Mike Lantry, 1972
I am not sure why this game got to me. It has been a long time since I have been so frustrated with a team and a game. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I just didn't want to admit that an era in the University of Michigan's football program has come to and end. And to have it do so in such exasperating fashion nearly drove me over the edge.
Playing one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, 2-6 Purdue, Michigan coudln't find a way to hold leads of 14 points two different times and a tie game with 80 seconds left. Despite scoring 42 points on offense, the defense gave up 48 points to the Boilermakers led by a third string QB who had been playing running back. With the game on the line the defense gave up two huge trick plays and never seemed able to slow down an heretofore anemic team (Purdue hadn't scored a touchdown in 3 of their last 4 games).
Michigan repeatedly missed tackels, had penalties in key situations, and turned the ball over on special teams yet again. A defense that was supposed to be the foundation of this team entering the season has become an absolute laughing stock. They have given up five touchdowns in five games and 129 points in the last three games.
In what was clearly becoming a shootout the Michigan offense once again took a big chunk of the game off. Michigan took a 14 point lead with 5:29 to go in the first half. They didn't score again until there was 12:19 to go in the game. Purdue scored 21 unanswered points to take a 35-28 lead and Michigan would never lead again. Michigan has scored 14 points in the third quarter all year!
Despite this, and aided by a couple of big penalties by Purdue, Michigan tied the game with 1:20 left. All the defense had to do was make a stop; or even hold them to a field goal. Instead, Purdue marched down the field and used a perfectly executed hook and ladder play to score the winning touchdown.
I am not sure why I am surprised. If not for critical penalty by Wisconsin, Michigan would have managed this pattern in eight straight games.
Michigan is now assured of a losing record for the first time in forty years and will miss a bowl game for the first time in 33.
Here is what I said after the Penn State debacle:
You would be foolish to bet on Michigan these days. They simply can’t play a complete game of football. About the only way I can see them winning a game this year is against a team that turns the ball over and lets them hang around in the fourth quarter. And even then, as we saw against Toledo (Toledo!!!!), even then they are as likely to blow it as to win.
True. I honestly don't think they will win another game all season. They simply don't know how to win. And I can't seem them figuring it out this late.
Michigan's run as an elite program is over. It may be temporary as it seems likely - given his history and Michigan's ability to recruit, etc. - that once Rich Rodriguez gets his type of players into the system and developes some chemistry that they will return to their winning ways.
But right now they simply can't be considered anything but a once proud program a few years from being competitive. And that is something I have never known in my lifetime.
I guess maybe that is why I was so angry this afternoon.
Stephen Schilling, RT. Despite the loss, the offense scored 35 points. It's hard to pick a particular player - with a viable backup - who performed poorly. Threet's performance was frustrating for many reasons, but largely because he refused to keep the ball on the read option. The backside defensive end was crashing every time and Threet seemed not to care. But since Sheridan is clearly a worse option, my vote goes for Schilling. I don't know if I'm frustrated more by Schilling's play or his seeming underperformance as a former five-star lineman. Either way, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, he made Purdue's defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, look like Vernon Gholston. Schilling got bull rushed straight back into Threet for a sack at a crucial time - when Purdue was only rushing three defensive linemen. Perhaps Perry Dorrestein and Mark Ortmann should be the starting tackles. I don't know that it would be better, but it would be less frustrating because I expect three-star linemen to get owned.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Scott Shafer, Defensive Coordinator and/or Tony Gibson, Secondary Coach. Shafer has weakened Michigan's best position group by taking one defensive lineman off the field to run the 3-3-5. Gibson has taken several promising defensive backs and turned them into sieves and/or umbrellas. With a very athletic and fast secondary, Michigan isn't making interceptions. Cissoko came out of high school with coaches and recruiting gurus raving about his technique and his backpedal. A cornerback with a great backpedal is a very dangerous weapon, because he has the ability to break quickly on passes thrown in front of him. It also lengthens the time he can keep his eyes in the backfield before a receiver breaks his cushion and forces the cornerback to open up his hips to turn and run with a deep route. But every time I see Cissoko in anything but press coverage, he immediately opens his hips (as do the other corners). This is a big reason that so many passes are completed in front of Michigan's corners, because as soon as they open their hips and turn to run, opposing wide receivers break off their routes to run outs or hitches. There's no reason a lousy Purdue team should rack up 48 points - more than undefeated Penn State and explosive Illinois did - on Michigan's defense. None. Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, and Brandent Englemon were solid players, but the defense should not have fallen off this much with seven returning starters. In 2007 Michigan only allowed 35 points to Heisman winner/national champion Florida, 39 to then-Heisman front-runner Dennix Dixon and Oregon, and 14 to national championship game participant Ohio State.
