to play football, not to play trumpet
For obvious reasons, field position is critically important to the success of a football team. This is a timeless fact. Teams starting with poor field position have a tougher time scoring because they must move the ball further to get into scoring position. Football geeks wearing green eyeshades and helicopter caps such as myself talk about an obscure stat related to this; I’m not sure it even has a name. I’ll refer to it as points per field position, meaning the average number of points a team has scored (or allowed) from a given starting field position. I thought it’d be interesting to look at this week’s matchup through this prism. For this analysis I’ve split the field into 25 yard chunks for simplicity’s sake and also to boost statistical significance. I’ve excluded Montana St. from MSU’s dataset since they are an FCS opponent and therefore not worthy of analytical scrutiny. I keed…not really. Onward
Advantage: Push with a nod to Michigan. The reason I say push is that the overall averages of both teams are within 0.1 points of each other. I don’t pretend that this analysis is able to reliably detect this level of separation. However, closer scrutiny of the data reveals an apparent advantage for Michigan. That is, in addition to being awesomer.
Starting in their own territory, both offenses perform about the same. The separation comes when the offenses start drives in enemy territory. There are only 2 drives available for MSU, which I take as evidence that their offensive special teams (the return teams) are not sweet, but there’s nothing to say that more data will necessarily improve their average rather than hurt it. So, for now, I’ll believe my flimsy 2 drive average of 3 pts per possession. For equal filed position, Michigan scores an average of 4 points per possession. Hence they get the nod for having demonstrated proficiency in enemy territory. Also from what I’ve seen on the field I think Michigan does show more offensive prowess and schematic advantage than does MSU. Also I’m a homer. Plus we have the Force. And I have a chart…go go gadget CHART!
Advantage: Michigan. This is probably better characterized as Michigan having a lower disadvantage than Sparty because I think it is safe to say that both defenses are pretty damned bad. Think of it as having a lower handicap. I’m actually surprised at Michigan’s overall average of 1.8 points per possession…it felt like it’d be higher. Sparty on the other hand is basically allowing as many points as its scoring, 2.8 points per possession. Again, see the chart.
Advantage: Michigan. Here I’ve split special teams play into coverage and return units with each establishing defensive and offensive field position respectively. The numbers here reconcile nicely. Michigan’s coverage units and State’s return units have both ended up at about the same field position to date; at about the 26 yard line. On the flip side, Michigan’s return units and State’s coverage units have also ended up at about the same field position; at about the 31 yard line. These are just averages so, presumably, Michigan will have a few more drives starting in sector 2 and State will have a few more drives starting in sector 1. No chart here, just a table.
Obviously Zoltan is a huge asset for establishing defensive field position and Darryl Stonum is doing a kick ass job at establishing good field position for the Offense. What’s kind of aggravating is that the woes of last year seem to have the coaching staff content with simply holding onto the ball, which, yeah duh. But damn, we should be able to improve our average field position on punts if Mathews or some satisfactory replacement would be allowed to attempt a return. If the staff insists on not attempting a return then, why not skip even putting a guy back there altogether and sending 11 every time for a block? I know catching the ball stops the roll but, I wonder how much of a difference it makes overall. I dunno, it’s just annoying that we forfeit better field position simply because we’re scared of dropping the ball.
This work is based on past performance and doesn’t account for key injuries, personnel changes, and what not. Another issue is that of unequal opposition. Obviously playing weaker opposition (such as FCS caliber Montana St.) would inflate a team’s numbers so strength of schedule has something to do with the numbers. However, Sparty’s opponent record to date is 5-2 where as Michigan’s opponents are 6-3, and I've already thrown out MSU's game against Montana State so I think the relative strength of schedules are pretty even.
This analysis indicates that Michigan has performed better in all three phases than Michigan State has so far this year (as if the respective win-loss records didn't already say this). What’s not shown here is that both defenses have given up about 100 points so far this year but Michigan State has done it in about 30% fewer possessions; Yowza. Our offense has been more efficient at hitting pay dirt and our special teams have done a good job at setting up field position. These three things should at least neutralize Sparty’s home field advantage. All of this data includes possessions ending in turnovers so, barring another Notre Dame 2008 type scenario, that shouldn’t be a concern.
