somehow we're only 124th
Thought it would be useful to take a look at the 2010 and 2009 offenses of Stanford in a detailed way to see what sort of offense fans should expect if Jim Harbaugh makes a triumphant return to Ann Arbor. This will be the pass at 2010; I'll see if I have the energy to repeat the work for 2009.
At a 40,000 foot point of view I will cut and paste some data out of my earlier diary "A Statistical Look at Jim Harbaugh's Stanford Years" and then we'll go look at it from a player personnel perspective. I won't delve into the defense because frankly Jim needs a very good DC - he struggled thru 3 bad years on defense until Vic Fangio arrived on a silver platter and made a miraculous turnaround in 2010.
Harbaugh coached from 07 to 10, so I've also listed the data for Stanford in the year before and year after he coached for comparison (please note there was no FEI data in 2006)
Please note Andrew Luck was QB in 09/10/11:
|W/L||Tot Off||oFEI||oS&P+||Tot Def||dFEI||dS&P+|
Here is a deep dig into the data broken down by run / pass
|Rush O||Pass O||Rush D||Pass D|
Key - Total Offense is a simple measure via the NCAA that simply ranks team on total yards per game. Obviously teams in conferences with weaker defenses benefit. I prefer to ignore it and focus on the 2 advanced stats that while not perfect are more comprehensive: (1) Football Outsiders FEI measure and (2) Football Outsiders S&P+ measure. Both of these incorporate various strength of schedule adjustments, garbage time adjustments, blowout adjustments etc to give a more comprehensive view of a unit other than yards gained or yards given up. Read more about them here and here.
As I wrote in that earlier Harbaugh piece the commonly held belief that Stanford offense was all Andrew Luck is just wrong. Luck had a great 2010 and 2011 (post Harbaugh) and a decent 2009. But the Stanford offense of 2009 and 2010 was centered on the run - which did include Luck to a significant degree. The 2010 offense was 14th overall by the simple Total Offense measure and even more impressive via FEI and S&P+ at #5 and #3 respectively. It was also well balanced as it ranked #17 in rushing yards and #29 in passing yards.
Let's look at the players who constructed this offense
Contrary to revisionist belief, Andrew Luck wasn't a "can't miss" #1 overall prospect out of HS. That doesn't mean he wasn't highly touted but to hear people today, "Andrew Luck made Jim Harbaugh and anyone who had him would have done great". Luck was a 4 star, 68th rated player in the country, and #4 at his position. For perspective Shane Morris was a 4 star, 81st rated player in the country, and #4 at his position. Effectively these 2 guys were identical prospects via Rivals. Despite his ranking and being from Texas he did not have a single SEC offer, and only OK State offered in the Big 12. I don't know the specifics - but he committed in June 2007 as a 2008 prospect so that is relatively late in the process, but the point is this was not a guy everyone saw as a can't miss in HS.
Luck went from a solid RS FR year (that was nowhere near what a say a guy like Henne did as a true FR) and exploded on the scene in 2010 as a RS SO. Completion % at an almost unheard of 70%+, 9.0 yards per attempt, and a measly 8 INTs vs 32 TDs. For perspective 9.0 yards per attempt is in the range of a 2014 Cook, Barrett, and Nova.
Obviously QB is the most important position on the field and having an engine revving like this helps make a great offense. Luck's backups barely played in 2010.
Below are the 4 leading rushers for the 17th ranked Stanford rush offense.
I was a bit surprised to see Luck there at #2 in total yards - while a pretty mobile QB at the next level, getting nearly 500 yards at the NCAA level where sacks count against you is quite solid. The prior year Toby Gerhart and his nearly 1900 yards dominated the stat sheet. Four star, #220 rated player (2009) SO Stepfan Taylor took over as the lead back in 2010. (Of note, rushing focused teams like Nebraska, TCU, and Wisconsin also were after Taylor) The 5'11, 210 lb Taylor continued his lead back role post Harbaugh in 2011 and 2012, with 1300+ and 1500+ yards respectively. The Stanford offense actually throws to their RBs, and Taylor had 28 receptions for 266 yards (9.5 average) to go along with his rushing total. For a non RS second year player these are very nice stats.
Tyler Gaffney was a bit player in 2010 who would go on to big things later in his career. He came out of HS as a highly rated fullback. Wilkerson was basically a Thomas Rawls type of Stanford, a guy who never budged from this 2010 level in his career.
Overall, a solid and efficient running game. Taylor was essentially at the age Green/Smith were in 2014 (and less touted but one of the few 4 stars on the Stanford 2 deep) and performed very well with >1000 yards rushing and >250 yards receiving.
Below are the 7 leading receivers for the 29th ranked passing game.
