As you've referenced with KenPom's research several times, it would appear that the best way to defend the 3 point shot is to keep your opponent from shooting them at all. Unfortunately, according to an ESPN insider article, Michigan is allowing its opponents to shoot them on 36.9% of their possessions, which ranks 295th in the nation. Does this concern you? I think we would all hate to see Michigan beaten in the tournament by a less talented opponent with a hot hand from deep because they can't prevent teams from getting off 3 pointers.
Somewhat. The nice thing about Michigan's defense is how few shots at the rim they give up. Michigan's forcing more two-point jumpers than any team in the league except Nebraska:
Team Defensive Summary
% of shots
% of Shots Blocked
Insofar as shots are migrating to three-pointers, they're shots at the rim. So… that's okay. Ideally you'd like to see that Nebraska shot configuration, but to do that the Huskers give up on the idea of offensive rebounding and steals.
I'm not sure what Michigan can do to improve their defense at this point. Forcing a lot of jumpers plus their defensive rebounding and lack of fouls has propped their defense up, and that's about all they can do. They don't have a shotblocker—at least right now, maybe Horford can provide some of that later in the season—or an elite perimeter defender. They rotate out on pick and rolls to prevent guys getting to the basket, and then you have to start rotating away from the corners. Threes inevitably result… if you're not Wisconsin.
As for the tourney, it will be tough for any major underdog to keep up with Michigan's offense, but a second or third round matchup against a good defensive team that takes and hits a lot of threes would be worrisome.
Whenever Michigan gets a 3-star recruit earlier in the process, there tends to be widespread complaining about taking up scholarships that could be filled by more highly rated players. The general response to that is, "I trust the coaches to evaluate players." This got me to thinking that most major programs essentially have their pick of just about any three star player that they want.
My question is, do three star and lower players who go to major programs perform better on average than the total population of three star players?
I understand it would be hard to distinguish between a three star player taken for depth/filling out a roster purposes compared to a three star player who the coaches think are better than their ranking, but I thought it might be an interesting topic to explore.
I'd guess it's actually worse since there's more competition and recruiting sites give recruits at the bottom end of the scale a courtesy bump to three stars 90% of the time a nobody commits to a power program.
At Purdue, everyone is a three-star player and someone has to be relied upon; sometimes you get Kawann Short. At Michigan—at least at Michigan in the near future—the three star is going to have to climb over some other guys to get on the field.
I do think that there is a big difference between a recruitment like Reon Dawson—who Michigan clearly grabbed to fill a previously designated spot that was vacated—or Da'Mario Jones—seemingly offered once Treadwell flitted off—and Channing Stribling, who Michigan liked at camp and then had a very nice senior year. To put in in Gruden terms, did Michigan want THIS GUY or just A GUY?
In your post, "Aging in a Loop", you mentioned how the solid defensive rebounding performance in Columbus proves that we are for real on the boards this year. I agree completely, but it got me wondering how much of that has to do with our sudden ability to actually have three to four non-midgets (relative use of the term, I get it) on the floor at once. I can't remember too many Michigan teams having anything resembling a luxury of length in quite some time.
Have ever looked for or found any statistical correlation between average height and rebounding prowess? Even the least astute observer must realize it will benefit the numbers, but I guess what I'm after is just how much it actually does?
[Note: since this email came in Minnesota did pound Michigan on the offensive boards.]
While much-improved, Michigan still isn't a very big team. Replacing Novak and Douglass with a couple of 6'6" guys and adding McGary into the mix has pushed them to a hair above average on Kenpom's "effective height,"* but that's in the context of 347 D-I teams. There are entire conferences where the 6'10" guy is a tourist attraction. They remain a lot shorter than Kentucky, Arizona, USC, Miami, Gonzaga, Eastern Michigan, and others. Effectively four inches shorter, in fact.
Michigan's moved up in the world in that stat—they've generally hovered around 250th in effective height since Beilein arrived—but I don't think that's the reason they've been so good at rebounding this year. I crammed together the data available on Kenpom to eyeball an ugly scatter plot, and here it is:
Libre Office makes sinfully ugly graphs yo.
That round ball with a dense central cluster is typical of things that are not correlated. You'd find something similar if you graphed hair color versus desire to eat bananas.
There is no correlation between effective height and defensive rebounding. If you insert a trend line into this—something I don't like to do in low-correlation graphs like because it implies that there actually is a trend—it actually goes down as your height goes up, at a surprisingly steep slope. Some people would try to apply some crazy mechanism to make that make sense here; I'm just going to tell you there is no meaning. There does seem to be some correlation between EH and offensive rebounding, but not much of one.
Anecdotally, that enormous Eastern Michigan team Michigan played earlier this year is below average at both facets of rebounding despite having played only a few games against decent competition. They're hideous on the defensive glass.
In general this is good news for Michigan, a team that trades some rebounding muscle for increased offensive effectiveness. But why are they so much better this year than last? Well:
- Luck, always luck.
- Effective height does not capture the difference between Mitch McGary and Evan Smotrycz very well.
- Michigan has not trudged through their Big Ten schedule yet; IIRC they entered conference play last year in the top ten and ended up 9th in conference, dropping to 99th overall.
- Tim Hardaway is serious, man.
- Some teams are abandoning the offensive boards in an effort to choke Michigan's transition game off.
If you asked me to put weights on these things I would give them nearly all equal weight, which means they can expect some regression as #1 and #3 betray them but should realize a significant gain from last year's 9th-place conference finish.
SIDE NOTE: You'll notice that GRIII > Novak is not on that list. While it's true that GRIII is much better on the offensive boards than Novak was, their defensive rebounding is essentially identical, lending credence to the idea that getting on the defensive glass is a matter of effort and positioning while offensive rebounding is more about being a skyscraper-bounding genetic freak. Holla at yo' Petway.