While analyzing the past is neat, synthesizing the future is what everybody is really interested in. I’ve got a little sumpin sumpin cooking on that but that’ll have to wait until later tonight because I’m tired of writing and you all are probably tired of reading.
It's a good thing that Michigan State is favored this weekend. How come? It is because of a strange statistical anomaly. The underdog in Michigan's road openers for more than 20 years has an uncanny knack of beating the spread, and very often pulling the upset. Here is a history of Michigan's road openers since 1986. Notice how the favorite almost never covers the spread. In most cases, it's obvious just by glancing at thes core whether the underdog beat the spread. I have left a few games open, because I don't know how to find spreads for really old games, and some of these were close. Edit -- I have updated this diary, thanks to the information in some of the comments below...
1986 – <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan enters the game against Notre Dame as a heavy favorite and escapes with a 1-point victory. Underdogs beat the spread (1-0) Edit: we were actually a 7-point favorite
1987 – Michigan loses at Michigan State. I can’t find any documentation, but I’ll bet we were favored in this one, so I’ll give this one to the underdog (2-0)
1988 – Michigan loses by two to Notre Dame. I don’t know what the spread for this one was either, but two points sounds like it might have been right since both teams were ranked highly, so this one is an unknown. Edit: we were a three-point dog.
1989 – Michigan beats a crummy UCLA team by 1 point. Once again, underdog beats (3-0)
1990 – Michigan loses to ND by four. Both teams were top 5 ranked, but since the game was in South Bend, ND was probably a small favorite. I'll say that they covered (3-1) Edit: we were actually a five-point favorite. Seems weird, but once again, the 'dog beats the spread.
1991 – Michigan comes out flat against 4 TD underdog Boston College but wins by 22. I’m pretty sure that this was an underdog victory vs spread (4-1)
1992 – Michigan is a slight underdog against Notre Dame and they beat the spread with a tie (5-1)
1993 – Michigan is favored to beat Michigan State and loses (6-1)
1994 – Michigan is the underdog to Notre Dame and wins (7-1)
1995 – Favored Michigan destroys Illinois. Favorite actually covers. (7-2)
1996 – Underdog Michigan upsets Colorado (8-2)
1997 – Michigan massacres Indiana by 37. Favorite covers (7-3)
1998 – Underdog Notre Dame destroys Michigan in South Bend (8-3)
1999 – Michigan beats Syracuse by 5. I don’t know what the spread for this one was, since we lost to them badly the year before and it was in the Carrier Dome. This one is an unknown. Edit: We were favored by 6, so underdog beats spread.
2000 – Underdog UCLA upsets Michigan, starting a long, horrible road opener losing streak for Carr (9-3)
2001 – Michigan loses by 5, but was a touchdown ‘dog, if I recall (10-3) Edit: turns out we were only underdogs by 3, so Washington did, in fact, cover it.
2002 – Underdog Notre Dame beats Michigan (11-3)
2003 – Underdog Oregon beats Michigan (12-3)
2004 – Underdog Notre Dame beats Michigan (13-3)
2005 – Underdog Wisconsin beats Michigan (14-3)
2006 – Underdog Michigan beats Notre Dame. (15-3)
2007 – Heavily favored Michigan escapes Evanston with a 12-point victory over Nortwestern. I don’t know exactly what the spread was, but the ‘Cats were coming off of a loss to Duke and then a 58-7 loss to Ohio State, so I’m sure the spread was more than 12. (16-3)
2008 – 2-point underdog Notre Dame beats Michigan. (17-3)
That’s 17 games where the underdog covers, and 3 games where the favorite covers. That’s an 85% success rate for the underdog! Since 1998, the underdog is undefeated against the spread (except for maybe ’99?) I may have gotten one or two of the older games wrong and I have a couple of unknowns. Even if a few games go to the favorites, it’s still an incredible anomaly. Especially when you consider how refined betting spreads usually are and how tough they are to outpredict. This phenomenon can’t just be summed up as “Michigan underachieves in first road game”, because we have covered the spread as the underdog at least every time since 1992, pulling upsets against Notre Dame twice and Colorado in 1996.
Edit: Actually the underdog is 20-3 over this time span.
