9/22/2013 – Michigan 24, UConn 21 – 4-0
I watched the UConn game with two diehards who happen to be in town from out of state. I'd spent large chunks of the past decade trying to get one of these guys to come over to watch Michigan games for the same reason he refused to do so: he experienced games on television as an emotional trial to be bested. I'm the same way, but talk only goes so far.
So there's four of us in the room when Devin Gardner takes off up the middle for a sixteen-yard touchdown on third and eleven. Michigan's up seven midway through the first quarter. No one does anything. There's no whooping or even a slight fist pump or a clap. We just stare at the television, internally relieved but marshaling our strength for the road ahead like international meth kingpins on the lamb.
It takes a special kind of paranoia to be petrified about a game like that against a team like that, but it was redeemed in full. The recent history of Michigan football* lends itself towards nuanced discussion of this particular vintage of terror, and this one was spicy and piquant with notes of Denard Robinson's role in 2009 Iowa and 2002 Utah, which ended 10-7 despite the Utah offense scraping together only 200 yards of total offense. The nose was full-bodied, redolent of 2010 Iowa, and 2010 Michigan State, and the first three quarters of 2011 Notre Dame.
The aftertaste was like filling your mouth with iron shavings and walking into a strong magnetic field.
One of the worst things from the worst things column last week was the familiarity of all this: struggles against mediocre competition that throw a wet blanket on your season after Michigan beats Notre Dame and gets all hyped up about it. To that you can add an even darker familiarity now, one that you may have been reminded of when ABC flipped to the end of the Texas-Kansas State game just in time to see Greg Robinson do a little dance of joy.
What is Michigan doing on offense? I don't know. They come in saying they're going to manball it up; they are largely prevented from doing so by Denard Robinson. They do dump the stretch play that had been Michigan's primary way of gaining yards on the ground for five years, when they have David Molk and Patrick Omameh and Michael Schofield on the interior of the line.
Denard's gone, as are Molk and Omameh; Schofield's at right tackle, a spot that's generally less important than those guard spots on stretch plays. So of course now is the moment when Michigan turns to the stretch as their base. They suck at that, unsurprisingly. They haven't run more than five stretch plays per year since Rodriguez left.
You could see the confusion last week, when guys were leaving first level defenders with easy paths to the backfield. Those plays against Akron were shockingly bad. You have a guy between yourself and the center, you deal with him before moving to the second level. Otherwise you die. Whether the issue there was the call or the execution, the underlying symptom is the same one that plagued Michigan's defense during the Rodriguez era: never settling on who you are and being terrible at everything as a natural consequence.
I mean, how insane is it that after two years with an offensive line entirely recruited to run the stretch they install it once Kyle Kalis is the right guard?
This is the second straight year Michigan has one of the worst running games in the country papered over by the fact that its quarterback can scoot for 40 yards without breaking a sweat. Toussaint can't see what's in front of his face sometimes. Neither can the line. While Toussaint showed his ability in open space on his touchdown, Michigan found itself behind the chains far too often against a defense that had just been ripped apart by Maryland. Michigan is looking up at North Texas, Tulane, and Florida Atlantic in TFLs allowed after four games. Michigan is 118th(!!!) of 123 qualifying teams in tackles for loss allowed.
Michigan lacks an identity, and once in a while they come out doing something completely different and disastrous (3-3-5 against Purdue; under center against Iowa). In this one, Gardner's inability to throw straight makes it impossible to judge the playcalling, but more ominous than the already-plenty-ominous dropoff of Michigan's quarterback is the persistent clown show on the offensive line. Any idea that the problems may have been fluky is now gone. This is Michigan, still: looking at the quarterback as the cause of and solution to all problems.
*[For a handy one-sentence review, let's go to the Hoover Street Rag:
Michigan is ALWAYS going to get an opponent's best shot, because if you beat Michigan, your name gets etched in history, next to the Appalachian States, next to the Toledos.
I am not sure if that is meant with ironic lilt or not. This is Michigan, fergodsakes?]