*[IE, if you have a seven-footer who plays 10 minutes and a 6'8" guy who plays 30, the 6'8" guy counts three times more than the seven-footer.]
Brian, Quite often the site discusses the ability of an offensive lineman to pull. Why is this difficult? My understanding is that pulling requires the lineman to:
(0) (set up:) ignore the guys across from him before the snap, because the lineman is about to pull,
(1) after the snap, back up a step or two,
(2) run sideways behind other blockers, and then
(3) find a guy to block.
So what is hard? I'm not saying there isn't anything, I just don't know what it is. Is finding the right guy to block hard? Or backing up and running?
Also, have you thought about doing a basketball version of HTTV?
One of the major takeaways from the clinic swing I did last spring was that everything is hard on the offensive line. I missed most of a three-hour presentation by Darryl Funk on inside zone because I was at Mattison's thing, and when I came in I was too far gone to understand much. I also sat in with a wizened consultant who scribbled various v-shaped diagrams on an ancient projector and demonstrated how if you stepped like so your world would end, and if you stepped like so demons would pour into the world from outside known space, but if you stepped like so there was a slight chance of you living to see dinner.
All of these steps looked identical to me. Offensive line is hard.
So. Consider the pull. You are 300 pounds, and you are lined up across from men who would like to run you over, and you are trying to get to a hole past other 300 pound men before a 200 pound man lined up a gap closer to this hole can get there. On the way you may encounter bulges in the line you have to route around. When you arrive you have to instantly identify the guy to block, reroute your momentum, and get drive on a guy.
This is a tall order. Michigan particularly had difficulty with step 2 the last couple years. Here's a canonical example from the uniformz MSU game. Watch Omameh (second from the bottom):
"Run sideways" goes all wrong there as Omameh arcs slowly and Denard ends up hitting the hole before he does; Denard has to bounce as a result when a block on Bullough is promising as the left side of the line caves in MSU.
To get to the place you are supposed to be you have to execute a series of steps as carefully choreographed as anything on dancing reality TV and be able to adapt on the fly, and you have to be able to redirect your momentum quickly enough to go in three different directions in a short space of time, with enough bulk to be, you know, an offensive lineman. Getting there in time is harder than anything the tailback has to do.
How does this impact Michigan's search for run-game competence in 2013? I hope it doesn't since I'd rather have Schofield back at right tackle than moving back inside.
it worked out okay for everyone in the end
Position battles: exciting instead of terrifying?
Way too early 2013 depth charts are beginning to pop-up. It’s looking like the battle at linebacker this year will be a good one (and both lines in future years). What was the last position battle that got you excited? 2 plus players going for one spot or, like the LBs, 3 plus players going for 2 spots. There have been positional battles the last few years, but those have been between average, at best, players.
Mike in Ohio
I'm not sure if excited is the right word, but the last position battle I remember being pretty "whatever" about was Henne vs Richard vs Gutierrez at QB in 2004. In some order those were the #3, #4, and #5 QBs in their respective years, so I figured Michigan was going to be just fine no matter who ended up starting.
The Gutierrez injury threw that all out of whack, of course, and we had Henne starting as a freshman, but he had Braylon to throw to so that worked out just fine.
It's tough to remember any others. The age of roster hyper-awareness was just dawning in 2004*, and Michigan hasn't exactly had an embarrassment of riches since. The linebackers this year should be a preview of coming years when Michigan is choosing between something like Wormley/Hurst/Poggi/Godin at three-tech and I'm all like "confidence, it is something I have."
*[I remember Tim Biakabutuka's first carries of Michigan being met with general merriment at his last name. If that happened now, the extent to which it did would be greatly reduced since about 40% of the people in the stadium would be like "four star recruit out of Canada, tailback, 6'0", born in Zaire, did well at Army Bowl. BOOM KIPER'D."]
obligatory (The Wolverine/Tim Sullivan)
With Taylor Lewan returning for his 5th year, I've read quite a few message board commenters suggesting that Schofield move back to LG and Braden or Magnuson take over at RT.
My question is this: for sheer upside, wouldn't it make more sense to move Braden inside for 2013 than Schofield? Just looking at their body types, it seems to me that Braden is more suited to the power run blocking Michigan needs than Schofield is. I'd enjoy your perspective on what you would like to see happen with the OL and what you think will actually happen with the OL.
Thanks, and Go Blue!
It depends more on Braden's ability to pull than anything else. We've had some indication that Schofield is capable of it despite his tackle-like size, since he played guard effectively and Michigan spent chunks of the year pulling tackles on that sprint counter and an occasional sweep. In the event that Braden forces his way into the lineup, is he going to have that same ability? I don't know.
A point in your favor: with Lewan back Michigan gets plenty of power run blocking from one of their tackles. They can probably afford to have a non-devastating drive blocker at RT if he brings more pass protection to the table, and Schofield does bring a lot of pass pro. Remember that both of South Carolina's defensive ends are damn good and neither did that much in the bowl when they weren't ending Vincent Smith on a busted stunt pickup. By the end of the year, Schofield was pretty good.
What I think will happen and what I'd like to see happen are the same, and it's basically the five-guy lineup I posted yesterday: Lewan-Kalis-Miller-InsertGuardHere-Schofield. I assume Kalis and Miller are locks (though if you heard my segment on WTKA yesterday you heard Sam Webb rhapsodize about Patrick Kugler's ability to start early). The fifth guy is up in the air; I would prefer that guy to be a guard simply because it provides less uncertainty, and I worry less about guards getting the QB murdered.
