this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
1. The Six Factors
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
Holy cow those were a lot of ugly third downs. Michigan averaged 11 yards to go on third and Penn State was nearly as bad at 9. Michigan had a huge advantage in they converted a lot more before third down than Penn State. Plus, both teams were bad at converting, even when accounting for the miles to go.
So Michigan won field position, bypassed third down more often, had more big plays and was slightly more terrible on third downs. That is a pretty outstanding line for the defense. I would take those numbers across the board in any game. Everything except the field position number. Some of that is four overtimes ratcheting up the expected score, but it’s not all of it. The offense as we have discussed forever at this point was either really good or really bad. Call the good stuff, get first downs, call the bad stuff and end up in third and Philadelphia.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: +9.1 EV+, +52% WPA, (16th best QB of the week)
Christian Hackenberg: +6.2, +10% (23rd)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –9.4, –40%, (114/115 ranked RB of the week)
Bill Belton: +1.6, +43%, (36th)
Devin Funchess: +9.8, +25% (18th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7.7, +40% (41st)
Brandon Felder: +11.4, +34% (9th)
Allen Robinson: +6.2, +38% (74th)
Apparently there are factions of the Michigan community who think Gardner is the problem and should be benched. I just don’t get it. Yes, the bar has been lowered a little bit after last season and the first 7 quarters of this season, but that bar started as high as it gets. The turnovers are very frustrating but he adds so much value to the team.
The flip side to the equation is if you benched him, your best case scenario is Christian Hackenberg, and that is pretty much best case with a lot more downside. I think he’s going to be a player, but for this season, I’ll take Gardner any day of the week.
The good news is that Michigan now has two legitimate receiving threats if we get them the ball, and other than the back breaking grab at the end of regulation, Michigan help the Big Ten’s best receiver in check.
3. Game Charts
The Six Biggest Plays
6. +26.5%: Hackenberg incomplete on 3rd and 4 in the second OT
5. -29.3%: Pass interference in the end zone sets up Penn State’s final TD
4. –29.5%: Hackenberg to Robinson at the end of regulation
3. -32.4%: Gibbons field goal from 40 blocked in the first OT
2. +35.8%: Robinson fumbles to open the third OT
1. –38.6%: Gibbons misses from 33 yards in the third OT
What is left to say at this point, Michigan had the game in the bag at 3 different points. There are a lot of things to fix coming out of the game, but that loss had a ton of bad dumb luck.
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Last weekend was one of the least dumb kicking weekends since I started following. No egregious punts from deep in opponent territory, no face saving field goal attempts down by 5 touchdowns. The worst offender was Georgia State. Trailing Troy by 7, they decided to punt the ball away with less than two minutes to play. With two timeouts left their best hope was to get the ball back with no timeouts and a minute left needing a touchdown to tie. Troy ground out the single first down they needed and Georgia State never saw the ball again.
5. State of the Stats
The six factors for all teams can still be found .
- Even with all his turnover issues, Devin Gardner is ranked the #12 QB so far this season, averaging 8.1 points a game above average when adjusted for opponents.
- With the struggles in MANBALL, his value is magnified even more. Replacing the plays where he carries or throws with an average play would result in a loss of 84 points for Michigan on the season, the fifth highest total for any player.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint’s carries are on the opposite side, plays where he carries the ball are college football’s least valuable. Replacing his carries for an average Michigan non-Toussaint play would be worth another 37 points. Solve for the equilibrium, Al.
- Jeremy Gallon is still at the edge of the top 30 and Devin Funchess keeps climbing, rising to #56 in national receiver rankings.
- Michigan’s overall ranking is still holding strong, I have the ranked 19th based on in season results only, 8 points above an average team with most of the value coming from the defense.
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Mich O||31.0 (19)||50% (64)||155 (41)||7.6 (108)||-3% (79)||5.1 (55)|
|Ind D||25.7 (53)||50% (62)||149 (81)||5.8 (85)||+8% (103)||4.5 (30)|
|Mich D||31.9 (111)||49% (37)||98 (13)||7.6 (11)||+8% (103)||3.9 (15)|
|Ind O||24.4 (87)||53% (27)||168 (34)||6.4 (68)||+5% (24)||5.6 (27)|
This game should be some strength versus strength when Indiana’s offense goes up against the Michigan defense. The Michigan defense has moved into the top 15 in Bonus Yards, 3rd Down Distance and Red Zone. The biggest knocks are that they have been given awful field position to deal with and they’ve been poor once they get to third down.
