a terrible blight on our fine country
The Question: Which big ten players are over/underperforming your preseason expectations?
Underperforming: While I didn't expect them to be world-beaters, I didn't see Michigan State's safeties being so inconsistent, like twice-benched Montae Nicholson, or inconsistent and injured, as is now the case with RJ Williamson. With Williamson now out for most of the season, that secondary is vulnerable, and there may only be so much their excellent defensive line can do to mask the weakness.
Overperforming: Ryan Glasgow, Chris Wormley, Maurice Hurst, Matt Godin, and Taco Charlton. I'd include Willie Henry, as well, but I was expecting big things out of him this year. Remember when Bryan Mone's injury looked to be a huge hit to the defensive line? They've coped pretty well. You could also throw Jeremy Clark and Channing Stribling in here, as they've very much exceeded expectations, too. The defense was supposed to be good with a couple of weak points; at the moment, it's great, and thus far they haven't shown a glaring weakness.
[Jump for not draftageddon (until Seth goes)]
What this is: I’ll be running down the nationwide results from the week that was, in particular the P5 vs. P5 games, with an emphasis on the race for the playoffs.
This isn't SEC land where "who's got the best conference?" is asked before and after every meal. The point is to run down the five Power 5 conferences, since with four playoff spots it’s become very important to track the rare data points in that otherwise mundane argument.
Everybody’s pretty much fine
College football’s opening weekend was conspicuously devoid of significant upsets: not much of CFB’s upper echelon was challenged significantly in their opening wins and the highest ranked team to lose its opener was #15 Arizona State in a de facto road game against a tough Texas A&M team. Consider the preseason top 10:
3. Alabama beat Wisconsin 35-17. More below.
Once again one of the things that became most apparent while doing Draftageddon was the receiver pool was again pretty crappy. I had a thought to try to use some of the targeting data to see if that was atypical, and found…well I found little but I figured you'd like to see it anyway. See if you can spot anything of interest in here or suggestions for further study.
That link goes back to when this same thing happened in 2012. Our post-draft consensus has usually been fairly accurate for most positions, but we were all over the place with the WRs. Jeremy Gallon was the 9th WR taken and led the conference in Bill Connelly's imperfect RYPR stat, with Abbrederis (3rd), Kenny Bell (7th), Allen Robinson (not drafted) and Roy Roundtree (12th) rounding out the top five. Last year's RYPR leaders were Lippett (our 9th receiver taken), Carroo (not drafted), Devin Smith (6th), Michael Thomas (not drafted) and Mike Dudek (not drafted). Things, e.g. injuries, happened. But we were correct that neither year was very good:
Click to big it make.
I chose yards per target to show this because it removes sacks, throwaways, and interceptions—you know, more quarterback-y things—to get a sense of overall conference receiver play. When you line up former Michigan WRs by YPT it passes a sanity check, e.g. the only listed WR in the NFL draft from the Big Ten was Denard. Last year—and yes a particularly awful year for quarterbacks was part of the story—was back to a low for receivers, and seven guys from that went in the NFL Draft (though the Dolphins are making Lippett a corner and I have no idea what the Texans saw in Mumphery).
The noise increases dramatically when you make these into team stats. Here's the Big Ten from 2005-2014
Quarterback is important, but as national trend data suggested in the first chart, the spread made a big difference, allowing teams with less talent to occupy safeties as well as Wisconsin's running game always has. Note for example that Lloyd Carr's not particularly well-thought-out offense peaked at 8.11 in 2006 with Breaston, Manningham, Arrington, and a healthy junior Chad Henne, a mark that was destroyed by four teams of the Roundtree/Hemingway/Gallon/Funchess era. (Yes the Threetsheridammit year was the worst of all).
