
Expect a step back to take a big leap forward, at least offensively. There could've been one of the nation's best passing games with Ryan Mallett throwing to Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington, but they all took off. Who's the quarterback? Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet? He's a passer, but Rich Rodriguez will want a dual-threat playmaker meaning Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top recruit, could be coming to Ann Arbor, or Carlos Brown could step in from the running back corps. The defense takes a big hit, but DT Terrance Taylor should be a strong anchor to build around.
This didn't exactly pan out. What it shows is that after we beat FL (using a spread offense), after Mallett and MM and AA were already gone, before the destination of TP was known, it wasn't unreasonable to guess that we would have success in 2008. In the months that followed it became apparent that UM would not be a top 25 team. Even so, expectations remained high, Alex Wang from June 2008:
Though the question marks are there—and they are numerous—I believe this team will be better than what most the prognosticators have projected. Most rumblings have Michigan as either a six or seven-win team, some even stating that the streak of 33 consecutive bowl games is at risk. While that situation is a distinct possibility, I envision a minimum of seven victories, and if everything goes Michigan’s way next fall, I see this team with the potential to win eight, maybe even nine games, and make a return trip to the Capital One Bowl come New Year's Day.
Though the question marks are there—and they are numerous—I believe this team will be better than what most the prognosticators have projected. Most rumblings have Michigan as either a six or seven-win team, some even stating that the streak of 33 consecutive bowl games is at risk.
While that situation is a distinct possibility, I envision a minimum of seven victories, and if everything goes Michigan’s way next fall, I see this team with the potential to win eight, maybe even nine games, and make a return trip to the Capital One Bowl come New Year's Day.
This didn't exactly pan out. But again we see a willingness to project UM with a fair amount of wins. And why not? You have a team that has enjoyed 40 years of success who just got what is supposed to be an upgrade to coaching and to the S&C program.
Let's assume the default projection from 2008 was 6-6. We all know how 2008 turned out - a good win at Minnesota, and two almost accidental wins against Miami OH and Wisconsin. Of our losses, the four closest losses were Utah, Purdue, Toledo, and Northwestern in that order. Three of these were home games. Assuming we win any three of these four games we end the season 6-6, go bowling and there is less gnashing of teeth. The losses against Purdue (4-8 in 2008) and Toledo (3-9), were losses against teams that RR should have beat.
At the beginning of this season, based on what we saw last year 6-6 seemed to be the default preseason estimate. Then we went 4-0, showed signs of competence, and even were a ranked team at some point. The two losses that followed were close games where we still looked like a servicable team. Delaware State doesn't count. PSU showed it is again a much better team than we are. So far nothing really unexpected.
Then Illinois and Purdue happen.
Both Illinois and Purdue currently have losing records and will probably end the season with losing records. In both games Michigan had the halftime lead. Again, two losses against teams we should have beat.
Assuming we beat Wisc in Madison and beat tUoOS at home (this confluence hasn't happened since 1999) then RR will have proven something. For the first time in his tenure, he will have given us results that we can point to as proof of our hope for the future. I will agree that even if we come away with one win RR will have demonstrated that he can overcome adversity. However, the more likely outcome will result in the second year of two where RR couldn't get his team to overachieve or even meet expectations.
The argument in favor of RR is that in time he will make us a consistent top 5 team. That may be so. The trouble I am having accepting that argument is that so far RR hasn't demonstrated he can live up to any expectations.
EDIT EDIT:: Now updated with BCS standings from Sunday night.
I thought I'd give a quick recap as to how things stand following yesterday's amazing day of action.
1) Fla / Ala still on track for "OMG Death Match 2009 Greatest Game In History of College Football" in SEC championship. After looking at the polls released this morning and listening to some of the scuttlebutt in the media, I think this is a no-doubt elimination game for one of the nat'l championship slots. Ala got their big roadblock game out of the way, and even a loss to Auburn may not hold them back fro the BCS championship if they beat Fla in the SEC Championship. Fla only has SoCar, Fla Intl and FSU left, so their path seems fairly straight.
2) A Big XII champion Texas will take the second slot. The only real probable stumbles for Texas left are roadies at Baylor (not too hard) and at Tex A&M (rivalry, but still should be a blowout). The big rock in their path now is the Big XII championship game where either a DL loaded Neb or a resurgent K-St awaits.
