fair point that
Pretty interesting stuff to say the least. On top of former QB Tommie Frazier bashing Pelini, he went on a little tirade in a presser as reported by Deadspin. There is audio of him saying it in the link.
EDIT: Thanks for the heads up on the mistake. Apparently this was in 2011. Nebraska fans are pissed all over the twitter.
"It took everything in my power to not say, 'Fuck you, fans. Fuck all of you.' Fuck 'em."
"Our crowd. What a bunch of fucking fair-weather fucking—they can all kiss my ass out the fucking door. 'Cause the day is fucking coming now. We'll see what they can do when I'm fucking gone. I'm so fucking pissed off."
As the amazing nebraska defense was smacked around yet again Saturday, former NU QB Tommie Frazier has had enough and is calling for Pelini's head.
If this stuff keeps happening, I think he's gone.
If the lunatics at NU fired Frank Solich for going 9-3 two years removed from a national title game berth, I don't know what it will take to fire Pelini. Keep in mind Solich was 58-19 in 6 years.
There’s been a lot of talk about who or what to blame for the Great Akron Tire Fire of 2013. Is Akron actually good or are we actually not that good? Were we “outcoached?” Did Hoke, Borges and Mattison spend the week watching reruns of A-Team instead of film? Did Devin Gardner just have an off day? Why was this almost The Horror: Part Deux instead of the blowout every single one of us expected?
I don’t see a single culprit, but rather, a coincidence of factors—each of which had a negative effect on the outcome. No single one can, in my estimation, account for a 28-24 near loss to Akron, but each contributed in the way that rubber, oxygen and sparks contribute to a real tire fire.
The point of this diary is to try to determine the importance of the various factors involved, relative to one another. This is a qualitative analysis, but I’ve jazzed it up with some numbers to make things more fun. First I looked at the final score, 28-24, and the fact that there were a total of 52 points scored. I then decided (for the sake of pseudoscientific modeling, of course) that in a perfect game, we score all the points. Against Akron, that would be 52-0 us. Working from this assumption, every element of our near-loss should contribute some discrete number of points away from 52-0 and towards 28-24. I then looked at the one factor that can be quantified—points off of Gardner’s turnovers—and determined the points and approximate percentages attributable to other factors relative to that.
Without further ado, then, here’s what I blame, along with the percentage of blame I think they are accountable for, and why. I’ve also included an “adjusted score” to show what the final might have been like had this one factor not been a factor (and everything else held constant).
1. Akron – 15% [7 points.]
Adjusted Score: 31-20
Clearly Akron played better than we thought they were capable of—their 2 stars, walk-ons and JUCO transfers did nearly as well against us as Notre Dame’s parade of heralded 4 and 5 stars. It’s the coaching: Terry Bowden and Chuck Amato are unusually experienced for the MAC, and have enjoyed success at the highest level.** They weren’t intimidated, and clearly did their homework. As bad as they have been in the past, on this specific day they played better than anyone expected—appreciably better than, say, Central Michigan did a couple weeks ago. And it doesn’t hurt that they figured out our snap count. Of course, that probably would not have mattered had it not been for our…
2. Complacency – 40% [21 points]
Adjusted Score: 42–17 or 35-10
As much as Akron’s gameplan execution exceeded expectations, ours failed to live up to even the minimal standard. In some ways, the game resembled a bastard hybrid of Carr-era and Rodriguez-era demons—ultra-soft defense, conservative play-calling and a languid approach to an early-season opponent tied to soul-crushing turnovers, missed field goals and inexplicably stalled drives. Though I don’t know what went on during the week, it sure seemed like everyone, from the staff on down, figured this one would wrap up by the end of first quarter. We were content to line up with our most vanilla defense, expecting to get pressure from our front four against a max protect blocking scheme. Instead, Pohl had a lot of time to find the gaps in our soft zone. The offense was better, but there were too many DeBord-esque obvious runs on obvious running downs right into 9 dudes for -2 to 2 yards. That might have worked when we had Mike Hart or Chris Perry running behind a more experienced O-line, but we don’t, and so it did not. We could have gone more to the zone-read—when we did, it worked like a charm. But we didn’t.* The players don’t get a pass here either. A lot of guys just looked lazy and/or disoriented out there—guys who are pretty decent, like Michael Schofield, Joe Bolden, Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile. Maybe it was a “hangover” effect from last week, or simple overconfidence. I lean towards the latter—this was a team that wasn’t prepared for adversity, and consequently, wasn’t putting in much of an effort. Even when it was clear that more effort was needed, we were sloppy.
