"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
[Ed-S: Bumped from diaries]
Who needs a football fix? Every year I like to size up the relevant QB competition to Michigan in an effort to convince myself that we’ll go undefeated. Please see the following links for the ghosts of seasons past as well as an overview of the general thought processes behind these projections (2010, 2013, 2014). I was unable to post diaries for 2011 and 2012. This exercise is pretty hit and miss but its fun so let’s get to it.
I don’t actually expect anyone to click through to all those links so here’s a summary of the foundational ideas I’ve developed over the years:
1. As far as I’m concerned, the feel good year end rating for a QB is about 140. It’s a tough standard but that’s what the subjective good looks like. Great starts setting in above 145.
2. I treat player skill as a ratcheting riding-a-bike type thing. You don’t just forget what you once “knew” When performance recedes, its because of other factors outside of skill. Therefore, performance must be parsed in order to not over assign skill to a given performance.
3. I strive for an accuracy of +/- 4 points in passer rating. I.e. 131 vs. 135 and 135 vs. 139 are acceptable but 131 vs. 139 is a miss. Below 130 is bad and if I put you in that category and you score at or below 130, I claim a hit.
4. Barring injury, if I pick the wrong starter the a priori assessment carries over to the replacement. More on this later.
5. I use Bill Connolly's RB Rating system to guide my commentary regarding specific players. I had developed a version but, the data streams I needed dried up and his method accounts for most of the factors I did so its good enough for me.
[Hit the Jump for a post-mortem of 2014 QBs]
"Time is a Flat Football" is a series of posts which will explore players from Michigan football history members of the 2015 team resembles the most. Tackled in these posts will be the offensive "skill" position groups: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Receivers/Tight Ends. My apologies go out to the offensive line, but it's very difficult to get o-line statistics, and more difficult to compare the groups. I used Python and Pandas almost exclusively for this quick trip to the past. Any "predictions" can be described as unscientific, but kind of fun.
Disclaimer: Obviously caveats do apply here. These are namely the effects of other position groups, coaching, and style of offense on the players being analyzed. Also, the past probably has no bearing on what current players will do, unless you believe Rust Cohle. I plan to deal with these issues by completely ignoring them. It's the off season, people (but not for long). The receiving core, much like the rest of Michigan's offense, struggled last season. The one guy that stuck out was Devin Funchess, who was underutilized and even when he was used it was for bubble screens, which, well, yeah. The rest of the receiving core Let's take a look at their stats, gathered from sports-reference.com. Here are their stats throughout the years they have been active.
|Yr||Rk||Cls||Player||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec Avg||Rec Td|
Top performer Funchess has moved on to the greener pastures of the NFL. In addition, Gardner, Hayes, Norfleet, Heitzman, and Dever are off the squad due to a combination of graduation, transfers, and medical hardships. These players account for a decent number of last year's receptions - 48.7% to be exact. This leaves the 2015 team with what appears to e a very inexperienced receiving corp. But is this true? I'll look into the number of receptions each team since 1975 has returned. You can see here that the 2015 team will be returning receivers responsible for just under 100 receptions last year. This is roughly the same amount as we've seen each season since 2011. This year's roster doesn't seem to be all that depleted compared to 1995, 2007, or even last year (thanks in large part to Jeremy Gallon's departure). Percentages may be more helpful in exploring this type of information. The bars of this graph represent the returning group of receivers by percentage of receptions from last year. For instance, the receivers currently on roster made up about 50% of the receptions on the 2014 team. In this case, maize bars represent years similar to this year's team. Light blue bars are teams which returned a higher percentage of receptions, while dark blue represent teams which returned a lower percentage of receptions. The similar teams in this comparison are 1980, 1986, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2012. These teams were comprised of receivers responsible for near 50% of the receptions from the season before. Let's take a look at how the three most recent comparison teams fared after losing about half the production from the previous season.
