I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
I searched and didn't see a topic already discussing this topic, and since everyone seems down in the dumps today after the tough Iowa loss (or, alternately, all Penn State-y, which is even more depressing), I thought I'd point out the good news that we're on great position to break our 2010 NCAA Record for Highest Average Home Game Attendance, which was set at 111,825. Here's where we stand so far:
Western Michigan 110,506
Notre Dame 114,804
Eastern Michigan 110,343
San Diego State 110,707
Ohio State xxx,xxx
So, through six games 669,581 fans have visited Michigan Stadium so far this season, averaging out to 111,597. We're alittle behind 2010's pace, but our only two home games left will be two of our biggest presumed-attendance games: Nebraska and Ohio State. I don't think replicating UTL's numbers for either of those contests seems likely, but we might use last year's MSU or UConn games as good placeholders (both between 113,000-113,500). If we estimate conservatively and hit 113,000 for each of our final two home games, we would be just under 112,000 fans on average, beating out old record by around 125 per game.
Also, M-Wolverine asked about the NCAA Single-Season Total Home Attendance record (since the 2010 average-attendance record was set with just 7 home games). Our 2007 team holds that with 882,115. We would need to average only 106,268 in our last two games to break that, so it seems an even more sure bet! Assuming 113,000 in our last two games would put the new record around 895,000, breaking the old record by almost 13,000!
It was probably inevitable with the stadium additions that we break our 1999 average-attendance mark a couple of times, and our 2007 total home attendance record eventually, and this season has been the perfect storm of having Ohio State, Nebraska, and Notre Dame all visit the Big House (one of them in a record-setting first night game) amid 8 homes games. Still, its fun to know that all of us who attended a game this season were part of the soon-to-be new records, and that Michigan athletics will continue to garner publicity for The Big House. Go Blue!
EDIT: I used the 1999 average-attendance record initally (dang you, un-updated Wikipedia!), not the 2010 record. That has been corrected.
Shaq Thompson not visiting for Nebraska. Insider article basically says that the trip is cancelled to focus on his HS team. However, he is still talking with the coaches and hopes to make it in December. Does not have a leader.
I'm not off the Denard bandwagon. I know a lot of people have started to turn on him, but there are worse people to be compared to.
After showing signs of being something special during his freshman year, Juice followed it up by a largely injury plagued sophomore season. Throughout those first two years, he had only one more TD pass than interception but it was clear he had a spark that most QBs did not have.
Williams made a huge impact in his junior year. He came out of his shell and combined for 3,900 all purpose yards. At this time, he was considered a groundbreaker at the position, as he was just HARD to contain. We all know that to be true, as he torched us for the most yards in Big House history. Despite this, he did have some glaring deficiencies that were largely overlooked, because.... did you SEE that? First and foremost, his accuracy was questionable. He seemed to get hurt a lot as well.
Fast forward to his senior year. He was on every watch list you can think of. He came out of the gate and sputtered. Was this due to regression on his part, or did DC's focus in on him more closely? Did they gameplan strictly to stop his skills?
It seems like during his senior season, opposing defenses put just enough pressure on Juice to expose and open the cracks in his armor. The regression may not have been actual regression, instead it was the defenses who tipped the field on its axis slightly enough to reveal his flaws. Juice was relegated to second string midway through the year after throwing 2 INTs against OSU.
I think that the new regime would rather have a pocket passer, obviously, but we do not have the players to accomodate that. I still think that if Gardner gets his act together, he may end up starting at some point next year. I love what Denard has done and I hope that this is not the case.
I'm not going to take 1 data point and claim success or failure, but I think it is interesting that Denver yesterday went as close to a "spread option college offense" as any team has ever done in the NFL for an entire game and they shredded the Raiders for over 300yds rushing with Tebow going for over 100. It didn't seem they completely committed to it against the Lions, I think the Lions jumping out to the big lead had something to do with it. The chances of Tebow making out of this season alive seem remote at this point, but I did find it interesting.
I believe almost any sound offense can work with good athletes and execution. I just think it is an interesting argument point for the faction of football fans that think certain offenses can't work against better athletes or in the Big Ten.
Ever since I was a kid I was always intrigued with the idea that an NFL team could try running Nebraskas offense from the 90's. My idea was that you could install Nebraska Power Option Attack and invest the money normally reserved for qb's and put it into your offensive line. Then I would draft a qb each year in the 6th-7th rd since they wouldn't normally get drafted and just keep rotating them in and out as they got hurt without much drop off. My depth chart looked like this.
1st Tommie Frazier
2nd Tony Rice
3rd Scott Frost
4th Eric Crouch.
In any event if you can find the Broncos game next week it should be interesting to see what the counter for the Broncos is next week. If they get crushed then data point 2 will be a good counter against my whole post.