Last I saw, we are a 3-point underdog to Sparty. If you’re a betting man, bet on Michigan.
|kickoff||to the 19||Winston looks a little thick to be a return man|
|1st n 10||Ace||1||about as vanilla as can be, off tackle zone dive|
|2nd n 9||5W Trips right||inc||dropped on the crossing pattern|
|3rd n 9||Shotgun slot rt||inc||no one home, MSU got away with a hold|
|4th n 9||Punt||penalty||kick catch interference, must be that famous dantonio discipline|
|1st n 10||Doube Tight rt, slot left||inc||playaction comeback, open but underthrown|
|2nd n 10||offset right||3||counter left|
|3rd n 7||SG, 4W, Double FL left||inc||greg jones with pressure|
|4th n 7||punt||to the 3||nice hangtime|
|WTF?||torrent missing some gametime, must be a replay|
|1st n 10||offset rt, motion slot rt||8||rollout to the field, man open in the zone|
|2nd n 2||offset lt, motion double TE||-5||corner blitz blew up the pitch sweep|
|3rd n 7||4w||7||crossing pattern, generous spot|
|1st n 10||?? Split FB, RB is 9 yards deep||5||counter tre left. Almost like a power iso with a pulling guard|
|2nd n 5||offset rt||-4||Worthy gets good penetration|
|3rd n 9||SG,3w offset lt||2||crappy draw|
|4th n 7||Punt||touchback||really slow to get the punt away|
|1st n 10||3WR, slot lt||8||White on the stop route on the rt into the boundary|
|2nd n 2||I right||1||zone dive left, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla|
|Welcome to the jungle being piped in…eeeewwwww|
|3rd n 1||fuckyou espn||QB sneek||didn't see the play|
|1st n 10||Ace||inc||PA rt, bootleg left, underthrown out n up|
|2nd n 10||SG 4WR||5||Bubble screen rt, dell was shaken up on previous play|
|3rd n 5||SG 5WR, near slots||inc, penalty||missed white over the middle, but PI called|
|1st n 10||3WR, slot lt||2||1 step hook|
|2nd n 8||3WR, slot lt||intercepted||whoops, thrown right to him, complete misread|
|1st n 10||offset rt||15||QB naked boot run|
|1st n 10||3WR offset rt||5||offtackle rt|
|2nd n 5||I slot left, motion I rt||8||offtackle rt|
|1st n 10||Slot left||13||end around to the left|
|1st n goal||I left, 3TE, motion right||4||Dive|
|2nd n goal||Double Tight lt, offset right||TD, penalty||playaction to th TE at the endline on a slant, but negated|
|2nd n goal at 16||4WR, twins right||TD||TE on the seam, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 36||Winston has good speed once he gets going|
|1st n 10||4WR, trips right||-1||zone dive left, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla|
|2nd n 11||SG, slot right||14||draw trap right, Caper bounces it outside|
|1st n 10||I left||12||5 step drop, comeback, vanilla|
|1st n 10||double tight, I left||14||offtackle rt, vanilla|
|1st n 10||I left||8||hook on the right, cousins does a good job of lookin left at snap|
|2nd n 2||I slot left||3||offtackle right, vanilla|
|1st n 10||motion, slot left||inc||badly overthrown|
|2nd n 10||offset left, near WR||inc||badly overthrown, should have ran it, the flood had taken everyone away|
|3rd n 10||SG, slot left||TD||jump ball fade to dell who made a nice adjustment, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 31||looked like there was a lane, but he got tripped up|
|1st n 10||shift, offset right||penalty||Playaction, post man caught the ball, but negated|
|1st n 10||offset rt, twins left||5||FB in the flat|
|2nd n 5||one back, strong left||18||MSU blitzed, picked up, playaction TE in left flat|
|1st n 10||offset right, slot right||inc||underthrown on the out route|
|2nd n 10||1 back, 3WR, twins right||17||Trap right, Clay bounces it for a big gain|
|1st n 10||1 back, motion, offset left||8||counter trap left|
|2nd n 2||I slot left, motion rt||0||QB boot, is stuffed|
|3rd n 2||1 back, twins left||16||comeback on the outside, #9 for MSU missed tackle|
|1st n goal at 6||4 WR, trips right||TD||TE hooked at the goal line, low ball, nice catch, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 24|