The 2004 squad was loaded in general, but boasted an especially talented group of receivers. This year had it all: the burner in Steve Breaston, the reliable possession receiver in Jason Avant, and of course, the All-American and eventual 3rd overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Braylon Edwards. Beyond them were tight ends Tim Massaquoi and Tyler Ecker. Running backs Mike Hart and Kevin Grady caught a few passes out of the backfield as well, contributing to a passing offense which was good for 248 receptions for a total of 2,795 yards. Braylon Edwards alone accounted for 97 receptions and 1,330 yards - about 41% of the receptions and just under 50% of the yards. Edwards and a few other contributors departed following the 2004 season, leaving a lot of receptions up for grabs.
|Yr||Rk||Cls||Player||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec Avg||Rec Td|
The next season did not see a significant decrease in receptions or yards, coming in with just 10 fewer receptions and 123 less yards, a basically negligible decrease. Jason Avant stepped up in a big way, accounting for 44 more receptions and 560 more yards than his 2004 season. While Steve Breaston's production remained largely the same from his 2004 season, freshman Mario Manningham stepped in to become Michigan's second receiver in terms of receptions, yards, and TDs, and led the team in Yds/Catch with 16. Sophomore Chad Henne was the quarterback for the 2005 season, and he was pretty damn good.
One year later, Jason Avant left the ranks along with a few other contributors. As mentioned above, the 2005 team totaled 2,672 yards on 238 receptions, for an average of 9.45 yds/carry and 23 TDs. The 2006 receivers were led by Steve Breaston, Mario Manningham, and Adrian Arrington, who returned from a season ending injury his sophomore year to have a very productive junior season.
|Yr||Rk||Cls||Player||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec Avg||Rec Td|
The 2006 team did not fare quite as well as the 2005 squad, but still performed very well considering they again lost their leading receiver. In this case the emergence of Adrian Arrington was a huge help to the squad. He and Breaston combined to make up for Avant's departure, plus an extra couple yards and 2 TDs. Mario Manningham improved upon an already impressive Yds/Catch, jumping from 16 Yds to 18.5 despite having an extra 11 catches. Overall the 2006 squad had about 22 fewer catches, and 141 fewer yards. Not too bad for losing a great receiver like Avant. The receivers had a junior Chad Henne passing to them, who is almost definitely better than any QB on the current roster, something to consider.
The 2012 team was coming off a solid 2011 campaign, with the receivers being led by Junior Hemingway, Jeremy Gallon, Kevin Koger, Roy Roundtree, and a number of other contributors. It was an interesting season in which no receiver had more than 35 receptions or 4 TDs receiving. Junior Hemingway posted a ludicrous 20.6 Yards/Catch. As a whole, the team had 155 receptions, 2377 reception yards, and 22 Rec TDs. Hemingway and Koger were the only departures going into the 2012 season.
|Yr||Rk||Cls||Player||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec Avg||Rec Td|
2012 saw a small increase in the passing game for Michigan. The receptions increased by 14, yards by 214. Jeremy Gallon stepped up to become the top receiver, and the Devins Gardner and Funchess pitched in, especially on the Yards front. The QB situation this year was less than ideal. In a move designed to maximize on field talent Devin Gardner played receiver for the first few games. Denard got injured, leaving an overmatched Russell Bellomy to take the reins in the most frustrating Michigan game I think I've ever seen. The next week Gardner took over QB duties and finished out the season there. Needless to say, the 2012 team's quarterback position was not a strong point.
Michigan teams which had to replace roughly 50% of their production usually did so remarkably well. The 2005, 2006, and 2012 teams barely skipped a beat, even though they had to cover up the losses of Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, and Junior Hemingway. In each of these cases, veteran receivers picked up some of the slack while new receivers including a freshman Mario Manningham and junior Greg Matthews made big impacts. Hopefully we'll be able to add the 2015 season to this category.
Losing Devin Funchess seems roughly on par with losing the three receivers mentioned above, and I wouldn't be surprised if we had a breakout receiver on the roster. Seniors Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson should pick up some of the slack, and between guys like Freddy Canteen and Drake Harris, Michigan should have a guy ready to step in and pick up the slack. Additionally, this year's team has a potential All Big Ten tight end in Jake Butt to ease any growing pains that switching to a Harbaugh offense might cause.
In sum, I'm not worried about the receivers. Replacing 50% of the production is not unheard of, and has generally worked out pretty well for Michigan in the past. We have enough talent on the roster to cover the loss of Funchess, and I'm excited to see which of our receivers step up to the challenge. The bigger issue may be whether or not the quarterbacks are able to deliver the ball. The 2005 and 2006 teams were lucky enough to have one of the best quarterbacks in recent Michigan history throwing to them. The 2012 team was not as lucky, although Gardner was not a terrible passer. That seems to be the best comparison for this year's team. Rudock and Morris will be serviceable passers, but expect the offense to go through the running game, just as the 2012 offense did.