Also here is the bizarre Eminem-flavored opener.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. The only truly good things that happened in this game happened on defense and there was one incredibly critical play that turned the game around. You know what it is already; you know it's about to be featured in the double fist pump, you know that Desmond Morgan is the man who made the play.
Honorable mention: Frank Clark, for sacking people frequently. Blake Countess, for seeming to be good at coverage. Fitzgerald Toussaint, for busting a much needed 35-yard touchdown en route to a 100 yard game that means I no longer have to predict 100 yard games for Fitzgerald Toussaint every week in the game preview.
Epic Double Point Standings.
1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Michigan had just failed to convert a fourth and two, looked virtually incapable of driving the field against UConn, and trailed by seven points in the fourth quarter. UConn dropped to pass; Desmond Morgan dropped into a seam route, leap, speared the ball, and returned it to the UConn eleven yard line. One play later it was tied. Huzzah, Desmond Morgan.
Honorable mention: Frank Clark crushes UConn's inept right tackle for a critical sack on UConn's final drive. Gardner actually pitches on a speed option this time.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
[After the JUMP: PANIC and RUN AROUND SCREAMING.]
1. Is Michigan about to be on the wrong side of history?
When Rich Rodriguez was hired at Michigan, Gary Danielson infamously predicted Michigan would be the last major program to move to a spread offense. Five years later, Michigan is shedding the spread as the NFL adopts it en masse. I am a spread zealot, no foolies, and while I may be influenced by factors like…
- Associating pro-style offenses with Mike DeBord, "the expectation is for the position," and opponents saying they knew exactly what was coming game after game.
- Psychic scarring from things like Donovan McNabb, Carlyle Holiday, The Horror, The Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game, Northwestern 2001, and even Braylonfest.
- Denard Robinson!
…I've also watched an awful lot of football over the past eight years and there seems to be no substitute for the defense-wrecking ability to run with a guy who can throw, and give him the ability to make that decision after the defense commits.
'bout to get yards'd
These days the thing that's all the rage is packaged plays that give the quarterback the ability to pick from a number of simple options based on the alignment of a couple players, and not just on the college level: Doug Marrone and company got scooped back up by the NFL largely because they ditched a complicated pro-style offense for quick decisions that make the defense wrong every time. Tavon Austin is a 5'8" wide receiver who went 8th overall in the NFL draft. The Great Satan in Columbus has Denard but tall at quarterback.
Meanwhile, the idea that Michigan needs to run a rough-and-tumble offense to cope with the rough-and-tumble Big Ten is total horseshit. If you haven't noticed, the Big Ten sucks at football, Michigan is recruiting a billion times better than anyone except Ohio State, and Ohio State is a spread option team. If we accept the fact that you have to run power to defend power, isn't the corollary there you have to run the spread to defend the spread? Clueless spread outing after clueless spread outing through Carr's career certainly suggests that. I mean, Michigan was fortunate to escape a home game against Northwestern last year because they gave up 248 rushing yards and 10 YPA.
Add in Michigan's stubborn adherence to the increasingly archaic huddle and it does seem like there's a little bit of dinosaur in the program even if Brady Hoke is hip to Romer. Arguments in favor of the huddle include feelingsball arguments like "it helps your quarterback be a leader"; arguments against include Nebraska lining up with 25 seconds on the play clock and checking into an RPS +3 play once they saw Michigan in a man to man alignment:
Where did they get that call?
From the sideline after they got lined up with 25 seconds on the clock and Michigan showed man coverage with one high safety. That was not aww shucks luck. It's using the extra information the defense gives you to exploit it. Michigan, meanwhile, is usually still in the huddle with 18 seconds on the playclock and often scrambles to the line with no other option than running what's called no matter what the D shows.
It kind of sucks that Michigan doesn't seem to want to do similar things. You'd think every coach would love the opportunity to get whatever information they can before making a decision.