|1st n 10||I left||0||Nichol, power option left, nicely defended|
|2nd n 10||I right||12||8 yard hook to the left boundary, Dell|
|1st n 10||I right (looks illegal)||intercepted||jump ball on a fly to the right sideline, terrible throw, safety in position|
|1st n 10||1 back, 3WR, motion strong rt||inc||boot right, field side, good coverage|
|2nd n 10||Shift, oneback, h-back left||penalty||encroachment, more dantonio discipline|
|2nd n 5||motion offset right||7||TE (lined up at FB) in the flat, same play as before|
|1st n 10||motion, offset left||4||offtackle trap left|
|2nd n 6||flanker right||penalty||bad formation, illegal motion|
|2nd n 11||SG 3WR, twins right||penalty||missed on the comeback, but sparty got PI, held the jersey|
|1st n 10||motion offset right||1||offtackle trap rt, MSU finally adjusts and shuts this down|
|2nd n 9||1 back, 3WR, flanker left||inc||ball batted on what was going to be another comeback route|
|3rd n 9||SG, 3WR, twins left||15||rub route cross to the left|
|1st n 10||fuckyou espn, twins right?||5||rollout to the right (field), comeback was wide open|
|2nd n 5||twins left||inc||fly route was wide open, overthrown|
|3rd n 5||4WR||6||hook to the boundary slot|
|1st n 10||3WR, twins left||17||In to the boundary side (right) and a facemask|
|1st n goal at 1||I 3TE||inc||play action, overthrown, both crossing TE were wide open|
|2nd n goal at 1||I, 3TE||TD||Inside Trap, clay just bowls in, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 21|
|1st n 10||SG, Slot left||1||draw trap left, Wisc DT's blow it up with penetration|
|2nd n 9||SG, slot left||-7||Cousins sacked, had the flat left, but didn't see it.|
|3rd n 17||SG, slot right||penalty||Dell went out, and caught the ball for an apparent first, but negated|
|4th and 17||Punt||to the 47||punter went down, no flag, hit by own man|
|1st n 10||SG, trips left||inc||ball dropped, a little low, to the left, nickle blitz was picked up|
|2nd n 10||SG, split, flanker left||inc||another blitz, another pickup, and another drop|
|3rd n 10||SG, split, flanker left||inc||pressure, overthrown, anderson beat the right tackle|
|4th and 10||punt||at the 15||fair caught|
|1st n 10||5WR, trips left||17||Dell on the out|
|1st n 10||slot left, confusion||inc||threw inside of the slot on the cross out|
|2nd n 10||5WR, trips left||3||boundary slot ran a flat|
|3rd and 7||4WR||inc||commenters ripping on the sparty offense, haha, overthrown|
|4th n 7||Punt||to the 28||low kick,made two men miss, but the first came back to make tackle|
|1st n 10||twins right||4||Dive left|
|3rd Quarter||21-7 wisconsin leads|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 15||nice coverage|
|1st n 10||I, double tight right||13||offtackle trap right|
|1st n 10||I tight, left||6||Iso left|
|2nd n 4||I doulbe tight left||fumble||pitch sweep, bad hands by the RB|
|1st n 10||Ace||2||Zone dive left, cutback right, vanilla|
|2nd n 8||I left||15||counter trap left, winston busts through some arm tackles|
|1st n 10||I slot left||4||Iso right|
|2nd n 6||I right,||-2||Sweep right, run blitz blew it up|
|3rd n 8||split, flanker left||inc||overthrown to the right, white was wide open on the far side|
|4th n 8||FG||FG|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 26||short kick|
|1st n 10||Double Tight left, motion||6||counter dive, nice cutback|
|2nd n 4||Offset left||2||inside trap|
|3rd n 2||I tight right||5||counter play action, TE flat|
|1st n 10||I tight right||2||Trap right|
|2nd n 8||1 back, twins left||6||trap left, the DT whose guy pulled just missed a TFL|
|3rd n 2||Offset, strong left||4||student body left|
|1st n 10||Double tight left, offset right||3||counter tre right|
|2nd n 7||I doulbe tight left||3||counter tre left|
|3rd n 4||strong I right||penalty||PA to TB in the flat, but negated by downfield block|
|3rd n 3||? Uhh..wingbacks?||3||counter trap left|
|1st n 10||Strong I, double tight left||5||Dive left|
