"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
C’mon Fitz, Courage would have made the tackle there (Fuller)
1. The Six Factors
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
Field position kept Michigan alive in regulation and a strong day of early downs helped offset what we know to be an abysmal third down stretch. The defense posted outstanding numbers across the board, holding Northwestern below 40% on early conversions while still generating a lot of long difficult third downs and that Northwestern did a below average job of converting. Michigan’s offensive day wasn’t very good until overtime, but you can see more positive signs in their day than you can in Northwestern’s.
2. Individual Game Scores
QBs: Opp. Adjusted EV, Win percent added (National Rank)
Devin Gardner: –7, +30% (99)
Kain Colter: –1, +21% (72)
Trevor Siemian: –6, –19% (94)
Derrick Green: –1, –5% (139)
Treyvon Green: +1, +11% (71)
Mike Trumpy: +0, +1% (96)
Jeremy Gallon: +6, +48% (61)
Devin Funchess: +3, +17% (163)
Devin Gardner had his easily his lowest rated game of the season with only 285 yards on 55 plays (all numbers with sacks removed). He was +4.3 in overtime though, adding 34% to Michigan’s win odds in the period. Northwestern’s quarterbacks equaled the ugly numbers with Trevor Siemian being the worst performer with a –6 on the day. Derrick Green’s –1 isn’t great out of context, but considering Fitzgerald Toussaint’s numbers have been some of the worst in the country, moving close to average is a major step forward.
3. Game Chart
6. +19% Gardner hits Jake Butt for a TD to open overtime scoring
5. +21% Gardner hits Gallon to set up the fire drill FG attempt
4. +24% Gardner runs it in for the 2 point conversion
3. –27% Gardner loses a yard on the big 4th down call
2. +27% Gibbons hits from 44 yards to sent it to overtime
1. –35% Gardner sacked for a loss of 13 on the final drive
Amazingly in a game this close all six of the biggest plays came when Michigan had the ball. Four of them were positive and two were negative. Overtime was unique in that even though it was triple overtime, Michigan was always in control. Scoring touchdowns when you go first will do that for you.
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Some coaches are really stepping up their dumb punt game with the regular season nearing its close. Kent St saw a 4th and 5 with a 15 point lead in the fourth. Usually not a bad situation to punt in other than they were so deep in Miami (NTM) territory that a 14 yard turned out better than a touchback would have.
Sean Kugler, father of Michigan freshman Patrick was in a similar situation at UTEP. It was a ten point lead in the third and the Miners were facing 4th and 7 from the FIU 30. It would have been a classic no man’s land situation at the 40, but at the thirty? That’s practically punting from the red zone. It did work out for the Coach Kugler as the punt was downed at the four and resulted in a safety on the next possession. Ultimately having FIU as an opponent was more important than fourth down strategy as UTEP picked up its second win of the year.
Of course the Dumb Punt of the week just can’t escape Big Ten country, or Ron Zook’s previous employer for that matter. Normally punting on 4th and 13 from your own 17 is an automatic response. But what if there are only five minutes left and you are only down 12 to the team with the nation’s longest winning streak? Just like Gary Andersen did as Wisconsin played Ohio State, Tim Beckman puckered up and punted. Hoping to get the old stop, score on-side score again combination for the win. The Illini defense did half of their job well, getting the ball quickly back into the hands of the offense, unfortunately it was after allowing a 2 play 60 yard TD drive. Illinois then went three and out and punted again before allowing a one play 55 yard TD, turning a 12 point upset potential into a 25 point no-contest. Once again, Tim Beckman is your Ron Zook Dumb Punter of the week.
Bonus Pointless Field Goal of the Week:
Future B1G member Rutgers, got pasted by Cincinnati last week but they managed to cover the –35.5 point line by kicking a short 36 yard field goal with 16 seconds left to cut the lead from 38 to 35. Rutgers, getting their B1G on a year early.
5. Where Have All the Big Plays Gone
One of the stats I have started tracking this year is bonus yards which are defined as any yards gained beyond achieving a first down. Gain 11 on 1st and 10, that’s one bonus yard. 3rd and 1 play goes for 50 yards, that’s 49 bonus yards. It’s a measure of big plays that captures both quantity and magnitude. Michigan’s big play offense has been up and down but downfield success has been disappearing as Big Ten play has progressed.
The Indiana game has been removed because there is no doubt at this point that the results of that game were more about Indiana’s lack of defense than our presence of an offense. The last three games have struggled to crack 100 yards beyond the line of scrimmage after four of the first six games have crossed 140 yards. You can see it in the UConn game as well as early turnovers forced Devin Gardner into a safe place.
As currently constructed, this is Michigan’s only chance at generating offensive output. The offensive line struggles have made drive crimpling lost yardage a regular occurrence. If Michigan is going to get the offense to hold up the defense at all, I think it’s going to have to come in the form of big plays downfield because 12 play drives just aren’t going to happen.