Michigan's not using these newfangled offensive innovations. They suck so much at varying tempo that you, reader, have screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" more than once in two-minute drills the last two years.
I love everything about Brady Hoke, but this is the one thing that makes me fret at night when I forget about Jabrill Peppers.
[After THE JUMP: DeBord is not Borges, Borges is not DeBord. Gardner confirm. Interior line muttering.]
|Taylor Lewan||Sr.*||Graham Glasgow||So.*||Jack Miller||So.*||Kyle Kalis||Fr.*||Michael Schofield||Sr.*|
|Ben Braden||Fr.*||Chris Bryant||So.*||Joey Burzynski||Jr.*||Alex Bars||Fr.*||Erik Magnuson||Fr.*|
There's nothing in-between for this offensive line. Either it's the tackles, both redshirt seniors who will get drafted next April, or it's the interior, all new starters in flux. While things almost literally can't be worse…
A single zero yard run was –6?
I try to keep two things in balance: the same blocks get the same scores and a zero yard run adds up to about the same thing as any other zero yard run, but when three blocks get whiffed and any of them would have been sufficient to blow up the play, well, here we are. Thinking of that picture from the 2007 OSU game.
…Michigan can't tread water here and expect to tread water overall. Denard Robinson's 7.2 YPC is out the door.
The way this went down gives some reason for concern. Not at right guard, where Kalis was the anointed from day one, at the other two spots.It's clear Michigan wanted Ben Braden to lock down the left guard job, and clear that Braden just could not, for whatever reason. His move outside totally withdraws him from the competition on the interior and leaves Michigan starting at least one player by default. Michigan saw what "by default" can lead to last year. While that isn't likely to recur, neither does the situation promise an amazing one-year turnaround.
Rating: 5 of 5
|donkeys end to other T|
|does it again|
|go away DT|
|able to pull|
|well that'll happen|
You know, you hear a guy comparing some high school kid from Arizona to the best left tackle in the history of the program and you get a little excited but in the back of your head you think of Kevin Grady and countless other hype machines that turned to dust and you try to keep your head on straight. And then the guy shows up and is basically Jake Long, down to his decision to return for a senior year the NFL deems entirely unnecessary.
Yes: TAYLOR LEWAN is back for one last crack at a Big Ten championship. His last outing in a winged helmet was a titanic matchup with Jadeveon Clowney in which he held Clowney to three tackles (unfortunately one of them was a crushing TFL on which Clowney beat him straight up, see right) and no quarterback pressure.
Lewan is a returning All-American who kept Clowney quiet until he turned Vincent Smith into mist. (Smith immediately reassembled himself, T1000-style, and jogged off the field. Vincent Smith is from Pahokee.) In fact, you and I can both remember the only time last year when a pass rusher got the best of Lewan for a sack: it was Adolphus Washington in the Ohio State game. So… pretty much the worst time to give it up, but we'll take it.
FWIW, Lewan accumulated a total of –10 across 13 games in pass protection. This was significantly higher than his –4 last year, but 2011 Taylor Lewan didn't take on Alabama, suddenly great Notre Dame, and South Carolina. Adjusted for quality of competition, Lewan was on par with his sophomore year. The NFL liked it enough to project him around 10th in the draft.
But wait, there's more! While Clowney did secretly beat up on Lewan on the ground, he was far and away Michigan's best run blocker a year ago:
|Air Force||8||-||8||Blew some guys off the ball; locked out edge guys.|
|UMass||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Notre Dame||8.5||2||6.5||Got quality motion.|
|Purdue||10.5||4||6.5||Best drive blocker on the line.|
|Illinois||5.5||4||1.5||Would have been fine but pulled on a spring counter going his way.|
|MSU||6.5||4||2.5||Busted huge on one 6 yard loss, otherwise good.|
|Nebraska||2||2||0||They aren't really running any plays on which his blocking is relevant. That is bizarre.|
|Minnesota||8||1||7||Iso counter and sprint counter got tackles more involved.|
|Northwestern||5.5||2||3.5||Okay for him.|
|Iowa||7||1.5||5.5||More involved. Like it when he is involved.|
|South Carolina||4.5||9||-4.5||Clowney is like the endboss of Donkey Kong.|
He picked up some big minuses for busts; other than that he was impeccable. So why are those numbers topping out at +8 when a guy like David Molk regularly got into the mid-teens?