|2nd n 5||Strong I, double tight left||0||Counter trap left|
|3rd n 5||SG, 4WR, Left side near stacked||7||just a simple out|
|1st n 10||I left, shift, I right||0||Offtackle right|
|2nd n 10||1 back, twins left||inc||deflected at the line|
|3rd n 10||SG twins left||inc||pressure, overthrown, both tackles were beaten|
|4th n 10||FG||FG|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 30||Winston is a load, but he doesn't have the acceleration|
|1st n 10||1 back, double tight left||9||PA Zone left, TE moved like he was pulling but went to the flat, first non vanilla play|
|2nd n 1||slot left, motion ace,||12||Dive left, weak play, but roken arm tackles|
|1st n 10||Strong I right,||27||PA TE on the seam, nice pass, nice catch|
|1st n 10||Offset right||3||Trap left, play was stuffed, but winston falls forward for a couple|
|2nd n 7||slot right||TD||play action post, amazing catch by cunningham, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||to the 31||hesitated coming out of the endzone|
|1st n 10||motion, offset right||45||PA fly, nice pass, stutter and go|
|1st n 10||strong I left||1||counter tre left|
|2nd n 9||strong I right, motion left||3||offtackle right|
|4th Quarter||wisconis 24-17|
|3rd n 6||4WR,||TD||slot guy beat man coverage and a nice pass in front of the safety, PAT good|
|kickoff||kickoff||penalty||returned to the 34, penalty to the 7|
|1st n 10||3 WR, split flanker right||10||FB in motion, ran an 8 yard hook|
|1st n 10||SG, 3WR slot right||inc||underthrown on the seam|
|2nd n 10||4WR||13||hot slant to the slot|
|1st n 10||I left||fumble||Iso to the right, more penetration by the wisc DL|
|1st n 10||Strong I right||2||off tackle left, MSU got penetration|
|2nd n 8||I right, shift, offset left||7||Off tackle right, nice cutback, great blocking on the backside|
|3rd n 1||Strong I right,||TD||PA, blitz was picked up, no one coverd the TE, PAT good|
|That's his third TD!|
|1st n 10||Ace||5||Zone dive left, vanilla|
|2nd n 5||split, flanker right||inc||overthrow|
|3rd n 5||penalty||false start|
|3rd n 10||SG, 3WR, slot right||35||nice pass beating the deep zone|
|1st n 10||SG, 3WR, slot left||5||TE ran an out|
|2nd n 5||SG, 3WR, slot left||inc||tipped, nearly intercepted|
|3rd n 5||SG, 3WR, slot left||inc||held the ball too long, good coverage, overthrown|
|4th n 5||SG, 3WR, slot left||8||boundary WR ran a slant, took a big hit but held on|
|1st n 10||?? Fuespn, SG slot right?||inc||barely overthrown cunningham on the deep post|
|2nd n 10||SG, ace||inc||white dropped the 5 yard hook|
|3rd n 10||SG, 4WR, trips left||inc||wanted the screen to the left (boundary)|
|4th n 10||SG, 4WR||sacked||that's the ball game.|
|1st n 10||Strong offset right||5||missed handoff, QB kept for positive yards|
|2nd n 5||offset right||17||Clay just running through arm tackles|
|1st n 10||Strong offset left||2||just grinding the clock|
|2nd n 8||Twins left||7||counter trap left|
|3rd n 1||Strong I right||4||off tackle left|
|1st n 10||Strong I left||2||counter tre left, wisconsin is starting to look as vanilla as MSU|
|The difference is that they have a 21 point lead|
|2nd n 8||Offset right, motion||0||QB kept it, maybe a busted play|
|3rdn n 8||4WR, stacked right||7||rollout right, hit the out route, good tackle to prevent the first down|
|4th n 2||Strong offset left||0||pitch sweep left|
|1st n 10||5WR trips right||penalty||false start|
|1st n 15||5WR trips right||27||Dell, Wisc is in umbrella|
|1st n 10||3WR, slot left||6||slot out|
|2nd n 4||F .U. espn ??||25||Nichols runs a QB keeper for a nice pickup,|
|Looked like max protect, 3 men in the pattern|
|1st n 10||4WR||inc||tipped|
|2nd n 10||SG 3WR slot right||inc||jump ball to dell, hung up in the air|
|3rd n 10||SG 4WR||intercepted||jump ball to the endzone, msu got away with more holding|
|1st n 10||Strong I||1||run left|
|2nd n 9||offset right||6||run right|
|3rd n 3||??||1||QB boot, held it, just killing clock here|
|4th n 2||punt||to the 37|