At this point I think anything is possible with the offense, and for that matter this game. I could see this game being close and low-scoring, close and high-scoring or Michigan putting it together on offense for at least one game and looking strong.
If I go with the straight numbers:
Michigan 24 Indiana 21
no time for love, Dr. Jones.
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Drastic measures... and drastic drawings.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every week here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
“Bring me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Look, we need to talk. I’m worried about you. I mean, look at you. There are bags under your eyes, you’re pale, I mean…look, something just isn’t right. It’s the loss to Penn State, isn’t it? I haven’t seen you this upset after a loss since…well, since that other guy (you know, the one who wore the red wrist band) was still in town.
Guess what? I’ve got something to soothe your chapped and chafed sports-soul. It’s Michigan hockey. Weren’t expecting that after last year, were ya? Frankly, neither was I. And yet here we are, just two games into the new season and last year seems like a memory that we might just be able to get rid of and finally move on from. Last year was a memory burr; it hung around longer than it should have and felt like it might be impossible to get rid of, but once it was gone there was such sweet relief. See, a win over a Boston College squad that’s one of the top five in the country isn’t enough to do it alone. It’s the combination of not only winning but also showing defensive acumen and energy and situational awareness that’s so reassuring.
The official scoring sheet says that Michigan outshot BC over the course of the game, but let’s dig a little deeper. Below you’ll find Corsi tables, and if you aren’t sure what Corsi is read this post from last week.
Things didn't look good early on. Michigan was keeping up with Boston College, but that's about it. Granted, they did get a nice power play snipe from Luke Moffatt (whose performance was the focal point of Brian's excellent post), but that's about it. It seemed as though Michigan was doing all they could just to hang on for 20 minutes; hanging around for 60 is an entirely different thing, and winning that next 40 minutes is a different animal entirely.
Well, looks like the tables are starting to turn. Michigan and BC went back and forth this period, but Michigan looked better getting the puck out of their zone and moving it through the neutral zone. The shot totals above don't match the official scoring sheet, so it's worth noting the caveat that comes with this analysis; when the game is only available in standard def that's what I have to watch it in, and it can be hard to tell whether the puck hit the goalie or went just wide. Having said that, I do believe in what I saw and wrote down. We'll see how this takes shape over the course of the season.
The numbers end up looking like Michigan dominated the period, but that isn't how it began. BC carried the play in the first few minutes, and Michigan was allowing this to happen. They moved a forward high to defend and were dumping the puck in. Midway through the period this changed, and Michigan dropped the conservative schtick and started to move the puck again. One thing that went well: passing toa teammate on a zone entry and letting them carry the puck in instead of dumping it into the corner.
Michigan outplayed a higher ranked opponent by forechecking hard, backchecking hard, and making intelligent passes to keep the puck moving and away from the opponent. Michigan won. Read that again. Now do it again. Michigan (yes, that Michigan) beat an incredibly talented team and by game’s end made them look overmatched. Whether Michigan hockey is really back remains to be seen but this is certainly the only way to start.
As for overall shot percentages, I’ll let Seth handle that. He had a cool table in last week’s Dear Diary post and I don’t want to step on his toes because intellectual property, man. A quick programming note: I read your comments on the last article and haven’t given up on goal-by-goal analysis posts. I’m going to continue with this (because I think collecting the data over a full season will be worthwhile) but also start GBGA’s when the B1G season starts. Also, I can only do Corsi analyses for games that I have in full, so there won’t be one for the RIT game. Should be a Corsi post for this weekend's games, though, so look for that next week.