It's the same story from last year: pulling folks was futile. For whatever reason, Patrick Omameh was able to get out to the second level on zone plays like a mofo but never got the hang of pulling. Canonical example:
When the right guard does that on the regular, it's difficult to get your face-mashing left tackle involved. Darryl Funk inadvertently sums up the entire problem with Michigan's ground game in one painful joke:
I was kidding actually Taylor about this the other day. Every year we kind of recycle some pictures in the line room and I’ll get some action shots. I told Taylor, geez, ‘Schofield is in every one of these pictures and where are you?’ (Laughter).
That's too close to home, too near the bone, man.
Lewan's lack of impact in the run game is a problem with the offense, not Lewan, and it's one Michigan has to fix. You cannot have an All-American tackle that you can't use in the run game and be any good. Meanwhile if they can do that, the run game instantly becomes credible.
Lewan is likely to repeat as an All-American for a lot of reasons: talent, momentum, media profile after the Clowney matchup. He should be close to the same player he was in 2012, but with fewer mental mistakes and hopefully more involvement. Everything else should be about the same but the UFR chart, which should have consistent double-digit positive performances as long as Kyle Kalis is what he's cracked up to be.
[After THE JUMP: Schofield, Kalis, and then doubt. Plus backups, tons of 'em! Eventually!]
Weird line combinations and depth stuff have been coming out of practice. What should we believe, what's motivational, what's a boo boo, what's anything in this crazy world? We go under cover and bring you the NEWS that HITS the HARDEST (at least until Jake Ryan returns, because he hits harder than our news). The staff:
- Brian Woodward
- Seth Bernstein
- Ace Bradlee
- Heiko Felt, Sr.
- Blue in South Katherine Graham
- Deep Throw
And the question:
Heiko and I have been arguing about this on gchat and I thought I'd bring it to the team. We want to know where you think there are real positional battles going on right now, and how you're handicapping them. For example:
Center: 55% Glasgow, 40% Miller, 5% Kugler
SAM: 85% Gordon, 15% Beyer
Norfleet: 100% Norfleet, 400% Norfleet, Norfleet% Norfleet.
Mathlete: Shouldn't it be Norfleet: 75% Slot, 20% RB, 5% DB, 100% Awesome?
Ace: The lineup seems refreshingly settled at most spots (hooray depth!); the only positions I see having real competition are tailback, outside receiver, center, and strongside linebacker, though it'll be interesting to see if there are any surprises in the defensive backfield with the return of Blake Countess and Dymonte Thomas's potential early impact at nickel. I'm operating under the assumption that Keith Heitzman earns the nod at SDE and Jibreel Black starts at three-tech with Chris Wormley playing a key role as a backup.
Starting from the top, we've discussed the running back battle ad nauseam; Fitz Toussaint should start against CMU and Derrick Green will push for more and more carries as the season wears on. I'll go 99% Toussaint (barring injury) and a 1% chance that Dennis Norfleet gets the season's first carry as Al Borges epically trolls Brian.
[Surprising (and probably meaningless) revelations and scandal, minus the scandal, after the jump]
The mustaches need work / Fuller
Welcome back to the weekly feature in which people on the internet say things (every blog must have at least one). The lineup, and their credentials:
LT: Sr/9th Brian Cook. Not an NFL flight risk: Stayed in school for two degrees then started a blog rather than move on.
RT: Sr/5th Seth Fisher. Pre-Season Publications All-American, named to IPPY Watch List
RG: So/Jr Ace Anbender. JUBLO transfer.
C: So/So Heiko Yang. 1st Team All-Press Conference 2012
LG: Jr/Sr Mathlete. Led Big Ten in PANcakes. (ha!)