So I haven't had time to do my usual Looking Back, Hats Off!!!, Looking Forward posts for a few weeks now. Life just got too complex and I didn't have convenient internet access for a while and blah, blah, blah... Of course I would have gone the extra mile to make the posts if this team was even a tiny bit interesting to me anymore, but sadly, it is not. We officially suck worse than I could have ever imagined. Our offense sucks, our defense sucks (and shouldn't), much of our special teams suck, and Zoltan is our shining light. Not very compelling.
So I have decided to not try to start posting again now that my hiatus is at an end. I have the time and the access but it just kills me to write about this depressing team. I didn't even make the trip to the bar to watch the game today (I have no digital package anymore, sadly.). I worked on my car and got it running great again, then tore around the country roads in it while Michigan was apparently giving the game away yet again. I was glad when I saw the score that I didn't waste my time watching the game. I never thought I could feel that way about it, but there it is.
So here I am looking only forward. No "Hats Off!!!" or "Looking Back", what is the point? So with that in mind, here is what I am looking forward to next year:
- A new defensive coordinator. I was very worried about Shafer when we hired him. His resume seemed weak by Michigan standards. It now seems apparent that he was not ready to be a big-time DC and would have made maybe a better position coach at this level. I really expect him to be the goat that gets the axe to appease the rabid alumni masses after this season.
- An honest-to-goodness mobile QB. I am expecting it to be Tate, but if the Beav is better then that is fine too. Just so long as the QB can run dammit, and be somewhat accurate with the pass when needed. Threet has been much better than I expected but is far short of what we need. If he could be accurate as a passer then he would be fine, but he can't. I really hope that RR won't platoon Tate and the Beav too much ala Threet/Sheridan. Just go with one please.
- An improved OL PLEASE! We have some solid young talent that I hope can gel quickly next year. My biggest concern for next season is that the OL still won't be ready. A mobile QB will definately help this IMO.
- Sam McGuffie 2.0. I still believe this guy will be a stud. Bring him back this year only if he is 100% healthy (He is hurt, isn't he? I am so out of the loop but I heard he didn't make the trip to Purdue). With a few more pounds and more conditioning from Barwis, look our for McGuff next year.
- A healthy team with another year of Barwis sculpting. Injuries sure haven't helped this team out this year. Let's see what Barwis can do about it next year.
I won't be posting anymore this season but of course will be lurking and commenting when the mood strikes. I love it here and I love hearing all of your opinions and rants. Keep up the good work everybody and keep you chins up. Michigan will be good again soon I think, and if nothing else, at least this season showed that MGoBlog is great no matter how the team is doing.
Does anyone know what the time of possession was in this game? I think it was something like 10 min for Michigan and 20 min for Purdue in the first half. I realize that we scored quickly on the Odoms punt return, but Purdue scored quickly when Odoms muffed the other one in their red zone. Those should basically even out. We scored the other 21 points in basically 9 minutes.
I wonder if the spread, even when run at high efficiency, will gives us a solid adavantage in the time of possession. Here are RR's stats for the last 3 years:
2005 - 30:57min Ranked 36 Nationally
2006 - 30:07min Ranked 51 Nationally
2007 - 30:11 Min Ranked 54 Nationally
Basically is breaks about equally for offense and defense. Look at the national rankings I saw a lot of bad teams in the Top 50. I can see why Brian doesn't really like this stat. I just wonder about it because people always worry about TOP and think it is an indicator of suceess. I don't think it matters that much. I just think that the defense gets worn out if it stuck on the field for a long time. I think things like starting field position for the defense matter much more. What are people's thoughts on this?
No, its not the rallying cry for the Michigan basketball team's march to the final four this Spring. Instead, its all about the exciting chase over the final month of the season to notch a berth in the Motor City Bowl. The annual Detroit gridiron clash pits the MAC champion against the last bowl qualifier from the Big 10.
November will prove exciting as the to bids for this bowl get ironed out. As many as 17 teams still have legitimate sights set on ending the season in Ford Field and beautiful down Detroit.
In the MAC, nothing has been decided yet and only a hanful of teams no longer remain eligible to win the title. In the West, a four team race for the division's top spot is being waged. While Central Michigan and Ball State look to be in the driver's seat, dont count out Western Michigan and Nortern Illinois just yet as they still games against the aforementioned division leaders. They could end up in first place by winning out and getting the right kind of tie break help. Despite that, the game of the year in this division will be a Wednesday night afair between CMU and BSU on November 19.
