Last week's recap:
NC State v Florida State. FSU pulled out the win the Worse Defense Than Michigan Bowl 45-43. Congrats on +1000 yards combined! When you're passing for 11 YPC or rushing for 8 YPA, that's a track meet.
Nebraska v Baylor. Nebraska returned a punt for a TD to help them limp to a 20-10 win over Baylor. Baylor's only TD was a pick-6.
Western Kentucky v North Texas. Holy Arena Bowl score. NTU won 68-49. A game that saw 3 TDs of +50 yards, plus two more of more than 30. Crazy stat of the day: WKU's passing YPA was less than their rushing YPC. and NTU almost did the same. 7.4 to 7.2 and 7.8 to 8.7. WKU didn't punt.
This week's line-up isn't too bad. No gimmies, like last week. I know it already happened, but Virginia Tech v East Carolina (pirate-out notwithstanding) has already put up some ugly numbers for the supposed #23 team in the country. One TD for the whole game? Check. Both teams 4-14 on 3rd down? Check. Two fumbles a side? Check. Looks like I chose correctly when I spent last night playing Wii with my wife, rather than watching it.
Maryland v NCState. I don't want this to turn into the "Make Fun of Maryland" thread, but we all know the story. Maryland is 2-6 and 1-3 in conference, with wins against James Madison and Clemson (?!). NC State lost a close one to FSU last week, so they may be poised for their first win in the ACC.
Utah State v Hawaii in the "JetLag Bowl" sponsored by Aloha Airlines. Utah State (motto: we're in Utah too!) is 2-6 and 1-3 in the WAC. Which means they've beaten Louisiana Tech and Southern Utah. As Homer Simpson said "There's a Southern Utah now?" There's only a couple teams worse than them in the WAC, one of which is Hawaii. They beat Central Arkansas and Washington State to start 2-0 and probably start the "Hawaii in the BCS" talk again. Since then, a loss to the same Louisiana Tech team and blown out by Boise State. Do Hawaii cheerleaders wear grass skirts and coconut bras? Because they should.
Pam&Ray don't even get a Big Ten noon game this week. They're doing Georgia Tech v Wake at 3:30. Big Time!
New safety recruit Carvin Johnson has a coach, and he stopped by the Rivals free board to post some stuff about the newest Wolverine. Since Rivals deletes posts after a while I've reproduced his comments here for posterity. Original thread will be here for a while.
Hey guy's. Just wanted to stop by and give you a little info on Carvin. I'm a coach on his team, and just wanted to throw a few things out there.
First and foremost, he is a football player. Bottom line. He is the kind of kid you want on your team. He is a good kid, with good grades who does the right thing. His 40 yard dash time won't dazzle you, but everything else about him will.
He is a tremendous athlete. Catches anything thrown around him. Whenever we get in trouble on offense, we put him in at WR and just throw him jump balls. 9 out of 10 he will come down with. Hits very hard for only weighing 185, and is always in the right place at the right time.
Just wanted to stop by and let you know that you are getting a tremendous football player. Don't let the ratings fool you. Your head coach got a phone call from PacMan Jones in the offseason telling him he needs to see this kid (Carvin). Carvin works with a well-known personal trainer here in the little bit of offseason we have, and he also happened to be training PacMan. They worked together, and PacMan absolutely loved him.
Anyway, just wanted to give you a little info on him. Best of luck the rest of the season, and if you have any questions at all about Carvin let me know.
Responding to a question about LSU:
LSU is weird about offering kids who haven't attended their camps. In fact, the LSU recruiting coordinator called school today asking if he dropped the ball on this to which our head coach replied "yes".
I understand your worries about offering a kid with no other big time offers. I too scratch my head over some of the guys LSU offers.
Like I said previously. Carvin is a very good player, playing against the highest classification in Louisiana High School football. He is a huge reason we are 9-0 and ranked 2nd in the state.
Re: Can he actually make plays on the ball as a DB?
Yes he can make plays. Has made some amazing INT's in his time at our school.
I canceled my Rivals subscription over a year ago so I can't tell, does he have any highlights out? If not, I'll make sure and send his highlights out by the end of the week.
Re: thanks for posting here, couple questions
Yes, the LSU recruiting coordinator called today asking if he dropped the ball on this one. I honestly believe that if LSU were to offer, it would be too late. Plus their class is filling up.