Interestingly not all of these years corresponded to the amount of NFL drafted talent. Observe:
|Santonio Holmes (1st)||Ted Ginn (1st)||James Hardy (2nd)||Brian Robiskie (2nd)|
|Brandon Williams (3rd)||Anthony Gonzalez (1st)||Devin Thomas (2nd)||Deon Butler (3rd)|
|Jason Avant (4th)||Roy Hall (5th)||Mario Manningham (3rd)||Derrick Williams (3rd)|
|Michael Robinson (4th)||Steve Breaston (5th)||Paul Hubbard (6th)||Brian Hartline (4th)|
|Jonathan Orr (6th)||Adrian Arrington (7th)|
|Ethan Kilmer (7th)|
|Arrelious Benn (2nd)||Tandon Doss (4th)||A.J. Jenkins (1st)||Denard Robinson (5th)|
|Eric Decker (3rd)||DeVier Posey (3rd)|
|Keshawn Martin (4th)|
|Nick Toon (4th)|
|B.J. Cunningham (6th)|
|Marvin McNutt (6th)|
|Jeremy Ebert (7th)|
|Junior Hemingway (7th)|
|Allen Robinson (2nd)||Devin Smith (2nd)|
|Cody Latimer (2nd)||Devin Funchess (2nd)|
|Jared Abbrederis (5th)||Keith Mumphery (5th)|
|Quincy Enunwa (6th)||Kenny Bell (5th)|
|Jeremy Gallon (7th)||Stefon Diggs (5th)|
|Tony Lippett (5th)|
|Evan Spencer (6th)|
Obviously it's not just the NFL draft picks moving the needle, but you do see things above, like how the 2011 shot the Big Ten way up in YPT until it graduated, leaving a far less productive generation.
I'm still trying to see if any of these stats can predict individual leaps, which is the real meat.
UPDATE ON THAT:
So far I've taken the top five WRs in the conference by RYPR for each year since 2006 and looked at whether someone like Darboh (69.8 RYPR) or Chesson (22.7 RYPR) ever broke into that group. Some Big Ten players who made a leap from Darboh to pretty good were 2012 Roy Roundtree, 2006 Anthony Gonzalez (OSU), 2008 Jordan Norwood (PSU), and 2014 Tony Lippett (68.4 for MSU in 2013). There were a bunch of younger guys who made a larger freshman-to-sophomore jump, but those are the comps for a guy at Darboh's stage. That Lippett was in there is encouraging since he too emerged from a cratered passing game to the #1 guy.
Hello again. How are you? I missed last week due to some minor health stuff and the Dave Brandon stuff. But I have returned with my usual moderate vigor. Did you miss me? I missed you. Let's never be apart again. Except, like, at night. And most of the time during the day.
About Last Week:
A long, long time ago, long before I was my current quasi-respectable self, I used to enjoy my weekends with the occasional adult beverage. And one evening, I found myself in a state of imbibedness in which I had lost most of my reasoning capacity and fine motor function. To give you an idea how far gone I was, I attempted (apparently, according to witnesses, for several minutes) to light a cigar with a flashlight.
And in that state, I recall being deeply amazed by an acquaintance in our group. We’ll call him Dave (because his name was Dave). Dave was an adult who knew how to handle his alcohol, and we didn’t have medical or real safety concerns about him. He was just hammered beyond all reason. He was so drunk that despite the fact that I was in a mental place where I had forgotten how fire worked, I was concerned and amazed about HIS level of intoxication.
Indiana is Dave. Michigan is currently black-out drunk, but they can still recognize someone who is even drunker. Pull yourself together, Dave.
The Road Ahead:
Northwestern (3-5, 2-3 B1G)
Last game: Lost at Iowa 48-7
Recap: Saturday’s action should have served as a blunt rejoinder to the argument that a 6-6 season should save Brady Hoke’s job. The pile of derp Michigan would have to scale is so meager, it barely qualifies as a hill. It’s a “knoll” at best. Maybe, MAYBE it could be a mound if you squint hard enough. Michigan had a path to six wins that did not include a single win over a top-50 team. If the current rankings hold, Michigan will have had eight games against teams ranked 48th or worse in FEI, including SIX at home.
Nowhere is this the awfulness of Michigan’s schedule more apparent than four hours west in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern, once touted as a potentially tricky opponent, has crumbled into a heap. Since beating Wisconsin (which, can we talk about THAT for a second?), they have lost increasingly lopsided games to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Iowa jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead, which by my calculations should never ever ever ever ever ever happen ever ever. Iowa gets like two possessions per quarter. Giving up 24 points defies all everything.
This latest porcupine massage of a performance saw Trevor Siemian and backup Zack Oliver combine for 75 passing yards (at 3.1 yards per attempt) and -45 yards rushing. That means on 30 passing plays or QB runs, Northwestern put up 30 yards.
I suppose I should mention at this point that Northwestern is favored by most of the advanced statistics folks to beat Michigan.
