Inspired by a tweet from Chris Brown a.k.a smartfootball on this interesting but largely meaningless article from Rivals I decided to put together a post on offensive balance. This is going in place of my normal Monday post and I should be back in a week or so with Brian’s requested special teams primer.
Game Theory and Play Calling
Game theory suggests that teams will adjust their choices so that the average value of each choice (run or pass) will be equal. We also know that not all coaches are rational decision makers and there are likely very few who understand what game theory is. That is where nerds like myself come it to explain on blogs and help them understand.
The thinking goes like this: a team is really good at running the ball and really bad at passing the ball, but they are perfectly “balanced,” half their plays are rushes and half are passes. Since there is more value on a running play than a passing play, it doesn’t make sense to be calling so many pass plays, so the first adjustment happens and this team starts calling more rushes to take advantage of their more efficient running game. At some point, the defense responds to the new strategy and begins to stack against the run which of course makes success in the passing game easier. If the offense is playing optimal strategy, their final mix will be one that garners the same value for each play, regardless of whether it is a run or a pass, even if the distribution of plays is not 50/50.
This is how every team in the country fared on a per down basis in both rush and pass. The diagonal line represents balanced results on a per play basis. Teams on the top right are balanced and successful, teams on the bottom left are balanced and unsuccessful. Teams to the left of the line (Northwestern, Iowa, Michigan St, Notre Dame, Penn St, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota) should pass the ball more to become more optimal where teams below the line (Michigan, Ohio St and Illinois) have the opportunity to run the ball more to become more optimal. Purdue sits right at the intersection of all lines, balanced and mediocre. Most of the teams in the Big 10 where within reach of balance with the notable exceptions of Michigan St and Notre Dame, two teams that couldn’t get their rushing outputs to match their passing success. Time for another chart.
In this chart you can see how balance in calls does not necessarily equal balance in output. In fact, some of the least balanced play callers, on both ends of the spectrum no less, produced the most balanced results in output. Teams who rushed over 80% of the time like Georgia Tech, Navy and Army got almost the same value from passes as they did form rushes. On the other end, pass happy squads like Texas Tech, Kansas and Houston saw similar production on a per play basis from their running games as they did from their passing games. These teams are still running or passing teams, but their play calling balance has found an equilibrium where they are maximizing their total points by finding balance, even if they are calling a lot more of one type of play than another.
You can see that Michigan St and Notre Dame are both outliers in their respective deviations in success between run and pass, despite being towards the middle (especially MSU) when it comes to run pass selection.
This data does not include games for any team versus non D1 opponents (Baby Seal U). Only plays when the lead is 2 TDs or less or if the game is still in the first half are counted. Points per play uses my expected points model and is adjusted based on opponents played. Interceptions are included in this analysis but fumbles, fumble returns and interception returns are not. Including fumbles pushes the balance to passing as fumbles are more likely to occur on running plays than pass plays. Most of that difference is negated if you include returns as interceptions are much more likely to be returned than fumbles and the total value of interception returns is nearly equal to the difference between fumbles on running plays versus passing plays. The net of it all is that excluding fumbles and returns does not materially affect any of the data above.
[Ed: Also on the site: Barry Larkin's press conference.]
For Ohio State week, We get to have a bit more "vicious" in the vicious electronic questioning. Not only is Chris Webb, of Buckeye State Baseball and the BuckeyeNine, one of the bloggers who has been around for a while, but he's also one who I keep up with on a near daily basis during the season. So the familiarity breeds comfort with making fun of him and the Buckeyes in such a public space.
So without further adieu, let's get to the Q&A:
Describe your season in 3 sentences.
Rocky but expected. It's better to be 3 words than 3 sentences. Was told if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything. Whoops that is 3 sentences after all.
Plead the fifth.
Yeah, I'm sure losing to a pair of teams with a total of ZERO scholarship athletes has to be rough. So glad Ohio State could show us that.
What's the chances of Alex Wimmers making me post pictures of otters on Friday? We're not going to be no-hit again are we? [Ed: con't after the jump.]
