"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."
One, I'm probably one of those guys here last fall who made Brian do the GI Joe "Kung Fu Grip" thing with his fists.
Two, I pissed off many here with my-Aykroydian Point/Counterpoint response to someone's diary post last November, here, in which I attempted to quantify why despite all the glorious yards last year's offense racked up, it wasn't great, or even good. Scoring DOES SO matter -- you're dead wrong on that point, Brian. It's the whole point of the exercise on offense -- to score. And amazingly, as I pointed out last fall, last year's team wasn't any better at scoring in the first halves of Big Ten games than the 2008 Sheridan/Threet offense. For pointing that out, I was emaciated for my "dishonest" and unfair and amateur statistical acumen, and for my selectivity in looking up only first-half stats of Big Ten games when my intention was to, uh, look up the first-half stats of Big Ten games -- when the damn things tended to be decided in the RR era.
Third, for those who don't know, and despite my criticisms of the 2010 offense in particular, I was and remain a big supporter of Rich Rod's. The guy got a bum deal, was undermined from the get-go. And I wanted his spread offense to fly -- like so many of you, I was way more than ready for its arrival. But all his sins on defense (primarily his selection of, and handling of, his defensive coaches) count as one of his two biggest self-inflicted wounds. The other was his inability to get his team -- even his beloved, potentially dazzling offense -- to play without making so many inevitable killer mistakes (and on offense, not just mistakes by his first-year QBs). There was a disconnect between what he was trying to accomplish on offense and defense.
The 2010 offense:
In November I wasn't, and still am not, prepared to say the 2010 M offense was great. Or even good. It's a results-based world, folks, and last year RR's offense made so many mistakes -- by second- and third-year starters, not just Denard -- that it did not score enough when the game was in the balance. Because when it mattered against the five toughest Big Ten opponents (MSU, Iowa, PSU, Wisc, OSU) -- that is, when the game was anybody's to win early on in those games -- the Michigan offense wasn't good. Wasn't good at scoring. And more often than Brian and many of you probably think, or are willing to admit, it wasn't even often good at moving the damn ball at all. Just as often happened in 2009 in such games, Michigan's get-go success in the first half at moving the ball vs The Big FIve of the Big Ten didn't result in many points, didn't last, and would usually result in the offense going stone cold before halftime. Meantime, of course, our defenders played as 11 turnstiles under some awful coaching. Result? Huge halftime deficit. Happened in all five of those games last fall. But, boy, when we fell behind by two to three touchdowns, hooboy! Our offense became an unstoppable buzzsaw, right? Well, except against MSU and Ohio State. But, hey, everybody wants to believe that no one could stop the offense in the second half, so I'll leave it alone.
And so. To the real point of this diary....
Earlier today, I read Brian's most recent post on Denard and the shotgun, in which he revisited this whole issue, and said in part: "There are three reasons for the gap between points and yards: field position, field goal kicking, and turnovers. The latter two combined to see Michigan's redzone scoring rate rank 109th nationally. The first two are almost entirely out of the offense's control...."
I recall having the feeling last fall that the lack of a decent field goal kicker wasn't that awful an issue, because it seemed we were often converting those fourth-downs when a normal team would attempt a field goal. Today I decided to peruse the play-by-play of the eight Big Ten games last fall to see if that hunch was correct.
It was ... more than even I dared believe.
By my count from the official play-by-play logs, the Michigan offense attempted 16 fourth-down conversions in Big Ten play last fall. Nine were either obvious go-for-its (e.g. trailing by 21 to MSU in the 4th quarter, with a 4th-and-10 on the MSU 28, when every team in America would eschew the FG attempt), or UM was not in FG range (e.g. at Purdue, 2nd quarter, 4th-and-1 at UM 46).
The other seven fourth-down attempts I am dividing into two groups: (1) FG is the likeliest option and only a riverboat gambling coach or a team without a FG kicker would go for it, and (2) FG is only a possible option, either because it'd be very long, or because there was only 1 yard to gain for a first down so going for it is a viable option. The results:
|FOE||QUARTER||SCORE||4th and ...||4th DOWN OUTCOME||DRIVE OUTCOME|
|MSU||1st||0-0||3 @ MSU 28||4-yd rush, 1st down||FG|
|Illinois||2nd||14-21||6 @ Illinois 30||Incomplete||Illinois takes over|
|OSU||1st||0-0||8 @ OSU 28||Incomplete||OSU takes over|
|FOE||QUARTER||SCORE||4th and ...||4th DOWN OUTCOME||DRIVE OUTCOME|
|Iowa||1st||0-0||1 @ Iowa 29||8-yd rush||M touchdown|
|PSU||2nd||7-14||1 @ PSU 13||3-yd rush||FG|
|Illinois||2nd||7-14||9 @ Illinois 33||complete for TD||M touchdown|
|OSU||2nd||0-10||2 @ OSU 34||complete for 13||M touchdown|
Bottom line? If we had tried FGs on all seven of those drives last year, even if we had Adam Vinatieri circa 2002 [Ed-M: or Jason Hanson, ever. /Lionsfan] and he went 7-for-7, the most UM could have scored was 21 points.