3) TCU has jumped Cincy for #4 in BCS, but this may be temporary as Cincy's high profile schedule is about to start. However, looking at the BCS standings (4th in both human polls and 4th in computers) I don't think we can discount anymore the real possibility that TCU's a stunning Cinderella to human voters to the point where they may stay ahead of Cincy as prime beneficiary of a Fla/Ala/Tex stumble. I still think Cincy in the end is going to end up ahead of TCU, but I think the chances of a TCU jump and hold over Cincy is growing.
4) Sorry Boise, but you're out unless TCU stumbles and everyone else collapses. Your hopes were banked on a 1-loss Oregon and voters with a moral dilemma on whether to vote a team with a worse record and a loss head to head above you. Boise looks good in BCS standings, but may be the first team to be in all the positions (non BCS conf in the top 8) for an auto-qualify but not get one.
The At-Large Situation
Reference: 10 slots, 6 conf autobids, 4 at large
ACC: Ga Tech
Big East: Cincy
Big Ten: more on that in a moment
Big XII: Texas
SEC: Fla / Ala winner
PAC-10: Oregon, for now
How many at-large left? 4
So does an undefeated non-BCS team get in? For sure one, so let's assume chalk holds and TCU gets the auto-qualify for non-BCS teams.
Ok so now there are 3 at large bids, who's in? 2 bid conferences?
Yes, so let's look at candidates by conference.
ACC: No one jumps out. Maybe a 2-loss Miami at #14 in BCS standings? Let's put them in the candidate pool
Big East: 1-loss Pitt would be the only real resume blockbuster (#12 BCS), but if we assume a Cincy win in two weeks, then a 2-loss Pitt isn't that attractive.
Big Ten: Here's the rub. Penn St was all setup to be a 2nd BCS bid easy, but with the turmoil of yesterday, it seems that Iowa (#10 BCS) / Ohio St (#11 BCS) next week is an elimination game. I don't think a 2- loss Iowa, a 3-loss OSU or a 2-loss Penn St (who lost every meaningful game this year) is that attractive.
Big XII: A 2-loss OkSt (#19) would seem to be on the only candidate. We'll throw them in the pool
SEC: Fla / Ala loser. That's it since conferences can't get more than 1 at large
PAC-10: Is a 2-loss USC attractive? In this climate, yes. USC sits at #9 BCS. If Oregon (#13 BCS) tanks again though, we're only looking at 1 Pac-10 team. Arizona has a good BCS rank (#17) but USC and Oregon are going to take the Pac-10's two slots available.
Yes, an undefeated Boise St team gets a dip in the candidate pool.
So anyone get in right away?
Assuming Oregon holds on to get the Pac-10 title, and USC wins out, I'll put a 2-loss USC team in.
So who's in at at-larges? TCU, Fla/Ala loser, USC
Leaving? undefeated Boise St, 2-loss Miami, 2-loss Pitt, 2-loss OkSt
Meaning? as much as cache means with Miami, it may come down to Actual Bowl Slots....
BCS Title: Fla (sake of discussion) v Texas
Rose Bowl: Oregon v. Big Ten Champ (Iowa for sake of discussion)
Orange Bowl:Ga Tech v. ????
Fiesta Bowl: ??? v ???
Sugar Bowl: ??? v. ???
Miami would be a nice choice in the Orange Bowl, but as a poster pointed out, an all-ACC Orange Bowl isn't likely. Let's start with putting the already qualified at-large's + the Big East champ Cincy (since they don't have a formal tie-in) in:
Sugar Bowl: would still like a SEC team, so with Ala sitting there, let's put them in.
Fiesta Bowl: would like a western team for attendance purposes and they get one of the 1st two at-large choices since the Big XII team is in the championship, so let's put USC there (big draw)
So now we have:
BCS Title: Fla v Tex
Rose Bowl: Oregon v. Iowa
Orange Bowl: GaTech v ???
Fiesta Bowl: USC v. ???
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. ???
Well b/c of conference tie-ins and choices for big name teams, we likely will not have the poor man's natl championship of Cincy v TCU possible. So let's slot:
* Put TCU in Fiesta v USC as Dallas area alums will flock to Arizona
* Cincy as an undefeated team has some interest and a Cincy v Alabama matchup would be good for ratings.
* This leaves the Orange Bowl. As I said before, Miami would be nice, but unlikely due to ACC rematchery. next best looking is either an undefeated Boise St or the Fighting T-Boone's. While OkSt may guarantee an ungodly number of tickets sold due to Pickens fronting cash, I think Boise gets it.
So that's it?