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with a brand new segment on MGoBlog:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH TOMVH
That’s right—Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s
famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, I’m here to bring you a new weekly
feature highlighting 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.
And so, without further ado, I give you the first ever MGoProfile, with none other
than the one and only TomVH! We caught up with him for this exclusive interview:
1. TomVH—our very own go-to guy when it comes to recruiting. Hello! How did you discover MGoBlog?
I was on the internet one day, and I thought to myself, "I wonder if someone out there can make reading about Michigan sports… http://splicd.com/SnolmuFgW7w/8/9 ...and boom, there was MGoBlog, my idea...er, Brian's idea.
I think I found MGoBlog the way most people have. Through word of mouth, and an abnormal obsession with sports.
2. Your contributions are easily some of the most popular posts on the blog. What is the one thing you'd like us to know about your work with the recruits?
I'm not sure if there's anything that is important to know. A lot of people ask me how/why I got into this. This all really started because I took a well paying job out of college that I eventually hated, and realized that money wasn't going to keep me interested, or happy.
Growing up, I always thought that sports could be a job, and somewhere along the way, got away from that. I took a step back, and put together a plan that could get me towards a specific goal that I wanted. I thought about what niche I would be able to fit in that would play into my strengths, and this seemed to be a good place to start. I'm sure everyone can tell that I'm not as gifted with the pen (or keyboard) as Brian, Tim, and a lot of the MGoCommunity.
I know that I'll probably never win a Pulitzer prize, which is why I focus on other areas to move closer to my goal. I'm not going to try to be something that I'm not. I've built some really good contacts, and have had some exciting conversations about potential opportunities in my future, so I'm headed in the right direction.
I’m sure you are. Do you have any favorite stories about players who have since committed to Michigan?
There's not really one story in particular that sticks out. I think, in general, it's pretty cool to have someone call you and say, "I committed to Michigan, I can't wait! Go Blue!" Not so much that they're saying it, but to know that they're living out a dream, and are genuinely excited to be playing for Michigan is neat to be a part of.
3. What's one of your favorite hobbies outside of Michigan (or college) football?
I love golf. I grew up on a golf course, and that's always been my sanctuary; the place that I can get away. Besides that, I obviously enjoy watching sports.
4. Don’t we all. What else makes TomVH tick? Describe the perfect meal.
That's pretty hard, because I love food. It would probably be easier to describe a day of eating food that I've been craving lately. Breakfast - An order of basically everything at the Dinner Bell in Mt. Pleasant. (I actually think this closed, not sure). Lunch - The medium sized steak and cheese with pizza sauce from Penn Station, and fries, with a cool 24 oz bottle of Faygo Red Pop. Dinner - Tortellini and Chicken a la creme from Kruse and Muer, along with the bread, of course. Polish that off with a piece of Bumpy cake from around the 90's, before they sold out. I might be in a coma after that day, but I would be satisfied.
5. Wow… I think went up one Adidas Replica Jersey size just reading that. Speaking of the maize and blue, can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I'm a Michigan fan because of my Dad. I can remember when I was 6 years old, my Aunt handed me a cup of water, and the cup happened to be a Michigan State cup. I looked at it, looked at my Dad, then to my Aunt, and gave the cup back.
Through him, I learned about Michigan sports. He was really the one that took me to games, and taught me sports in general.
One of my most memorable Michigan sporting events was sitting court side at a Michigan basketball game that was held at the Palace. Chris Webber dunked right next to us, and looked over in our general direction and smiled. Since I was young, I naturally thought he smiled at me.
6. Very cool story. With that being said, who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
Tyrone Wheatley is my favorite Wolverine. I'm younger, so he was who I always watched as a kid, and tried to imitate when playing with friends. I actually had the chance to talk to him on the phone recently, and we exchange texts every now and then, which is unreal.
So there you have it. We’ll try to run this feature every week, at least until the start of the 2010 season. Each time we’ll highlight another of MGoBlog’s celebrated posters and ask them six tantalizing questions about themselves and their love for the Maize and Blue. Tell us what you think, who you’d like to see profiled, or even a question
you’d like to hear answered by a specific MGoBlogger. See you next week!