3. Devin Gardner’s Gameday Psychology – 25% [14 points]
Adjusted Score: 35-17
It’s apparently feast or famine with Rich Rodriguez-recruited quarterbacks, and in this sense Devin Garner appears no different than Denard Robinson or Tate Forcier before him. All have the ability to dazzle you with their improvisational skills on one play, only to crush your hopes and dreams will their gun-slingin’ ways on the next. In this game, Devin made four crucial, head-scratching errors. The fumble came because he couldn’t decide whether to keep or pitch on a speed option. The pitch was open for a TD, but instead he just sort of didn’t protect the ball and—whoops—there it went. And the INTs…oh dear—one returned for a touchdown and the other two almost converted into field goals. His turnovers accounted for 14 points, and nearly for another 6. And that’s not even taking into account the drive-killing throws to Tacopants. Despite what I said earlier, this is Akron. A MAC team. Put in the same position, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio all make more than 14 points out of 4 turnovers.
4. Lack of Skill and/or Experience at Key Positions - 20% [10 points]
Adjusted Score: 31-17
We all worried about this in the offseason, but then against Notre Dame, it suddenly didn’t seem to matter. Well, it does. We missed an interior O-line that can get a push against an undersized and less-talented defensive front. We missed being able to get a pass rush with the front four. We missed Jordan Kovacs. We missed Jake Ryan. We missed having a reliable run game from the running backs. Still, we have enough talent and skill, distributed evenly enough and bolstered by good coaching, that this should not have greatly affected the outcome against Akron. Northwestern, Sparty or even Iowa, maybe, but not Akron. Never Akron.
What This Means Going Forward
Sometimes a bad game against an inferior opponent exposes certain flaws that will become unavoidable as you move to league play. Other times, it’s just one bad game—embarrassing, certainly, but not necessarily indicative of season-long trends. The two low points of the past 20 years of Michigan football are undoubtedly the 2007 “Horror” against Appalachian State and the 2008 “Nameless Embarrassment” against Toledo. The Horror was emblematic of the latter—sure we stank the following week against a very good Oregon team, but we did recover. We won 8 of our last 10 and then beat Urban Meyer’s Florida in the Capital One Bowl. By contrast, the loss against Toledo was pretty emblematic of who we were that year, i.e. the worst Michigan team since the 1960s, if not longer.
The good news is that, since we won this one, we will eventually forget it ever happened. I mean, how many of us remember that we had to come from behind to beat San Diego State in 2004? I didn't until I looked it up. By contrast, I will never forget losing to App State and Toledo. So there’s that. What really worries me, though, is that this one is more like the 2010 near-disaster against UMASS, or Ben Chappell’s one game Heisman performance of 2009—wins that expose fundamental flaws that will haunt us down the line.
I believe the evidence is unclear on this—certainly, the game did expose our weakness on the interior offensive line, as well as our inability to get pressure without blitzing. It also reminded us that creative, improvisational quarterbacks almost inevitably have off days, when the split-second, seat-of-your-pants decisions just don’t go your way. I imagine that we will have more days where our O-line can’t get a push and our D-line gets pushed. I also imagine that there is at least one more game left where Gardner’s penchant for turning the ball over puts the outcome in jeopardy.
The good news is that these are areas where we can improve over the course of the season. Kalis is a guy I expect to be a lot better by the end of the season than he is now—the talent is there; it’s just that the experience is not. Young, talented guys can learn from this embarrassment—Ojemudia, Clark, Bolden, Ross, Thomas, Hollowell. And Jake Ryan's return should help considerably.
The bad news is that improvement over the course of a season is often negated by injuries and often lost in the transition to better and more consistent competition. The young starters will almost certainly have another bad game before the season is done. Probably on the road, though as this game proves, it can happen at home too.
Gardner’s game-time psychology is an equal, if not bigger factor, for the simple reason that we ask him to do so much, and to paper over so many structural weaknesses in our roster. Of the three Rodriguez-era quarterbacks I mentioned above, Devin, I think, has the highest ceiling. He showed us that against Notre Dame, as well as last year when he filled in for Denard. In his weekly diary, Bronxblue pointed out that Devin is more than a bit like Vince Young—a supreme athlete who eventually turned into the most dominant individual player I’ve ever seen, but who first struggled with consistency in the passing game. Devin’s passing is actually better than Young’s was at this stage in his career, but he does have that problem with turnovers, and it’s a big one. As much as I love this coaching staff, it’s unclear whether they will be able to work the turnovers out of his system—Denard, as we all know, regressed in the INT department in the shift from 2010 to 2011. Since Devin better fits the Borges mold, I think they'll have better success with him on this front, but it’s still too much of an open question for my liking.