|1st n 10||SG slot left||20?||Sims is wide open against the prevent zone|
|1st n 10||SG ?||inc||overthrow on the flag route|
|2nd n 10||SG 4WR||20?||deep out is open|
|1st n 10||SG 3WR||TD||Soft zone and missed tackle, WR dove over the pylon, 2pt no good, sacked|
|kickoff||onside kick||wisconsin recovers|
|1st n 10||run|
|2nd n 14||run|
|who cares||punt to the 9 yard line|
|1st n 10||SG 5 WR||91 TD||how the hell does that happen?|
|What was the point spread?|
|kickoff||onside kick||wisconsin recovers|
- MSU's offense was BOOOOOORRRRRRRIIIIIINGGGG!!!
- Which was strange since I saw them run several trick plays against CMU (CMU!)
- Winston is a bruiser, but not very nimble.
- Caper has good strength and speed and likes to bounce it outside
- Blair white had a horrible day, but he looked pretty acrobatic against CMU
- Their TE Sims looks like a decent pass catching threat
- Their offensive tackles were getting pushed around all day
- Dell is a pretty good jumper, but he seemed to be suffering from the same landing problems as the ND receivers. Nearly broke his own collarbone.
- Cunningham is a fairly athletic receiver too
- Cousins did not have a good day. Way too many overthrows.
- My impression is that he's not really that good at reading defenses.
- Of course he is just a sophomore (but tate's a frosh!)
- If they only run zone stretches and dives at us all day, ezeh and mouton might actually end up with plusses in brian's UFR
- Nichols is not much of a passing threat. He's got a decent arm, but his instinct is to run. And let's just say he doesn't have Denard's speed.
- He also didn't look that great on the one option play they ran, but maybe Wisc just had it defended well.
- Greg jones was causing havok all day, but Wisc did a good job neutralizing him with short passes and extra TE's to block.
- This is a trap running team. There is almost always a pulling lineman
- They have about 5 running plays but
- they run them from about a hundred different formations
- And they use a ton of motion and shifts, so it's hard to determine what formation they're in until late
- Which is important, because they run to strength nearly 90% of the time (estimate)
- Their TE graham had a great day.
- Toon looked like a very serviceable receiver.
- This will be a "line em up and smack em in the face" game when we play them. I'm hoping will campbell is ready for some major minutes by that time.
- so, worry if we've got defenders running around looking like they're lost before the snap.
So what's it mean for this week?
I've seen 3 of sparty's games and they looked worse than normal against Wisconsin. They seemed emotionally lethargic. It wasn't really as close as the final score. Wisconsin made them pay for silly turnovers. Even the play calling was ridiculously vanilla. It was like watching a game from 1993.
Sparty will be up for us this week. Expect them to play much better. Expect them to have special trick plays, that they were saving for us. I think our front 7 will be able to slow down their run game "enough", but yes, I'm worried about the corner-not-named-warren.
What worries me most is that it's in east lansing, where nefarious shenanigans have been known to take place. I forsee a pretty high scoring game. But with the good guys coming out on top thanks to Tate's general awesomeness, and Denard's teleportation powers.
I say Michigan 41- Sparty 34
- Starts off with some comments about being disappointed in the 1-3 start, but encouraged that the losses have been close. Also is very complimentary of Tate; the "big playmakers on the offensive side of the ball" in Denard Robinson, Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, Martavious Odoms, and Greg Matthews.
- Comments that we're on our 3rd DC in 3 years, so learning curve and all that but, again, complimentary of our "very good players," citing specifically Obi Ezeh, Brandon Graham, and Donovan Warren.