That leaves us with:
@Illinois, 3:30, ABC
Nebraska, Noon, ESPN
Ohio, likely Noon, very highly likely ABC
During the week after the MSU loss and in the days since the Iowa loss, there were countless threads and comments attempting to analyze what is wrong with Denard or with the Al Borges Denard fusion. I think that there are some valid arguments, but there is so much noise surrounding the issue. My attempt to address each of these arguments and consolidate the discussion into a single thread:
1. Al Borges has turned Denard into a "caged animal" by prohibiting Denard to take off.
There are several plays against Iowa where Denard had an oen running lane, but didn't take it, electing instead to throw the ball. Frustrating, I agree, given his speed (and relative lack of success through the air. I saw a few posters claim that Denard did not take off because Borges has beat it into his head that he shouldn't run. To me, this is nonsensical.
Borges has said on numerous occasions that he wants to Denard to look throw, but to also use his legs to punish defenses. When Borges and Hoke have talked about limiting Denard's runs, it is clear that they were talking about designed QB runs or spread option read runs. If we want to look for the true answer to Denard's lack of scramble, look to Denard's own words from the presser when asked about this. He said something to the effect of, "I didn't see the open lane because I was looking down field." One of Denard's biggest problems (discussed below) is his lack of vision.
2. The QB Lead - where has it gone.
It has largely gone away. There is a 50/50 divide on this blog about whether this is good or bad. My personal view is that it is a good thing that we do this less. While it was effective to some extent during the first half of last season, its effectiveness lessened considerably over the second half, and Denard took too much of a beating. By 9 games in last season, Denard had missed significant time in several games, and he played injured for most of the second half. At least this year, his punishment has been lessened, and he has stayed in most games.
3. Denard's effectiveness has gone down because there is now tape on him.
I saw a poster make this point in one of the other threads, and I think that this is a great point. During the first half of last season, Denard was a new player with no tape - no way to scout his tendencies, and therefore his natural abilities were able to take over (also caveat about weak first 1/2 competition). By the second half of 2010, MSU had tape and came up with a great way to stop Denard. Future opponents had this tape and since then, have been able to come up with ways to limit his effectiveness. This doesn't mean that Denard is no longer effective, but that during the first 1/2 of 2010, his effectiveness was artificially inflated.
A great example of this. I recall the announcers during a game in mid-2010 calling Denard's pump fake followed by a run "one of the greatest weapons in cfb." Look at this year - defenders don't even bite on the pump fake because now they have figured out that if he actually throws, it is unlikely to hurt them. Not a criticism of Denard - this is a normal thing, players have tendencies and once those tendencies are understood by others, they are easier to defend.
4. Denard's vision issues - what's the deal? Does he need to go to Stonum and Rountree's eye doctor?
Denard lacks field vision. This is becomming increasingly clear. He consistently throws into tight or double coverage when there are receivers arm wavingly open or running lanes that you could drive a bus through. This has not improves. For many quarterbacks this is a problem until one day, they suddenly make the jump. Denard, please make this jump soon.
Is some of this on coaching? Perhaps, although he has exhibited this flaw under two entirely different coaches. Is some of this on the change in system? Sure, he may have finally clicked at this point in the season had the system stayed identical. More likely, however, is that Denard is simply not a good decision makes.
Many QBs have a single flaw that really brings down their overall game. Henne, for example, never felt pressure coming until it was too late. (the jury is still out for Henne as to whether this will impact his career). But, this lack of vision is getting to be a real problem as we are not only leaving points on the board, but we are giving up points off of turnovers.
5. Denard in the new system - can it work?
I personally think yes. I know that many are down on Denard, but I thought he played his best true QB game. He stayed in the pocket (ok, sometimes too much), and even moves the pocket on plays. He also made nice short throws, and essentially marched us down the field 80 yards on the last drive, even with receivers dropping balls all day. To me, he looked like a QB today - once he makes the next step forward, I actually think that criticism of his vision aside, he is starting to get better in this offense. That said, his deap ball sucks, but that is what it is.
6. Devin - should he be playing more?
No. I loved the 2-QB set when it debuted. Now I agree with the announcers that it is causing Denard to lose rhythem. I think that Devin has potential, but he is currently a lesser Denard. Can't run as well, worse decision makes RIGHT NOW (inexperienced, not a criticism), and doesn't look all that much better theowing it RIGHT NOW. I would stick wiht Denard, and maybe work in the 2-QB set when we are either leading or really struggling. Caveat: if we break it out against OSU with all new wrinkles (such as Mike Martin as RB or V. Smith as TE or Denard as left tackle) and success, I reserve the right to change my opinion.
7. Has Denard lost a step.
Yes. He is noticably slower. If you remove the hype, had never watched him play before and jsut watched the last few games, you would not say, "OMG he is faster than a cheetah strapped to a jet pack." You would say "that QB can move pretty well." On his few runs, even his 2 longish ones, he looked good, but not great. He is definitely missing his burst. Is he injured? Fatigued? Not sure, but he is not as explosive as in the past.
That's it. I hope this leads to some good discussion.