There was considerable speculation during the offseason as to what level of improvement was possible for the 2011 defense under Mattison. Jumping 40 or 50 spots in the rankings was considered the maximum plausible expectation based on exhaustive statistical analyses.
I couldn't wait to see where things stood following today's effort, so I went into spreadsheet mode and came up with the following:
|2011 Ave||2011 Rank||2010 Ave||2010 Rank|
The numbers should be accurate although there are a couple of late games that could nudge the yardage rankings a smidge. These numbers would be even better if the NCAA had counted the WMU game.
I know, I know, there are still two (+) tough games remaining, and I don't want to jinx anything, but how many thought these results were possible through 10 (9 that count) games. Color me delighted with Marvelous Mattison.
So, my usual post-game musings:
1. The defense is really solid. At first, I thought we were just doing well against crappy teams, but would struggle against decent competition, but I was wrong. This defense is legitimately good.
2. Hoke and Mattison are doing an awesome job with the D. Not because we are good - that was covered in point 1 - because we are improving in weak areas from week to week, and that is on the coaching.
As an aside, there is a ton of Mattison love here for the D, but I place the credit somewhat on Hoke, as well. When our offense did well last year, it was RR's offense because even though he was the HC, he spent a ton of time with the offense. Similarly, Hoke, while HC, spends a ton of time with the D, in particular the Dline, which has excelled. He deserves a ton of credit.
3. Denard. Call me crazy, but for the first quarter, he looked like a legin throwing QB - small sample size, but his throws were crisp and on target.
4. Denard. His running is really lacking. He seems to lack vision for open lanes, and has not done a good job of getting into the open field. He is running tentative. HE did have 1 decent run, but even on that one, he lacked some of his top end burst. I said this last week and I will say it again - to me, Denard looks a step slower than last year. Perhaps an injury?
5. DEvin - he came in and got a TD, so not looking to complain, but he is still far from being able to run this offense. Also, his throws lack zip - they seem to float and wobble too much. THat said, nice read on the TD throw to find the open man.
6. JT Floyd - he has turned into, dare I say, a shut down corner. I love his aggressiveness.
7. Countess- man, is he going to be special. Reminds me so much of D. Warren.
8. Fitz - he is really living up to the hype that he had been getting on this blog for he past 2 years. Great mix of power and speed.
9. Nebraska - this game is going to be so close. IF we protect the ball better, we win.
10. OSU - I will not jinx, I will not jinx, I will not jinx. Purdue?
Using Margin of Victory and comparing where we rank against our opponents' opponent's performance.
WMU: we had the 2nd best performance against, probably would be #1 if it weren't for the rain ending the game in the 3rd.
Notre Dame: 2nd best performance against.
EMU: Tied for the 2nd best performance against.
SDSU: 2nd best performance against.
Minnesota: #1 best performance against.
Northwestern: #1 best performance against.
MSU: 6th best performance against.
Purdue: 3rd best performance against, would have beat out Notre Dame for #2 if Purdue didn't score the last play TD.
Iowa: 6th best performance against.
Illinois: #1 best performance against.
Granted we will fall in some of these as there are more games are left, but it is a good improvement off of last year. Ultimately it is a meaningless stat as it is wins and losses that count.
Was just thinking about who Hoke is up against for Coach of the Year award and googled the award. You can vote for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award at the link below once a day. Winning school gets $50,000 to a charity and $20,000 to the alumni association. Hoke is not top 20 at this point with less than 800 votes.
Is next week a maize out?