The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
If you work nights like me, or just want to set your DVR, here is your chance to watch the game again. I'm going to unleash my inner masochist, because I'm interested in looking closer at the lines, and maybe Stribling and the LBs.
So I am not trying to go all "Inside the Boxscore" on you guys and gals. That's ST3's job and he is way better at it. I thought a quick comparison by drives against Utah between 2014 & 2015 would be interesting to look at.
I am seeking out improvement with this analysis, so I will try and not be biased. I will be biased though.
TO THE DATA!
Yay so 3 points, 5 punts, 3 interceptions, two turnovers on downs and a fumble!!! (Sorry for making you guys look at that).
Let's see that Harbaugh Bump!!
Okay so better right? NSFMF. That could just be your brain wanting to it to be better! But no seriously, this is better. No fumble, 1 less turnover on downs. TWO MORE TOUCHDOWNS!! WHAT WHAT?!? Same amount of interceptions though. Lot less punting also, which is a key to our success this year. Gaining 20 yards and punting is going to keep stress off our defense and keep us in games.
Anyways, the whole reason I started looking into these STATS were for the 3 and out numbers. In 2014, Michigan only had two drives of 3 plays or less. 5 drives of 4 or less. The Harbaughffense had three drives of 3 plays or less, and 4 drives of 4 or less. Not great improvement here.
Where improvement does exist is in the consistent movement of the offense. Hoke's 2014 squad had 12 offensive possessions averaging 6.33 plays per possession (PPP), and around 24 yards per possession (YPP). Harbaugh led his offense on 11 possessions, averaging 6.72 PPP, while bumping the YPP up to 35!! So there is a 10 yards field position swing per possession from 2014 to 2015. If only we could have punted more!
Other items of note:
Longest drive (yards) - 50 yards (2014) vs. 80 yards (2015).
Longest drive (time) - 5:35 (2014) vs. 5:03 (2015).
2014 offense had 3 drives of 9 plays or more.
2015 offense had 4 drives of 9 plays or more.
The best news by far was the success of the 2 minute offense. Hoke's attempt in 2014 was four plays for zero yards and a turn over on downs. Harbaugh's offense took the ball 80 yards on 9 plays for a touchdown in 1:52. Might need to do that faster down the road, but seeing that we left a minute on the clock for the offense in case the onside kick worked, no harm no foul.
TL;DR: Very little improvement from last year to this one statistically. Yards per possession got a nice bump, but the biggest results are in the points score. 3 points in 2014 vs 17 in 2015 tell the whole story. The eye test helped as well.
Thoughts on the new digs? I was skpetical when they were announced, but I actually think it's my favorite road kit since the early 2000s. The stripes provide enough color, the helmets pop out against the all-white, and the maize was just right.
This is blasphemy around these parts, but...well done Adidas!
For comparison purposes, mainly due to the change in staff and the hope for a corresponding change in outlook for the board, I have decided to go on with this feature. I know some people grew weary of it last year, a few people offline saying that I shouldn't make fun of the board and things like that. See how well I listen, right?
Anyway, some of the changes - we will be tracking instances of "Harbaugh" because obviously, but also "Peppers", "Butt", "Morris" and other key words as well as the usual profanities, so it isn't all bad news in these numbers. If you've got suggestions, do let me know. This time around, as there is no in-season comparisons based on one data point, you just get a summary of the totals this time, so apologies to those who were expecting something visual.
Since this game was being played under a different staff, it's hard to make direct comparison to last year's Utah thread, but to review the summary totals, last year's thread was 2,422 posts overall with 501 instances of tracked words (and those were different too. This translated to an overall efficiency of 4.83. Typically, even if it is a loss, home games lead to lower participation. This years, the thread was 1,413 posts with 563 instances of tracked words (due to chananges mentioned above), which led to an efficiency of 2.63.
It is important to mention now that in those 563 instances, only 238 relate to the original words tracked by this method, so if you want ti nitpick, the adjusted efficiency is 5.94, which is pretty typical for a Michigan game. In those original words, 120 of the 238 were "fuck" with the next largest total being the 40 instances of "damn". "Fuck" ballooned from 28 to 92 between halves, whereas most everything else remained at a constant hum.
The most mentioned word among those tracked - I bet you can't guess. Yeah, Harbaugh. 143 mentions of Harbaugh, which beat any word including the profane ones. Peppers managed 53 mentions and Butt took in 62 posts about "Butt". I left "Morris" as a tracked word, but only 40 mentions of Morris took place overall despite the axiom of "the most popular player is the backup QB" holding true on the board for much of the evening.
So, there's the basic rundown - one game, so not much to tell for the time being. It will be fun to see how this changes compared to last year, however, or at least I believe so.
I figured I'd start a thread for those that either went to sleep after the game or couldn't get MGo to load last, or to simply discuss the game after a night of sleep and sober minded, figuratively and literally.
It went about how I expected, honestly. Thinking the team from last year, or even the one from the spring game for that matter, was going to enter Jim Harbaugh's submarine like a catepillar entering a cocoon and then re-emerge a month later as an ass-kicking butterfly was really just asking for disappointment. Even under Harbaugh, this was always going to be a work in progress.
The signs of incremental improvement, as a direct result of the coaching change, were there however, even if you had to squint a little more than expected. We played a good team tough on the road, at night, and looked better as the game went on. The staff seemed to make the necessary adjustments and find success despite the obvious deficiencies in RB and OL that we're now all too familiar with. Even the futility in the run game would have paid dividends in some RPS +3 plays downfield if Rudock could only hit the pass. Special teams looked solid to good, and even with the miss, it at least wasn't ugly (the extra point on the other hand....). This game is fairly analogous to the ND game last year in terms of the who-what-when-wheres, but I think we can all agree both the outcome and the feel of the game were totally different.
We left a lot of opportunities and very probably points on the field, and handed the opponent points as well. In a tight, winnable game, that always stings, but at the same time, I have full confidence it Harbaugh to make the corrections and I expect this team to continue to clean those up and make incremental improvements through the season and be on the verge of legitimately good by the end.
The offense line impressed. It allowed no sacks - think about this compared to the last few years. Recall spinning and scrambling QBs getting harrassed and hurried almost every play. I am not going to embed an example - the 3rd quarter of the Minn game last year - you can search it yourself.
This looked like an OL of the great past, allowing the QB to stand in the pocket which is what a pro-style offense needs. This is a fundemental real improvement.
We could be a dangerous offense with this line if we can get a few skill players to hit the holes, run correct routes, check down receivers and have a little more touch on the long throw. The OL gave the opportunity to win the game.