On Saturday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first Michigan away game, attending it as a 29th birthday present, which fell on that same day. My accompaniment for the game was none other than a friend and MSU grad from New York. You see, I had gone to the MSU at OSU game with him a few years back and we decided that Penn State was a good game to spend a weekend at my in-laws cabin in Central Pennsylvania. My immediate family and in-laws were there. And they are all Buckeye fans (except my 3 year old son, who is very much into saying Go Blue, though he still doesn't grasp the concept). Yada, yada, company you keep, bla, bla, bla.
Sparty and I got our tickets well in advance. A homecoming game at night seemed to predicate that. Our reasoning was confirmed as I saw very few scalpers outside the stadium. At Penn State, they have giant rolling grass hills that can more than accomodate the parking for the game. The problem is that you have to buy parking passes. In advance, they are $10, but on gameday, they charge $40. Both he and I had known about the parking passes, but failed to buy them in advance. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the passes. We parked off the road about a mile from the stadium, which was free. We also had literally zero traffic until we hit the highway, which was nice. The parking was on Puddintown Road. Unfortunately, we missed out on the bulk of the tailgating, which was huge due to the cheap price of parking. There were likely tens of thousands of vehicles all crammed into a few giant lots.
(Damon's Grill, stock)
We rolled into Happy Valley at around 11:40am. State College has the lower-middle class feel of any random rural Michigan town, only larger. Picture Jackson, MI with a college in it. Sparty insisted we stop at the first spot we found to watch Michigan State adequately beat Indiana. That first place was a Damon's Grill by a hotel, which meant that a large portion of the lunchgoers were Michigan fans. It was a generally suitable "generic sports bar" to a T. Slightly dingy, but with a bevy of HD TVs on every wall. Their menu featured an item for each Big Ten school. "The Wolverine" was a chicken and bacon club with pepperjack cheese and chipotle mayo. It sounded delicious, but I got the generic appetizer sampler as I prefer food without spit in it. The phrase "Can I get a liter of soda... for a Michigan Fan?!?" resounded.
During the first half, I found myself rooting hard for Indiana. But by the second half, I was pulling for the Spartans to pull away so we could make our way to campus. Sometime in the 3rd quarter, Sparty informed me that Gardner would throw two picks and lose a fumble. Had he known who Nostradamus was, I'm sure he would have reminded me of this fact. A small part of me wanted Gardner to lose an inconsequential turnover in the second half so that smug bastard would be wrong. We left Damon's towards the start of the 4th quarter once MSU went up three scores.
After a short walk in unseasonably sunny and warm weather, we arrived at the stadium. I haven't been on a college campus in about 4 years, so I'm just entering that phase where being on campus means I'm the awkward old guy. We didn't stop to tailgate with anyone. I had a decent beer buzz, but what was I supposed to do? Swoop in and pick off a football being thrown from father to son, then offer myself one of their beers? I'm a pretty social guy, but nobody prompted any conversations on my way in. No sarcastic Michigan comments, no "good luck" wishes. It dawned on me quickly that parking BFE was a bad choice, as sobriety would set in before game time. In briefly eavesdropping on passing conversations, though, I can confirm that soroity girls still literally say literally about literally everything. When I was younger, it was cute. Now it is just kind of grating.
So we sauntered through the tailgate for a bit before arriving at the stadium. It was the typical tailgate wares. Grills, beers, underage drinking, and footballs. The only thing I did see which was new was a game in which opposite sides threw a frisbee into a barrel. The barrel had an opening up top and a slit in front for the frisbee to pass. Teammates were able to bat the frisbee to help direct it. Points were scored for various outcomes. It was like east coast cornhole. There was also a game where what looked to be litter boxes were filled with sand, and inside the sand was a coffee tin that people tossed rings into. Likely an artifact of the past, when everyone from Pennsylvania was a carnie in some sense of the word. I did not see any cornhole, though we played it at the cabin all weekend.
(gate E, stock)
Upon reaching the stadium, my first impression was that it was a high school bleacher on sterroids. The entrance gates take you into a spiders web of beams that support a thin layer of sheet metal which makes up the floor of the stands. The corrugation of the stands gave the impression that the floor was paper thin. It was actually kind of spooky how little metal stood between you and a catastophic fall. It got even spookier remembering how thin the bleacher floors were when everyone started stomping in unison late in the game. The whole stadium shook.