As I'm sure we all were, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Lewan's decision to return next year. However, it seems like all non-Michigan sources (and I'm not talking about rival fan sites like 11W) have done nothing but trash his decision. Analysts at ESPN, some of the pay sites, Yahoo and others have all said he's making a terrible decision...given the insurance policy he will take out and other factors, what gives? Many of the sources are saying there's much more risk than Jake Long took, but given the new rookie pay scale, I actually think there's less. What say you?
Lewan didn't come back because it was the most profitable thing to do, so analyses of whether it's the most profitable thing to do miss the point. They do so very badly, so badly that I assume Darren Rovell has been cloned a thousand times and sent to draft chattering class.
Anyone trashing the decision doesn't understand that there things other than money that might be important.
"You'll never play for a team again. You'll play for a contract."
It's a risk. But it's an opportunity as well.
but but but oversigning
Throughout the lead-up and aftermath of the BCS National Championship Game, we have been subject to overwhelming Bama praise. “How much better are they than everybody else?” “Is this a dynasty?” “How many years until Michigan can compete on that level?” My constant mental response to this is: but, but, but…OVERSIGNING!
The morning following the Bama beatdown, there was an interesting blogger exchange on Twitter. Basically, a B1G blogger alludes to oversigning as a competitive advantage, then an SEC blogger trivializes oversigning’s competitive impact. Looking back, I see our friend Ramzy once called oversigning an “almost insurmountable competitive advantage.”
What say you? Are B1G fans making too much of oversigning by using it as an excuse for its poor brand of football? Are SEC fans ignoring it in order to maximize pride in their conference? What’s the best quantitative analysis out there that attempts to truly measure the impact?
It's an advantage, but it's only a small part of the reason that the Big Ten has fallen behind the college football world. Florida and Georgia don't do it, and they have been okay at playing football recently. Ole Miss seems to do nothing but, and they suck every year.
- Sucky management of the Big Ten's elite programs. Michigan has been wobbly at best since 2006 largely due to coaching and the program's remarkable ability to punch itself in the face. Penn State was operating essentially without a head coach for the past decade and has now been nuked by the NCAA. Ohio State has largely escaped these doldrums but was stripped of various key players last year en route to a .500 season and banned from postseason play this year. No other Big Ten team can really pick up the slack, except somewhat Nebraska, and this is only the second year they've been in the league. Of course the league is going to be bad when OSU and PSU can't play in bowl games and Michigan's sixth offensive lineman is a walk-on.
- Talent distribution. Not sure this is a huge-huge factor in the Big Ten's sudden decline since demographic trends are very gradual, but population shifts aren't helping. Notice that the powerhouse basketball conference is hugely dependent on basketball-mad Indiana. You have the in-state schools, of course, and then the best player on OSU (Thomas) and second-best on MSU (Gary Harris, and he may be better than Appling) are from Indiana along with the backbone of Michigan's resurgence—Novak, Douglass, Robinson, Albrecht, and incoming Irvin and Donnal. Michigan has one player from outside the Big Ten footprint—Hardaway. Indiana is the Florida of high school basketball. Wisconsin is a great program… for a bunch of guys from Wisconsin and Ohio leftovers.
- Sucky management of every Big Ten program. Bielema flees Wisconsin for an SEC also-ran. Why? I guess more resources. What's the difference between Wisconsin and Arkansas's revenue? Zero. Tim Brewster. Danny Hope. Ron Zook. Tim Beckman. Purdue just hired Darrell Hazell, a guy with two years of MAC head coaching experience. Again, compare that to basketball hires: Crean, Beilein, Tubby, and Matta had all run programs that established themselves perennial ranked teams in major conferences before getting snapped up by the Big Ten. That's not happening in football. Instead Bielema gets sucked away.
- Yeah, oversigning and whatnot. "Whatnot" == jamming a kid full of fake classes to get him eligible and keeping him eligible with the Tarheel curriculum. JUCOs and such. It's a factor. How much? It's not nearly as big a deal as the first bullet here.
That's good news. If Michigan can recruit at a level with Georgia and Florida and Stanford, they can play at that level. That's probably not enough to go up against an all-time dynasty like Alabama that cuts ALL THE CORNERS, but those things collapse eventually, and they can compete with just about anything else.
My thing with oversigning is not that it explains the gap between the conferences, but rather it's the ultimate dick move and should be stopped if the NCAA wants to consider themselves a snow-white organization with pure motives. The Big Ten has plenty of problems, most of which stem from the leadership of the conference (leaders and legends) and trickle their incompetence down from there.
I'm not even sure how you would be able to quantify the impact. But the fix is so, so easy: remove scholarship caps in favor of per-year caps. Move from a system that encourages attrition to keep costs down to one that isn't about athletes going pro in transferring to Kenesaw State.
Notre Dame == Michigan?
Is there any validity to an assertion that Michigan and Notre Dame were basically the same teams this year but for Notre Dame has an offensive coordinator that knows the spread and how to use a spread qb?
No. Notre Dame's defense was a significant cut above Michigan's until it got eviscerated by the Tide, and remains so: 7th in total D, second in scoring D. While their secondary was not good, neither was Michigan's, and while Michigan's front seven was surprisingly capable, Notre Dame's contains many highly touted recruits on their way to long NFL careers.
ND's offense was only slightly better than Michigan's. Moreover, it was much different. Gholson had just under 300 rushing yards on the year. It's a passing spread that keeps a little bit of QB run threat involved; it's not a spread 'n' shred. I could have given you partial credit if you'd said "an offensive coordinator more comfortable with his personnel," but again the ND line was nowhere near as problematic as Michigan's. Mark it zero, dude.