If anyone is interested in using the data I've compiled you can get the QB data here and the RB/WR data here. As I mention at the beginning of these posts, the stats were gathered from sports reference. However, I also went through the names and added the class of most players to each entry.
Hello Friends and Foes,
Finally the moment you've all been waiting for. Here are the results and analysis of my super scientific and official survey that was taken by you all some 380 times. However, since I currently have no currency and am also very cheap I decided to not upgrade my SurveyMonkey account to be able to view all 380 responses. However, I can view 100 and believe this will provide a nice little snapshot of the results and enough info to disect and analyze. I'll be honest, if it was called SurveyKoala or even SurveyMarsupial I'd probably upgrade. I hate almost all monkeys except for RGard so therefore I did not upgrade at this time. This is a super scientific survey that I spent much time on so please take the results and my analysis as the absolute fact and truth that can not be argued or discussed. No, not even by DiscussMan or whatever the hell his/her avatar is. Obviously you will discuss anyways, so go ahead and let me know what you think or tell me you hate me and my antics and my schtick. What you should do is take your opinion and SCHTICK it up your tight ass. Also don't complain about my lack of paragraphs, just don't read it and post a funny "cool story bro" gif instead. Feel free to bitch about my spelling and grammar if that helps you feel happy that your better at writing than a Koala. (You're* Got you already!) Okay. Let's begin!
1.) Do you like me?
47% of you said "yes". Thank you. I like you too. Some of the "Other, please specify" responses were very interesting. A few of the responses included "get off my lawn" in Spanish and "eat 7 dicks". Seven just happens to by my favorite number! One person said I could lick their sack, but they didn't specify what it was a sack of. I think maybe apples or sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's. One person asked if they could "finger my can". I dont know what that means, but it sounds dangerous. I've cut myself on can lids before. Others don't like my new Avatar and one person said he didn't kill his wife. That's good! My favorite response was this rap that I'll paste below.
Man I really wanna like you but I really wanna fight you. At first you seemed real cool and I aint tryna fool. But then you full of yourself and started acting like a tool. Yo I love me some koalas like I love me gin and tonic and those yummy burgers at the Sonic. But I know deep down your doing this greater good. And you call yourself out like a hater would. Man you're great for the community. Making the most of opportunity but demanding your impunity like a leader should. Look at me I'm starting to ramble. And my rhymes going to shambles. So I'm out. Peace and love-your boy randle
Thanks Randle. That was very nice. Let's brawl to the death sometime.
2.) Do you like Owen Wilson?
I'm telling you, you have to watch the video of him saying "wow" and you'll hate him and his lack of acting range. Most of you liked him (47%), but admited to being a psychopath. That number of psychopaths running around is worrisome indeed. One time I met him and he scratched my head and said "Oh wow, Is that like a Wombat?" Wombat?!?! I look nothing like a wombat.
3.) How many MGoPoints Should I have?
30% of you said I should have all the points, and the rest of you were wrong. I should get at least half of WD's points. You know my Point Parties are better than anyone else's anyways and you're all invited, except for the Discuss guy.
4.) I would like to see more if these surveys in the future.
This was an even split. 30% said yes, but make it funnier. I'll try, but I'm not very funny so don't get your hopes up. I'm more of a quantity rather than quality joke koala. Another 30% said they were drunk which I thought was a surprisingly low percentage. This blog has a lot of Owen Wilson loving psychopathic drunks. FACT
5.) The muffin Question.
This was my favorite and I was excited to see the results. Here are the favorite muffins for each subject:
Harbaugh: 35% think that Harbaugh would say "Muffins are for fancy boys". 2nd was Meat flavored with 31%.
Dantonio: 51% said he would say "Eh muffin? Just feed me something bitter and stale and hard to swallow." Very telling indeed! TWSS
Astronauts: Most people said they would like Bran muffins. I don't know why, but Okay seems like a good choice. Poppyseed was a distant second. Astronauts like generic muffins. FACT.
6.) Do you want the Marsupial Monday Thread?
11% chose "Get off my lawn". I'm probably gonna pee on your lawn. 40% said some version of YES. Apparently there are 17 Mods and they said "Yes, we won't delete it". 3 said they would delete it. So it looks like 17 out of 20 Mods support Marsupial Monday. IT's HAPPENING! Thank you JustinGoBlue for suggesting it! 7 People just want me to stop it. I won't stop it. You stop it.
