This diary is a fuller exposition of a quick chart that I threw together and posted in Ace's recap of the Iowa game. I've expanded the analysis somewhat and corrected at least one mistake.
In essence, I wanted to chart the offensive regression that we've all witnessed over the course of the season, especially post-Minnesota.
First, let's just chart yards per play (maize dots indicate losses):
The overall regression is clear, with a big spike against Indiana. That was a great offensive performance, but Indiana. Overall there's a clear regression, especially in Big Ten play.
The problem is that not all defenses are created equal. To try to correct for that, I've divided Michigan's yards per play by the average yards per play allowed by each team:
Here you can see that the Indiana performance is still quite good -- we did better against them than the average team. But you can also see the below-average performances (anything below 100%): UConn, Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Iowa.
Notice how poor our performance against Nebraska was: our yards per play (2.778) was only 53% of the average offensive performance allowed by Nebraska (5.27).
I also charted yards per carry by the running backs:
This is a little bit harder to correct for, since defensive rushing stats include sacks, etc. Nevertheless there's a clear negative trend, and in no case have we averaged more than 5 YPC by running backs in any game.
Finally, yards per pass:
The slope here is a bit flatter, but it is still negative. Perhaps the fall-off over the past several weeks can be attributed to injury? DG's also not getting yards rushing the way he did earlier in the season. DG rushed for 82 yards in the Notre Dame game, for example, and for 121 yards against Penn State.
In conclusion: this is grim. Very grim indeed.
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. :(