"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Todd HowardNOTE: Major edits made 9/18 to fix statistical errors -- used the opportunity to do a little clarification, and add some context for the "you knocked on boobie -- die mthrfkr!" contingent, which I realize I kind of brought on myself by not adding any context.
ALSO NOTE: This is e-pinion, not empirical fact.
Alas, again, I have begun to write a long Misopo-reply, only to upgrade mid-writing to a Diary.
This one goes out to MGoHero jg2112's "Support Boubacar Cissoko this Saturday" post, in which 'jg' posited that Boubacar Cissoko is this year's Martavious Odoms, i.e. a great player who gets the general M fan negbang beyond his actual faults.*
Cissoko is not Odoms.
For one, "Tay" is your vintage Rich-Rod slot ninja, a guy recruited for a system position. Cornerback, however, doesn't change much from Hermann to Robinson -- coverage, at the college level at least, is coverage, and every system puts cornerbacks in multiple roles during a game. In other words, Cissoko's size or jet-engine-ness are not something to get used to because of the coaching shift; he's a Carr recruit playing a position that fundamentally requires the same skill set.
His problems in the Notre Dame game, as noted in Brian's UFR, were not just size. He was bailing and leaving large cushions. This could be underclassman-y stuff from a true sophomore left out to dry with no safety help, but the mental mistakes, I think, were not what you expect from a lock-down corner. Or more importantly, not what you'd expect from a guy you might expect to join the ranks of the post-Bo pantheon of great corners.
Hey, Misopogon. It's Brian's bolded subconscious. Guess what I'm here for?
You know me too well...
That's Boubacar's stats through two games into his sophomore season. Now lets compare with other Michigan cornerbacks who
True freshmen who became serviceable-to-good late in their careers:
The Late-'90s/Early '00s Backfield of Horrors
And just so they don't feel left out, here's the stats after 2 games of true sophomores or redshirt freshmen who didn't start until their second years:
So what does this tell us? Well, it's not good, but it's also not much. Among the stars, the only one close to Cissoko's numbers (but still better by a solid margin) was Leon Hall. Hall, like Cissoko, was mostly a nickelback his freshman year, but Leon beat out upperclassman versions of 5-stars Markus Curry and Jeremy LeSueur for the starting gig as a sophomore. Without similar talent to compare Cissoko against, it has to be assumed that Cissoko's playing time wasn't as hard to earn as Hall's.
I think at this point, Cissoko has not demonstrated that he belongs with that group, who all:
- Were 6 feet or taller
- Earned starts as freshmen over returning starters
- Showed an early aptitude for generating tackles.
The stars-are-big-and-get-lots-of-playing-time-and-tackles-early lesson is the only relatively solid (and that has been questioned) thing I found in the statistics available (if anyone has access to better stats for corners, I'm all ears!)
So What Have We Here?We've established that Cissoko isn't likely to be Woodson or Law (which, like, it's not like it's a sin to not be a Heisman winner or an NFL All-Pro). So then what is he?
As for the guys who became serviceable/good later in their careers, they generated those stats in a lot fewer snaps (e.g. Weathers didn't start playing regularly in '94 until late in the season; M.Curry was mostly a backup his freshman year).
Markus Curry is a possibility. Like Cissoko, he was a kick/punt returner his freshman year. A well-hyped recruit, he played early his freshman year but lost playing time to classmate Marlin Jackson's emergence early in the Big Ten season. Curry was a starter early his sophomore year, but then fell behind LeSeuer and Zia Combs (until that horrible injury -- G-d bless him wherever he is today).
The big difference between Cissoko and Curry the Younger, I think, is size, which has a big effect on either player's game. Curry was hyped as fast, but on the field his speed and agility turned out to be overrated, while after what we've seen of Cissoko, he definitely has the quicks and flat-out speed to keep up with anyone. Boubacar, however, is probably a good inch shorter than his listed height of 5'9", while Curry was just under 6.
Overall, Curry is a good comparison, but not great. Curry was bigger, and when he finally broke into the depth chart as a junior, the major difference IIRC was that he played "bigger," i.e. he was at his best when leaving a cushion, closing the gap, and popping the ball out, as opposed to pressing at the line, staying between the receiver and the ball, then trying to get his hands in the way.