In the East, there is no such thing as an also ran. Each time remains alive headed into the final month of they year. Any team that gets on a run and wins out will be hard pressed to be topped. Sorting this division out will test the boundaries of the league's tiebreaking systems. How goofy is it in the East? There is only one game today between MAC foes, pitting a 2-6 Kent team against a 3-4 BG team. Despite neither having a winning record, the winner will take a big step in controlling its own destiny in this race.
The best part about the MAC chase for the Motor City (well, other than the division winners will get to spend two stays in Detroit, one for the league finals, the other for the bowl game) is that every game carries implication and most of the contests will be broadcast live on ESPN in midweek affairs. From here on out, expect your Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night football fixes to come from this killer MAC tilts along the road to Destination Detroit. The investment opportunities will be plentiful. I am salivating just thinking about it. While most will be glued to their TV next Tueday night watching election results rolls in, I will be focused on the ESPN network as a huge East battle between Miami and Buffalo plays out.
My prediction for the MAC finals: Central Michigan over Buffalo. Yes, Ball State has had a nice season, but I favor the Chips because their game later this month is in Mount Pleasant. As for the East, I expect Buffalo to shock people and in the division. In Drew Wiley, they have the best QB in the division and they have a great 1-2 punch at the running back slot to help move the chains. They'll lose the finals to the Chips, but they might bet an International Bowl bid, or something, but just an appearance in the finals will be a huge step for this typically morbid program.
How will the Big 10 shake out? Seven teams still remain with their eyes on Detroit. Only four clubs--Penn St, Ohio St, Michigan St, and Minnesota--have played themselves out of contention. Fools, all of them. Among the seven teams still on the board, some need a big time rally and must in the rest of the games. Others, just need to take care of business and make sure to add a couple more wins on their resume to possibly be Detroit bound. So, with that in mind, here are this week's Big 10 Picks and how it will affect Destination Detroit.
Central Michigan at Indiana. Lines, IU -2, O/U 58. Can you say Motor City Bowl preview? Perhaps, but a lot would have to happen beyond Central just taking care of business in league play. IU comes in at 3-5 and can only affford one more loss before falling out of contention for Detroit. Considering they have a trip to Happy Valley coming up in two weeks, that makes this game a must win for the Hoosiers. Their win over Northwestern last week was their first win over a FBS school all season and they needed a lot of self destruction on the part of the Wildcats to get it. Earlier in the year, Ball State from the MAC trounced IU on this very same field. No reason to think Central cant do the same thing. Emotionally, "Getting a Win over a Big 10 School" carries more on field intensity thant "Destination Detroit." CMU is winning games this year even if they're playing their backup QBs and RBs for key stretches of the season. This game will be fun, and if IU's offense had been clicking more throughout the season, I might be tempted to go with the Cream and Crimson and even the Over. But, two months into the season, we've seen enough. CMU would win this one on nuetral field and its not like they're heading into a hornet's nest by going to Bloomington.
The Pick: CMU +2
Wisconsin at Michigan St. Lines, MSU -5.5, O/U 48. The big question is how will the Spartans fare after the long awaited break through win over the Wolverines? They could be just a little flat for this noon kick. I think they'll play out of it, but by not being sharp in the opening minutes will give the still talented Badgers enough gas to stay in this one the whole ay through. In the wake of a four game losing streak, the Badgers ended up giving their offense a face lift. They're playing with a new QB , becnhing Everidge in favor of Sherer; Clay has all but taken over for Hill at RB; and stud TE Beckhum is out for the season with an injury. I actually like these changes. Everidge was not getting it done, Clay is a favorite of mine and gives Wisco a big time home run threat. The Beckhum injury sucks for them, but trying to get a oft injured player into the lienup sometimes hinders the process. Besides, Graham is an all league caliber TE taking over. This game gets decided by a field goal in the end with Clay rushing for more yards than Ringer. With games at IU and at home versus Caly Poly, the Badgers are a win today away from putting themselves on the outside looking in as far as Destination Detroit is concerned. A win over Sparty could vault them to the Insight or Champs Sports Bowl worlds, but a loss will keep the Badgers firmly in the mix for Detroit.
