The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
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]
[Ed-Seth: You all know Jamie Mac, he of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast, and expert on sports betting. I was at his tailgate last week for the Miami (NTM) game, and between Draft Kings’ offer to to sponsor it and Jamie’s somewhat impaired state at the moment, I was able to convince this legend to come out of writing retirement.
So here’s how it’s gonna work (for now): we’ll have a weekly spot where 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’S GAME: CFB $10K REDSHIRT [$1,000 TO 1ST]
I like Jake Butt [and HSR’s groovy image]
- $10,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. Entry is free with your first deposit.
- $1,000 1st Place prize.
- Starts on Saturday, September, 20 at noon EDT
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots.
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
THIS WEEK’S CHALK
Everyone has eliminated the Big Ten from playoff contention. I am not here to argue against that, although I am in the firm camp of letting the rest of this month and October play out before putting any serious thought into what the true pecking order should be. But keep hope alive Big Ten fans. You can still bet on some of your teams qualifying for the first ever college football final four. Here are the current odds on Big Ten teams making that postseason field.
|Odds of Michigan in the CoFoPuff this year are running about even with the likelihood that the world will apologize. [Upchurch]|
Ohio State: Yes, +400; No, -600
Michigan State: Yes, +500; No, -800
Wisconsin: Yes, +600; No, -1000
They actually have Michigan listed on this board, but there aren't any odds. Talk about a tease. What does it matter anyway. Michigan isn't making any Final Four this season. Well, at least not in football.....
GAMES OF THE YEAR UPDATED LINES
Everyone who knows me, knows I love to track the lines of the Games Of The Year that are released way back in something called June by various Las Vegas and offshore sportsbooks. Let's take a minute to compare the lines for the remaining Big 10 games that were on that board. We've got three data points: opening lines from June, lines on the day the season started and lines as they stand today. It's time for a chart, with some quick thoughts afterwards.
[After the jump, updated lines and Jamie’s tips on who to draft around the league]
The sun had risen, though it was hard to tell through the lingering haze and dust. It all seemed so surreal; they had so recently stood beaming with pride, assuring the peasantry that the claiming of Rutgersland and the conquering of the Turtle People had ensured our long-term security. We had been told that our leaders had won the kind of Lebensraum that would see us through the coming ages. When was that? Had it been a day? A month? Surely it could not have been so long ago.
Some would argue whether the Big Ten had ever really existed at all; that even before The Weekend, the “conference” was merely an idea. A fleeting notion. A foolish homage to the time of 22-personnel and punting from the opponent’s 35 yard line. But whatever it had been, it was no longer. Reports were sketchy, but from all indications the destruction was similar throughout the realm. The borders had been shown to be merely transitory, and the defenses illusory. This was surely not the last incursion, but did it matter? What more damage could be done than had already been done?
Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten.
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
Miami (NTM) (0-2, 0-0 MAC)
Last week: Lost to Eastern Kentucky, 17-10
Recap: The good news for Miami was that they outgained Ohio Valley Conference team Eastern Kentucky 445-280. The bad news was that they turned the ball over six times, including three interceptions from Tommy Hendrix. This runs Miami’s losing streak to 18 games.
This team is as frightening as: A team that has a full compliment of 85 scholarships available, plays a MAC schedule, and hasn’t won a single football game in the last 18 tries. Fear Level = 1.5
Michigan should worry about: Andrew Hendrix is throwing for 338.5 yards per game…
Michigan can sleep soundly about: …at 6.7 yards per attempt. Against Marshall and EKU. Also, if you believe silly superstitions like “reviewing game film,” you should probably feel pretty good.
When they play Michigan: A crowd of “100,000” will get to witness a comfortable, boring win over a terrible opponent.
Next game: at Michigan (-34), 3:30 Saturday (BTN)
[AFTER THE JUMP: Combative dromedaries are the best dromedaries]