I sat in on a teleconference with Barry Larkin hosted by MGoBlue today. Lots of interesting stuff discussed. Barry will be the 6th number retired in Michigan baseball history, with the ceremony happening at Saturday's Ohio State game at 5:45pm. Several former Michigan stars should be in attendance and coach Bud Middaugh.
MGoBlue has full audio for the Buckeyes who can't read.
On the honor of having his number 16 retired:
This is my first number retirement. This is certainly special. I got the call – Rich Maloney called me up, told me they were going to do it. Once again, just an honor. Just a little sad that some of the people that were very instrumental in me come to Michigan, mainly Bo Schembechler, is not around to see this happen. I had an opportunity when I was inducted into the Hall of Honor a couple years ago and I spoke to him before that. It was my last conversations I had with him. It was kind of a sad thing. We had this joke going on about how when I came to Michigan I came to play football.
He used to come out and heckle me during baseball workouts. He'd be at baseball work outs. I used to get on him about that. I told him alright, someday I'll tell this story. I told the story when I was inducted into the Hall of Honor, but he wasn't there to defend himself. But I'm very excited about it.
On being recruited as a football player:
Bo came down to recruit my brother who was a year before me..
Bo spent so much time, he forged a real nice relationship with my mom. And he told my mom he would come down was going to get the next Larkin kid that came out and that was me. He came down and did the whole recruiting thing. He told me about the University of Michigan and told me he would even allow me play baseball.
He told me that Michigan football – no one came to Michigan to play baseball. He told me also that a couple guys were going to leave out of school as juniors. they came back for their senior years. He told me he was going to redshirt me my freshman year.
At that particular time was the first time I was able to just concentrate on one particular game, one particular sport. My learning curve was vertical basically. I got a lot better a lot quicker. And after that year he let me play baseball, I had to tell him that I decided I was not going to play football…
If you didn't know Bo, you certainly didn't want to see that side of him when you tell him you aren't going to contribute to his program. It was nothing nice. It was like a bull in a china shop. If he was going to come across me he would absolutely kill me. I tell this story a lot. It was a fabulous relationship. It was really a big part of why I came to Michigan.
On his relationships with the University even through the Reds organization:
My rookie year in the big leagues, when I left Michigan and went to play in Cincinnati, I didn't really talk to any body. We were in Wrigley Field, not to far away from Michigan, and I want to say some guys from the baseball team came up to the game. But without me talking to anyone, the organ player, who normally plays this organ music – baseball music- he played Hail to the Victors when I came up when I was coming up getting ready to hit. I thought that was the most absolute coolest thing ever. I didn't ask him to do it, I didn't have to ask him to do it. It was as if people were just so in tune to it… It was just amazing. I'm so proud to just have attended the University.
On the #16:
The number 16 was just the number that they gave me. I actually wore number 11 growing up. Bill Freehan had that number and that number was retired. The other number that I wore was number 14. That was for Pete Rose. Number 16 was just the number they gave me my freshman year and there is no real story behind as far as I know.
On Bo's opinion that baseball was a mistake:
Bo, he is… No. [laughs] He did not acknowledge. I'm not even sure it was a mistake. He told me often when he would heckle me that he could strike me out anyway. He was a lefty and had a nice little curveball, supposedly. That's what he told me. He said he would intimidate me. He would throw me up and in, get me off the plate, throw a back door curve ball. Strike me out just about every single time.
On coming up north:
People ask me why I went up there to play baseball. I didn't. I went up there to play football. That was really my intent… I knew that I wanted to go to Michigan… One of the things that really attracted me to Michigan was the helmets. It was wanting to wear the winged helmets and be part of the program. I loved it. I went up there because of the condition of the football program and that they had a good baseball program as well. It really solidified things for me.
On his experiences as a student:
It was great. I lived in West Quad my freshman year. Casey close was my roommate. it was great. a controlled environment. There were baseball people around us […] I had great people, great football people around me […]. It was a great campus and a great program to be a part of. I really enjoyed it.
