This obviously makes typing inconvenient, what with this splint on my finger and all. But the show must go on.
Michigan left me a little worried leaving at half time. It was a relief indeed to see the score for the good guys climb with each pass of the ESPN bottom line ticker while waiting at the ER.
- Michigan looked shaky, yes, but in the end put the wood to their over-matched opponent. We are going to win a lot of games by simply outscoring our opponents and I am cool with that. It seems we have the ability to score on any play, from anywhere on the field. I don't think we have ever had a more loaded stable of running backs, a nice thing to have with a set of freshman QBs.
- D-Rob has a lot of raw ability but I don't see him ever becoming a pass first QB after this performance. With no completed passes and two picks, it might be time for us to realize that the fortunes of this team rest solely on the shoulders of Mr. Forcier. If forced to insert D-Rob as the starter, this offense will quickly resort to a Pat White run/pass ratio. This isn't the end of the world, but won't win us as many games IME. Those running touchdowns won't come as easily against B10 defenses, or if the offense becomes one-dimensional.
- There appears to be a rather large drop-off at linebacker behind Mouton. From what I saw, and remember that I missed the entire second half, Eastern ran right at where Mouton would have been with a great deal of success. Who was that guy that replaced him? I can't say that I had ever heard of him. Red rover, red rover, let the highly touted linebacker recruits come over.
- English impressed me with his game-plan and by keeping the score close in the first half. He is going to get Eastern some respect in coming years I think. While time of possession is an overrated statistic, a 2:1 ratio is eye-opening. I wish him all the best.
- This coaching staff again made great half time adjustments, or at least it seems so. Missing the second half of this one sucks, as I don't have any real idea of what kept Eastern off the scoreboard. Maybe someone can enlighten me?
As I said above, this is a team that can outscore most of it's opponents left on the schedule. Assuming a steady, if slow progression by the O-line and the continued health of Mr. Forcier, we may well keep our PPG above 30. I think we all should take a moment to savor just how different this year feels compared to last. As we enter the B10 slate, already having as many wins as last season, we should thank our lucky stars that RR landed in our laps. We have seen just how bare the cupboard actually was when Carr retired and I don't think that there are many coaches out there that could have turned the ship around this quickly.
At this point I am seeing 8-4 or 9-3 and maybe the Outback Bowl. That sure sounds nice. I think that we will almost undoubtedly defeat Indiana, Purdue, and Del. State. I see us taking 2-3 of Illinois, Sparty, Wisky, and Iowa. Then we have both Penn St and O$U at home so maybe a 25% chance of taking one of those. If we can win one of those two I think we make the Citrus Bowl.
I hope that everyone was able to enjoy this game and that everyone made it home safe and sound. Have a great week.
Edit: It appears that everybody want to concentrate on my #2 observations and opinions. So let me clarify:
- There is nothing wrong with a run-first QB and yes Pat White won many games.
- D-Rob may or may not be as good a QB as White, I have made the comparison but that doesn't mean D-Rob=Pat White.
- I merely think that D-Rob would not lead us to as many wins as Tate as a starter this season.
- Yes, I don't see D-Rob as the Michigan QB of the future. I agree it is too soon to tell. I just don't see anything yet that would make me think he is better suited to QB than RB or Slot Receiver.
- Please realize that these are just opinions from one fan (by no means expert) and try not to get too offended when they differ from your opinions (expert or I suspect mostly not).
Today's Focus: Rushing Stats (Rush YPG)(Full NCAA Rankings)
Players of note: Ralph Bolden, Purdue (1st, 178.5ypg); Jahvid Best, Cal (6th, 140.5ypg); Armando Allen, ND (23rd, 105.5ypg); Caulton Ray, MSU (99th, 61ypg)
Why It's Important:Because.. it tells you how many rushing yards a player has per game, on average. Pretty self-explanatory here. Generally the more yards a player rushes for per game, the better they are.