Cissoko is never going to play, act, or be a big cornerback. He's a cover guy. In gauging his career arc, then, I would think that he will become exactly what he wasn't in the Notre Dame game. I can't fault him for giving Floyd a cushion (and there was only one fade which was pretty undefendable). But that's never going to be Boubacar's bread and butter.
The guys that Boubacar charts out closest to: I hate myself for doing this, but it's Whitley and Howard. Both are short (like Boubacar). Both were highly regarded recruits. Both were forced into lots of early playing time. Both were labeled Future Stars of the XFL by their sophomore years.
Of these two guys, Cissoko's early numbers are more like Whitley, but he strikes me as more Howard-esque than Whitley-esque. Todd was the smaller of the two, but also the faster, and more effective. He was owned early his sophomore year against Plaxico Burress, mirroring Cissoko's game against Floyd, when Todd was forced to give a cushion and keep the big guy underneath. Eventually that game, Howard was moved over for David Terrell, who had the height and ups to run with Plaxico in man.
By his (Todd Howard's) senior year, he was a poor man's Morgan Trent, necessitating early starting time for freshmen Markus Curry, Jeremy LeSueur (RS) and Marlin Jackson. But he was world's more effective than he had been as a sophomore.
Howard, I remember vividly, also probably was more overrated than any other Wolverine -- every year -- in progressive versions of EA Sports's NCAA Football Series.
Unlike Whitley, Todd Howard was fast, and wasn't relegated to the short side. He was out-manned against top talent, but help up pretty well against receivers who weren't 6'8" or could leap small buildings in a single bound, or ran NFL routes, or scurried around in free space underneath thanks to Northwestern's spread, or had Drew Brees bullseyes coming at them, or were named Charles Rogers.
That's not to say that his career potential is lifelong bomb threat. Remember, after all, Whitley was the one who generated the bulk of M fan ire. Howard, on the other hand, covered the wide side, made the occasional great play (especially against Ohio State -- that photo below was a key PBU in the '01 game) and fared well when he wasn't going against future NFL talent. Like you, I was hoping for a lot more. But Todd Howard isn't all that bad.
It's perfectly okay to be Todd Howard -- so long as the guy opposite him isn't Whitley. And fortunately for us, barring early NFL, Donovan Warren is probably only just past the half-way mark of his career, and between Turner and the guys we look pretty good for next year, I think M's chances of scoring another one of those top-end guys ain't too shabby.
What's in Store?In Year 2, Game 3 of Todd Howard's career, he had a breakout game at Syracuse minus McNabb, with 10 tackles, 1 sack for 15 yards, 2 PBUs and a forced fumble. Eastern Michigan isn't Syracuse '99, but hey, if Cissoko is all over the field on Saturday, remember you heard it here first.
There's a lot of time left in Cissoko's career. This is just an early analysis, and I think only made possible because he plays a position which, at least at Michigan, has tended to show its cards early.
Still, provided the other side of the field has Day 1 Draft Pick caliber guy opposite him, another Todd Howard isn't that bad of a prospect, really. What did Brian say in his secondary preview:
My go-to (and now rapidly aging) comparison was Arkansas corner Chris Houston, who I once saw battle the South Carolina star receiver before Kenny McKinley (his name escapes me) in a pitched Thursday night battle. Houston lined up two inches from his cover's grill and rode him into fades all night, some of which the opponent brought in spectacularly. That's life with feisty dwarves.Word.
P.S. If Cissoko is Howard, this only adds fuel to the "Justin Turner is Jeremy LeSueur" contingent, which does not yet exist, and thus probably can't use fuel. But now it's out there.
* The whole "folks tend to knock on Odoms" thing is played out, IMHO, as evidenced by every show of Odoms support being met with a cascade of "I've always liked the guy" posts. I don't remember ever wanting to knock him, except to yell "take your gloves off!" into a couple of monsoons.
While I have been covering other Olympic sports here at mgoblog, my major focus is unmistakably baseball. So with fall ball coming up over the next few weeks, including a fall game against the Ontario Blue Jays of the Premier Baseball League of Ontario (an upper level summer ball league of Canada), I'll be posting a few diaries with baseball related content.
Today's is a break down of the newly released 2010 Michigan baseball schedule. In this year's schedule, two things stood out to me. First, this schedule is tough. Unlike some other BigTen baseball teams, Michigan is going out of its way to schedule real opponents.
