I have been sitting on a much lenghtier version of this post and someday I still hope to take the time to finish the full research and write an entire diary on the subject but...ESPN's recruiting rankings are solid. In fact, with respect to Michigan players, they've been much better than Rivals and Scout. Go player by player and compare.
I point this out because another recent thread mentioned ESPN's team rankings (all team rankings are a bit silly since they employ an arbtirary measure of quantity vs. quality and usually overvalue class size). This prompted some criticism of ESPN's rankings.
A lot of Michigan fans think ESPN's rankings should not be taken seriously because ESPN was much less enthusiastic than the other sites about a number of recent super recruits, including:
- Will Campbell (ESPN: #22 OT; Rivals: #5 DT; Scout: #6 DT)
- J.T. Turner (ESPN: #21 Athlete; Rivals #3 S; Scout: #3 CB)
- Cissoko (ESPN: #24 CB; Rivals: #4; Scout: #3)
I take no pleasure in declaring that ESPN was right about these guys, but....it might be time to swallow hard and consider that possibility.
Here are some of the super recruits ESPN thought more highly of than the other sites:
- Craig Roh (ESPN: #4DE; Rivals:#7; Scout: #8)
- Taylor Lewan (ESPN: #12 OT; Rivals: #16, Scout: #20)
- Mike Martin (ESPN: #8 DT; Rivals #16; Scout #12)
- Denard Robinson (ESPN: #7 Athlete (#101 overall); Rivals: #14 (#188); Scout: #16 CB (#159))
There are some examples where ESPN was not as good, but--at least with respect to Michigan's recent talent--they have been overwhelmingly better than the other sites.
ESPN, via Scouts Inc., does very thorough analysis of player strengths and weaknesses. Their notes are detailed. And they often peg a player's best position better than the the competition.
It is time to stop laughing off ESPN's rankings just because Campbell did not make their top 100. They do a great job. And, fortunately, they like a lot of our players. I am still praying they are proved right on Isaiah Bell ("great instincts and plays outstanding zone coverage").
UPDATE: The point of the post seems to have been lost. It was not that ESPN is always right, or that recruiting sites' evaluations are good/bad generally. I am addressing ESPN's comparative worth and whether it is true that, among the three main recruiting sites, ESPN trails in credibility. The answer to that question is no.
There have been discussions about the defense and RichRod's "managment style" of delegation to the DC for execution. Can a head coach delegate so much and still have a successful defense? Here is a summary of RichRod's defenses over the past 10 years.
|Team||Total D (yd/game)||Total D (rank)||Scoring D (pts/game)||Scoring D (rank)|
*through 7 games
Averaged by Team:
|Year||Team||Total D (yd/game)||Total D (rank)||Scoring D (pts/game)||Scoring D (rank)|
RichRod has finally able to install his high-yardage offense from West Virginia to Michigan. Defensively, the numbers above show that RichRod had a top-40 defense most years at West Virginia, which obviously has not transpired at Michigan.
Assuming that RichRod delegated to the DC at West Virginia like he has done at Michigan, then my conclusion is that his "management style" has worked in the past. RichRod's defenses have been better than average almost every year at West Virginia. So then why are the number so horrible at Michigan?
Offense run by Threet/Sheridan couldn't keep the Michigan defense off the field
Offense run by freshman QBs couldn't keep the Michigan defense off the field
Michigan defense couldn't keep the Michigan defense off the field (attrition, injury)
Related to this discussion http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/sigh-wvu-dc-jeff-casteel-jeffs-defenses-kept-us-games, stability with the defensive side of the team, players and coaches, is what has been lacking. RichRod had talent on the defensive side of the ball when he arrived. So in hindsight, it was a mistake to hire Shafer who lasted only a year. Again in hindsight, should RichRod have kept Ron English? Would there have been more stability or were the faulty offenses of 2008 and 2009 too much to overcome? We will never know.
West Virginia in 2007 was one victory over Pitt away from playing for the national championship. Notice in that year, WV had a top 10 defense which adds to the conventional wisdom that defense wins championships (or in that year, almost playing for the NC). The numbers show that RichRod has put together elite defenses before. Will it arrive or wil the fanbase lose patience? That, will we definitely know either way.