All that said, complacency was the biggest single ingredient of this tire fire, and I do not think this will be a problem again. Hoke and company dodged a bullet on Saturday, and do not think anyone will be looked past or given short shrift going forward. Take that out of the equation, and the next tire fire looks to max out at 60% of this one.
The bottom line is, we are unlikely to play this poorly against anyone else left on our schedule. Unfortunately, the rest of the teams on our schedule are all better than Akron. Still, if we can fix the complacency and preparation issue and halve the turnovers, that should be enough to win more games than we lose from this point forward. Unfortunately, this game also shows us that we're not quite ready for the big time yet. The saving grace is that we play in the Big 10, where arguably no one else is either.
*We did have some success under center, but my impression is that shotgun formations were more consistently successful. I’m looking forward to the UFR to see if that’s correct or not.
**EDIT: And let's not forget Jim Tressel, who unfortunately knows a thing or two about winning at Michigan Stadium.
Who's coming to Connecticut this weekend for the 8pm prime time showdown with the Huskies? I just bought my tickets so I am pretty excited. As my user name suggests I am from Massachusetts but I've also lived in the great state of Connecticut for 8 of my 30 years. Therefore, I'd like to impart some of my wisdom for visitors:
- Rentschler Field is in East Hartford about a half hour west of UConn's campus in Storrs. Don't show up to Storrs looking for the football game. They won't be able to help you.
- Liquor stores in CT close early and often. Back in the day it was 8 pm but I think they've extended that to 10 or 11 depending on the town/store. Bring a couple forms of ID. I've seen an Army veteran denied service because he didn't have a backup for his military ID.
- The Basketball Hall of Fame is a 20 minute ride up I-91 in Springfield, MA. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos are each about 45 minutes from the Rent.
- I don't recommend spending too much time in Hartford proper but City Steam is an excellent brew pub. New Haven and in particular the area around Yale is a better bet for bars and restaurants. It's about 30 minutes south of Hartford.
- There's a weird quirk in the state that I call The Connecticut Lip. Basically all parking lots are raised slightly above the level of the street creating a lip of concrete. It acts as a sort of a speedbump. See if you notice it.
- I've only been to the Rent once and that was for lacrosse. It's easy to find off of I-84 but it's small and parking was disorganized even for a crowd that was much less than capacity. The upside? They are off-campus so they can serve beer.
- Of course no discussion of CT Football would be complete without the obligatory column from the Westport Patch. The Nutmegger's guide to a "Southern Tailgator":
See you at the Rent. I'll be the tailgate with the "freshly fallen leaves scattered about, pine cones, and twigs." You''ll have all day to come say hi. Go Blue!
The Big Ten had a bit of a rough weekend overall, as you undoubtedly know.
That being said, when the conference was winning, it was winning rather handily as the average margin of victory was almost 18 points. When it was losing, it was losing by a reasonably competitive 8 points on average. The best and worst performances when it comes to margin of victory – quality of opponent notwithstanding – belong to Michigan State and Nebraska respectively.
SCORING OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
Three games into the regular season, there are six Big Ten teams still averaging over 40 points per game on offense, including Michigan (sixth in the Big Ten at 42.7 points per game). Bolstered by its initial outing, Indiana still leads the way at 50 points per game on average. The worst performer here, again “bolstered” by its first performance, is Purdue.
When it comes to points against, Nebraska and Purdue are having strangely similar luck in not stopping anyone from scoring as they essentially share the worst track record after three games. Wisconsin, whose average includes two shutouts, has the best statistics here.
Here is the average point differential. Purdue currently is the only team that runs at a deficit.
TOTAL OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
Over three games, Indiana, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State have all managed to average over 500 yards of offense, with Michigan coming in a respectable sixth here at 449.3 yards per game. Only three teams are below 400 yards of offense per game at this point (small sample, opponent strength, disclaimer…).
On the other side of the ball, there is a clear leader here – Michigan State. Michigan sits in the middle of the conference here and Illinois owns the worst statistics here at nearly 500 yards per game given up. Indiana and Northwestern are right up there as well.
YARDS PER PLAY DIFFERENTIAL:
Three teams in the Big Ten actually have negative YPP differentials right now:
RUSHING OFFENSE & DEFENSE:
So, as you might expect, the team still getting the most out of its ground game is Wisconsin, and you have to go all the way down to the ninth spot in the conference to find Michigan’s average rushing yardage on offense.
That being said, we do a decent job of stopping the run typically, so at least this is not Indiana.