I'll talk to him tomorrow and find out what position he projects at, etc. because I honestly have no clue. I'll make sure to post more as soon as I find out.
Re: Thanks HHH, one ?...
In a lot of ways he reminds me of Craig Steltz(LSU) who also played for our high school. Craig had more size and speed, but they play the same way. They were both leaders and always in the right spot.
I'll make sure and tell him. IMO Miles has really gotten lazy in recruiting our area. You need to camp at LSU to get looked at. Ah well. Anyway, we'll be pumping out some new film on him shortly that you should enjoy.
I'm absolutely pumped that he chose Michigan because I personally have a lot of respect for what Michigan football is all about. The tradition, etc. That to go along with Rich Rodriguez being my favorite coach in the college game, and I'm excited. Our coaching staff used to go to WVU when he coached there, and hopefully we'll be making a trip up to Ann Arbor soon.
Best of luck this weekend and for the rest of the season. I'll be sure to drop by from time to time and let you know how Carvin is doing.
And on Rodriguez:
Re: RR being my favorite coach in the college game
The thing I like most about him is him as a person. When other coaches and myself made the trips to WVU in the past to see them practice, etc. he treated everyone of us with nothing but respect. This is rare in big time college football.
I also LOVE the offense he brings with him. All you need is a few key players, and this offense is damn near unstoppable.
As for his future with Michigan, its hard to say. I think if given until year 3 or 4, he will be winning the Big 10 consistently. It's such night and day under what you were used to with Carr, it's just gonna take a little while imo.
Rodriguez was brought in because the administration believed the football program needed to be rebuilt, and not just tweaked. I realize that there are some fans who never agreed that this was necessary, but in hiring Rodriguez, the administration decided to go in a new direction. He made this clear from the day he arrived.
As of today, Rodriguez has exactly one full recruiting class to his name. (The 2008 class was still mostly Lloyd Carr's.) Most of the offense are underclassmen, or upperclassmen who came in to play for Lloyd Carr. It will be 2011 before Rodriguez can field a team of veteran players who were brought in to play his system.
The story on defense is much the same, with the added complication that Lloyd Carr's last few recruiting campaigns were exceptionally poor. No coach could field a great defense with the players Rodriguez currently has to work with. Once again, it will be 2011 before you can expect to see a defense not comprised of walk-ons, true freshmen, or kids forced to change positions.
Now, that doesn't mean the team is going to be awful between now and then. This year's team has already improved on last year's 3-9 debacle, even if it fails to win another game. Next year's team will be better than this one, but it will still play at least a few deeply frustrating games. Not until 2011 can you expect Michigan realistically to contend for a conference championship. Not until 2012 will Rodriguez's first two full recruiting classes be juniors and seniors.
There are a few reasons why Rodriguez is not realistically likely to be fired before the end of 2011 — again, assuming no off-the-field issues or significant NCAA violations. The first is that if you hire a guy on the premise of rebuilding, you cannot expect the job to yield results until a few recruiting classes are in the door and playing with normal depth behind them.
The second is that, as we've seen, transitions are painful. Let's suppose Michigan loses its next three games, and Rodriguez is fired the day after the Ohio State game. Most of the decent athletes in the 2010 recruiting class, if they have any realistic options, would decommit and go elsewhere. The new coach would arrive facing a horrible 2010 class, a 2009 class chosen for someone else's system, and the dregs of Lloyd Carr's last few classes. If you think that new coach could turn this bunch into instant winners, you're kidding yourself.
Since Michigan has already improved on the 2008 season, Rodriguez is a lock to be back in 2010, and unless the team collapses totally, he'll be back in 2011 as well.
By the end of 2011, the administration will have a decision to make. Rodriguez has a six-year contract, which would last until the end of the 2013 season. But it is rare for anyone to coach in the last two years of a contract, because it impairs recruiting. Kids who have a choice don't want to come play for a guy when they're not sure if he'll be around. Because recruiting these days begins in the junior year of high school, it would be very tough for Rodriguez to be the Michigan coach in 2012 without a contract for 2014 and beyond.
So Rodriguez gets four years. Before the end of 2011 (but probably not before), management will have to decide whether to cut their losses or extend his contract.
Tales from the Dorkside: Guernica in Maize
[Editor's note: bumped. At this rate I'm going to be a spectator around these parts soon.]