The Pick: Wisco +5.5
Northwestern at Minnesota: Lines, Minny -6, O/U 46. Considering these teams played to a 46-45 game last year, seeing the total that low made me dizzy at first. But, Northwesen has been real spotty moving the football most of the season. And, now they go up against one the best points per game defense in the land with the Gophers. And, they come in without Bacher at QB and Sutton at RB out with injuries. I sense these teams are going in opposite directions with the Gophers primes for a 10-win season while Northwestern could might be looking at a bad late season slide with a hard slate down the stretch. But, hey, Wildcat fans a losing streak is just what you need to get back into the Motor City Bowl mix. They were my preseason Motor City Bowl pick, and i foresa back then a November where wins would be hard to come by for the Wildcats. Try and catch a little of the Gophers today. Watch a second year QB who was brutal last year continue to lead his team to January. Watch as the D that was the worst in the land next year, flies over the field making stop after stop. Watch as a team that gave games away every week with the giveaway, takes games with takeaways. Watch that and find hope for last year. Gophers foce three turnovers, score a defensive TD and win this game by more than 2 touchdowns.
The Pick: Minny -6
Michigan at Purdue. Lines, Purdue +2, O/U 46. This is exciting. An elimination game for Destination Detroit. Both teams are 2-6 and the loser can longer qualify for the Motor City Bowl My fellow Michigan fans may bristle at the hyperbolic notion of an elimination game for that bowl, but they better get used to it if they're going to watch the game today. That is the storyline the Big 10 Network's broadcast team will be hammering from West Lafeyette this afternoon. So, might as well play along. Would the MCB be all that bad? I say no. We can all meet up in Detroit and have a little fun. Its a short car ride for most of us and we can share good times partying at the casinos. I can see it now, a group of us jamming over the roulette wheel putting our chips on Sam, Tay, Dual Threet and Minor Rage. We do that high fivings, chugging drinks and chanting Tempation, only to see our enthusiasm fade as the wheel keeps landing on'3'. Time and time again. With an occasional '14.' Oh yeah, that would be fun. From a gambling standpoint, this game sucks. Neither team has covered spreads all year. Purdue perennially stinks wwhen the challenge is bigger than them, but does this year's Maize and Blue really qualify as a challenge? The Overs have hit every game for Michigan in their non MAC games, but I just dont like that today. I dont think Purdue can take advantage of anything with Siller playing QB. He's mincemeat for Brandon Graham today. Prediction: Michigan wins the turnover battle today.
The Pick: Michigan +2...........an underdog against a 2-6 team? This is probably a big trap, but, eff it! The Detroit Dream lives on!!
Iowa at Illinois. Lines, Illlinois -2.5, O/U, 50. Huge game for Destination Detroit. Win or lose, either squad remains a possibility, but the loser sees a lot of its options go away, making Detroit even liklier. Is Detroit ready for the barrage of Hawwkeye fans that would hit the city? Classic good offense meets goods defense in this matchup with Iowa's 20th ranked D going up against the Illini's 12th ranked O. Expecyt each side to land blows in that battle. What I dont see is Illinois going bonkers against the Hawkeye stop troops. Nobody has scored more than 22 points against them. But, I really like Iowa's O against Illini's D. They can pound all day with Greene, who will come close to 200 yards, and they have an efficient passing game with Stanzi. The Illini have given up more 17 in each game this year. Iowa pulls this one out with a key defensive stop and Shon Green's ability to keep the chains moving.
The Pick: Iowa +2.5..........what does it say that this key Destination Detroit battle is the game of the day in the Big 10, at least according to the networks? Actually, it will be a fun one, and there's something about this Iowa team that I just dig right now. Win or lose, next week's home game against Penn State will be interesting.
After back to the back 3-2 weeks, hopefully the ball stays on the positive side with these five. Enjoy the games today and Go Blue!
First of all, a random stat: we actually have a better passing yards per game average than the Buckeyes. WTF?!?
Anyway, I was sitting at work today thinking about Michigan's offensive ineptitude and a thought hit me:
I bet that Zoltan has more yards than our entire offense combined this year. So I endeavored to do some research and this is everything I came up with based on the box scores from the mgoblue.com statistics archive and the NCAA's statistics archive.
First of all, I'll just give you the gross numbers:
-net punting yards: 2366 - note the stats archives show more if you just look at punting because there was 1 "team" punt and 1 punt from Sheridan...which was probably intercepted
- # of punts - 53
(as a side note, only 2 have been touchbacks, 20 have been of 50+ - a Michigan single season record, and 18 have been pinned down inside the 20...all great numbers, and he holds the career records for both)
- average punting yards per game: 295.75 (1st)
- total yards: 2292
- total possessions - 120 - this number could be off...I counted 121 but came up with 120 when I categorized them...more on this later
- average total yards per game: 286.5 (111th)
So, the short side of it is this: Zoltan has outpunted our entire offense on the year. Now, a lot of people jumped at this when I discussed it with them saying that punters get a better shot at yardage since they (in this case, we use Zoltan's numbers) averages 44.6 yards per punt.