On Bo heckling:
He didn't really sit around the batting cage. […] Bo's M.O. was this. Bo would come to practice on his way the indoor football field. […] He would take a circuitous route, he would walk out of the Academic offices, walk outside of the baseball stadium, inside the first base line, find the plate, down the third baseline, heckle me, and then walk out into the indoor football building.
He wouldn't sit around there while everybody was around. He would go and kind of stand in the stands. It was funny because we would be out there a lot of times, and it would be cold, it'd be windy, it'd be raining or whatever. Bo would wear a parka. He would look like Darth Vader with his parka pulled over his head. He would walk in and he would yell at me, "LARKIN!" and I'm going "oh my goodness, who in the world is that?"
Eventually, I convinced my teammates that it was Bo. So I had one time, I had one of the kids go up into the stands and go look up underneath the parka. He came back, he was like "this is unbelievable, that really is Bo Schembechler."
On if he would ever talk back to Bo:
I would just kind of laugh, or look at him and do whatever. But not really. It was Bo for crying out loud. It was Bo Schembechler.
On his relationship with Bud Middaugh:
I credit Bud a lot on giving me the foundations. He helped me out tremendously. He also was very caring and supportive. It was a little different being the head baseball coach because he was the boss. The relationship was a little more challenging than my relationship with Bo. Bo would joke a lot with me, but Bud, the success of his program was predicated on me going out and doing well. It was a little different relationship, but definitely one of caring.
He and his wife Dee, they opened up their home to us players. He took the time, he knew I was the only African American player on the team at the time. There were some issues that came up that he was very sensitive to. Once again, he was a person that opened up everything to me and just made me feel comfortable. I give him a lot of credit for – almost like tough love. Helping me out, helping me grow as a person, challenging me, and being sensitive to different issues that I was faced with.
On Ohio State as a Bigger Rival:
It was always a thing for Ohio State being the fact that I was from Cincinnati. People ask me all the time why I didn't go to Ohio State. I didn't get recruited by Ohio State. My college roommate Casey Close, who was player of the year in baseball one year, he didn't get recruited by Ohio State either, and he grew up in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus. There was always being from Ohio, there was always that Ohio State-Michigan thing.
But rivalry was the rivalry. The rivalry was always the best team of the time. Whoever we had to beat to win the game was who we had to beat to win the game. As a player, I didn't buy into getting up a little more for that particular series. […]
I thought you play the way you play regardless of who you play. You don't try to create any more. I thought that was a media driven thing, and now that I'm part of the media, I understand that it really is. It wasn't anything extra special other than the fact that a lot of people would bring it to my attention that I was from Ohio and playing against the [sarcasm] Ohio State University.
On future hopes:
I think one thing that I'd love to be able to do is say that I am a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. That's one thing that I can honestly say that I really want to happen. All of the other accolades are fine; those are great. But to be in the class of the best of the best, that's somewhere that I definitely want to be.
As far as an analyst, I really enjoy the opportunity to teach. That's what I really love to do with baseball – I love to instruct and teach. I do work as an analyst with the [MLB] Network. I also do some cultural exchange programs. I build a baseball academy. I instruct kids – travel the world instructing kids. My last tour was in Taiwan. I have an education company. We've combined education and sports to make it a fun, learning experience.
I just want to stay involved. I really enjoy the game of baseball. I enjoy teaching the game of baseball. I enjoy pointing out how difficult it is, and enlightening people on why things happen the way they do during a game. I don't think there are enough attention paid to the fundamentals of sport. I just see this as an opportunity to drive home the attention and due diligence to that dynamic of fundamentals.
Yesterday we took a look at the potential recruits for Michigan's offensive line, so far. The other side of this equation is the defensive line. With the large hole that was left by Brandon Graham, Michigan brought in some good potential replacements in Jibreel Black, and Terry Talbott for 2010. They have also already added DE Brennen Beyer to the 2011 class.
WIth Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen going into their junior years, adding players in this class will be essential for the future success of the defensive front. Here's a look at who Michigan is targeting right now.
6'3", 275 lbs.
Cooper is a tackle prospect that originally wasn't as hyped as some of the other defensive players. Lately, he has been the talk of a lot of recruiting circles for the combination of size, speed, and strength he already brings to the position. Cooper will be visiting Michigan on May 21st for the Big House BBQ, along with his mother.