Now that Kovacs has graduated, we need a new #11. I say we give it to Desmond Morgan. That would leave us without somebody for #48, but the problem could be solved by giving BOTH numbers to Morgan. He could wear 11 on the front side and 48 on the back, or possibly reverse the order week to week.
This violates NCAA rules, you say? I have thought this objection through. The answer is to give him a special jersey where the numbers are the same color as the rest of the jersey -- dark blue numerals at home, white numerals on the road -- so the number is completely invisible. The officials will never find out.
Never let it be said that the Outback Bowl jerseys were a bad thing if ideas like this flow freely after seeing them.
Say hi to McFarlin
Greetings from Bolivia!
Kevin is in Bolivia, and he wanted to add something to the blog's many ways to say "you are going to Bolivia." This our community.
Stoudamire and Korver. I know I broke the rule that white players have to be compared to white players.
What’s the ceiling for Stauskas?
I had hoped coming in that he could turn into our version of Jon Diebler but if you look at his early numbers, they compare pretty favorably to Diebler’s senior season, especially on a per minute basis.
I’m sure there is some regression this year but coming it’s also not crazy to expect some year to year improvement. Can we expect him to be a 20ppg scorer by his junior year? Should we be worried about him leaving early??
We of course don't know yet after just eight games, only three of which came against tourney-type competition. But I think you're both right and wrong that it's higher than Diebler. The wrong part: Diebler was literally the most efficient offensive player in the country as a senior and he wasn't far off his junior year. Stauskas can't really do better than 50% from three long term, unless he is literally the greatest shooter in the history of college basketball.
The right part: a large part of that stemmed from Diebler's role in the offense as Guy Who Sits In Corner And Rains In Threes Generated By Sullinger Guy. His usage and %shots dipped significantly in his final year, and he took about 80% of his shots from long range. Stauskas is currently at just over 50% and has a free throw rate that ranks.
We've just seen him start running the pick and roll productively, attacking the basket productively, and displaying a crossover Tim Hardaway Jr. envies. Stauskas has shown the potential to generate shots, not just take them. (This doesn't show up in the stats yet, it is an eye thing at the moment.) He's also just a freshman, one playing with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Once those guys are in the NBA, his usage should rocket upward, not decline.
Statistically, the guy's long term future may be more like Salim Stoudamire, who did this in 2005 for the Arizona outfit that lost to the Williams/Brown/Head Illinois team in OT for the right to go to the Final Four:
Salim Stoudamire 2005
That's 91% from the line, 50% from 2, and 50% from three with a nearly-even split between shots inside the arc+FTs and threes with a high usage rate.
That was good enough to see him go at the top of the second round as a senior, but Stoudamire is 6'1", not 6'6". Also I'd guess Stauskas would have a better assist rate just based on what we've seen so far.
Other bigtime snipers in the Kenpom age are not particularly good fits just because they often come from small schools on which they were far and away the best option, so they take up huge percentages of their teams shots and subsequently fire at a lower percentage. Stephen Curry put up over 30% of his team's shots in his three years and was the #1 guy in usage as a senior with a whopping 38%; he shot "just" 39% from three as a result. Same thing with Jimmer Fredette and JJ Redick.
The exception is Kyle Korver.
Kyle Korver 2003
Again around 90% from the line, 44% from inside the arc, and 48% from three, but with reasonable shooting rates and a good assist output. At 6'7", Korver is also the closest comparison in terms of height.
That's about the ceiling since Stauskas is going to spend his career with guys like Burke and Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin and GRIII and so forth and so on. Pretty nice ceiling.
As far as the other two questions: it's really hard to be a 20 PPG scorer unless you've got a usage rate in the Redick/Fredette/Curry range and I don't think Stauskas will have to be that guy, so no, and it doesn't seem like any of these snipers save Curry was coveted by the NBA early. Korver and Stoudamire were second round picks; Fredette and Redick went at the tail end of the lottery after four-year careers; Curry was the seventh pick after three years. NBA teams are going to want to see if Stauskas can carry a team and get to the rim before they spend a high draft pick on him, so I'd bet on three or four years.
to tie all the coaching changes together, any chance Scott Loeffler ends up back at michigan in some sort of QB coach capacity?
No. Borges doesn't want to work with a QB coach after he didn't like it in his two years at SDSU, and for whatever reason I've heard that Loeffler is not likely to return in any capacity under Hoke.
Besides, who's leaving to make room? These guys are pretty tight-knit. I would expect the only coaching changes Michigan deals with in the near future are because of retirements from Jackson and Mattison, and there's going to be a war for Jackson's spot between Wheatley and Hart, amongst others.
I know one of the negatives of the conference expansion you've personally taken umbrage with is the potential damage that could result from the excess money generated in the years to come by the Big Ten Network and its competitors. They'll run out of things to build, as you say. Corruption is always just around the corner.
Is there some rule against directing profits back to the university, or the endowments of the schools? I seem to remember Bill Martin always gave a million or so back to M at the end of the fiscal year. What would be wrong with that model? Doesn't the athletic department exist for the benefit of the university?
Secondly, and most people will probably not agree with me on this point, but couldn't the breadwinners of the conference more fully share their good fortune with the poorer members? After all, we wouldn't be Michigan if we didn't beat up on Minnesota year after year. Doesn't their participation in the Little Brown Jug count somewhat financially? I'm no socialist, but the better we all do in the B1G, the better for M.
Class of 2004
Athletic departments are rarely profitable because they don't have to be, and the will expand to fill the available money. Whether it's by adding sports, building new facilities, or increasing the amount of money coaches get paid, there will always be too much money being spent to have any meaningful impact on the rest of the university. We're talking about a few million dollars of surplus; the University of Michigan's 2012-2013 budget projects an operating revenue of six billion dollars.