PASSING OFFENSE & DEFENSE:
Indiana and Illinois are the most prolific teams when it comes to attacking defenses through the air right now, both averaging over 300 yards of passing per game. Michigan sits at fifth in the conference.
As for defending against the pass, this is where we didn’t do ourselves a lot of favors this past Saturday. We are seventh in the conference in passing defense, tied with Purdue of all teams.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS:
I’ll let the conference stats speak for themselves here, but with regards to Michigan, we are very good at getting them so far, but as you’ll note, we’ve given quite a few up. The average differential for Michigan, in fact, is 6.7%.
Here is kickoff return and punt return information for the conference:
Warning - long post but I think it's important to lay out the facts of our DL, so have tried to place a thought process that can do so below. If this is the wrong place to post a long piece, mods please move to "diary".
First let me say I am a Michigan fan and alum so while you may feel free to downvote at will, most of what I present below will be facts, even if they are taken as negatives. Second, this is only partially driven by the Akron game so it's not a knee jerk response as much as a view of what has transpired these first 3 games; notably the 1st and 3rd but after watching Purdue's DL do quite well with Notre Dame until it wore down in the 2nd half, it also is driven in part by the Notre Dame game.
The knee jerk reaction is its on the players here. Obviously both our lines are substandard versus what a championship quality team has. I am not speaking "champions of the midwest" which nowadays is like crowning a junior varsity beauty queen, but something similar to what would give UM a fighting chance first a top 2-3 type SEC team (or Oregon or whomever is a great team that year). I am hearing the "fire Funk" chants by some on these boards but the talent of UM's offensive line is in the 2012-2013 class outside our 2 elder tackles. Funk may be great, poor, or a very average coach. I don't know. He will have a ton of raw clay to work with and his work will become clear in 2014-2015 when these kids hit the field en masse. The pedigree of the OL kids of 2012-2013 classes is very high, so we will see what the staff creates out of them ... but not this year as only the first wave (Kalis) has hit the field. Miller is a 2011 kid, and Glasgow fergodsakes is a walkon. But if you are the one(s) denouncing Funk's coaching for the OL, you should be equally denouncing 2 of the 3 biggest names on the staff for the DL - that is Mattison and Hoke. Arguing for one to be dismissed for the lack of production without equally arguing for the other 2 is a bit silly when both units are a fail versus championship quality. My larger point is it is WAY TOO SOON to judge either.
Now on to the talent portion. After these tough outings by our 2 respective lines, I am looking to the future and wondering what we have. And how it compares to our 2 Midwest football power peers (insert Midwest football power joke here) - ND and Ohio. Again, the OL classes of 2012-2013 look to have a lot of talent and while surely some will not pan out, there is a lot of raw clay to work with. But on DL? We have issues. These are young players. When young players are very good they flash. I am not looking for Mike Martin or Brandon Graham as juniors. I am looking for a "hey player ABC looked a lot like Brandhon Graham on that play... oh snap player ABC just screwed up on the next!! oh well he is a RS freshman". We can see that sort of thing happening with Kalis because... he is Kalis. We see that sort of thing happening with J Ross because... he is good. I have seen no one do this of the younger players on the DL. And that makes me worried.
Stars matter to a degree. More important to me really is offer sheets. When other powers come for a kid, that means that kid is really showing. This is where you insert the JMFR meme - yes we all know every so often you hit on a 3 star (or 2) and he blows up. We wave our muppets and every time another 3 star arrives we say MIKE HART! JAKE RYAN or heck Kovacks of walk on fame. But let's be real, if hoarding 3 stars with the hope 70% because JMFR was the way to go, this would be Alabama's way. You need to hoard 4 stars and try to get a 5 star every few classes to build a championship (even Big 10 championship team) contender that has staying power*. *=Wisconsin. With that said the long a$$ preface of this post is over and I offer you a comparison of what OSU is recruiting and has in house on the DL versus our DL. And yes I know DL has been their strength in recruiting but aside from a few kids like Strobel, Pipkins, Wormley - we are nowhere near their level. (Mario and Taco are good midwest recruits but still below what OSU is recruiting). Some of our kids have what I'd call "MAC+" offer sheets: MAC teams + Illinois or Purdue or Indiana etc. Maybe one will turn into Jake Ryan, but asking a bunch to do that is silly. So before we get on Hoke and Mattison's case - consider the clay they have to work with. Compare it to OSU's clay... or what Funk has with the OL. It's a major issues. p.s. I did not do as extensive of a look at Notre Dame but did look at 4-5 of their players inclusive of Nix and Tuitt and the offer sheets mirror OSU.