OL: Fr/Fr Blue in South Bend. Consensus 5-star to Moderator Sticky Page
And the question:
Time to make a prediction that will make you look stupid in a few weeks when we have practice reports: Your best guess for Michigan's O-line two-deep versus CMU, and the starting OL versus OSU, with reasoning.
Seth: So long as the gods have been properly tickled, the tackles are Lewan and Schofield with lots of obviously. Seniors, longtime starters, are hardly ever responsible for sacks, best OTs in the conference, despise donkeys, yada.
The interior is kind of a bitch to predict at this moment. Right guard seems to be Kalis's to lose. Regarding the momentary "omigod he's behind Burzynski" panic in early spring, my going theory is the coaches don't like giving away starting positions (Jim Bollman: take note), and Michigan's tiny walk-on erstwhile sixth lineman was instructed to give the five-star freshman a run for his money.
The other starting spots are going to the best two of Glasgow, Miller, and Braden, and at the conclusion of spring practice I felt that was the extremely tenuous order. Given their relative upsides and who did the recruitin' it's even money for Braden to emerge as a starter somewhere by season's end, even if he's not at the start. Gun to my head: the CMU starters are Glasgow-Miller-Kalis, with Braden the first guy in if any offensive lineman goes down (if it's Miller, Glasgow will slide over to center, and I already mentioned the tackles), and by OSU Braden is playing, if not for an injury than for Miller.
From there I think it's a pecking order more than a two-deep. If a tackle goes down, the surviving one is the left tackle and Ben Braden is the RT. The nominal two-deep guys will be Magnuson (tackle) and Burzynski (interior) early in the season, with Burzynski passed by Chris Bryant--I'm not and Blake Bars as the year progresses. Redshirt all the freshmen and sort 'em out next year.
Blue in South Bend: Now, I'm no expert, but I'd agree that three of the spots are locked down, with Lewan and Schofield at the tackles and Kalis at RG. I tend to think Miller is the heavy favorite at center as well; Burzynski is too short, Glasgow is too tall, and Miller has been the heir apparent for two full seasons. The real battle will be at LG, and I'll punt on that because I think the coaches will punt as well. No disrespect to the Chips, but it seems like the kind of game where Braden and Glasgow can both get plenty of run. Last year "OMG Mealer is gonna start at center" was a cataclysmic deal because Bama. This year, anything short of a true freshman starting will be met with a "huh, that's interesting." Braden and Glasgow will be listed as co-starters, so flip a coin and Ben Braden gets the first snap.
As far as a two-deep, pretty much what Seth said; Braden slides outside if a tackle goes down, followed by Magnuson. The Glasgow/Braden loser is the first in at guard, and Burzynski backs up center (where he got a lot of snaps during the spring game). The wild card is Chris Bryant. He had a pretty solid recruiting profile coming in, and insider reports indicate that he remains a large, large man. We outsiders literally know nothing about him at this point, though, so focus all your Ouija board questions on this man. The Meat God shall have to wait, as the freshmen redshirt.
Long-term, I think Braden wins the LG spot based mostly on upside, but that's just a guess. Two things to keep an eye on. The first is whether anyone shows an ability to pull. Kyle Kalis didn't look great in the spring game when asked to pull, so unless everything is going to be a zone blocking scheme (or a counter or wham concept or something to get the outside blockers moving), anyone who shows that particular club in his bag will have a big leg up. The second is whether anyone is particularly reliable in passing situations (a concern I had with Braden after the spring game). Protect the Devin, or sit thee on the pine forthwith.