Second, our big name weekend series is at North Carolina. UNC is a great program that has had great success in reaching Omaha, including each of the last three seasons. If Michigan takes even one game here, we'll be making national headlines in the baseball world. Add a trip to play two against Coastal Carolina, and you have Michigan with a pretty good chance to gain some major respect.
The last thing that jumps out to me is we are playing all nine conference opponents (Wisconsin dropped baseball in the early 90s). The BigTen has only 8 week conference seasons, allowing one team to be skipped over. This year, the team we were supposed to miss was Michigan State, but instead of dropping them from the schedule, Michigan has scheduled the Spartans for a home-and-home mid-week series. Those two games will not count toward the conference standings.
As far as the nonconference, those previously mentioned match ups against UNC and Coastal Carolina aren't the only bright spots. The BigEast/BigTen Challenge (make your spring break plans now!) also has Michigan playing quality opponents. Michigan will face Louisville in the season opener, and it could very well be against a ranked Cardinal squad. After Louisville, Michigan will face St. John's and South Florida. St. John's isn't quite as strong as they were two years ago, but South Florida is picked to finish well in the BigEast, possibly dethroning Louisville.
Michigan opens the year at Texas Tech (also a potential spring break destination, but prepare to be massively disappointed), playing Maine twice, then the Red Raiders twice. Texas Tech is a middle of the road Big12 team, which places them probably in the top 3-4 teams in the BigTen.
From Coach Maloney (via MGoBlue):
I certainly think this is the most challenge schedule we have had in my time at Michigan," Maloney said. "We have the privilege of playing against some really top-notch schools from top-notch conferences. Texas Tech is on the rise in the Big 12, Coastal Carolina is one of the winningest teams over the last five years in college baseball and North Carolina is a tremendous challenge, especially at their ballpark.
Michigan has their proposed, I say this because there's a good chance it will be snowed or rained out as it does almost every year, against IPFW from March 26-28. The BigTen opener will be on the road this year at Indiana, and the home BigTen opener will be the following week against Purdue. The home conference schedule includes those Boilermakers, Iowa, potential favorite Ohio State, and a dark horse BigTen contender Northwestern.
Midweek games including the aforementioned MSU series, as well as the usual home-and-home with Notre Dame, which almost always finds a way to get rained out on Tuesday, meaning we play a double header at Notre Dame on Wednesday. I'm making my prediction now that it'll happen again.
Speaking of new scheduling traditions, the annual scrimmage with the New York Mets is March 21 in Port St. Lucie. Here's hoping we can pull off the upset we've been so close to the last few seasons.
Giving the schedule a quick once over, my initial, premature, probably a bit overly optimistic when I think about our starting pitching staff, gut feeling has a record around 37-17, 15-9 in the BigTen. This will be close to earning us a spot in the NCAA, with a win over UNC and/or Coastal Carolina, it would greatly improve our odds.
As far as the BigTen Tournament, the site still hasn't been announced. According to my Buckeye counterpart at TheBuckeyeNine, the coaches just met this last week, and the conference heads will meet later this month. This is welcome news as the rumor I heard circulating around was the Tournament was going to be in Columbus again this year. Bleh. So this is good news.
1. Allen was out of bounds! The refs made the right call. The video evidence was conclusive. Even your own local news station agreed. Here is a picture of the very first replay they showed.
After seeing that, would you even bother looking at a second replay? NO, cause he's out.
2. The holding call on Rudolph's big gainer was a good call. Jimmy knew it. That's why he was standing back at the 10 yard line holding his peepee.
But even if you think Ginger boy's play wasn't holding, there was still another holding on that same play!
3. The refs were not paid off. This is just beyond stupid. They were not biased for the big ten team. This is also freaking stupid. If the refs were so biased, how do you explain this?
Late in the 3rd, Michigan had MORE penalty yardage. But don't let the facts get in your way.
Not to mention your line got away with holding all day long. None of these were called.
4. Time ran out. No, there should not have been one more second on the clock. Maybe if your coach was better or your player smarter, tate would have gone down immediately and called a timeout. But instead he wasted 4 seconds by running to the sideline. And then the clock stops when the ref signals it to. Here is the exact moment when the ref signaled to stop the clock. (nevermind the response delay of the clock operator)
5. Allen's taunting was a weak call. But it was the right call. And here's another one that didn't get called.
6. Mouton should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. But the REF DIDN'T SEE IT that way. Which isn't surprising considering that on that same play, not only did Mouton get dived on, but there were 4 (FOUR!) other holdings that the refs didn't see.