Our seats were located in EHU, directly below the luxury suites. The stadium is much more compact than the Big House, giving it the illusion of being much smaller. The announced 107,000 + crowd did not seem to add up to a packed Michigan Stadium. The benefits to this, though, were crowd volume, and though our seats were nosebleed, they were still awesome seats. The only bad seats appeared to be the third deck in each endzone.
(view from EHU, stock)
What struck me about the crowd was not the raucousness (though that was there), but the fact that everything was done in lock step. The "We Are" "Penn State" thing is annoying, but in person, it is a very intimidating thing. There was no argument over standing or sitting. It seemed everyone knew when to stand, which corresponded to all plays in the fourth quarter and OT. The crowd quieted on their offensive possessions. You all saw how white the white out was. None of those shirts were handed out, only the pom poms. I just had a sense of a crowd who knew exactly what they were doing. The student section was clearly GA. They filed in slowly and steadily, like a swimming pool being filled with milk, the sea of white creeping slowly up to the upper deck.
At one point in the game, I got a text message that asked "Are you sick of that stupid wildcat call yet???" to which I replied "Rawwaaawwwrrrr!!!". There is no way to overstate how annoying that cat call was. It was played at every opportunity, and then some. It sounded like a really loud gay guy kept teasing his friend for being too sassy, "Rawwwrr!" PSU needs a new DJ in their stands, as the sound was so crappy. There was no cross fades between songs, and that damned wildcat interrupted the canned music, completely out of beat. I'll hear that raaawwwawwwr in my nightmares, I'm sure.
I won't go into the game, other than the fact that there were some plays in which our receivers were further away from a PSU player than I was. It was nauseating to see us not capitalize on this.
The crowd was as expected. Overtime was surreal. Trying to portray how it felt to be sitting after the PI call in the 4th overtime would be pointless. I had my head in my hands, surrounded by a hornet's nest of activity. There was never another moment in my life so contradictory. My emotional state was completely out of mesh with the entire crowd. It was weird. Sparty was standing next to me jumping up and down. He's a dick. The crowd was loud. One giant unison of dick. They shook my hands, said "What a game!" I extended my hand as well. They were all dicks.
My reception by the fans was overall pretty tame. Coincidentally, my contact ripped in half just after the game ended, causing tears to pour down my cheeks. It was no use explaining this. The hive must have seen it funny to see a grown man cry. Sparty was filled in on the contact situation, he thought it hilarious.
Walking back out through the tailgate, I heard two "Michigan sucks" and a single "F*** you" from a guy driving by in a car. Car guy is always the most offensive, as he doesn't have to answer for his taunts. That's to be expected, although it got pretty scary when the crowd turned on the refs late in the fourth. I'm sure my reception would have been more colorful if Michigan had pulled it off.
Altogether, the experience was a solid B. It did not exceed my expectations, but given the outcome of the game, it went about as well as I could expect. I did get very drunk back at the cabin, still alone in my misery, surrounded by Sparty and the OSU fans. But that one was on me.
In the “What is the Source of Our Run Blocking Issues” thread, I offered my list of things we are doing poorly (hint: everything). This Diary delves deeper into each of those items by examining an example of each in a brief picture page format. Let’s jump right in.
1. Bad individual technique. A lot of plays start from a fresh line of scrimmage 2 yards behind where the ball was snapped because of just plain getting beat 1 vs 1.
Example: First play of Michigan’s second possession.
Pic1: Butt motions next to AJ Williams, who is the defacto LT since Lewan is lined up outside of Schofield on the right in "Tackle Over."
Pic2: Michigan runs outside zone away from Lewan/Schofield. This goes about how you'd expect. Bryant and Williams both take a step laterally and allow their guys to get in on them with leverage. Before the ball is even handed off, they’ve each ceded 2 yards. Bonus: Schofield releases without chipping the DT, leaving Lewan an impossible angle.
Pic3: By the time Fitz gets the ball he has a wall of bodies in front of him 5 yards behind the line. The DT Lewan had no chance at is also there to prevent any hope of a cutback. Michigan would go on to throw for short gain on 2nd down, then Gardner throws his first pick on 3rd.