- On the Defense: need to be aware of the deep ball, as well as tackling better. He mentioned something about being better structurally, which I take to mean coaching and calling formations on the defensive end.
- On the QB situation: doesn't commit to one QB. Suggests it's a momentum thing and that he'll play the guy who gives them the best chance to win. Says there is no sense of frustration that one QB has not emerged. (For the record, it seems sparty fans are calling for Kirk Cousins to take over.) Also has 10 positions on the depth chart with "Player A or Player B" listed as the starter. He says it's a competition thing. Here is the link to the Depth Chart.
- On their OL: says the starting C being out the last 2.5 games has affected their running game negatively. Current guy, John Stipek, was recruited as a DL. A bit of a revolving door on the right side of the line (RG, RT). Also had an injury at LG. Says that although their technique is lacking, they haven't missed many assignments.
- On the DL: have had a couple minor injuries and youth affecting level of play. Basically need to get better at everything - "provide more pass rush, get off blocks and use our hands better, and apply four man pressure a little bit better."
- On Greg Jones: great player, but in a new position this year (Mike, was Sam last year) and can still improve.
- On punt/kick coverage: this question was probably asked with Daryll Stonum in mind. Dantonio responds that punt coverage has been good, but that they lost their kicker (Boleski), who could kick it deep. Other than a long return last week to the 40 (on which he claims there was a clip), they've generally contained the returns.
- On the rivalry: they, too, are in a little more of a bunker mentality with closed practices, etc. Intense focus because this is an intense rivalry. The reporter mentions the "bow down little brother" thing and Dantonio basically validates that feeling. He says every team needs a rival, and that this is it for most people in the state, "at least if you're green." (note the subtle dig)
- On the WRs: Blair White has been emerging, with a solid 2nd half of the season last year. (He is their go-to WR at this point, leading the team in yards, receptions, and TDs. Dell appears to be their big-play guy, though)
Oh real quick...Give a big positive point bang to Bleedin9Blue. He was AWESOME with the sheet. This would not be possible without him. So mad love to you sir!!!
Thank you as well to all of those who voted...great first week, way to help me get this off the ground. I am going to lock you in to the poll so you have a spot every week.
1) Do not vote until Sunday. Right now we can only accommodate so many people on the ballot (I believe that it is around 140), so please do not waste a vote by voting before all the games have been played.
2) Leave the bias out of it. I actually believe Michigan could be put in the Top 15, but not #1 Overall.
3) I promise not to change your votes, unless you are ranking teams in a way that is just crazy. It is hard to monitor over 100 people, so help me out with this.
4) You do not have to put your name on there, but it would be cool if you did so that I know who has been voting. I appreciate those that do and would like to give people a shout out if they have been doing really well.
5) Do not kill each other if you do not agree with the rankings. There will hopefully be enough people to balance out the few really high/ really low ranked teams.
6) Have fun with this. I think that our poll is a more true example of what is going on in the world of college football, because we can leave the pre-season stuff out of it. Vote based on WHO HAS THE BEST RESUME SO FAR. Do not try to predict the future.
OK...For our first poll we had almost 20 voters. A team ranked 1st got 25 points, a team ranked 25th got 1 point. We are working on a way to auto-compare it with the AP and Coaches' Poll, but for the first week I will just write some notes to do the analysis. So without further ado...the first annual MGoBlog Members Blog Poll
|Member's Poll||Coaches Rank||AP Rank|
Some observations. This week we seem to have most of the same teams as the experts, but it a different order. I think that this will eventually change, and will lead to some better analysis.
LOVE 'EM (Teams we have ranked substantially higher)
HATE "EM (Teams we have ranked substantially lower)
ON THE BRINK (Teams 26-30)
HEAD SCRATCHIER (Team where people had no idea where to rank them)
Oklahoma- The Sooners were ranked as high as 5 and were left off of one ballot entirely.
Others- Kansas, TCU and Miami
Here is your link to participate. You can go there now to check out the ballot. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THE FORMULAS IN THE TAB MARKED CHARTS, ONLY ENTER THINGS INTO THE VOTE SHEET. If you are sure that you are going to vote, you can fill your name in for the information...again just please do not vote until Sunday and do not put in your information if you are not sure if you are going to vote at all. Copy and paste the link below into your browser, and we will have this up and posted on Tuesday of next week. Thanks again to those of you who voted this week.