This is where you give me the meme about how OSU's defense is not impressive and giving up tons of points to Buffalo and Cal. To which I say, OSU's defense is as young as ours. The entire DL is brand new. They have some experience in the LB (less than ours) and DB (about same as ours) They will only get better. And scary better if recruiting (stars!) matter in the coming months and next year (at the DL).
Below is a side by side comparison with major offers from each player - I won't list all, but you should get the idea of caliber of teams recruiting each kid:
OSU just lost 3 DL players, 2 real studs + Garret Goebel
- Simon - ND, Nebraska
- Hankins - Bama, Florida, UM, Oklahoma, Wiscy
- Goebel - UM, ND, Tenn, Wiscy
Huge losses - this would be like losing Martin + Graham off the same line plus say a 3rd very good college level player. How do they replace it? Folks it's sick - this is essentially the 2 deep for the current OSU squad. And these are all Pipkins age - or younger other than Bennett.
- A. Washington - Bama, FSU, Miami, UM, ND, USC
- Noeh Spence - Bama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, UM - yada yada (think "Hand")
- Tommy Schutt - Florida, Miami, UM, ND, Penn State
- Jamal Marcus - Clemson, Florida, ND, South Carolina, Vandy
- Joel Hale - Florida, UM, Penn State (this is 1 of their 2 WORST recruits by offer sheet)
- Michael Bennett - UM, ND, Penn State, USC, Stanford
- Steve Miller - Florida, UM, UCLA, Nebraska (this is 1 of their 2 WORST recruits by offer sheet)
- Michael Hill - Bama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, UM, S. Carolina, Vanderbilt
- Joey Bosa - Bama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, UM
I call these all national offers - these would be MIDWEST powers (ND, UM, OSU + SEC offers. There are 2 - Miller and Hale who you could argue only have a SEC offer due to Urban and Florida... but that is it. The rest are not Midwest recruits but national top end recruits. If 3 fail to develop they still have an entiring starting DL + 1 extra that do.
Again please do not take this as a criticism but real recognize real. Here are our kids. Pipkins is a national recruit, and Stroblel is a bit behind. Wormley has a OSU offer but there is no SEC type offer.... then it drops to Taco + Mario... then it drops off the map. So if like OSU 3 of our players below don't develop... and it's the wrong 3, we essentially have a MAC+ type DL. One that can be neutralized by MAC OLs. Which frankly is what is happening. I did not include Ash, Q. Wash, Black or Frank Clark for obvious reasons as they are upperclassmen... or in Clark's case, recruited for a diff position. I also did not include Glasgow for obvious reasons but the mere fact he (bless him) is pushing for playing time is saying something. I know i know - insert Kovacks meme here.
- Pipkins - Bama, Florida, OSU, Oklahoma, Tenn
- Wormley - OSU, MSU, Illinois, Indiana (without the OSU offer for an in state kid, it is not as impressive looking)
- Strobel - OSU, Nebraska, Wiscy, Stanford, MSU, Vandy (a nice top end Midwest recruit...but lacking SEC interest outside Vandy)
- Ojemudia - Stanford, MSU, Illinois, Iowa
- Charlton - ND, Nebraska, UCLA, Tenn, Iowa, Illinois
- Heitzman - Vandy, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana + a lot of MAC schools
- Godin - Wiscy, MSU, Vandy, Missouri, Illinois
- Henry - Illinois, Louisville, Pittsburgh + a lot of MAC schools
Takeaways: Pipkins must hit. Realistically OSU has 6 Pipkins right now across their DL at ends and tackles. They have the luxury of 1-2 not hitting. We do not. Strobel must hit. He is the 2nd best recruit by offer sheet, but it lags behind all but maybe 1 OSU recruit. From there when you lay the offer sheets side by side UM lags, and not by a small amount. This is the current reality. Obviously coaches are addressing this in the current class - Mone and Marshall are nice starts but they are similar to a Strobel or Wormley offer sheet. We need to start hitting on the elite - the McDowell and Hand and down the road the Cornell and other similar.
Sorry for the length of the post but as I bang my head against the wall wondering why I am not seeing the flashes out of the young DL like I am seeing out of a James Ross or when I watch OSU give up tons of scores to Cal... but still see those flashes from their DL players, I resort to reality. The above is reality. We are way behind OSU's level of DL recruits. I can only imagine what Hoke and Mattison could do with the clay Urban has on the DL. We need MOAR high level clay. Otherwise I am worried our 2014 complaints won't be too different than our 2013 complaints.