Herein lies data. For those readers who prefer to skip my right brained musings in a tenacious fit to resist all culture and proceed directly to the left-brained portion of the show proceed to the So, How Goes It? section. Ahem…
The fallout from Michigan’s catastrophic failure against Illinois has left in its wake a fan base wretched in suffering. And anger. And chaos. And despair. A veritable Guernica in Maize. Pablo Picasso’s renowned painting might as well have been painted in the aftermath of last Saturday’s loss. The centerpiece of the painting features Michigan’s Defense (the horse) in the throes of death complete with Juice Williams as javelin gashing it right up the middle, exposing the gaping wound that is Michigan’s defensive barracks.
All of the major players are shown:
- Terrorized souls engulfed in the inferno of buyer’s remorse (far right).
- Horrified and confused onlookers (center right).
- Dismembered soldiers , also known as The Legend of Tate Forcier: Heisman Freshman ;complete with shattered sword (bottom).
- Grieving mother clutching the lifeless corpse of her child (read.: hope; far left).
Even the Eye of Mordor (read: FreeP) is represented (top). Not to mention that weird looking bull thing with fire coming out of it’s butt (left). I guess that’s Brian?
Anyway, Such a scene makes the reasonable observer wonder—what is up the suck? Misopogon has thoroughly sifted through the immediately obvious symptoms of poor defensive play and walk-on starters to provide tremendous insight into the plight of the defense. He has emphatically demonstrated the task Rich Rodriguez and his man Greg Robinson have in front of them if they are to their save their jobs and save Ann Arbor from burning: fix the defense. Accomplishing this will not be easy and it will test Rodriguez’s mettle as a head coach. And it will take time.
So how goes it?
I think reasonable people would agree that it’s not yet time to render a final verdict…at least as far as the defense is concerned. So let’s focus on what is reasonable to evaluate Rodriguez on at this point in time: offensive production. He’s had ample time to demonstrate core competencies in his area of expertise. He’s recruited his guys, has a reasonable amount of talent depth (inexperienced or not), and has had a reasonable amount of time to install his system.
The prototype I’m using as the model of what the performance of what a good offense should be will be the unit RR replaced, 2007 Michigan. That team had the requisite talent and experience at every single position: an offensive line that featured two three time lettermen (Jake Long- RS Sr. and Adam Kraus-RS Sr.), a three time letterman at QB (Chad Henne, Sr), a three time letterman at RB (Mike Hart, Sr), and three 2-time letterman at WR (Mario Manningham, Jr; Adrian Arrington, Sr; Greg Mathews, So). That’s as good a squad that a coach can ask for.
While the schemes employed by that offense are drastically different from what is currently being used at Michigan, the differences are irrelevant. Either is suitable for executing the mission: move the ball down the field and score points.
For the sake of thoroughness, I’ll stack them up against 2006 Michigan as well. Largely the same cast of characters but with fewer injuries. Reasonable or not, this level of production is what all Michigan fans desire or expect.
To evaluate the units I’m turning to very basic and universal categories.
Plays per Drive
This is a tempo-neutral possession metric. Evaluating Rich Rodriguez’s offense by time of possession is misleading since his philosophy is explicitly unconcerned with that metric. However, all offensive schemes seek to run as many plays as they can until they score. So, this metric also allows us to evaluate execution at a base level as well. Plays-per-drive allows us to compare different schemes to each other.
The calculation of average and standard deviation for this metric omits the highest (yellow) and lowest (red) game averages since yards per drive are highly correlated with the strength of the opposing defense. The presumption here is that one good or bad game is a fluke. Games against markedly inferior competition (blue) have been omitted regardless of game outcome. Ahem.
What we see here is that Michigan 2009 has in fact improved over 2008 in this particular metric both in average plays per drive as well as in the standard deviation of this metric. However, 2009 lags 2006 and 2007 a little in regards to average but matches the 2006 campaign in terms of consistency. The average part is not very surprising.
The benchmarks have significant advantages over 2009 in terms of personnel and experience. However, the consistency part is a bit of a surprise. This year’s team, freshmen QBs, botched snaps, and miscellaneous turnovers included is as consistent as the 2006 unit and more consistent than the 2007 unit. Anyone who has had to improve a process knows that you get rid of deviation first, and then you shift the mean. In this case, there is the good fortune of the mean shifting on its own via player maturity.