Sincerely your's in Harbaugh,
P.S. Rhonda Rhonda Jones
EDIT: Here is the SURVEY if you want to take a look, but remember I can't see the results anymore unless I fork over some cash to the corrupt survey people.
I wanted to break down my 2015 Big Ten Football Preview in a little bit more detail than what I was able to provide last week when I originally posted it.
To begin, I want explain the reasoning behind my KPI system. Every year we read several different takes from Guru’s around the country explain different stats and how they have an effect on perceived outcomes. What I did here was not any different. I did not do anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. My goal as a former player, current fan and “want to be guru” was to break down the Big Ten conference.
I will start this post by getting to the point. The below spreadsheet details the final results of my exercise as well as the categories I analyzed. I utilized a point system of 1, 3, 7 points for a category where a team ranked above Avg. in the Big Ten. Ohio State ranks the highest overall with a KPI Score of 363, followed by Michigan State at 319 and not really to my surprise is Michigan, who ranks third in the conference at 280 points. The West is led by Nebraska at 244, Minnesota at 229 and Iowa who scored a “fraudulent” 222. The big Surprise is Wisconsin at 204. They scored lower than Northwestern and Illinois.
So as an example of how to analyze why Wisconsin scored lower than Illinois, or Northwestern take a look at the numbers. Wisconsin scored a 7 in returning production defense while Northwestern scored a 21. Illinois Scored a 21 as well. If you also look at coaching, I have Northwestern scored as a 14 and Wisconsin at 0.
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As we dive into each category, I am going to write about the good, the bad and the ugly. When I began this exercise, I thought one of the key components to winning a championship of any kind relied heavily on experience. So I chose to analyze the returning starters.
The good: Purdue returns 16 starters in 2015. 2015 will be extremely important for Boilers head man Darrell Hazel, who knows that now is the time in West Lafayette to prove he deserves to stay. Purdue also returns a high % of returning JR, SR players on their projected two-deep roster. Michigan State leads this category overall with 13 returning starters who are all either a JR or Sr.
The bad: Iowa returns ten starters, and only 60% of those returning are JR or SR.
Third Down Offense
The Big Ten has some serious returning QB’s that could rival any in the country. The problem is that three of the Big Ten Best quarterbacks all play for Ohio State. Ohio State also returns all world running back and pre-season hype monster Ezekiel Elliot. Ok enough about the Buckeyes at least in this paragraph.
The good: Ohio State stands out big time. They Dominated 3rd down QBR in 2014 and return three quarterbacks that could start anywhere in the country. JT Barrett was the most efficient QB in the Big Ten in 2014 and may be a second stringer to start 2015.
The Bad: Northwestern and Rutgers need to replace last year’s starters. Rutgers has the benefit of a solid receiving core coming back including consensus all big WR Leonte Care. The bad would be Michigan if I did not add Jake Ruddock to the equation as well as Maryland with incoming transfer Dax Garmon.
Next up is third down defense. The crowd is roaring in the background, and you have to make a stop in third and a yard, oh know, it's play action over the top for a touchdown.
The Good: Michigan State dominated the Big Ten in 2014 with a defensive pass rating of 81. It will be interesting to see if they can hold firm after losing Trey Wayne's to the NFL. Michigan State returns 63% of their defensive production in 2015.
The Bad: Minnesota allowed a horrendous 147 pass defense rating in 2014, but they return 66% of their defensive production in 2015.
Special Teams, Returning Starters and Production
The conference returns 33 starters from 2014, and the conference will also return 12 kickers who started last year, or contributed to overall FG percentage.
The Good: Maryland returns projected all big Ten kicker Ben Craddock and the speedy Will Likely, who returns both kicks and punts.
The Ugly: Michigan has to answer questions at all of the key special team’s positions. But I see this stat as an illusion and believe that Michigan will improve because they now have a dedicated special team’s coach John Baxter. The one element I expect to see improvement immediately in will be blocking on kick returns. Michigan will need to win field position battles, and I believe this will be an area we see an instant impact and some explosive returns.
The Trenches Offense
Big Ten equals big Ugly lineman, who will tear the face off of a lion over a steak lying in the middle of a safari.
The Good: Michigan State and Ohio State are the obvious leaders, but Michigan shows up surprisingly at the top as well.
The Ugly: Penn State, who if they reached the red zone could not move the rock if their lives depended on it. With Hackenberg back and some experience out of the backfield from a year ago. The Nittany Lions have nowhere to go but up.
The Trenches Defense
Hail to the Victors!