Why It's Flawed:It just measures yards. A big, bruising back that gets the ball on third and short situations or inside the ten yard line can be just as valuable as a quick running back who gets big yards but can't break tackles. What would you rather a running back's stat line be -- 6att, 25yds and 3 TDs or 30att, 200yds and no scores? One gets you points, the other gets you valuable field position that can turn into yards.
Also, it doesn't take into account the number of rushing attempts. YPC does this, but you'd have to look into two or three different stat lines to really see the effectiveness of a RB.
ALSO, it doesn't take into account fumbles. 200yds in a game is all well and good, but if all that field position is wasted because he fumbled 3-4 times, it doesn't help at all.
So any one stat for a RB will be leaving out a lot of the story.
Applying this to Current StatisticsRalph Bolden, Purdue: 178.5ypg (#1)
Definitely a great YPG average, good enough to be #1 in the nation after two games, but a look at his YPC tells a different story. Bolden averages 7.14ypc, still a respectable number, but not nearly #1 in the nation. In fact, second through sixth leading rushers in terms of YPG have a higher YPC average than Bolden. His 50 carries are the second highest in the top 10.
It's pretty obvious that between two equally talented rushers that have the same YPC average, whoever gets more carries per game will have the higher YPG average. Hence the flaw.
Robert Turbin, Utah St: 148.0ypg (#4)
Obviously an extremely small sample size here, as Turbin has only played one game so far (Utah), but he's listed here for another reason. That 148yds was garnered on only 13 carries, earning him a 11.38ypc average, the best of anyone in the Top 25 of YPG.
Reggie Arnold, Arkansas St: 104.5ypg (#25)
Arnold, while not dominant in either YPG or YPC (8.04), is extremely efficient in terms of points earned with his carries. He's had 26 carries thus far, and has scored 5 touchdowns. Almost 20% of the time this guy's had his hands on the ball out of the backfield he's been in the endzone.
So three different stat lines, all pretty damn good in their own way.
An AlternativeAlong the lines of my Quarterback Efficiency Rating, I've come up with a Rushing Efficiency Rating (RER). It's much more than YPC or YPG, it's a combination of the major aspects of a running back's game that is contributes to their overall efficiency.
Here's the first draft of the formula:
(Yards) + (Touchdowns x 10) + (Fumbles x -10)
So a big bruiser who might not rack up 8-9ypc but is solid with ball control and in the red zone who's usually good for a few scores:
10att, 40yds, 3 TDs (RER: 7.00)
Has an RER that's similar to a speed back who might rack up the yards, but is prone to a mistake here and there and might not always get the ball on the goal line:
28att, 170yds, 2 TDs, 1 Fumble (RER: 6.79)
Applying the RER to Last Season's Backs
|1||7||Donald Brown, Connecticut||JR||18||5.68||160.23||6.17||6
|2||5||Shonn Greene, Iowa||JR||20||6.03||142.31||6.68||5
|3||1||Jahvid Best, California||SO||15||8.14||131.67||8.92||1
|4||10||Javon Ringer, Michigan St.||SR||22||4.20||125.92||4.76||10
|5||8||MiQuale Lewis, Ball St.||JR||22||5.39||124.00||6.07||8
|6||6||Chris Wells, Ohio St.||JR||8||5.78||119.70||6.17||6
|7||2||Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma St.||SO||16||6.45||119.62||7.12||2
|8||3||Vai Taua, Nevada||SO||15||6.44||117.00||7.08||3
|9||4||Tyrell Fenroy, La.-Lafayette||SR||19||6.08||114.58||6.92||4
|10||9||LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh||SO||21||4.83||114.46||5.51||9|
Quite the shakeup in the YPG rankings when the number of carries is taken into account, as well as the number of touchdowns. YPC numbers, on the other hand, are nearly identical. If the fumbles were taken into account, this would surely be a bit different, but until I can find those stats this is all we have to go by.
Thoughts? Comments? Fumble statistics? Let me know.