Well no. If either USC or Oregon drops another game, I think you may be looking at a "poor man's natl championship" in the Fiesta Bowl with TCU v. Boise St, Cincy v Alabama in the Sugar, and OkSt taking on GaTech in the Orange.
Any big losers from yesterday?
Yes, three big losers come out
1) Penn St-- they had a BCS bid locked if they could just win out. Now they may be competing with Wisconsin&tOSU/Iowa for 2nd best Big 10 bowl
2) Notre Dame-- Another team who had their BCS bid mapped out, beat Navy, Pitt, UConn, and Stanford, and they're cashing a huge check.
3) The Pac-10-- Oregon's loss as mentioned above puts 2 Pac-10 BCS bids in serious question.
We stand on the precipice of 4 Div I teams being undefeated at the end of the season, all with BCS victories. Chaos ensues.
I like Rich Rod. I don't have any real reason for this but I do. I dig his Aww, Shucks attitude and love the potential he brings to Michigan. I firmly believe that he would take us to consistent top 5 finishes if given the time to rebuild this program. There are many variables at work here so I'll just focus on:
- Michigan has the worst defense in the B10. This is not really news and is not relying on any statistics but just my opinion having watched a lot of B10 games this year. This defense has no time or personnel to change what it is and the real problem is in looking ahead to next year: The defense could actually be even worse. Our best D-lineman and Linebacker (by far) will be gone. We have no best Safety. Our best Corner (by far) may very possibly be gone as well. There are bright spots: Roh and Martin are beasts, Fitz has looked pretty good lately, Justin Turner gives us hope. Here's to hoping that simply having the continuity of a second year of the same defensive system will make Michigan's defense better.
- The offense continues to improve. The first half against Purdue was the single best half of offense we have seen since the Notre Dame game at least. Our first four drives ended in points, three of them touchdowns. Purdue is not a top end defense so we should have expected this but what, with all of the turnovers lately (read: past two seasons), it was like a breath of fresh air. Then the second half continued its curse on us. Next year should be better still for this Offense with second year QBs, faster and less-injured RBs, more experienced WRs, and more talented and developed O-linemen.
- This confluence of probabilities is not favorable for the current coaching staff. Michigan is known for giving its coaches time and not being hasty in firings. That said this situation may not right itself in time to save Rich Rod and friends even given the extra slack. The offense, no matter how good it gets, cannot be expected to make up for a defense sucking at the level of this year and probably next. At this point I would put our record next year at 7-5 and that may be optimistic. There is a serious and very uncomfortable chance of 3 straight losing seasons if I am reading the tea leaves right. It appears that 2011 is our real chance for redemption at this point but by then the atmosphere around Rich Rod and the program may be so toxic that anything short of awesome in 2011 wouldn't be enough to save this staff.
- I would put it at at least improbable that we will win either of our last two games this season. Assuming that we finish 5-7 and miss a bowl game for a second year in a row, is there any way recruiting does not take a serious hit? Yes, we are still Michigan but incoming recruits would have to be nervous about the possibility of a coaching change. This comes at a time when Michigan desperately needs to land the commitments they have now and add some more on defense to address depth issues.
- Danny Hope is an asshole.
Let me start by admitting that my gloomy attitude is a distinct departure from my earlier posts this season. I think we all can admit that our perspective has been changed somewhat in the past month. It is truly startling how fast this team has gone from "on the rise" to "on the ropes." So much of the near future of Michigan Football and Rich Rod's place in it looks to depend on the next two games. I don't like our chances of winning either of them but a win could make many of my above thoughts somewhat moot. So let's start by hoping against hope for a win at Wisky or against O$U.
There are glimmers of hope for the defense next year as well. Maybe Warren looks to increase his draft stock and stays. Maybe Turner is a freshman Warren next year and the two of them can solidify the corners. Maybe Vlad or a freshman MRob emerges as a competent safety to play opposite Woolfolk and saves our secondary. Perhaps Fitz steps up to lead a young linebacking unit to competency. Our D-line should be OK but you can't replace Graham with what we have on hand. So maybe the defense could be improved. The problem is then that one injury creates a hole and derails the improvement. And what we can bank on is that no season will be injury free.
So to sum up, I don't see us making a bowl game this year (but holy hell would it help down the road), and next year is looking like bowl game or bust. I should mention again that I like Rich Rod and hope he coaches here for a long while. The sad reality is that he is in a very bad spot and circumstances may send him packing before he can turn this boat around.
Go Blue. Beat them Badgers and save this season.