Yards per PlayThis is a category of raw production. This is more in line with offensive strategic objectives such as controlling field position, getting into scoring position, and so on. Again, the high, low, and inapplicable data points have been omitted from the calculations of average and standard deviation.
Through the games played so far, the 2009 offense has improved significantly over the 2008 team and matches the production of the 2007 team. It is also the most consistent offense captured.
Points per Drive
The bottom line. Is the offense pulling its weight in the “outscore your opponent” equation? Again, the high, low, and inapplicable data points have been omitted from the calculations of average and standard deviation.
Once again, through the games played so far, the 2009 offense has improved significantly over the 2008 team, which was consistently bad, and beats the production of the 2007 team in terms of drive average and consistency. 2009 lags 2006 in terms of average but again, 2006 is a stout benchmark.
The TakeawayDespite its glaring and soul dong punching deficiencies, the 2009 offense stacks up surprisingly well to arguably the best offensive unit Michigan has seen in approximately two decades, probably more like four, and maybe even six. DECADES(!). And significant low hanging fruit remains (turnovers).
Regardless, after games like last Saturday’s we are right to break out the compasses and maps and graphing calculators to reevaluate just where the heck are we, exactly?
Here's where we are:
- Tate Forcier is a FRESHMAN who has played in EIGHT games.
- The rest of the offense are de facto true sophomores who have only shown signs of effectiveness in about 14 games.
- The defense does not have the breadth or depth of personnel necessary to meet the Michigan standard.
Recognizing that we have a major vulnerability in defensive personnel is in no way a slight against the Lloyd Carr stewardship. It is simple root cause diagnosis. And, maybe RichRod can tweak a thing or two or three, here and there and over there. But, to suggest that the team has made no progress is simple ignorance at best and dubious ignorance at worst.
There is a big difference between excusing and explaining…that difference is responsibility. RichRod is responsible for his record, but its only fair to give him more time to hold him accountable as well. Forging the program into a consistent winner requires Rodriguez to demonstrate the full gamut of the requisite core competencies needed to be a successful chief executive in an elite college football program: excellent recruiting, excellent motivating, and excellent personnel evaluation(coaches and players), and excellent focus. If he succeeds, he will have vindicated Bill Martin decision and earned the respect of many. If he wins it all, he will be the next Bo Schembechler.
Godspeed, RichRod. Godspeed.
[Editorial take: I don't think things are quite as sunny as the numbers suggest; in the comments it's noted that adjustments were not made for outliers like turnovers and special teams items. Michigan's gotten great production out of Olesnavage and Stonum this year. Also, Michigan has yet to face the #65, #21, and #6 defenses so far this year and will likely see their to-date respectable metrics continue to dip below the okay production of the 2006 and 2007 teams. The 2006 team was pretty good but only 38th in total offense and 26th in scoring. It may have been arguably the best collection of talent at Michigan, but it wasn't exactly set free to roam the plains, its majestic rippling muscles trampling over mascots that dare oppose it. Michigan is approaching the mediocre numbers put up by Mike DeBord.
Even considering that the progress made from year one to year two is obvious.]
Press release below; I've replaced the headline with my own snark.
Key takeaway: #6 Big Ten team gets either the #7 Big 12 Team or a CUSA team in a really terrible NYD bowl game. Another game in which the Big Ten has a theoretical matchup advantage. I don't like playing CUSA. I'd rather play a mediocre B12 team than some random CUSA team. Kansas State or Texas A&M is more interesting than Houston to me.
COTTON BOWL STADIUM TO SORT OF CONTINUE NEW YEAR’S DAY BOWL TRADITION
DALLAS, TEXAS – Cotton Bowl Stadium, second only to the famed Rose Bowl Stadium in hosting [sic] more college bowl games than any other football arena in history, will once again be the home to a New Year’s Day intercollegiate post-season football game – the Dallas Football Classic [sic] -- following next year’s regular season.
“The promise of a new bowl game helps ensure that the Cotton Bowl remains a premier [sic] venue for college football,” said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. “The renovated stadium is a great site for games, as well as an affordable and accessible [sic] option for teams and fans. We are excited to continue the bowl tradition at the Cotton Bowl and Fair Park.”
The nation’s newest bowl, the Dallas Football Classic will utilize a unique rotation system involving three major conferences. The Big 12 Conference, the Big Ten Conference, and Conference USA have all added the Dallas Football Classic to their future bowl line-ups, with all three agreements running through the 2013 regular season.