You lost. Deal with it. Cause you've got sparty coming, and you're not very good against them for some strange reason.
I'm not saying you're a bunch of fricken crybabies. I'm not saying you're fricken hypocrites. But your coach is. That's just a fact. I'm not saying he's a fat, lying, whiny, crybaby. But you can't argue with the facts.
It's a maize out double header at the UM soccer complex tonight as the women take on Oakland at 5:30pm and the men take on Detroit at 7pm. Get there early and get a rally towel or a set of maize pom poms. Woo giveaways!
The women (3-5 record) had a roster shuffle late last weekend as senior defender and captain Kylie Neschke and sophomore Clare Stachel both were lost to season ending injuries. Taking their spots on the roster are sophomore midfielder/defender Kara Koppinger, who saw minutes against USC, and freshman defender Shana Manning.
Oakland comes into the match at 2-3, with losses to MSU and WMU. The Grizzlies have been outscored 3-8, with two of those goals coming from #10 Sarah Lynch. Their top shooter is #6 Dani Haelewyn with 11. Their goalie, #1 Whitney Sarkis is pretty good with only 3 goals against in 17 shots on goal.
Michigan enters the match at 3-5 after going 0-2 in California this weekend. Michigan has eight different players with a goal, including Jackie Carron and Kristen Goncalves who each have 2 a piece. Holly Hein continues to lead Michigan in shots with 11.
Something to keep an eye on at this game is the play of Michigan's goalies. Haley Kopemeyer is getting more time in the net these days as she has set her career high for saves in a game in each of her games this year. One item that should be noted though, is that the defense has been a bit more porous with Kopemeyer in the net. In 419 minutes at keeper, Kristen Keane has faced 20 shots on goal (10 goals, 10 saves); meanwhile, Kopemeyer has faced 32 shots on goal (8 goals, 24 saves) in 290 minutes.
The men (4-1 record) look to have a pretty easy match against Detroit, a team Michigan has done very well against in the past, with a 5-0-2 record. Team goal leader Mauro Fuzettialso has a great track record against Detroit, including last year's game where he posted a hat trick.
Speaking of Fuzetti, he's really racking up the points this year. He's got 5 goals and 2 assists on the year already for 12 points. He ranks second in the BigTen in points and goals right now, but leads in shots with 26.
Make it out to the game tonight and support your Wolverines. Also, if anyone happens to take some good pictures, drop me an email, and I'll post it up.
Updated with the correct spelling of Fuzetti.
In an attempt to get a better grasp of what we can expect Saturday, I took a look at Rich Rod's teams' efforts in weeks following upset victories, going back to his first season at WVU. At this point you're probably wondering if there's going to be a
Why yes, a chart:
*not technically an upset, but relevant to our interests
As we can see above, RR's record is 7-3, and 7-1 if we exclude last year's disaster area/statistical outlier. The lone loss was the bowl game following the 2002 season in which WVU upset Pitt in the backyard brawl in the last game of the regular season, then fell to an unranked Virginia team in the Continental Tire Bowl.
It would seem, based on the data above, that RR has no problem motivating his team following emotional, upset victories. I would say the scenario most applicable to our current situation is November, 2003. An unranked WVU team knocked off their rival #16 Pitt in a huge game, and the next week climbed into the rankings at #25 and polished off a Syracuse team that would finish 6-6. Sounds pretty familiar, right?
As we know, Ron English's crew (Embrace the Process!) gave Northwestern a scare last week in their home stadium, falling 24-27 on a last second field goal. This is considerable improvement after losing to Army by two touchdowns at home in the opening game. However, with RR's track record for keeping his teams prepared following upset wins, and this year's team's hunger to erase the embarrassment of last year, perhaps I have less to worry about than I originally thought.
A couple items I thought I might add to clarify things further:
- As we can see, our sample size extremely small at only 10 games, 8 if we exclude last year. This is largely due to the fact that RR had no upsets in his first year (3 wins against cupcakes) and after that his team was rarely an underdog. What this means is that this shouldn't be taken as gospel, but rather something to give us a gist of what to expect.