I mean, on the other side of the coin campuses like Rutgers slap a surcharge on their students of a couple hundred dollars. Compare that to tuition costs. Right: it does not compare.
As far as helping the less fortunate, what's left to share? Every school in the league gets an equal cut of all bowl and TV revenue, even nonconference games. Even the gate revenues are shared to some extent. If any Big Ten team getting a conference cut of 22 million dollars can't stay afloat, they do not deserve to be afloat.
The excessive revenue sharing is actually a problem, IMO: since there is little financial incentive provided by having a more attractive television product, the gate is the thing. Thus many boring games against not good teams.
Prior to Brady's arrival, M always seemed to have backs capable of breaking tackles at the LOS or at least pushing the pile forward for an extra 3-4 yards. Even under the finesse regime of RR, Minor Rage could break through tackles and get extra yardage. In Brady's tenure, when the backs don't have a gaping hole, they are either stopped cold at the LOS or bounce once or twice before being stopped cold. Size does not seem to be an issue since both Fitz and Rawls are way bigger than Mike Hart who was always able to advance the pile a few yards.
Do you think this is an issue with talent, are they being coached differently than before, or is it somehow an OL issue? Hard to understand since Fred Jackson has been the lone constant over these periods.
Wolverine in Savannah
A combination of talent and OL and possibly some decline in Jackson.
There is a point at which any coach gets too old and cracks start appearing in the foundation as they age. This is clearest with head coaches (SMILE) but it happens with everyone in all walks of life. I'd imagine it's particularly acute in jobs like football that will suck up any and all available time if you let it, which you have to until you're old and institutional like Jackson. Jackson's probably approaching that point where he's a tree that sometimes remembers he's a football coach.
And then there's the talent. Denard has some talent and just set a Michigan record for yards per attempt. It is possible to run long distances still. Rawls and Smith and to a lesser extent Toussaint—who did have a nifty 2011—have never shown similar capabilities. The stable at running back is legitimately thin.
And there is an OL aspect to this as well. When you're trying to dodge or tackle a guy downfield usually you've got some steam and/or some space. You have neither in the backfield, and neither when two guys are converging on you, or one guy is totally unblocked. It's a lot easier to power through a guy standing still or still dealing with a block or coming from an outside angle because he had to. When they're a train running on the same track as you, things get bad.
All of the above! Hopefully two of the three things get fixed soon.
Reading your 11/26 post about "The Game", I noticed you made mention of the question of whether huddling is necessary anymore. As a high school coach and former small college player who has used both the huddle and the no-huddle, my first reaction is to disagree with your point that the huddle is archaic and a bit of a dinosaur. But I am also intrigued.
My overall response would be that there are obvious advantages to both. Points and tempo are the obvious gains, but tempo is also a negative from the no huddle (as we learned circa 2009-2011) when an offense has too many three and outs and a team's defense bears the brunt of it all. In short, it's hard to praise a defense, especially an overachieving bunch like our boys, while touting an offensive style that so often seems to lead to a loss in defensive production.
In short, what data is out there to suggest that the no huddle would not obliterate our defensive gains?
There are two issues here being conflated here. Not huddling is not necessarily synonymous with going at a high speed. Ohio State runs the same no-huddle style as Oregon but does not push the pedal down nearly as much:
|Team||Offensive Plays||Defensive Plays||Total||% Plays on offense|
Oregon games had 24% more plays in them than Michigan games; Ohio State games had just 10% more, and I'm guessing the difference there is more Michigan being exceptionally slow than Ohio State being fast: decidedly MANBALL Wisconsin games featured a little over 1600 plays this year. If OSU is over the national average for plays run it's not by much.
The benefits of getting to the line immediately are the same whether you're going fast or slow: the defense is hampered in its ability to substitute and you can see how they align as you make your playcall. You can sprinkle in tempo plays when you have an advantage without cracking the whip up and down the field.
The other issue is how a high tempo affects your defense. This is the reason people invented tempo-free basketball statistics: how fast you go can distort how your offense and defense look. A high-tempo approach artificially inflates the former and deflates the latter.
Take the most extreme possible example: Oregon. The Ducks are are decent but essentially mediocre in yardage statistics. They're 47th in rushing, 60th in passing, and 46th in total D. But they faced 915 plays. Michigan's defense faced 791, and in there is a large part of the gap between the two defenses. Michigan is still better on a yards-per-play basis, but there's no question that Oregon played more good offenses.
Advanced stats that try to account for tempo look a lot more favorably on Oregon's defense than conventional ones. The Ducks are eighth in FEI*, one spot in front of Alabama. They're 21st in S&P, which I don't like as much because it's play-focused instead of drive-focused.
As this year's Michigan team proved against Nebraska and OSU, a three and out is a three and out and you're in trouble no matter what if that's what your offense is doing. In games you can win, the price you're extracting from your defense is going to be similar to the price you extract from the opposition.
And, like, I don't think it would have mattered if a Greg Robinson defense played opposite the Lombardi Packers. They were cooked.
*[A note on FEI: that ranking looked pretty strange on offense last year; this year it passes any sanity test you want to give it with Florida/ND/Stanford/MSU as the top 4. It seems to be overrating some small schools but that's inevitable.]
Are we running the Air Raid next year? Taking out Denard, Michigan had a pretty atrocious rushing offense this year. It's obviously going to look different next season without a primarily rushing QB but even still, with a starting RB coming off a serious leg injury, and replacing 3 or 4 offensive lineman, this looks bleak right?
Look on the bright side: at least Borges has shown to be more willing to adapt to a throw-first mentality than Carr-era coordinators. And the interior line literally cannot be worse! Woo!