This team is as frightening as: A team that has, through 8 games, had three offensive plays of 30 yards or more. And is somehow still a coin flip against Michigan. Fear Level = 5
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has not won a road game since defeating the University of Chicago 2-1 in 1913. They are not favored to win another road game until their matchup with the University of Mars, tentatively scheduled as a second half of a home-planet-and-home-planet in the year 2136.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Trevor Siemian’s YPA numbers have fallen in every game since the start of conference play, from 7.0 to 6.3 to 5.4 to 4.4 to 3.8. Meanwhile, Northwestern’s points per game allowed has Increased in every game, from 6 to 14 to 24 to 38 to 48. So, according to the ironclad rule that all trend continue forever, Siemian will throw for 3.1 YPA and Northwestern will give up 58 points. Science.
When they play Michigan: Michigan will defy science and not score 58 points.
Next game: vs. Michigan (NW +2), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN2
[AFTER THE JUMP: Awwww, Y U NO slap hands?]
Nice job picking a QB, Ace. Here's your reward.
While re-watching the M-PSU punt-fest my brother made an interesting comment: "It's amazing what's happened to two of the best quarterbacks in the conference." If you ever again need to point to something to show that the offense means more than the quarterback, this Big Ten season has that in spades. What it doesn't have is an answer to the question: who IS the best QB in the conference?
I have no idea. Of guys I expected big things from, Braxton Miller (injury) and Tre Roberson (transfer) didn't make it out of the preseason, Gardner played his way behind a true sophomore who obviously couldn't play, Hackenberg's been a tackling dummy, and when I got down to Cook my Sparty slappy brother shook his head and declined the nomination.
Lower down, Sudfeld is now out for the season but he wasn't world-beating before. C.J. Brown, true to form, has been keeping pace just behind Gardner; a wrist injury against Indiana has ceded snaps to Caleb Rowe. Nebraska and Iowa aren't getting anything more than mediocre from their 2nd year guys. Trevor Siemian is not a throw deity of any sort. Etling hasn't been good enough for Boiler fans to stop mentioning that Michigan stole Bellomy(!). Wisconsin's QB situation has been awful. Illinois thought they had something when transfer Wes Lunt was picking apart bad defenses, but he broke his leg, which is apparently 4-6 weeks these days.
Everybody's played only a few real opponents, and everybody's been a product of his offense so stats are only a little useful. Last year ESPN's Dean Oliver rolled out his "QBR" metric which is based on Mathlete-like expected points on a 100-level scale; 50 is average. Mouseover the headers for clarification (explanation here):
|PLAYER||Pass EPA||RUN EPA||SACK EPA||PEN EPA||TOTAL EPA||ACT PLAYS||RAW QBR||TOTAL QBR|
I pulled the raw QBR in each game to plot it against Football Outsiders' S&P+ so you can see the individual performances in context. Gardner's games are labeled and Michigan's remaining opponents are shown.
[after the jump: trends, discussion]
[Ed-Seth: Hey look everybody, something that's not that thing. Jamiemac of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast was dragged out of quasi-retirement for a weekly thing on lines, tips, and expectations, and Draft Kings’ offered to to sponsor it. How it works: we identify a Draft Kings fantasy game (could be NFL, CFB, CBB, etc.) to commune in, followed by Jamie’s discussions on odds of relevance to you. This week we're playing for… /raises pinky One MILLION dollars.]
THIS WEEK’S GAME: ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Yeah it's NFL this week, because DK has $1 million out there for the winner. That's enough money to actually have a say in Michigan's athletic department. Or you could blow it on funny hats.
- $2,200,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $1,000,000
- $27 entry fee.
- Top 15,500 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, October, 5th at 1:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Defense.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
It'll be a big pool, which is why I (still Seth)'ve got home run threats all over my roster. Here's Jamie:
THIS WEEK’S CHALK
If you've been following my ups and downs over the years, you know I love taking road dogs the week after they've been upset as double digit favorites. This theory has led us to covers—and outright wins—in each of the last two weeks. We had Iowa +7 over Pitt in Week 4, a week after the Hawks blew a game to rival Iowa State and last week we were on Missouri plus the points over South Carolina. A week after inexplicably losing at home to Indiana, the Tigers went into South Carolina and nipped the Gamecocks 21-20. Aint college football, fun?
Good news? We have three options this week. The bad news? One of them is Michigan, catching 3.5 points at Rutgers. Alright, that might qualify as terrible news. I realized midway through the Minnesota second half that UM would be in this spot and immediately decided to cancel this system for a week. There's just no way I'm betting on this team.
[Jump for the Pitt Trick, and every M opponent looking good]