"I am excited and grateful for the Michigan offer. They have a great program, and I can't wait to see it for myself." - Darian Cooper
Both he and his mother have started to build a great relationship with the Michigan coaches, and they look to continue that. Michigan seems to be in favorable position, but we'll know more after his visit. He told me that his mother will likely move where ever he decides to go, so distance won't play a factor. Here's his junior highlights for your enjoyment.
6'5", 250 lbs.
Rock has long been known to have MIchigan as his favorite, and that is yet to change. Rock boasts approximately 14 offers, including Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska to name a few. Rock has been to Ann Arbor a few times, and has spoken highly of Michigan every time he visits. The last time we spoke, he told me that he doesn't have a list, per se, but Michigan is as high as any other team. Unless something drastic happens, I would expect Michigan to land Rock. When asked today when his decision will be made, he said, soon. One of these links is Chris Rock's highlight video, and the other is a clip of Chris Rock doing stand up. Choose wisely.
6'5", 220 lbs.
Barnes was a visitor for the Spring Game this year. He came with the Top Prospects Family, which was founded by Je'Ron Stokes father, and Barnes left with an offer. It's too early to name favorites yet, but he did tell me that the visit to Michigan was an awesome experience.
"Michigan has great tradition, and they're a great school. I can't really say I have a list right now, but Michigan is definitely up there, you could say that." - Deion Barnes
Deion attends the same high school as current Wolverine Je'Ron Stokes. With the Stokes family guiding him through the process there's a 100% chance that any negative recruiting towards Michigan will not be effective.
6'4", 260 lbs.
Croce is the second defensive tackle from Maryland that Michigan is looking at this year, and he is high on Michigan as well. Vincent was in Ann Arbor for the spring game, and came away with Michigan on top of his list, as far as schools he's visited. He stayed in the state, and took a trip to MSU the next day, and nothing had changed. Still early as far as a decision goes for Croce, but the Spring Game has put in Michigan in favorable position here as well. His highlight video is here.
6'3", 230 lbs.
I'm going to include Anthony on here, because he has a really impressive offer list. I've spoken with him before, and he spoke highly of Michigan in general. With the offer list that he has, he was quick to admit that it's easy to confuse coaches and schools, let alone narrow down his list. He's a prospect to keep an eye on, if anything else. Anthony had 12 1/2 sacks in only 6 games this past year, which was the result of an injury. If Michigan can get him to visit, then we'll have a chance. My initial thought is that he will probably stay in the south. It should be noted that his father and grandfather were both linemen at Miami. From what he says in this in your face interview with ESPN, it sounds like Michigan may have a shot.
6'4", 290 lbs.
Hale is a midwest defensive tackle, that actually plays as a huge defensive end in high school. His size says that he'll move inside somewhere, and could actually end up being a nice fit for Michigan's style of defense. Hale is somewhat close to campus, so it shouldn't be too hard to get him there. Hale has offers from Florida, to Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Penn State, among others. He will be highly sought after, and Michigan should have a decent shot. His highlight video is awaiting.
6'2", 240 lbs.
Marshall is a big time prospect from Virginia, that was recently offered by Michigan. He plans on attending the Big House BBQ on May 21st, but I haven't confirmed that, yet. The visit should tell us more on where his interest level is at, and if he and his mother would be ok with the distance from home.
His highschool has a nice website, with a video interview from Corey and a local station. Towards the end of the interview, Corey says he has an unnamed favorite, which is not Michigan, but is still evaluating schools.
These are the bigger names for now. As is with the offensive line recruiting, this list will continue to change as we get closer to the season. Here's a few names that may pop up soon, or just to keep in mind.
Giorgio Newberry: (likely won't choose Michigan)
Fort Pierce, FL
6'6, 255 lbs.
6'3, 220 lbs.
6'1", 310 lbs.
6'4, 210 lbs.
6'3, 250 lbs.
Fort Meade, FL
6'5, 240 lbs.
Huntington Beach, CA
6'1" 230 lbs.
Not offered (Night of Champions visitor)