Luck did a good job of spreading the wealth as there was not a primary go to guy per se. These were not also a bevy of high level recruits. Leading receiver (2 star) SR Doug Baldwin was a scant 5'11, 190 lbs. He had very little production until his senior year - and then surged. 6'2 207 lb SR Ryan Whalen had more protypical WR size but little pedigree - he was a walk on. But he was a prime time player for Stanford, in a major role in 2008 thru 2010. So your top 2 guys here were very experienced in terms of age but one was a low production 2 star (until his senior year) and the other was a high production walk on. Michigan has a bevy of 3/4 stars in comparison. JR Chris Owusu was coming off a very exciting SO campaign but looks like he was limited by injury as he only played 7 games in 2010. This was the only really highly rated guy out of the WR/TE set as a 4 star, #240 guy in the country in 2008.
Hey it's Jim Harbaugh so we have to talk TE. You are looking at 6'6 240 lb JR Coby Fleener. Fleener improved on his SO season by 7 catches and nearly 200 more yards as his per attempt jumped from 12.7 to mid 15s. Fleener was a 3 star with an offer sheet that looks like a 3 star. SR Konrad Reuland was the other TE.
All in all nothing like the type of guys UM gets blessed with. But that's the benefit of a cogent offense with a stud QB at the helm.
Hey there are no stats for the big uglies but let's talk a bit about them since one lesson we've learned the past few years is how important the lines are to good teams. 2010 Stanford had the benefit of returning 4 out of 5 starters including 2 future studs, RS SO LT Jonathan Martin and RS SO RG David DeCastro. Both started in 2009 as RS FR and were freshman All Americans in a very good offense. They were paired with 3 seniors, 2 returning SR starters (Phillips/Beeler) and 1 newbie SR starter (Hall).
- LT: 6'6, 304 RS SO Johnathan Martin
- LG: 6'5, 302 RS SR Andrew Phillips
- C: 6'3 285 RS SR Chase Beeler
- RG: 6'5 310 RS SO David DeCastro
- RT: 6'5 303 RS SR Derek Hall
So unlike 2009 where Stanford had two RS FR on the line this was a good mix with 3 seniors, including 2 returning starters and 2 RS SO who would eventually go on to be high level NFL draft picks. By the way that 2009 unit with 2 RS FR on it finished 2nd in the nation in sacks allowed. (no excuses about youth)
One should be very pleased with Harbaugh's eye for HS OL since both DeCastro and Martin were just 3 star west coast dudes in the 2008 class (DeCastro as a center). The other guys were obviously Walt Harris recruits but they formed a pretty well oiled unit.
If curious - and I am sure you are - the OL coach for that unit was named Tim Drevno, who was the OC/OL coach with Harbaugh at San Diego and followed him to Stanford to coach TEs for 2 years and then OL for 2 years. Drevno also followed Harbaugh to the 49ers for 3 years but went to USC last year to join Sark.
So there you have it - other than Luck Taylor and Owusu there were not many highly rated guys playing for what turned out to be one of the better offenses in the country. Obviously Luck helped but again Luck was not OMG LUCK in HS. 8 of the 11 starters were also upperclassmen. This offense looks a lot like the San Fran one (until this year) - run based, solid OL, playmaker at QB.... main difference is some serious playmakers at WR and TE in SF.
Not to end a positive story on a negative note but when you compare this roster with our embarrassment of HS talent riches, well.... it's not good. (Also had to bug the hell out of USC to lose to this type of team) Of course it makes you wonder what Harbaugh could do with classes full of top 150 prospects that the USCs and Michigans get.
No need to wonder anymore Jim. Come home.
Maybe this means something, maybe it means nothing for CC but at least for Lions fans it's pretty shocking. Cutler is being benched this week despite his 7 yr $126M albatross salary. For Jimbo it's definitely something to consider if Chicago flutters his heart at all. A team in dysfunction with a non leader at the helm of its offense.
The quarterback now leads the league with 24 turnovers, and his problems have helped prompt Chicago's sudden decline. The Bears have lost six of their past eight games, yet another scuffle in a year full of them. That includes offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitting to his players that he was an anonymous source in which Cutler's game-management skills were criticized.
Recent events have encouraged me to go back to read the sections of Three and Out about the 2007 coaching search. There are several lessons learned that James Hackett seems to have taken from the experience.
I very much want to avoid restarting the age-old debate on whether we should have hired Rich Rodriguez. That's not the issue here. The issue is how badly we screwed up the entire process, and what we are doing differently in 2014 to avoid the mistakes of 2007.
It seems to me that we can take away 3 major lessons from 2007:
(1) You need a single person in charge. In 2007, at least 3 separate people contacted coaching candidates on behalf of the University--and they were not always communicating with each other.
(2) Proceed with a sense of urgency, but not desperation. In 2007, Michigan went from having no real urgency straight into "panic mode."
(3) Control information. On several occasions in 2007, the media leaked information about events almost as soon as they happened. This scared at least one candidate away from the job who was otherwise quite willing to take it.