It does look bleak. Michigan has to hope that Mike Schofield can hold up at left tackle (I think he can against non-elite pass-rushers and will probably be a Stenavich-level player) and then fill in the rest of the line with n00bs. There are some assets:
- Extremely fast QB.
- "College-ready" five star Kyle Kalis at guard.
- Guy who has played center all the way, Jack Miller, at center, presumably making much better line calls.
- Enormous guy Chris Bryant
- Enormous guy Ben Braden
It… yeah, it looks grim-ish. While any of the above could work out Michigan is still working through the disastrous RR OL recruiting and will have a similar problem to the one they had this year: few, if any options to turn to if the starters are not performing. Things are little better at tackle, where Erik Magnuson is available to back up instead of nobody, but on the interior you've got a redshirt freshman on the 3/4 star borderline (Bars) and Joey Burzynski, who is still 6'1".
But there's a bunch of hype for the freshman class and Bryant was reported looking good before the leg injury. Michigan may have to go with more Gardner running than they might want. I certainly hope they don't ditch the veer, for one.
First of all, I'm very surprised by Hoke's prediction that Devin's redshirt will go through, given his history of never saying anything specific, ever.
With that in mind, do you think Devin is a good fit for Borges' style of West Coast offense? Or will we still be "making due" with some Frankenoffense for the next two years, give or take, until Shane is ready?
Like most fans, I've been pleasantly surprised by Devin over the past month, but I don't know enough about Borges' dream offense to know how well his QB skills translate.
I was surprised, too, and assume he was told by the people who had talked to the Big Ten that they would get it. Which hurray, one less argument about how dumb Rich Rodriguez is and extra year for starting QB.
Gardner is clearly a better fit for what Borges wants to do than Denard was. He's tall, he can stand in the pocket, and he has an excellent deep ball when he's not being asked to throw it on the run for some strange reason. He also tends to run when he should run, thus rescuing various plays that aren't going so well.
I am actually hoping for something of a Frankenoffense, though. Running big epic "play action" from an I-form that is really just a max-protect setup doesn't use Gardner's legs particularly effectively, and we've seen that when you get a guy who can run and throw trying to stop both is super hard. Hell, run-and-kinda-throw is pretty hard. I'd like Michigan to still run most of its offense from the shotgun and use Gardner's legs to mitigate some of the problems that will arise on the offensive line. With Morris backing Gardner up you won't have to be as overcautious as it seemed Michigan was this year.
Maybe the OL will surprise and DeVeon Smith or Derrick Green will show up as a grinder and it will work. If a traditional manball running game isn't in the cards, though, the Frankenoffense may be the best one available.
Do you think Hopkins gets a long look in the spring back at tailback with Fitz's status up in the air?
Seems like they have some depth now at fullback with Kerridge and Houma. I know he has ball security issues so maybe he has to walk around campus all spring, summer and fall carrying a football. Could he have the potential to be a Leroy Hoard-type in 1988, '89 as a featured, ball-carrying back?
While that's a possibility I doubt it will amount to much if they do try it. Hopkins may be marginally better than Rawls if he doesn't fumble, he has. Rawls hasn't done much but he also has not fumbled.
A Hoard-back requires Hoard-blocking, and more speed than Hopkins brings to the table. If Derrick Green ends up committing he's the early favorite to get a plurality of carries.
Any chance that Michigan starts Pipkins and Washington in a similar way that they used Washington and Campbell this year?
Probably not. Nose tackle is a draining position staffed by enormous men and requires that two people play it. Michigan probably wanted to use Pipkins more than they did a year ago; they couldn't because he wasn't very good. Michigan will probably stick with him as the backup nose in preparation for a two year starting run. Big guys take some time.
this song is exactly like adding Rutgers and Maryland because it is waste and terrible and has pointy hair
A side note: the poll from late Sunday is running 83-17 against Rutgers and Maryland.
Ok, so I find this Maryland/Rutgers thing agitating from a tradition standpoint and pointless from a $$$ standpoint. Michigan, Ohio State and PSU probably have the lion's share of CFB fans here in NYC already.
While meanwhile BTN is on the basic sports tier for $3.95 or something so anyone who wants it (and a ton of people who just want Fox Soccer or whatever) already has it.
The one group BTN _could_ conceivably seize in this area is Notre Dame fans. If this is a play to strangle ND's other avenues (ACC, Big East, with Big 12 already raided for Nebraska), it starts making a little more financial sense and becomes more palatable from a tradition standpoint.
Have you heard any rumblings to that effect? If that were in fact the idea, would you get behind it more?
Ben. You are a crazy bastard. Snatching one team from a 14 team conference that can immediately consider a near-equivalent—possibly an upgrade!—in UConn or Louisville is nowhere near destabilizing enough to do anything to Notre Dame, an institution looking saner by the minute for opting out of this conference business.
In fact, I would be infinitely happier with Louisville than either of the selected teams. You can drive there, they are the biggest thing in the city that is not a horse, and they are at least as good as Maryland in basketball with more promise in football.
What do you think the Irish fanbase's reaction to the Big Ten's Semisonic move was? I'll tell you:
- gales of laughter
- yet more gales of laughter
- that point after gales and gales of laughter where everything's petering out and you can't summon the oxygen to continue but you have that lovely, blissful aftertaste of laughing at everything for so long
- a silent prayer of thanks for Notre Dame's obstinate insistence at independence even if it requires playing a bunch of middling ACC teams each year
- oh my god the Big Ten voluntarily sucked up a middling ACC team and Rutgers
- gales of laughter
- ad infinitum
Notre Dame's avenues are broad and gilt-lined. As long as they can assemble a schedule that can get them into a four-team (and possibly expanding) playoff, they can tell anyone they want to FOAD.