Behind the Numbers will be back soon with another look at a stat from the world of College Football. Any stats you want to be examined a little closer? Or even just a stat you've been interested in for a long time? Let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to get to it in the next few installments of BtN. Thanks for reading!
Below are some charts - yes, charts - showing how the defense stacks up after three games, both this year and last year. Please take these charts with a massive grain of salt, but I was still a little surprised by the findings. Also, I know that the defense last year was statistically one of the worst in UM's history, but I still think that was due more to the offense's inability to stay on the field than a complete implosion by the defense.
So not as bad as I thought. Points are just about equal (one of ND's 2008 touchdowns was on a fumble return, which I did not attribute to the defense). The passing yards are essentially the same, with the rushing defense clearly taking a step back. At least part of that rushing difference, though, can be attributed to the Herculean effort the defense put on Utah, holding them to 0.8 yards per carry on 43(!) attempts in the first game of 2008. Put their average from last year (157 yds/gm), and you have effectively the same defensive effort.
But what about the offenses faced? Were the offenses UM faced last year statistically better or worse than the ones they have faced so far? I wanted to find out, so I go again to my trusty excel chart.*
*Note, the national rankings for the 2009 opponents only includes the first 2 games (since today's games are not complete). Also, I included both the final and after-3-games totals for the 2008 offenses.
|Teams||Utah||Miami (NTM)||ND||AVERAGE RANKING|
|After 3 games|
2009 - after 2 games
So yeah, the defense is struggling a bit, but certainly not to the extent people first envisioned. While I will update the 2009 numbers when they are posted, both ND and WMU have/are putting a hurting on their most recent opponents, and EMU showed some competence against both UM and NW. As you can see, the rush defense might have been helped by the fact that both ND and Miami (NTM) trotted out some of the worst rushing offenses last year, and Utah was the first game of the year against a fresh defensive front. This year it is clear that the line is a work in progress, and the LBs need to tackle better, but those were trouble spots everyone expected. Not to harp on the Denny Green meme, but the front 7 are who we thought they were - incredibly shallow with some clear weaknesses. Still, the rush defense is ranked #43 (last year it finished #50), and my guess is that it will improve somewhat as the season progresses and some of the younger players get their feet under them and GERG's principles become more familiar.
As for the passing defenses, they are remarkably similar statistically. Sure, Cissoko has struggled mightily this year, but don't forget that last year Stevie was letting bombs soar over his head and receivers scoot by him virtually unmolested. Angry Secondary Michigan Hating God works in mysterious ways, but apparently the pox can never be eradicated; just moved to a different victim. It should be noted that they have faced two top-30 passing offenses so far this season, so perhaps we shouldn't read that heavily into the fact that the backfield has been exposed somewhat. Currently the defense is 87th in passing defense, but that happens when you face top-30 passing attacks. Last year they finished #79, and I would be amazed if the pass defense didn't finish in the 60's or even the 50's by the end of the season.
So I guess my conclusion is that while the defense has struggled somewhat this year, let's not forget that it wasn't some juggernaut last year. For all of Cissoko's recent failings and the struggles of the front 7 against the run, the team is not that far away from last year's numbers, and should probably exceed them once the sample size increases. Yes, PSU and OSU will likely run all over the D, but that should surprise nobody. Those are top-notch offenses with dynamic playmakers in the backfield. But I like what I'm seeing so far under GERG - tackling alone seems light-years ahead of last year, the players seem to get the scheme, the young guys, especially Roh, look legit, and Warren and Graham have been revelations. I'm not saying this defense will approach 1997 or 2006, but I do think it will grade out better than people expect.
I would love to hear what people who know far more about football, especially on the defensive side, think of this defense and how it should look going forward.
EDIT: I have updated the rankings for this year's offenses after 3 games. Overall, they match up quite similarly to last year's offenses after 3 games, when the defense was touted as one of the best. My take is that while the defense certainly has to improve, I think that it will certainly be better than last year's because the offense should protect it via sustained drives and, hopefully, less turnovers resulting in bad field position.