Note: I've split the statistics to provide subtotals by OOC and Big Ten games. Also, I added a couple of line charts to show these summaries. This is also the week FEI adds rankings for Offense Efficiency, Defense Efficiency, Field Position Advantage, and Field Goal Efficiency.
Synopsis: After 7 games, Michigan is currently ranked #17 in scoring offense and #82 in scoring defense. Based on these rankings, M maintains a 43% chance for a +5 WLM (9-4 or better) season and an 83% chance for a winning season. The offense was plagued for the second week in a row by TOs (and by penalties), which turned 522 yards of total offense into just 28 points (yuck!). The defense actually played relatively well and allowed just 383 yards (the lowest yardage total since UConn – excluding the baby seal BGSU). But, the offensive (pun intended) TOs eliminated scoring chances for M, created a short field for the defense, and put the D back on the field earlier and more often. Iowa's second and third TDs both started at about mid-field after an interception and a blocked FG.
I use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. (If you don't believe that, I guess M won the game with Iowa – 522 yards to 383 yards.) Being #82 in scoring defense is not good but U-Ms defense is not as bad as the #105 (an improvement of 7 places from last week) in total defense indicates. According to the FEI rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan is ranked #83 in total defense.
Based on the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), Michigan is predicted to win between 7.8 and 7.9 games (excluding bowl game but adjusted with +1 for U-M's one FCS opponent). Based on the FEI, M would have been expected to win 3.9 FBS games to date (we have won 4.0 FBS games to date).
Using a rough calculation based on the FEI, Michigan will be favored by 16 points over Penn State (I'll add the real FEI prediction when it comes out after our bye week– usually Thursday after the bye). Using the Sagarin Predictor, M will be favored by 2.8 points. (Vegas Odds Opened with M favored by ??). All these will be updated after the bye week but will probably not change very much.
Just as I was confused the game with Iowa was predicted so close last week, I am confused this week why Sagarin has the PSU game relatively close. Unless M implodes with TOs, this should be a win.
This line chart differentiates between OOC and Big Ten points per possession. It shows what has happened since the start of conference play. In the Big Ten, U-M is averaging only 2.5 points per possession (PPP) and 42 YPP. The defense is giving up 3.1 PPP and 42 YPP. With an average of 12 possessions per game for each team, this translates into a 7.2 point disadvantage for Michigan. (In OOC games, this was a 20 point advantage.)
For those who want yardage stats, here they are – split by OOC and Big10 games. Offensively, total yards per game are moderately lower in conference play (13% less), rushing yards are significantly lower in conference play (35%), while passing yards are moderately higher (18%). Defensively, total yards allowed in conference play have increased significantly (24%), rushing yards allowed are up just moderately (16%), while passing yards allowed are up significantly (28%).
DETAILS: Here are the FEI numbers ( FEI Forecasts and Football Outsiders FEI ). FEI is a weighted and opponent-adjusted season efficiency, and is expressed as a percentage as compared with an average FBS team. The average team will have an index of approximately 0.00. Teams below average have negative index values.
Note that FEI completely excludes all non-FBS data (the W-L record is only for FBS games, etc.). Therefore, you need to add 1 to FBS-MW to get the final predicted wins for M this year. Or, if you use FBS-RMW, you need to add 1 to the current W-L record to get the final predicted wins for M this year. BTW, the difference between FBS-MW and FBS-RMW is the number of FBS games each team would have been expected to win to date.
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams. I've included the GE basic data so you can see the impact of adjusting for opponent. (See: Football Outsiders Our Basic College Stats )
Here are the Sagarin Ratings.
Sagarin uses two basic ratings: PREDICTOR (in which the score MARGIN is the only thing that matters) and ELO-CHESS (in which winning and losing only matters, the score margin is of no consequence). The overall rating is a synthesis of the two diametrical opposites, ELO-CHESS and PREDICTOR.
Per Sagarin: ELO-CHESS is “very politically correct. However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is PREDICTOR”.
Here is the U-M vs. Penn State National Statistical Rankings with the advantage for each category indicated (all categories within 10% are considered a "push").
Here are the week by week National Statistical Rankings for Michigan (cumulative thru the week indicated):
I have included the major rankings for offense and defense but scoring rankings show the best correlation to winning and losing. Scoring rankings are based on PPG. Rushing, Passing, and Total rankings are based on YPG.