Let me start by saying I hate the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten. They're crappy teams with insubstantial fanbases who've pretty much never been good. It's clear the decision for them to jump ship from the ACC (Or Big East, or whatever) to the Big Ten is based on a desire to make more money, as the Big Ten can afford them more money. Assuming that's true, do you think that increase in revenue can help them to eventually become better teams?
The obvious answer is no, you can't just throw money at a program and magically solve it's problems. But one can't deny the correlation between successful football programs and the endowments of those universities. Maybe Delany's thought is that he can grow Rutgers and Maryland's program into respectability over the course of time. During that time, he has new television markets he can get revenue from (theoretically), and new fanbases to own. I don't know, that's honestly the best explanation I can think of. Your insight, as always, is appreciated.
Ah. I see you are also in the bargaining phase. Welcome. It is slightly nicer here than depression.
I don't see how it happens. Loyal fanbases are built with wins or boredom. The fundamental problem with the awesome TV markets of Maryland and Rutgers is they are occupied with everything else in the world. The only way either of those programs is ever going to be anything more than they are right now is by beating M and OSU, or at least playing them with major stakes. That doesn't look like it'll happen, and the instant any of those teams falls off the map whatever bandwagon has assembled will dissolve into one of the other eight-six available teams. At best you're looking at an Iowa/MSU/Northwestern thing where they pop up to be interesting two years in a decade.
I think the chances of building something at Louisville would have been much greater, academics be damned, TV markets be damned. The city of Louisville doesn't have two pro teams in every sport sucking up all the oxygen.
Not to make this even worse, but with the way the BTN contracts with cable operators are set up, adding Rutgers will NOT (at least initially) require cable operators to launch BTN on expanded basic in the New York market. The addition of schools is set up on a state-by-state basis, meaning that Rutgers will require a move of BTN to expanded basic in New Jersey ONLY (half of New Jersey already should have BTN on basic b/c Phili market is considered part of Big 10 core footprint. Big 10 core footprint is all states with Big 10 schools plus the Philadelphia and St. Louis markets).
Some caveats: If a cable operator in New York market already carries BTN on a sports tier, and has a contract up for renewal soon, you can bet the Big 10/FOX will force BTN onto expanded basic. And if a cable operator doesn't carry BTN at all, you can also bet the Big 10/Fox will require expanded basic carriage if the operator wants to launch it.
That said, it could be a bit awkward to see Rutgers come in and BTN not go into New York City TVs, at least initially. PR-wise, the hit might be rough, although this is already a garbage idea anyway.
-credible anon guy
You did make it worse. Actually, wait. Michigan is putting a quarter billion dollars into nonrevenue sports. I don't care about money. I will never, ever again say "this will put the Big Ten on good footing relative to other conferences." I'm done.
I became a CF fan 10 years ago because I got tired of the NFL and was attracted to the tradition and pageantry of CF. I love the big stadia filled with young fans and the regional rivalries with trophy games like the Paul Bunyon ax and the Bowl games. Now it appears that CF is trying to become the NFL-Lite with super conferences that are destroying ancient rivalries and playoffs that threaten the bowls. Now we have two mediocre teams added to the Big Ten that will do nothing for the conference on the field. At some point don't you think that CF fans like myself ( and I am sure there are many like me) will become turned off, that any new fans will be offset by those like me who, if we want to watch the NFL, will simply watch the real thing?
Yes. This is the most irritating thing about the band of folks who tell you "no you just don't get it, this is about the future." This is a short-term money grab based on nothing else but the possibility of putting a cable TV channel on some homes that do not already have a cable TV channel.
The problem is that in five to ten years when some modicum of financial benefit is being realized—and that will be a boost on the order of 10%, not 100%—people will have ever-fatter internet pipes and start bailing on cable for internet streaming. Watch what happens in Kansas City now that Google fiber is in place. The ability to bilk old ladies out of a dollar a month because they want to watch Matlock marathons is rapidly ending. The Big Ten Network will be an ephemeral bridge between an era when gatekeepers kept all the things and one where epic bandwidth means you get only what you want—you pay only for what you want—always.
Once the cable barriers come down, as they inevitably will, this comes down to committed diehards per school. How many people will pay you specifically instead of allow themselves to be roped into an expensive package of channels they largely don't care for but have no choice about?
Maryland has several, but not many compared to most Big Ten schools. Rutgers has one, he's a nice guy, he is @ruscoop. I don't think that's enough.
For this short-term gain, you dilute the long-standing rivalries, the decades-long narratives, the very heart of the thing that differentiates college football from all the other things competing for attention. It's the same thing Brandon has done to Michigan Stadium—in an effort to make its appeal the same as everything else he has sacrificed anything unique about it that might make one love it.
There are still things to love about college football—I mean, Denard—but increasingly they are surrounded by crap that you tolerate. The future is the niche, even at macro scales, and broadening out your product to be a Midwestern sports Two and a Half Men is a losing idea created by men with no imagination who rely on spreadsheets to create the future.
I mean, who's crazy here: the fans who were generally okay with the additions of Penn State and Nebraska or the men who added nonentities the entire league has to fly to so they could get a TV channel in some extra homes?
I can't tell if Rutgers has a D1 hockey program. If not, doesn't that scuttle B1G hockey? IIRC, the B1G by-law requires half of the conferences schools to field a D1 roster in order to have in conference competition in a given sport.
They do not. Neither does Maryland. Neither will add hockey any time soon because they are still crawling out from massive piles of debt, which should make you think about who is using who here. Note that most other ACC programs are doing just fine financially, and Maryland would not be interested in moving from the conference they were a charter member of except for the fact that they have bungled everything so badly they need the Big Ten's money. That's our prize.