So...here is the chronology of the events of the four weeks from Lloyd Carr's official retirement to Rich Rodriguez's hiring, mostly summarized from Three and Out:
Saturday, November 17: Michigan loses to Ohio State.
Monday, November 19: Lloyd Carr announces that he will retire after January 1 bowl game. Bill Martin privately considers Kirk Ferentz the top candidate to replace Carr.
Wednesday, November 21: Mary Sue Coleman tells Bill Martin that Kirk Ferentz is not to be considered for the job.
Monday, November 26: Martin meets with the 6-member "search committee", mentions Tony Dungy as his preferred candidate, although Dungy had not been contacted nor had he expressed interest in the job. Committee discusses Brian Kelly & rejects him due to his reputation. Committee mentions Les Miles, Martin rejects the idea out of hand. No actual names were put forward for consideration other than Dungy; no plans were made to move forward.
Thursday, November 29: Miles's people attempt to contact Martin, not for the first time. They get in touch with Jamie Morris, who informs Martin of the contact attempts. Before leaving for a weekend trip to Florida, Martin tells Morris he will return the calls on Sunday when he gets back. Miles's people are not informed of this.
Saturday, December 1: Kirk Herbstreit announces Miles has accepted a job offer from Michigan. Miles's agent (and several people officially & unofficially associated with Michigan) desperately try to contact Martin in Florida, but Martin later claims he was not reachable because he did not know how to use his new cell phone. Miles announces to the press that he has not been talking to Michigan.
Sunday, December 2: Upon Martin's return to his Ann Arbor home, he receives an angry phone call from Coleman asking him what happened and where he was.
Monday, December 3: Martin announces to the media that he has a list of twenty candidates. Martin flies to New York under the guise of attending the National Football Foundation's Hall of Fame dinner.
Tuesday, December 4: Martin meets with Greg Schiano in New York City. Word of the secret meeting gets out to the press the same day. Search committee members express surprise, not having heard that Schiano was being considered for the job.
Thursday, December 6: Schiano announces to the press that he will not take the Michigan job. Martin informs search committee that the search would be postponed until after the bowl games.
Friday, December 7: In the wake of the bad publicity (and angry alumni feedback) that Michigan was beginning to receive, Coleman summons Martin to a private meeting in her office, informs him that she will be "working with" him on the coaching search until it is complete. Martin attempts to contact Miles, but is informed that Miles will only speak with Coleman, not with Martin. At 11am, Miles speaks with Coleman & Martin (in Coleman's office) on a conference call. Miles states "I would never say no to Michigan." By 1:30pm, news of the call has been leaked to the Detroit area press; Miles is not happy.
Monday, December 10: Coleman & Miles speak by telephone without Martin present. Coleman requests a face-to-face meeting in Miami for Tuesday (Miles will be there on a recruiting trip). Citing the press leak from Friday, Miles refuses to meet prior to the bowl game. Miles adds, "If you want me, then after the bowl game, I will be your coach...I would never say no to Michigan." Coleman discusses this phone call with regents Laurence Deitsch & Andrea Fischer Newman, who agree with this course of action, but ask her who is going to tell Carr. Coleman announces that she will do so. That evening, Carr calls Rich Rodriguez to talk about Michigan job. Rodriguez: "Is there interest in me on Michigan's part?" Carr: "Yeah, they're looking at you."
Tuesday, December 11: Carr encourages Martin to consider Rodriguez. Later that day, Michigan media announce that Miles is still being considered. That night, Martin calls Rodriguez to discuss the job. Rodriguez begins discussing job with friends.
Friday, December 14: Rodriguez, in Toledo for a pre-planned meeting with his financial planner, meets with Coleman & Martin. The job is offered to Rodriguez on the spot, with Coleman & Martin asking for an answer today. News of the meeting leaks to the media before the meeting ends. Martin asks Rodriguez to keep Carr's assistants. Coleman tells Martin, "No, Bill, you can't ask him to do that." Rodriguez tells Coleman & Martin that he needs to talk to West Virginia first.
Saturday, December 15: Rodriguez meets with President of WVU, who tells Rodriguez (basically) to take it or leave it.
Sunday, December 16: Coleman speaks by phone for 90 minutes with Miles and is very favorably impressed with him. Coleman tells Miles that they have offered the job to Rodriguez, but if it didn't work out they would contact Miles after his bowl game. WVU president tells the media that Rodriguez is never leaving. Rodriguez meets with Don Nehlen, who encourages him to take Michigan job. Rodriguez phones Martin to accept job offer, boards plane to Michigan.
Monday, December 17: Rodriguez introduced to media as Michigan's next coach. Rodriguez flies back to WV to close out business there.
Wednesday, December 19: Rodriguez returns to Michigan, followed by all of his assistants from WVU except Bill Stewart (who was not offered a job by Rodriguez) and Jeff Casteel (who was offered $265K and no contract by Michigan and $275K on a 2-year contract by WVU).