2009 - after 3 games
There will be no formal Big 10 Picks edition this week. Next week, with a full slate of league games, we'll pick this feature back up. Doing it on non conference weekends is fun, but forces my hand to call way too many games. There is no way I could duplicate last week's success over the course of another 10 games, so we're taking a pass on the full schedule.
Instead, let me indulge in a few thoughts before I fire the car up for the short drive up to Ann Arbor to see the Wolverines quiet the Caw.
Can we please layoff Boubacar Cissoko. Do we throw players under the bus 120 minutes into their career as a starter? Is that really what we want the Michigan fanbase to be all about? Some of the hate surrounding Cissoko in the wake of the Notre Dame game makes me to a double take to make sure I didnt step into a taping of Buckeye Roundtable.
Please remember that this team is still young, will make plenty of mistakes and go through bouts where its play is whatever the opposite of last week's magic is. I hope when that happens that I dont check into this blog and read all sorts of threads denigrating the players. Last week, we had folks crying that Stonum, a sophomore after spending his first year as second string, was a disappointment. Now we're pilloring Cissoko. Keep in mind that this team, nay Rodriguez's whole program, remains a work in progress. In the end, its going to be a fine wine. Vintage. Just stop and smell the bouquet before you chug the whole thing down. Try to enjoy the harvesting.
Getting back to Cissoko, what is there to really say? He got worked all last Saturday. But, he was going toe to toe with a future first round draft pick and somebody who I think is one of the favorites for the Biletnekoff Award. It was a mistmach. I'd love to know the thought process behind planning that matchup, but also sticking with it as it became obvious that Cissoko had more than his hands full with Floyd. Is Rodriguez pushing him, throwing him out there on that island to better his game?
This is like a swimming coach taking a prize pupil who can race sprints well in alll four strokes and trying to mold him into a distance individual medley racer. That first race might end with a sixth place dud, but if the kid has talent, seeing first hand how to handle that competition in that forum is invaluable. The next race should be better. Cissoko just went up against the best and saw where it is his game was defecient. Can we at least wait and see how he takes that experience and how he builds from it before we cast him aside and start comparing him to past whipping boys. Please?
Dont forget, he had a good opening day, that included a game changing opening quarter pick. Yes, I said game changing. Two players later, the Denard Robinson run happened. After that, the rout was on. Despite being abused against the Irish, he had another pick on his hands, but just could not close the deal. He is one play away from all of us celebrating him, instead we fans light him up all week. The difference in sporting results is sometimes a fine line.
Alright, my moralizing is done. Be your own fan. But, expect some fighting words like a scorned Bandie if I think player a critique is a bit over the top.
Enough of that. More randon, less pious thoughts:
*****Today is a huge day for the mid majors with Utah traveling to Oregon and BYU hosting Florida State. If the upsarts (can you really call BYU, a 7-point favorite, an upstart?) pull off wins and TCU beats Clemson next week, the Moutain West suddenly has a round robin slate that will have BCS Title game implications. Is there any way we can quickly drop Boise State into the MWC? This league is one more high end team away from being better than half of the BCS leagues. Just E-pinion.
******The Florida-Tennesse line has grown from -24 to -30 during the last two weeks. The public demands Urban Meyer runs up the score. Their pocketbooks are at stake.
*******Are you excited by the possible return of BOOM MALLET'ED? Tonight the Ryan Mallett era at Arkansas gets underway in earnest when the Hogs host UGA. The Dawgs have already played two high end foes, while this is the Razorbacks first real sweat of the year. Are the Hogs this year's Ole Miss, an SEC West team that makes a leap and pulls off at least one stunning upset? Be very quiet about any expectations, but I give a Arky-UM Outback Bowl about a 25 percent chance of happening right now. That said, whats the Over/Under on botched snaps tonight?