Following is the four-year schedule (selection placement shown for the Big Ten and Big 12 excludes BCS selections):
January 1, 2011 – Big 12 (#7) vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2012 – Conference USA vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2013 – Big 12 (#7) vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2014 – Conference USA vs. Big Ten (#6)
(Should an “at-large” selection be required, Conference USA will provide a back-up team in years 2011 and 2013, and the Big 12 will provide a back-up team in years 2012 and 2014.)
“Obviously we are honored that the Big 12, Big Ten, and Conference USA had the confidence to sign with us as we head into our inaugural season next year; they provide the key ingredients,” said bowl President Tom Starr. “In addition, we felt it was very important to land the New Year’s Day berth, because that has always been the traditional date for college bowl games [that weren't terrible]. We have outstanding conferences, the best game date possible, and a beautifully refurbished stadium filled with heritage and tradition; I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The game will become official after receiving its licensing from the NCAA at the annual post-season bowl meetings next April.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe: “The Big 12 is pleased to have finalized its partnership with the Dallas Football Classic. This is a great location for our players, coaches, and fans. We also are excited about the match-up with a quality opponent from the Big Ten.”
Big Ten Commissioner James Delany: “The Big Ten looks forward to taking part in the inaugural Dallas Football Classic on New Year’s Day in 2011, the start of a four-year agreement to play in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium against a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Big Ten has played at least one post-season game in the state of Texas in every season since 1995. With the number of Big Ten alumni in Texas, playing a post-season game in the City of Dallas is a natural fit and should provide an outstanding experience for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky: “For decades, college football fans have gathered at historic Cotton Bowl Stadium on New Year’s Day. We are so pleased that the tradition will continue. It is a special venue in a dynamic city. We are excited to be a part of it.”
WOW. This was really bad, worse than I expected even. Even if exclude the 0-4 at the goal line, its still a -1 on the day for a matchup that should have been annihilation. It turns out it was, just in the wrong direction. Michigan's rushing performance on the day was the second worst (before adjusting for competition which won't help them much here) performance of the weekend. This was a full 2 TD swing, one on the goal line and another TD throughout the rest of the game.
Hey look a win! But not as much. The bomb to Roundtree on 3rd and 11 was worth 5.6 points by itself. Beyond that single play, the passing offense was nearly -2, or 4 points below expectation. If big plays are now back in the passing playbook than this is a slight reason for optimism, if it was just a single fluke (in so many ways) play then it signals that things are absolutely not progressing in the passing game.
So let's add this up. Michigan should have been +7 in the combined ground games but in the end they finished -23. A full 30 point swing on the ground. At half time, both Illinois and Michigan were right at +2 in the ground games. A draw was a win for Illinois, but it wasn't yet a disaster. Then the third quarter happened. Michigan went -9 for the quarter while Illinois went +8. This is just on the ground and this is without any turnovers!
In a game where black was white and up was down, the pass defense was no exception. The line on Illinois coming was that their passing defense stats were meaningless because no one had to pass against them. That's exactly what happened to Michigan on Saturday. Illinois had very little need to push the ball through the air because they were getting what they wanted on the ground.
The pace and field position lined up just where Michigan wanted it. Michigan had a field position edge of 22 expected points vs Illinois' 20. Michigan had 12 drives for the game which is right at their season average. Everything in this game played out just as predicted but with the role of Illinois played by Michigan and the role of Michigan played by Illinois.
Special teams were a lone bright spot for Michigan on Saturday. Olesnavage had another solid day and the blocked punt could have been a big play.
My Michigan prediction looked very good if you switch the two teams. Unfortunately my bookie wasn't too keen on that idea.
Iowa vs Indiana - The final spreads ended up matched up pretty well, just didn't see all the points and turnovers showing up.
Michigan St vs Minnesota - Didn't have Minnesota to pull this one out, but did have them to cover and the over.
NM St vs Ohio St - The sweatervest kept the foot on the gas a while longer than I though, going two TDs further and enough for the cover.
Penn St vs NW - Kind of like the Iowa/Indiana game. I had the final spread reasonably close but it was a different route than expected to get there.
Purdue vs Wisconsin - Had Wisconsin as a slight cover and obviously they blew the doors off the Boilermakes for a big win.