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone||Total Conv|
|Mich O||29.7 (24)||47% (38)||158 (37)||8.7 (125)||-3% (88)||4.9 (74)||70% (75)|
|Iowa D||24.3 (30)||35% (3)||115 (25)||6.2 (110)||-2% (39)||5.0 (58)||64% (14)|
|Iowa O||26.7 (64)||41% (85)||114 (96)||5.7 (4)||-3% (88)||4.7 (83)||70% (76)|
|Mich D||30.1 (106)||43% (34)||113 (22)||6.9 (73)||0% (67)||4.5 (25)||67% (28)|
QB EV (National Rank/B1G Rank)
Devin Gardner: +6.2 (13/2)
Jake Rudock: +1 (70/??)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –3 (160/19)
Damon Bullock: –0 (85/11)
Mark Weisman: –1 (120/17)
Jeremy Gallon: +8 (7/1)
Devin Funchess: +5 (52/6)
Iowa: No receivers in top 250 nationally
I feel like this season has turned into a broken record. Michigan’s defense should be in position to hold an average offense to a modest score relative to field position and the offense will then be tasked with finding away to put some points on the board. That may or may not happen. Iowa’s offense is just like Michigan’s defense, bed but don’t break. They aren’t great at big plays or early conversions but they are outstanding at staying ahead of the chains and managing third downs.
Can Michigan’s offense generate any big plays? That is the question at this point. The idea of consistently stringing together first downs seems so failed at this point. Too many negative plays, too much lost yardage. If Michigan can regain its big play swagger then they should be able to score some points but absent of that it should be another ugly Big Ten slog of a game.
Iowa [7 field goals] Michigan [5 field goals and a safety]
On Devin's OT TD, we ran the option with a pitch man, Devin kept for a score. When was the last time we ran that play? Went through the NW UFR and saw we ran it once. That seemed to me the best offensive play of the night. I understand you still have to block to run an option, but my recollection of playing (i.e., mostly practicing but occassionally getting on the field), an option to your side involves blocking down, with either the TE or T scraping off (depending on whether the DT slanted or not) to take the LB, all of which are relatively easy blocks. Why are we not running it more?
THE BIG TEN IS PUT OFF BECAUSE OF STORMS
For those that were wondering where this diary was this week, it was in my head. By this, I mean that I had every intention to do it as normal, but because my life goes to hell when the weather goes to hell due to my real-life job, things like this get put off until the next available moment. Indeed, that moment did not come until this morning as the storms from Sunday did a good amount of damage around southeast Michigan.
This week’s entry will be somewhat abbreviated, however, so if there is more specific information that anyone would like, I can produce it.
SCORING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
At this point in the season, it seems unlikely that anyone will catch Ohio State and their 49.4 points per game average, but Michigan does sit in the next tier, if you will, with Wisconsin, Indiana and Nebraska as teams that can put some points on the board. In our case, we have 34.3 points per game on average and that is good for fifth in the conference. When it comes to giving up points, Michigan sits in the middle of the conference approximately at 25.2 points per game allowed. By leaps and bounds, the most generous teams are Illinois, Purdue and Indiana. I doubt that changes now.
TOTAL OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
Last week, it was mentioned that our attempts at forming an identity on offense were creating a bit of a muddle when it came to our average yardage differential. Despite how the Northwestern game may have looked, no harm, no foul this week – we still sit there with a slightly positive differential. Wisconsin and Purdue are the extremes in the conference, one because of their rushing attack and the other because of their ability to crater themselves with a mere thought.
RUSHING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
At this point, it is well-established that we have some issues with the when, how and why of rushing, and our rushing offense is still twice as productive as Purdue, which is good for 11thin the conference. Ohio State and Wisconsin have essentially made the most prolific rushing offense a two-team race this season, leaving the rest of us to try and catch up. However, we are still quite proficient at stopping runs overall, as you can see below:
PASSING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
We’ll start with defense here – we allow an average of 236.4 yards per game through the air, which is 10thin the conference. Interestingly, our pass efficiency defense rating is 117, which is third in the conference. So, we have our moments, but we’ve given up some good sized plays. That aside, Michigan is doing quite well on passing offense, as you will note below:
DOWNS AND DIFFERENTIALS:
In what has been a slow slide since the Michigan State game, Michigan is now in a rare position of having a slightly negative third down differential. As we know, that won’t make it impossible to win, but it typically makes it a little more difficult. It can be considerably more difficult actually, if the differential is well into negative territory. Michigan’s average differential is -0.80, which is not unrecoverable but it does speak to some of our issues with sustaining drives. If nothing else, we do average more first downs than our opponents, which does help some.
Sometimes it’s fun to think about how one little play can change the outcome of a game, or perhaps an entire college football season. The 4th quarter against Northwestern this past Saturday provided several examples. I began to think about certain plays in Michigan football history that likely had a large impact on the respective team. Obviously there are plays that caused Michigan fans to rejoice (2005 Penn State for example) but there are certainly some that live in infamy. So I wanted to bring this to the MGoBlog community: If you could change the outcome of any ONE PLAY in Michigan football history, which play would it be and WHY? This is not meant to be a “woe is me” sort of post. I just had fun with it and thought some others might too. For me, it’s probably the Hail Mary from Kordell motherfuckin Stewart in 1994. I believe that single play cost them a special season… and I hate seeing it replayed.
I came up with a short list to jog your memories (though I doubt you need any help).
1973 Michigan versus Ohio State – Lantry misses last second field goal
1979 Rose Bowl versus USC – Phantom touchdown
1987 Rose Bowl versus Arizona State – holding called on successful fake punt
1990 versus MSU – Desmond tripped and pass incomplete on 2-pt conversion
2000 versus Northwestern – Anthony Thomas fumbles on “game clinching” possession
2001 versus MSU – 12 men on the field, Spartan Bob, you pick
2005 Rose Bowl versus Texas – Last second field goal is good
2006 versus OSU – Shawn Crable hits Troy Smith OOB
2007 versus App State – Last second field goal blocked
These are just the first few that came to mind. I’d love to read your contributions.
Michigan commit Shaun Crawford was offered by Ohio State. Says he is committed to Michigan, but focused on his season right now.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) November 21, 2013