chance of bowl: 13.6%
Is hard to look at.
...however, happens to be so good-looking as to compensate for her ugly friend.
Now, this is not just a bad analogy or an excuse to look at a picture of Melissa Theuriau [Ed: Who needs an excuse?]; this is relevant to football.
In a previous post immediately post-UMass, I said:
3. It can't get any worse. Now, many of you may laugh at the implication that Wisconsin and OSU can't outperform UMass on Offense, but they pretty much can't. UMass dominated TOP - which will be the number one anti-Denard potion going forward...They employed the perfect beat-Michigan formula...
…and this came to pass on Saturday. Those who want to split hairs might argue that our defense against Indiana was worse than it was against UMass, and I am guessing some might argue the other way around. I would suggest we are debating insignificant differences in horribleness.
Where is the optimism in a defense that has twice in the last three weeks performed at or near its worst? They are called victories. Our offense has been sufficient to score more points than our defense at its worst has given up.
Why do I keep suggesting that this defense can’t get any worse? I, myself, was in a state of near gibbering panic at the thought of what Wisconsin and Michigan State might do against our defense. Then I laughed (I swear alcohol had nothing to do with it). This fear is grounded in the nightmarish unreality of a game without a clock. As of last check, we still have one of these at every game:
Quite simply, UMass and Indiana have both plumbed the depths of the worst case scenario that Wisconsin and MSU can hardly outdo, but may duplicate. They pretty much squeezed in as much offense as the 120th ranked Bend-Don't-Break pass defense is going to allow in a sixty minute game.
Both UMass and Indiana:
Dominated TOP as a mechanism to keep Denard and the Michigan Offense off the field (edit: AND limit the number of possesions). This is relevant in that it accentuates the horrid stats that our defense puts up.
Opponent TOP Michigan TOP UMass 36:67 22:22 Indiana 41:47 18:13
Specialized in long, clock-consuming, play-engorged series at the most damn inopportune time.
UMass 11 plays 53 yards 9 plays 67 yards 9 plays 79 yards 15 plays 70 yards Indiana 11 plays 77 yards 13 plays 99 yards 10 plays 72 yards 12 plays 50 yards 13 plays 80 yards
- (I cannot recall as many long drives as Indiana had in all my years of watching college football. They relentlessly attacked the fundamental weakness of the Bend-Don’t-Break philosophy: take what is given. These opponents, as gracious guests, ate from the buffet set out by our caterer, GERG Special Events.)
Had superb success in drive scoring percentage. I don’t know what the national average is here, but I am willing to bet that those batting averages are all-star worthy. A little help from the Mathlete here would be nice.
Score/Poss Scoring % UMass 6/11 55% Indiana 5/12 42%
So, in order for better teams to do more damage to Michigan than UMass and Indiana, one of the following things must happen:
- Better drive scoring percentage.
- Better defense against our offense.
- Intangible success (turnovers, special teams, injuries, etc.)
…all the while Michigan does not have an appreciable improvement in defensive performance or tactics.
Now, it is possible that a couple teams will score more frequently than did the two teams above, and it is probable that Denard and company will be defended better. And we know that the intangibles, our enemy in past years, will bite us sometime soon. But the prospects are not as grim as you might believe for a couple reasons:
- Chappell’s passes were surgical. I was astounded at his gutsy and precise activity over the middle. I would suggest, based upon propensity for interceptions, that NONE of the remaining QBs possess that level of precision. In other words, our zone passing defense that invites 65 attempts will likely extract more errors out of Cousins, Stanzi, Bolden, Tolzien and Pryor.
- Last year demonstrated that RR’s offense could be defended effectively without the “Pat White” prototype QB that stresses defenses. I have finally seen, like a child slowly realizing the truth about Santa, the RR offensive philosophy embodied in that magical, wide-open slant after Denard fakes a QB iso. Does any defense so ridiculously abandon their zone responsibilities to cope with Sheridan, Threet or even Tate? Of course not. I don’t think any defense that we will face will more calmly react to Denard than the first five have. Oh, most will do better, but marginally so. That includes Norm Parker and Iowa (I predict we shred them).
In the end, I am not predicting that we will finish 12-0 or even 11-1. What I am suggesting is that there is a point where defensive ineffectiveness reaches a saturation point in a Bend-Don’t Break strategy that debunks a dark fear in all our hearts that teams will score more and more and more. Teams will score, but the scoring will look pretty much like what UMass and Indiana scoring looked like. As long as Denard stays healthy, we will be in every game.
The proof will be coming shortly - I will return to mgoboard to take my beating these next seven weeks if this prediction doesn't come true: no Big Ten offense will score more than 40 points on Michigan (OK, maybe one in a perfect storm game).
And the final consolation I take is in the offensive line. Last year, our OLine was horrifying. This year it is a source of strength. Assuming (a big assumption) that RR knows both sides of the football, I see a parallel in our secondary that should possess real depth next year and show similar improvement.
Wanted to give everyone a heads up to set your DVR's tonight for 7pm on ESPN. The ESPN E:60 show will be doing a piece on Brock Mealer today. Last year they did one focussing on Elliot and a year later they are focussing on Brock.
I know all of the broadcasters made a big deal about the hurry-up offense that Rodriguez installed when he first came to Michigan because it was such a drastic change. I remember hearing and reading that the offense includes three tempos, including the fastest that is called "Jet."
Does anyone have any information/data on how many snaps per game Michigan runs the Jet tempo? Under what circumstances it is used? What plays are usually called at this tempo? The success rate of the plays called at this tempo?
[Ed (Misopogon): Bumped to diary for general diary-worthiness]
If, like me, you've heard "So and so is too small for the Big Ten" and wondered if that statement could be supported by data, you might find the following information interesting.
At the expense of some tedious data entry and time, I looked at the depth charts on the Rivals site for teams from several conferences. Shown here are the average weights for the O- and D-lines. (I thought those would be a reasonable proxy for overall team size.)
- Notice that our conference doesn't have the biggest offensive linemen. That would be the SEC.
- Our defensive linemen are noticeably bigger than those of other conferences (SEC excepted). I suppose that might be a reflection of the SMASHMOUTH football favored by Wisconsin, MSU, et al. Not sure, though...
- You have to go to the Sun Belt (!) conference to get relatively small offensive linemen. The Mountain West and WAC conferences are right there with the big boys.
Anyway, the numbers show that the Big Ten isn't anything special size-wise.
Another of my favorite myths or areas of silliness is this remark, which you often hear in pre-game shows: "X's offensive line outweighs Y's defensive line by Z pounds!!!" Of course it does. Any reasonable person understands that offensive linemen have a bigger average size. For the conferences, the average difference ranged from 21.9 to 35.6 pounds. Why state the obvious?
While we're on the subject of myths, one other thing:
The Badgers have just four offensive linemen in the NFL.
For all the glowing praise that Wisconsin's trained mastadons get, you'd think they'd have more players at those positions in the NFL. Four? Not overly impressive ...
Pretty surreal watching two UM QBs starting against each other (I wouldn't exactly say "go at it" -- 3 interceptions v. 153 yds total)... but the best line of the night was uttered by Ron Jaworski, I think, when he said something to the effect of -- "Both Brady and Henne have lots of Michigan records... but neither would be starting for Michigan right now."
Yikes, that's a fabulous thought.