Because really, having football teams win or lose doesn't change our lives. But having a brother does. Being the parent of brothers does. And sometimes the metaphor teaches us a lot more about the subject than looking at the subject alone.
There used to be a site called "Bitter Rivals dot com" that was about the Mich/MSU rivalry.
I wrote a thing for them, which if it was still online I could show you, which was written a lot better than what follows, and which called Mich/MSU a sibling rivalry back when Hart was deep under recruiting radars at some upstate New York high school.
The analogy didn't come from me -- I heard it first from a fraternity brother, and when I asked where he first heard the analogy, it was an older brother in the house, and so on... It's older than Hart. It might be as old as the rivalry itself.
Every relationship is different. Rivalries are relationships. The sibling analogy helps explain this one, because the two players act the way that rivalric brothers act, each fulfilling stereotypical roles of elder and younger.
I have two little brothers, one of whom is barely a year younger, and went to State (barely didn't get in to M, which was his first choice). He is my best friend. He will be my Best Man when I get married (in A2) next year. When I have an extra Tigers ticket, he's my first call, and I have spent enough time in the front seat of his 2000 Ford Ranger that my ass has left a permanent imprint.
And many, many, many times in my life I have wanted to rip his fucking testicles off.
Brothers fight. Brothers compete. Brothers piss each other off. If you have a brother that is close in age and you never fought each other, then that is really really weird, because this is primal shit.
If you want to delve further into the analogy, then yes, it's a juvenile fraternal relationship we're talking about.
M/MSU isn't about brothers who are late 20s through 40s and make their kids play together while talking about if the wives will ever come around to Mom. It's about brothers who are 10, stuck in the same house, the younger measuring himself by the elder, who measures himself against the big bully kid up the street, when fall Saturdays mean hours spent outside doing things that end up with one boy or several on the ground, which as winter onsets, hurts more and more.
It's one thing when the big kid up the street calls you "scUM" or "Walmart Wolverine" -- he's trying to start a fight, and, lo, the fight will come to him when it is time (and that ground has grown hard enough that he won't be cushioned when you knock his ass on it).
But you can handle the bully -- what's really irritating is when Little Brother starts picking up on something the class bully says and repeats it again and again.
And you hear it, because Little Brother is always there -- going to the YMCA, camp, the bus to school, soccer practice, a friend's house -- you can't get away from Little Bro.
Whether you got your degree at Michigan or Michigan State really matters very little in my current world. The tangible, universal difference between The University of Michigan, and Michigan State University happens at 18: one group of in-state kids got to run around the house with their parents beaming, the other had to choke down the lump of rejection and embarrassment, and then learn to become comfortable with that.
And eventually, both will learn that this measuring stick didn't matter as much as they thought.
This rivalry takes place between those points. It's about one program that has ridiculous, permanent institutional advantages put in stone by Fielding Fucking Yost, and another that needed to take advantage of the middle 20th century South's dumb-ass-ness about skin color to ever be nationally relevant.
It's about one side that is introspective and intellectual, and another that acts like a meat-head when you know damn well that he isn't as dumb as he pretends. It's about one side that values intelligence as if it's the only judge of a person's worth, and how his brother knows damn well that he's not as smart as all of his pretensions.
Getting from childhood rivalry to grownup relationship with your brother is a trial. For those of us in the State of Michigan, we at least have this annual war-by-proxy to serve as a metaphor for it. Really, by whipping each other into a frenzy over this, we're acting like 10-year-olds. The thing is, that's an important thing to do -- by framing your feelings into juvenile arguments, you get to see exactly where you might be wrong, or in this case, pretension, or an inferiority complex.
It's not something that started with a tailback from Michigan, or a tailback from Michigan State. It started with Cain and Able. Or more precisely, when someone had the idea of putting two extraordinarily good universities in one state, and then one also happened to have the premier football team in all the land as soon as football meant something to the prestige of an extraordinarily good university.
If you have nothing but hatred for MSU, then I say go to your room and cool off, because so long as you live under this roof, you are going to live with him whether you like it or not.
Happy MSU week. Now let's put that little shit back in his place, eh?