It won't affect Big Ten hockey for the same reason that this is happening in the first place: the BTN needs content and the BTHC provides it. The most interesting impact this thing may have on college hockey is that if UConn is the pick for the ACC, they'll be one program away from having to launch an ACC hockey conference. [HT: BC Interruption.]
I'd actually be in favor of that; the best way to get college hockey to expand is to break up the ice-floes that are 12 team conferences and provide inviting homes for startups large and small.
Regarding Big Ten expansion in general, and adding Maryland and Rutgers (lol, wut?) specifically.
Also, and somewhat random, am I making a correct observation that OSU has the easiest road to the CCG for the foreseeable future? Outside of Michigan, who else can legitimately challenge them on a consistent basis? PSU, with the scholarship reductions will most likely bottom out some point soon. Wisconsin is coached by Bielema ('nuff said right?) who likes to run the ball with no timeouts left down a score late in the fourth and then again when it's 3rd and 7 in overtime. Then you factor in general superiority in coaching and players and it really adds up to a frequent cakewalk to Indy. (Obviously not everything is written in stone, but just playing the odds, yuck).
I don't know Meyer's health condition, but it really seems like he's the kind of guy who likes to win and he'll do what it takes to make it as easy as possible i.e. leave the SEC where his teams started to decline post-Tebow, to the weaker Big Ten with Miller already on the roster.
Well, our collective freakout about the divisions may be premature. Delany said some business about not having anything predetermined at the moment, and while anything that comes from an executive has to be taken with a grain of salt… let's latch on to that super hard you guys.
The Big Ten needs to stop looking at Penn State as some sort of historical juggernaut and consider what it's done since entering the league. I had to go back to a 2011 revision of Joe Paterno's wikipedia page to get this, but here is PSU's record against the four Big Ten teams (along with Nebraska) that were considered plus programs when they put these divisions together:
- Wisconsin: 6-7
- Iowa: 7-9
- Ohio State: 7-13
- Michigan: 6-10
They're 0-2 against Nebraska; their game against Wisconsin is pending.
The vast bulk of the results were compiled before Joe Paterno was hurled from his pedestal and Penn State was hit with the most serious NCAA sanctions since SMU. At best they are a Wisconsin/Iowa equivalent.
Yeah, Michigan and Ohio State are likely to be the best two programs in the league over a long period of time but in any given year the best program from the Nebraska/Wisconsin/Iowa/Illinois* group is going to be a stiff test. A hypothetical division with M/OSU/PSU versus the hate parallelogram is
- winner of A/A/B program fight versus
- winner of A-/B/B program fight
It is less than ideal, but this is a conference that just added Maryland and Rutgers. In terms of less-than-ideal situations it is far from the least ideal. It is a lot more intriguing than a division in which Wisconsin/OSU is the championship game for the next decade.
*[Illinois is good sometimes. I know it's weird.]
JUST RUN THE BALL
I know you've touched on this before, but why isn't Denard scrambling on at least 25 percent of our called pass plays? I mean, can't Borges just tell him, "If your first and second reads aren't immediately open, run"? It seems like a win-win situation. If guys are wide open, great. If not, the holes are likely to be bigger than on our usual designed QB keepers. I know Denard seems to have problems with this, but has Borges ever actually said this is a problem that they're actively working to remedy? I don't get it.
Nobody knows why, but it's just never happening. I'm sure they've attempted to remedy this in multiple ways, like:
- screaming RUNNNNN at him in practice when he should scramble
- screaming RUNNNNNN at him in games when he should scramble
- calling him at 3 AM and screaming RUNNNNNN at him
- popping out of oversized birthday cakes screaming RUNNNNNN [note: works on children]
- plopping down with despair and saying "I give up and welcome the sweet oblivion soon to follow"
Ain't happening. E-fact.
Student section celebration thing: can we carbon date this?
Regarding the whole rushing the field debate I have a question about the reverse: when the team runs over to party with the student section. You gave a list of when people rushed the field, but when was the first time the players ran over to the student section? I was in the band at the turn of the century (Boom. Old-timed.) and I don't remember that ever occurring. The first time I remember it happening was the Manningham TD against Penn State. Was that the first? When else can you remember it happening?
I do not actually know. 2005 Penn State sounds pretty good as a plausible start for that but I have this feeling it was more something that started in the RR era. I throw it open to readers: when did Michigan going over to the student section after home wins become a thing?
Funchess at WR?
My cousin brought up a scenario during the MSU game that I haven't seen discussed much: could Funchess move to WR next year if no one proves to be an adequate replacement for Gardner? He has proven that he has great hands, leaping and size. Along with this, if the idea is to give matchup issues for the defense, I see no bigger matchup problem than a 5'10" CB covering him. If he has blocking trouble, I don't see the sense in Ricardo Miller-ing him, but obviously I'm no coach. What say you?
For a guy like Funchess that's kind of a distinction without a difference. He's already lining up at WR in a lot of sets, and I imagine he'll continue to do so throughout his career. He is a flex tight end.
But Michigan shouldn't and almost certainly won't try to keep pounds off of him so that he's more of a downfield threat/WR guy instead of a tight end. He's already too big to be a guy who threatens CBs and safeties over the top, and he'll still be too fast for linebacker sorts to reliably cover. Bulking him up to NFL flex TE size—250, 260—makes him a more credible blocker and gets him more open when he does go out to catch passes.
Besides, Michigan's got a slightly smaller Funchess coming in. His name is Jaron Dukes. If there's a role for that on the outside he or Jehu Chesson can fill it.
[AFTER THE JUMP! MORE THINGS! ABOUT STUFF! /bradyhokeinjuryreport'd]