As it was? UM got 27 points out of those drives. Six more points.
1. We were all correct when we began screaming early last season for Rich Rodriguez to just go for it on 4th down every time in the red zone.
2. Brady Hoke should continue this practice, forever, unless Adam Vinatieri [/Hanson] can lose 10 years off his legs and regain some college eligibilty.
3. So much for the lack of a FG kicker hurting the offensive scoring output of last year's offense, because it actually HELPED it to score more points than it would have otherwise.
4. Brian is down to two factors to explain UM's lack of offensive scoring output -- poor field position, and turnovers.
We can all dredge up whatever stats we want to, but seven months of digesting last fall's regular season has led me to this conclusion: RichRod's spread offense is a thing of beauty ... when it works. His version of the spread, with his UM players, seemed to work best against bad defenses, and bogged down when it mattered against decent to good defenses. It was sometimes a sumbitch of an offense last year in the second half, when UM usually trailed and trailed badly. But you can't find any statistic to explain how a team with a three-score lead plays softer on D, which schematic decision plays right into the spread offense's strategic aims. That, to me, explains to a certain extent why last year against Big Ten teams UM in the second half scored touchdowns more times (16, excluding Illionis OTs) than it punted (12). On its own that is an amazing statistic. But it's more than offset by the fact that in first halves, UM scored 12 TDs compared to 14 punts, 6 lost fumbles and 5 INTs; FGs made and missed were even, shockingly (3-3).
The lack of a decent RB and the mistakes -- the damn inevitable mistakes -- are what kept RichRod's offense last year from greatness. Not the defense. Go pore over the play-by-play of the MSU, Iowa and Ohio State games. Those games were there for the taking until midway through the 2nd quarter. Even the Penn State and Wisconsin games were close at that point. But then the M offense sputtered and became almost as dead as the defense until halftime in those games.
The UM defense actually played pretty well in the 1st quarter of the MSU, Iowa and Ohio State games. Look it up. Indeed, there was nothing in those pivotal three losses to prevent UM from jumping out to a big lead and forcing the other team to play catchup .. except a good or great scoring offense.
Might this year's team, with a grizzled Denard, have truly been dynamic -- "great"? If a real Big Ten-quality RB had emerged, and RR was able to drastically reduce all the damn mistakes, then yes, it very well could have. Alas.....
This blurb on Norfleet from 247 Sports at the Badger 7on7 National Championships in Texas today:
2. Dennis Norfleet, APB, Detroit (Mich.) King
This kid just keeps showing up at events and making people take notice. He is without a doubt one of the most exciting players in this 2012 class. Norfleet is undersized but he is as quick as they come and a rare competitor. He did his damage on Saturday with a new quarterback but he wasn’t slowed at all.
Recruiting: Norfleet is on record with Michigan State as his leader but we believe that Tennessee could be a major factor as well following his upcoming visit.
I realize he may not be the best fit for the new style of play, but this kid keeps tearing it up everywhere he goes. Almost seems like he's too much of a playmaker to not recruit this kid. Would hate to see him go to Sparty and have to face him for four years. If not UM, then hopefully Tennessee or someone else can pull him out of state.
"Borges not stupid=Denard in shotgun."
This would have saved us from picking at that scab.
Just to review
1. Offense will look a lot like last year to the average fan.
2. The only time you'll see extensive use of the I formation will be
a. Against the MAC teams
b. 4th qtr when we have large leads
SDS was in the shotgun and 3 wides a ton last year...and he didn't have Denard. To think we are going to line up under center 80% of the time is madness.
I recently interviewed Van Bergen for the Muskegon Chronicle and the subsequent article was released today. Most of the quotes used in the article were relatively straightforward, but some of the quotes that I was unable to add were among the most interesting to me (paraphrased obv.):
He believes Cam Gordon is going to be a star and said the same about Courtney Avery.
He thinks Pryor's story would have been different if he had committed to U of M.
He doesn't care about OSU bending the rules in regards to them beating us seven straight years.
The Denard-to-transfer talk was way overblown. Denard loves the Michigan family and appreciates the tradition. Wants to leave his own legacy behind.
Hoke shoots straight with the players and his honesty with recruits is helping him.
Just thought I'd share these with you guys.
tell me what you guys think, made by my brother!!
First off, credit goes to Sean Connery, who didn't have enough points to make a thread.
Aziz Shittu just tweeted: Hope Michigan Class Dont Feel Up Before I Make A Desicion.
and another tweet: @Mr2012RJS One Time For My Boy #GOBLUE
Royce Jenkins also tweeted to him to just committ already.
Looks solid for Michigan, would love to grab this kid.