LT: Lewan, Schofield, rapture
LG: Braden, Glasgow, Bryant, (Bosch)
C: Miller, Glasgow, Burzynski
RG: Kalis, Glasgow, Burzynski
RT: Schofield, Braden, Magnuson
Few things: As far as I know, Braden has locked down the LG spot for some time, so you can go ahead and use ink. I included Bosch in parentheses because he got a lot of good practice buzz. I hear he's developmentally ahead of Bars. Not that it means he'll play this season, but you can get excited for whenever the official "ass-kicking OL" era starts. Bryant [right: Fuller] is working his way back into playing shape after his leg injury. At the conclusion of spring he was a viable backup, which is a great sign considering he's still convalescent. He and Bosch and the other young bucks should will probably compete for guard opposite Kalis next year when Braden finds a home outside. And I agree with Seth: Kalis is probably going to be Michigan's RG a long, long time.
By the time OSU comes to town, unless there's an injury (please let there be no injuries) the starters should still be the same. Bryant may slip ahead of Glasgow for LG backup? Maybe?
I don't think this line is ready to clobber people between the tackles just yet. The appearance of running lanes will probably still be few and far between. Pass protection should be okay, though, and keeping Devin's jersey clean is really all we can ask for.
BiSB: I do worry that Rapture and DOOOOM are higher on the depth chart at tackle than anywhere besides QB and maybe safety. That said, there is at least a little bit of a buffer with Braden and Magnuson, though I think the latter could really use another year before entering the fray. If you compare the line depth with, say, Michigan State (or to Michigan in the alternate universe where Lewan declared for the draft), you have to feel a little better about life. State's O-line reminds me of pufferfish sashimi: if absolutely everything goes JUST RIGHT, then, hey, tasty fish. If even one thing goes wrong, though, neurotoxin and you're gonna have a bad time.
Heiko: We're not sitting here going into fall camp with 9 guys on scholarship like some people are.
Brian: Y'all need to file that guy from last week under "haterz" and moveon,org you guys. We'll have an official knighting ceremony after some beers and I'll change all your usernames to Sir Ace, Sir Seth, etc., thus communicating to haterz that you come anointed from on high.
Anyway: starting tackles are obvious. Kalis is obvious. I'm a little surprised that Braden has "locked down" a spot according to Heiko, but Heiko knows some things these days. I was just going on what Michigan did in the spring game, where Graham Glasgow started and played all three interior spots, getting more snaps than just about anyone that day. That signaled he was the leader at LG to me; if Heiko's information is accurate that signals that Glasgow is the #6 lineman, full stop. If a tackle goes out, Braden moves outside and Glasgow comes in. If anyone else goes out, Glasgow comes in.
Speaking of, depth charts like Heiko put out above are not quite right. Michigan is clearly in the group of teams that have a starting five and then want two or three linemen who back up everywhere in reserve. Assuming Miller holds on to the starting spot, a line from left to right of Lewan, Braden, Miller, Kalis and Schofield is backed up by Glasgow, Magnuson, and... uh... Bosch? Bryant? A true freshman not yet on campus?
I'm pretty confident that Glasgow will be a decent player if forced into the lineup, but once you get past him things get a little dodgy. While Michigan has options, I'd be a lot more confident if any of them other than Bryant were, like, upperclass-ish. Like the defense, it feels like Michigan needs one more year before the depth charts are overflowing with hype and experience.
I don't see any changes between CMU and OSU that aren't injury-forced unless Kugler arrives on a bolt of thunder, Rimington in hand already.
All, non-Brian: Sheath thy blade and spare thy tallow, your majesty; a simple raise shall suffice.
REPAIR NOTICE: I originally posted this article earlier this morning but accidentally had some bad data from a dreaded bad sort on Excel. Things should be better now, and the conclusions were affected less than I thought they would be. Biggest change is Ohio State was credited with a few that belonged to Oregon State (an avoidable vlookup error), and the old home-road stats were all screwed up. They are fixed below.
I've been slowly building and picking through an all-plays database built from NCAA.org's play-by-play data. The easiest thing to pull out so far has been penalties, so let's play with those.
The benefit of the all-plays is you can tell the difference between penalties, since a personal foul says a different thing about a team and does a different thing to them than, say, a delay of game to set up a punt. I broke the various penalties up into "Violent" and "Non-Violent" behaviors.