Here is the basic data for Michigan (each individual week followed by totals and then average per game). I've included Total Possessions for Offense & Defense along with the calculated data per possession. Number of possessions do not include running out the clock at the half or end of game. Offense Plays and Defense Plays are better indicators than Time of Possession.
Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).
Each year, of the 66 FBS AQ teams, 65% (43 teams) end up with a + WLM and 36% (24 teams) end up with a +5 WLM.
I've finally given up fighting with youtube, and realized that the only way I'm going to get Conway's video from Friday night up is by uploading it in poor quality, sans HD. You can find it here:
UPDATE!: I think I've won the HD battle, finally. The video in full quality should be available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRBoKQjzmo4
And I'll also link it in next week's Friday Night lights post for those who don't find it from this thread. For future weeks, I'm scrambling to find a way to get Youtube working with our replacement HD equipment, so please try to bear with me.
Okay, I'm going to voice what I know all of you are thinking deep down inside when you say 8-4:
Michigan has already lost all the games it will lose in 2010.
With a non-catastrophic mid-season injury status (knock on wood -- seriously, do it) and the bye week here after two weeks of harsh reality checks, this team is in a position to bounce back and go into the last two games of the regular season at 8-2. If the 2010 Wolverines do that, UW and OSU start to look different. I say this team will finish strong and end the regular season at 10-2.
- Not only is Demens better than Ezeh, but Ezeh will function well in the backup role.
- Demens gives Mouton reliable help in the middle, something he has lacked up to now. This will allow Jonas to play more within the defensive scheme, without feeling the need to try and do it all himself.
- Two solid quarterbacks are better than one. The bleeding from sophomore-mistake turnovers will not stop, but it will slow to a point where it will not kill us at the end of the season against UW and OSU.
- Special teams will improve dramatically once Rodriguez, who is now apparently involved in special teams as much as he is involved in the offense, puts his stamp on them. If this means Gibson spends more time working with the secondary (his actual area of experience) and less time working with special teams, that could have a good sort of domino effect.
- We will still have a bad secondary, but by the last two games, it will be a bad secondary with ten games of experience. That's better than nothing.
- Let's hope Rich figures out that Gibbons should be kicking off and Broekhuizen should be kicking field goals. There's a reason why NFL teams almost always employ two different kickers in these two very different roles.
- Finally, Hopkins is going to shatter the curse on Michigan running backs that's been in place ever since Hart lost two fumbles in his last game (twice as many as in his entire Michigan career before then). [Has there ever been more conclusive proof of the occurrence of a curse?] The glimpses I've seen of him remind me of what's been missing. I especially like the way he carries himself after a run -- he just gets up, looks around, and goes back to work. Once Hopkins breaks the curse, Toussaint emerges as a viable option and is no longer automatically injured the minute he is in for more than one play.
In the comments of Brian's mid-season secondary review, poster Rasmus wrote
"I'd love to see someone do a study of Gibson's tenure as WVU's defensive backs coach, from 2001 to 2007. That's seven seasons of data. Were they generally decent, or a constant liability? Did players leave for no apparent reason? And so on..."
I bit on it.
Here are WVUs rankings in Pass Defense, PD Efficiency and Total Defense:
First of all, throw out 2001 and 2002 since the players on those teams were inherited by RR and staff. Also, major caveat, as always, about WVU being a Big East team. Also, also, there's the obvious problem that simply using team measurables isn't particularly precise in evaluating DBs specifically. Anyhoo...
What's you see is two sloppy years and three respectable ones.
What I was more interested in was the level of talent they were able to recruit at WVU among DBs. So, first to identify the DBs, I went through the team's leading tacklers from 2005 to 2007 and culled out about 18 of them through that period. Then I looked at the recruiting stats of those 18. Wouldn't you know it, the very highest ranked guy was one Ryan Mundy, who actually led the team in tackles in 2007.
Of the 18 guys who played DB with some regularity, the average Scout star rating was 2.2; 8 were recruited as safeties, 2 as CBs, 2 as WRs, 2 as LBs, 1 QB, and 3 were walkons. Pretty impressive, huh?
Conclusion from rough, derivative evidence: Gibson had shit to work with -- Mundy included according to anybody who reads this board -- and made good with it.