******* There are two Big 10/Pac Challenges today with Cal and Arizona playing at Minnesota and Iowa. The Bears are close to two touchdown chalk on the road. Big 10 boosters better hope Kinnick Stadium magic is out in full force because they will need a Hawkeyes win to help the league save some face. That said, a Minnesota win might be as important to the league as a Buckeye win might have been last week. It would be the eighth best team in one league beating the second best in another. People would certainly re-evaluate the depth of the league.
******* We're all getting our popcorn ready for the Tailspin Bowl in South Bend aren't we? Is history and program identity finally starting to catchup with Mark Dantonio? Is there a coach not named Lane Kiffin more in a pressure cooker today than Charlie Weis? Winner rights the ship and has a lot of their preseason goals still in front of them. The Loser? Well, their hometown will certainly be a special place this week, won't it?
I dont have a full card of Big 10 games, but I will offer up some Big 10 Picks and count them in the record. Check out my blog for a full acount of my thoughts on today's games and where else I'm putting my money where my mouth is.
Iowa -4 over Arizona. The Hawks win 21-9, scoring a touchdown, four field goals and a safety. Iowa is 35-19-1 ATS at home.
Indiana +3.5 over Akron. The Hoosiers have matched up well with the MAC, despite how bad things are down in Bloomington for the football team. They did lose to Ball State and Central last season, but those were some special teams. Indiana is better this year and Akron is no version of CMU or BSU. I felt IU would be 3-0 heading into the Michigan game. I'll take these 3.5 points.
MSU +11 over Notre Dame. We are all versed in the series history that trends to Sparty here. But, let me throw something else out there. The Spartans are road dogs today after losing outright at home as double digit favorites. Teams in that role are 90-55-3 ATS the last 13 years. We're rolling with that system today.
There you go, an abbreviated version of Big 10 picks. Enjoy the games today.
This is a follow up to a diary I wrote before the season started, where I aggregated all of the preseason polls I could find and tried to turn their individual uselessness into something that might be useful. I thought that perhaps that:
AVERAGE(Moron1:MoronN) +/- arbitrary fudge factor = something to kill time before kickoff
I got enough positive comments that I decided to update the prediction based on the first two games and take it a little further into implied point spreads.
My initial model predicted 6.28 wins which seemed about right at the time given the little we knew about the new roster and the other teams in the Big Ten. However, I closed the diary by saying the following:
“The first two games should tell us everything we need to know. If M starts out 2-0 then look for an 8 or 9 win season as the Illinois and Wisconsin games would start to look much more favorable. A 1-1 start means 5 or 6 wins as it means we have lost our first tossup game and our ranking around 50 is probably correct. 0-2 means a season of 3 or 4 wins is coming as we have dropped one of our 5 likely wins and all the tossups start looking like losses.”
Some of the polls I used at the beginning of the year don’t continue to do a 1-120 ranking each week but I was able to find enough polls to get a good cross section of data and remove the effects of any outliers. Currently Michigan’s average ranking is 22 compared to the preseason average of 49. Future opponents are now ranked as follows (preseason ranking in parentheses):
EMU 112 (113), IU 83 (91), MSU 50 (29), Iowa 26 (23), Delaware State NA, PSU 10 (11), Illinois 60 (38), Purdue 57 (76), Wisconsin 40 (42), and OSU 8 (8).
I then used a simple model**. I start every game as a 55-45 proposition in favor of the home team. I then add/subtract a point based on the difference in ranking. So a home team ranked #20 would be given a 75% chance of beating a team ranked #40 (55 + (40-20)). Given upsets in recent years, I topped it out at a 95% chance of winning or losing.***
I also looked at spreads and money lines to determine what point spread was being implied to get a sanity check on the numbers. From looking at a combination of spreads and money lines for this weekends game I determined that a 3% increase in your chance of winning increases the spread by 1 point. So a 59% chance of winning a game implies a spread of 3 points.****
Here is what the numbers looked like then and now for Michigan’s probability of winning each game along with the spread implied by that percentage:
Game preseason week2 implied spread
WMU .79 1.00
ND .34 1.00
EMU .95 0.95 -33
IU .95 0.95 -23.5
MSU .25 0.72 -7
Iowa .19 0.49 pick
Del St .95 0.95 NA
PSU .17 0.42 +2.5
Ill .34 0.82 -10
Pur .82 0.90 -13
Wisc .38 0.63 -4
OSU .14 0.41 +3
Total expected wins preseason = 6.28
Current expected wins = 9.25
What a difference a few weeks makes. My main concern pre-season was that the Big Ten Schedule was the exact opposite of what I wanted. In all of the home games UM looked to be heavy favorites or heavy dogs. Meanwhile all of the away games looked like tossups. Now I like this schedule much better. I’d still trade having PU and IU at home to have MSU and Iowa at home, but having PSU and OSU at home now looks a lot more fun.