- Acts of violence: Clipping, crackbacks, facemasks, illegal blocks, illegal use of hands, kick catch interference, pass interference (?), roughing the kicker (15), roughing the passer, tripping, and unnecessary roughness.
- Non-violent behaviors: Delay of game, encroachment, false starts, holding, ineligible receiver downfield, intentional grounding, kickoff out of bounds, offsides, running into the kicker (5), sideline interference, substitution infraction, too many men, unsportsmanlike conduct, and illegal fair catch, formation, forward pass, motion, participation, shifting, and touching.
- Michigan last year was remarkably good at avoiding the latter type (in yellow in the chart below), leading the study at 2.3 non-violent infractions per game:
That's the Big Ten and the other 2013 opponents. I don't know if I want to count PI since its application can get downright chintzy, so that's broken out. Either way Ohio State managed to lead the conference in infractions per game, and was second in the study only to Terry Bowden's one-win (Morgan State) first season at Akron. Reason why this is? Online poll says:
Fact: 4.5% of people who take any online fan poll are Buckeyes
Yea, and Urban did steal "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness," previously committed to MSU. I was surprised that Michigan State appeared to have their pugilistic streak in relative check, i.e. they were only among the leaders, not far ahead as I supposed from watching them. It takes a while to gather all the data but minus the regular season Wisconsin game (data wasn't available) their 2011 penalty numbers were high but their personal foul quotient wasn't: 31 violent (11 of those pass interference) to 60 non-violent. Wanna guess where a disproportionate of those came from? Offsides. #JerelWorthyJumpsEarly.
Michigan vs. Average
We're dealing with smallish sample sizes so conclusions are shaky. That said there are things to see when you look at which penalties Michigan was getting called against them versus a typical team on their schedule.
Non-violent things per season:
|Illegal Offensive Stuff||6.0||-||4||5||5|
|Delay of Game||4.3||-||2||3||1||4|
|Special Teams Derps||0.5||-||2||1||-||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's veteran offensive line was good for something last year: remarkably few false starts and none of those illegal formation/procedure things that plagued us in various offensive transitions. That's a feather in Al Borges's cap: the offense had their fundamentals down about as well as you can ask. Pre-snap penalty-avoidance may be correlated with offensive line experience, though I haven't proven this. Further study: is it experienced OL or just experienced tackles? Inquiring 2013 offensive lines want to know.
Violent crimes per season:
|Various Illegal Blocks||5.8||8||7||4||6||-|
|Roughing the Passer||1.3||3||2||1||-||3|
|Kick Catching Interference||0.6||2||-||1||2||-|
|Roughing the Kicker||0.3||-||-||-||2||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's ability to avoid the peaceful infractions meant the Wolverines were the most pugilistic in the study by percentage of penalties that were violent. Cue the Urban Meyer chart:
Forgot to add the 15 yards for logo infraction
Really the Wolverines were average, the only thing standing out being chopblocks. There were a few of these called against Michigan last year that I thought were horsecrap (Mealer's v. UMass and Gallon's vs. Minnesota), and here's one that was legit (on Gordon):
If you don't spot it in 10 watches, watch it 10 more times.
I'm declaring Michigan a very average team at this.
Home Field Advantage?
There was one for Michigan, not the other guys. Michigan was relatively clean at home and in limited samples got kinda duked in the neutral games (Brian gave the refs a composite –5 for the Alabama game alone, which is about the difference between a typical day of Obi Ezeh as a senior versus Kenny Demens as a senior). Overall I noticed very little difference in any type of penalty with regards to how it was assessed against home versus road teams. False starts are a little more common for road teams (like one every 10 games) but that's about it. Things broke out a bit more among the small samples of a single team's season:
PENALTIES PER GAME
|Team||Pen/G||Home||Away||Neutral||Home Field Adv.|
Either they let the Wolverines get away with murder at home, we turn into Michigan State on the road, or those calls just went against us more often than they should have.