- The average margin of victory in the upset wins was 8.7 points, whereas the average margin of victory in the post-upset win games was 18 points. This is to be expected because teams in the former category should be pretty good (hence being the favorite against RR's team) so you would expect the games should be close, but is nonetheless reassuring.
So quite a bit of discussion has opened up in the original post about the Efficiency Rating only taking into account the passing efficiency, and in today's College Football world, quarterbacks are much, much more than that.
In this post I'll take a closer look at the current efficiency rating and how it turned out last year in terms of ranking the quarterbacks, as well as taking a stab at my own Quarterback Efficiency Rating, which will hopefully take into account the broader, tangible aspects of a quarterback's game.
Last Season's ResultsTop Ten in Passing Efficiency - 2008
|1||Sam Bradford, Oklahoma||SO||180.84||10.02||1
|2||David Johnson, Tulsa||SR||178.69||8.9||2
|3||Colt McCoy, Texas||JR||173.75||8.07||6
|4||Tim Tebow, Florida||JR||172.37||8.23||5
|5||Zac Robinson, Oklahoma St.||JR||166.84||7.43||9
|6||Mark Sanchez, Southern California||JR||164.64||8.29||4
|7||Chase Clement, Rice||SR||163.92||8.31||3
|8||Graham Harrell, Texas Tech||SR||160.04||7.97||7
|9||Case Keenum, Houston||SO||159.91||7.96||8
|10||Chase Daniel, Missouri||SR||159.44||7.11||10|
(For comparison's sake, Pat White's QER was a 6.3)
Most of the names on the list are pretty obvious ones. The who's who of College Football Quarterbacks last year. Bradford, McCoy, Tebow, Robinson, Sanchez, Harrell, and Daniel all had phenomenal seasons and were in the spotlight of College Football because of it.
Johnson, Clement, and (to an extent) Keenum, however, weren't mentioned too much. They don't play at high-profile programs, and don't play against Grade-A competition, but you can't make an argument that they had great seasons. is David Johnson a better quarterback than McCoy, Tebow, and Sanchez? Almost certainly not. He is a good passing quarterback, however, and his rating shows that.
Key Players Not in Passing Efficiency Top 10
|26||Pat White, West Virginia|| 142.35|
|39||Michael Desormeaux, La.-Lafayette||135.01|
|75||Julian Edelman, Kent St.||118.83|
Maybe a bit of a stretch to call White, Desormeaux and Edelman "Key Players", but there's a method to my madness. Edelman, Desormeaux, and White had the 11th, 32nd, and 52nd highest rushing yards per game, respectively.
Obviously this didn't suddenly make them some of the best quarterbacks in the nation, as none of the three were invited to the Heisman Ceremony, but it's just an example of the aspects of the game that Passing Efficiency doesn't take into account.
Quarterback Efficiency Rating?So if Passing Efficiency isn't a great way to evaluate the overall quality of a quarterback, what other ways are there?
Well.. there aren't too many.
So I took a stab at my own Quarterback Efficiency Rating. It has its flaws but it's a more comprehensive, all-encompassing look at what a quarterback does and evaluates them based on a multitude of other statistics, beyond just passing.
Quarterback Efficiency Rating (QER)
(Completions) + (Passing Yards x 0.5) + (Passing Touchdowns x 50) +
(Interceptions x -25) + (Rushing Yards x 0.5) + (Rushing Touchdowns x 50)
(Rushing Attempts) + (Passing Attempts)
In this formula, not only is the best possible rating just over 100 (no one would ever realistically reach over 100, or even close to 100) for an easier analysis of the rating, but a pocket passer:
26/32, 280yds, 3 TDs (QB Rating: 9.875)
Has a comparable rating to a dual threat or even a running quarterback:
14/21, 150yds, 1 TD, 10att, 96yds, 2 TDs (QB Rating: 9.26)
There's no arguing that, in this example, the pocket passer had a better game, but at least with the QER they were about on the same level, whereas the Passing Efficiency Rating would have given the pocket passer a 185.7 rating, and the dual threat quarterback a 142.4.
Again, not perfect. But neither is the Passing Efficiency Rating. It might not make it into NCAA Recordkeeping, but it might help us in the bloggosphere rate quarterbacks on more than just their passing ability.
That's all for this installment of Behind the Numbers, please feel free to let me know if you have any constructive advice for the QER. Thanks for reading!