I looked into this. First of all, if Zoltan was an offense, he would be ranked 102nd in the country. He has Michigan at #1 in net punting and yet he would be ranked 102 out of 119 teams in the country if his numbers were total offense numbers. Obviously, that means there are x number of punters below him that wouldn't even get above 119. So that theory is debunked right away.
I took it a step further, though, and counted - yes, I literally had to count them - all of Michigan's drives this year. Aside: in all of the box scores that are kept, not a one of them keeps number of possessions so far as i can see. The results are below.
- 11 rushing TDs
- 8 passing TDs
- 13 fumbles (yikes, this is only the offense)
- 11 interceptions
- 3 failed 4th downs
- 8 attempted FGs
- 10 drives ended with time expring in the half
- 53 Mesko punts
- 1 team punt
- 1 Sheridan punt
Obviously that adds up to 120 possesions. When I counted all of the possesions in the game box scores, though, I came up with 121. Since I didn't feel like counting through all 8 games again...whatever, we stick with 120.
Michigan's offense has had 120 drives and Zoltan has punted 53 times. That means he comes on to punt in less than half of the drives (0.44 to be exact-ish). The offense, then, gets over twice as many chances as he does to get yards. Below, I have the breakdown of the number of possessions/punts/ratio of punts-to-possession for each game, FWIW.
Utah - 18/8 = .44
Miami - 13/7 = .53
Notre Dame - 15/5 = .33
Wisconsin - 18/8 = .44
Illinois - 15/8 = .53
Toledo - 12/4 = .33
Penn State - 14/7 = .50
Michigan State - 16/8 = .50
So what does it all mean?
Zoltan averages 295 yards per game in net punting. So to even keep up with their punter (again, no other team in the country has this problem), the Michigan offense would need to average that as well.
The offense is averaging 15.125 drives per game. That means that they have to average a measly 19.5 yards per drive to keep up with him. 19.5 yards per drive!
Let that sink in for a while. That means that if they have 1, ONE, scoring drive of 80 yards they can afford another 3 three-and-outs and still be on target to outgain him. Two 80-yard scoring drives and they can now take three-and-outs (and we're talking about the kind where they don't even gain a single yard) on SIX(!!!) possesions and they'll still have, on average, 7.125 possessions to get 135 yards.
We can't even manage to do that. At first I thought, "Hmm...19.5 yards per possession...that seems kinda tough." Then I realized that 101 out of 119 FBS teams have managed to do it. So it can't be that tough.
All of that to say...our offense really really REALLY sucks. Of course, we already knew that. But I bet you hadn't thought that we would be outgained by our punter - no matter how awesome or Space Emperor-ish he may be.
(As a side note, if he doesn't win the Ray Guy award after outgaining an entire team...I don't know what they want from the winner.)
A few more thoughts before you go: if Zoltan stays on the pace he's on (and he should have a good Buckeye team to help his cause), he will punt for more yards in a season than any Michigan QB has thrown. Also, Michigan's entire offense is in danger of being outgained by 2003 John Navarre. Chew on those two possibilities for a while...
*throws up in mouth*
All of the stats I found came from these fine websites:
Commenter Gene brought up a salient point:
101 teams may not be getting 19.5 yards per possession, because the number of possessions will differ, and I bet Michigan has a bunch due to an offense that quickly surrenders the ball (3 and outs, turnovers) and the defense giving up big plays, both of which make for quick possessions.
A good point and one I should've addressed. Part of that was that I was unable to sort the stats in the NCAA archive any way other than by whichever stat I was viewing at the time and total plays wasn't one of the options. I figured out another way to do it, though. So I did the research.
FWIW, Michigan ranks 67th in the country in total plays run with TCU leading the way at 690 and UCF bringing in the rear at 393. Michigan has run 513.
I did the math (actually, Excel did the math) and the mean is 526.88, the median is 524, and one standard deviation is 54.76. So, if I did my math right (and I'm sure I didn't), that would put them at the 60th percentile. In other words, they're pretty average as far as the number of plays run, actually, and on the lower end of the midpoint for the country.
So yes, it gets worse. :(