The Good: Michigan, and there have been some rumblings from the inside that the defensive line will be the strength of this team. I completed this projected more than two weeks ago and have been working to get it posted correctly. When I finished this project, I had known for a fact before fall camp started that this was the key position. My question is how good can the linebackers be? Michigan will have great success against power running teams who go north and south, but we will need strong, disciplined linebacker play in 2015 to beat a team Like Ohio State who goes east, west, north, and south with speed. Michigan will dominate a Minnesota, and have a great shot at beating Michigan State at home this year because of their pro-style attack.
The Bad: Illinois needs to find a way to stop the big play. The Illini gave up over a 150 plays of 10-20 yards and allowed 22 red zone TD’s. If this does not change, Beckman will be out at Illinois.
Returning Offensive Production
One of the key elements I loved to analyze and could have taken so much further if it were not for having a family is returning production.
The Good: Ohio State and Penn State who return 88% of their 2014 offensive production.
The Bad: Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland all return just over 40% of their 2014 production.
Returning Defensive Production
The Big Ten as a whole returns 65% of its defensive production from 2014.
The Good: Indiana and Illinois, who desperately need to improve their pass defense both lead the conference in returning production. I believe this will not be enough for either team because of talent and depth. I do feel that Indiana and Kevin Wilson will make it through 2015. I don’t feel the same way for Beckman at Illinois.
The Bad: No one jumps out, which bodes well for the conference. I do see Wisconsin taking a few steps back this year, as in they will not be in the title game.
I did not do any earth shattering analysis for this category, but what I did find out is just how badly Darrell Hazell needs to win, and that Beckman may not make it the entire season.
The good: Urban, Dantonio, Kill, And Harbaugh.
The Bad: I ragged on Beckman enough.
Just like the coaches, I could have done more here. Did I mention I have a full-time job, and a family that I cook for after I work my full-time job and then find time to blog?
The Good: Michigan will be sold out every week at home.
The Bad: No way 41,000 people watch Illinois at home every week.
How my KPI's predict the big ten schedule to play itself out.
The Good: The East will be competitive amongst its top three teams. I performed this exercise so that I could find out what the gap is between Ohio State and everyone else. I found out that the gap is wide, but if a team like Michigan can answer its special teams questions, and Ruddock can prove to be as efficient as his numbers show, or Michigan can be more than just a run stopping defense and prove to be consistent at the second and third level of its defense, they could beat the Buckeyes, and the gap between Michigan State and Ohio state is not that wide at all. I think the top of the conference will be between these three teams at the end of it all.
The Bad: The West is in trouble when playing any team from the east other than Maryland. My KPI's say Maryland will go winless in Big Ten Play. I Believe that they win a few and finish 2-6 in conference and miss a bowl all together.
The final standings based on the exercise.
Greetings again, my fellow Wolverines! Last week, I was able to drop the first official wallpaper of the season in my vintage schedule wallpaper based on a schedule card from 1969. This week, I’m happy to bring you the wallpaper for our first opponent of the season, the Utah Utes.
In preparing to do this wallpaper, I did a good amount of research on the Ute people, for whom the team is named. The Ute people are also the namesake of the state of Utah, itself. The word “Ute,” in the native tongue of the Ute people, Shoshonean, means “land of the sun” or “ the high place.” The Ute people were a highly-artistic people, making all sorts of beaded jewelry for use in battle and for trade. The Ute were also some of the earliest adopters of the horse in America (reports state as early as 1580). They were fierce warriors and with the addition of horses, became excellent big game hunters, as well. They were also highly spiritual, and are credited as being the first documented (by approx. 200 years) peoples to make use of a process called “mechanoluminescence” in their ceremonies. It’s said that they would use clear quartz crystals inside of translucent buffalo hide rattles. When rattled, the friction and mechanical stress of the crystals impacting each other would create a light that would be visible through the hide rattles. They believed this was evidence that the spirits were being called to their ceremonies.
I had a lot of fun researching the Ute people and it reminded me of the excellent time I had when doing research for the CMU wallpaper. I loved learning about the Chippewa and the Ute were the same experience. That being said, I hope that we stomp them on the football field. Respect gained for their history or not, I want them crying in defeat.
The image I used for the wallpaper below is of an actual Ute Tipi (or Teepee) on file at the Library of Congress. I hope I did a job that is both respectful and artistically-sound. Let me know! As always, I appreciate constructive criticism and/or suggestions for future works. Have a wonderful day and GO BLUE!
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