From a point spread perspective its looks decent. Vegas EMU spread is currently -24 whereas I am saying it should be -33 (for the EMU and IU games I used the actual delta as opposed to my 95% artificial limit). If the MSU game was happening tomorrow I would expect a point spread of 4-5 not 7. If Illinois was tomorrow I would probably expect 6-7 not 10. But the others actually look pretty reasonable if those games were being held tomorrow. *****
*Model used neither solid nor proven.
**for the sake of simplicity
***I realize there are more scientific and complicated ways to do this. There are inputs better than poll numbers. However I am a back of the envelope guy and at the end of the day you are trying to determine a win total in a pretty small band – no matter what you use you are probably going to come out with a number between 8 and 10
**** I’m not a regular gambler, I deduced this by looking at a dozen or so spreads and money lines, if anyone has better data let me know
WEEK 2 OUTCOME:
Most Hideous: Toledo 54 - Colorado 38 AND Maryland 38 - JMU 35 (OT)
- Not only is this a terrible job of scheduling by the Colorado AD, but coming off a loss to CSU the Buffs were in a no win situation. Friday night is usually reserved for High School Football, and Colorado's level of play reflected that. I thought the 2008 Michigan defense that gave up 6 points to Toledo was one of the worst I had ever seen, but Colorado, I salute you.
-Well, I (almost) told you so. After losing 52-13 in week 1 to Cal, Maryland nearly suffered a defeat at the hand of the Colonial Athletic Association's powerhouse, JMU. However down 28-21 going into the 4th Quarter, Ralph Friedgen pulled off a brilliant coaching move by purging an entire chicken, motivating his men to victory in one of the biggest wins in Maryland history.
WEEK 3 HEAVYWEIGHTS:
Gardner-Webb @ N.C. State: The only way I would watch this game is if you told me that next year Devin Gardner and Martell Webb were going to play N.C. State by themselves with perfect 10 models as the officials and all proceeds going to charity.
MSU @ Notre Dame: Little Brother @ Giant Whiner. This game is hideous for so many reasons, but none more than the fanbase of the two squads. If ND loses I can't help but think Fat Charlie will all but have lost his job and the reaction among the Domer faithful should provide endless hours of entertainment. If MSU loses; the RCMB will spontaneously combust eliminating 1,000 of the worst people on Earth and Dantonio will be seen for what he really is, a career .500 coach. With a Spartan loss Dantonio will also achieve what even Bobby Williams and John Lansing Smith couldn't, losing at ND.
Iowa State @ Kent State: Please, oh god please, someone turn it off. No seriously, I'm begging, is Real Housewives of Atlanta re-runs on? Will somebody snatch a kid and trigger the Amber Alert? Can I get a Tornado Warning? Anything but this.
OSU @ Toledo: Any outcome other than a 40 point win with TP throwing like Tate Christ will have the Buckeye nation spinning. Does anyone else think Toledo will put up more than a good fight? After 30+ points on offense the first two weeks including the 54 they hung on Colorado last week, I wouldn't be that surprised. Some advice to the Vest, run Pryor.
UVA @ Southern Miss: Last chance Mr. Grohl, and I don't like your chances. TMHGOTW is going to miss you.
I am interested as always to hear your thoughts on which games you find to be particularly terrible.