About Last Week:
The destruction was on hold for a week.
Soon, Spongebob. Soon.
The Road Ahead:
Illinois (2-4, 1-2 B1G)
Last week: Won at Rutgers, 24-7
Recap: One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Snarky Bloggers is the art of cushioning bad news with what they call the “criticism sandwich.” What you do is you provide some positive feedback, then you level your withering criticism, then you cap it off with some more positive feedback. Unfortunately for Illinois, there isn’t a lot of positive feedback I can provide. There isn’t a brioche bun of good news here. Or even a nice thick piece of silver-lining-marbled rye. The best I can construct is a criticism flatbread sandwich. A criticism chipati, if you will.
The good news: you won your first Big Ten game of the Lovie Smith era.
The bad news: You were outgained by Rutgers. You allowed Rutgers to gain 387 yards, which is a few yards short of ten times the amount they put up the week before. You surrendered 182 passing yards, which is thirty-six times as many as they allowed the previous week, and nearly five times the amount they put up over the last two weeks combined. You allowed Rutgers to drive inside your 25 yard line SEVEN TIMES. You allowed Rutgers to score points, their first since the Hoover Administration. You only forced Rutgers to punt four times. You only put up 17 offensive points against Rutgers. Rutgers was driving midway through fourth quarter down 10 before a pick-six sealed the game.
The good news: ...uh…
Okay, we’ll call it an open-faced criticism chipati.
This team is as frightening as: A team that can grit their way to a win over Rutgers. Fear Level = 2
Michigan should worry about: Global warming is still pretty serious.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Both Wes Lunt (back) and Chayce Crouch (shoulder) are questionable. If they can’t go, redshirt freshman Jeff George Jr. is the third string quarterback. George was a two-star greyshirt who has yet to record a stat in college. Basically, this is like the scene in The Perfect Storm where the weatherman (played by Shooter McGavin) points to the various storms and basically announces, “yeah, shit is about to get real.”
When they play Michigan: And they don’t even have Clooney or Wahlberg
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., BTN (Michigan -many)
[AFTER THE JUMP: The return of Sparty No is nigh]
1 hour 22 minutes
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starts at 1:00
Offensive line was okay at running, JBB holding his own against monsters is a particularly nice surprise. Three yards a carry is misleadingly good against this D. Speight’s actual interception was not a bother but some of the plays under pressure were not great bob.
starts at 22:46
DUDE. PFF, which gives a 50 to a player who’s basically replacement level, gave #1 offensive tackle in the country a 49, and that’s the best offensive line performance from Wisconsin of the game. Glasgow doing Glasgow things because he can; too dominate to find snaps for Rashan Gary. Good Don Brown stuff. Jourdan Lewis…DUDE.
Special Teams and Game Theory
starts at 40:15
Don’t get Kenny Allen—mechanics of kickoffs and punting are apparently very different, Ace learned from watching warmups. False start penalties—Harbaugh was demanding a disconcerting signals call.
Talking Big Ten with Jamie Mac
starts at 49:53
JamieMac’s sports bigamy had a good weekend. Open up the dusty rolls of Sparty No! Western Kentucky is adopted. Indiana’s defense ranked ahead of their defense—is this a fluke? MSU’s offensive line hitting the panic button. Iowa is broken; Cole Croston is not working out. Can Purdue recall a quarterback? Penn State’s “fingerprint win”, Armstrong’s weapons are breaking.
“Hear My Train A Comin'”—Jimi Hendrix
“You Got Me Floatin’”—Jimi Hendrix
“House Burning Down”—Jimi Hendrix
“Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
And just the end:
Forget something guy? /Thorin.
Watch it again. Then re-read the texts from your Sparty brother/friend where he blames Appling for everything. Then watch it again.
Chaos in the old barn. Minnesota beat Indiana last night, turning the Big Ten title race from Definitely Indiana into a free-for-all between IU, MSU, Michigan, and—ugh—Wisconsin*. If you're betting that Trevor Mbakwe beasting on Cody Zeller was the key, yup: Krang had 12 rebounds, 6 offensive, and went 8/10 from the floor en route to 21 points. Zeller was 2/9.
As for that suddenly open Big Ten race, here are the contenders' closing stretches:
- INDIANA: Iowa, OSU, @ Michigan
- MICHIGAN STATE: @ Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern
- MICHIGAN: @ Penn State, MSU, @ Purdue, Indiana
- WISCONSIN: Purdue, @ Michigan State, @ Penn State
Michigan controls their own fate for a share; Indiana has the toughest schedule but also a one-game lead. The MSU game this weekend is probably an eliminator. Go Iowa Awesome.
Meanwhile, the Gophers also secured their place in the tournament with that win, not that many people had them anywhere near the bubble. With a closing stretch of Penn State, @ Nebraska, @ Purdue they should reach 9-9 easily, and with wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State they'll probably be in that 6-7 range.
*[Ryan Evans is now shooting jump shots from the line:
This is why the Big Ten sucks at football?]
Turns out they SEC, too. Elsewhere in good news that went down last night, Florida got beat by Tennessee and will be off the one line everywhere once people get around to updating their brackets. Michigan will move back up to a #1 at Lunardi's bracket the next time he updates it, and the Gators are only a hair in front of Indiana on Kenpom now. This would be very good if Michigan could keep that spot.
Not that I put much credence in Lunardi's brackets. He's finally managed to keep Michigan away from teams they've already played in the first two rounds, but right now Michigan is slotted with Duke and #3 Louisville. Since Michigan is presumably #5, that's only S-curve order in his deranged brain. He's got Gonzaga with one of the top two seeds, which… I mean. Come on. Gonzaga does not have the schedule strength to be a one seed. They're 10th in RPI despite their record because their SOS is 66th—84th on Kenpom, but that's not what the committee will look at—and some school in a major conference is going to get hot and swoop past them.
LOLRUS. Michigan State went the somewhat shady route with their disposal of Dan Roushar, waiting until after Signing Day to deport the guy to the NFL position job that is apparently the birthright of any crappy college-level coordinator. (At least he's not assistant to the offensive line coach.) They are about to reap a whirlwind of karma, though:
Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman will be taking the same position with Michigan State, according to Football Scoop. Bollman worked as offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Boston College in 2012 after spending 11 seasons with the Buckeyes and was hired by Purdue as O-line coach for 2013.
And everyone who ever heard of Ramzy Nasrallah thought "I wonder what his twitter feed looked like in the immediate aftermath of this?"
Jfiekslemddkskwmemmfrmdkkwkdkdmdmdkoeoedmdmle RT @footballscoop: Sources tell us Jim Bollman is expected to accept the Michigan State OC job
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) February 27, 2013
Bollman's not even a retread—he was OSU's OL coach until Tressel got canned and had one year as the head guy. He thought Joe Bauserman was basically on the same level as Braxton Miller. And OSU fans had been bitching about him for years for various OL issues from recruiting to performance. The only way in which this makes sense is if this was designed as a social media stunt.
If it's that, great job Mark Hollis. If it is Mark Dantonio's inner Oscar the Grouch overwhelming all reason, great job Mark Dantonio. Either way the forecast for Michigan State football in the near future is lots more years like this one, except with more mustache.
BONUS: Ohio State bros yukking it up about the Borges/Bollman matchup betray their Michigan obsession by not immediately going to Bollman/Greg Davis. Borges may have tried to use Denard Robinson as a dump truck, but one of the main complaints so far in his tenure is that everything is a deep ball. These guys aren't on the same plane.
BONUS II: Big Ten football programs have hired John Shoop, Jim Bollman, and Greg Davis over the last two years. To coordinate offenses, not pick out bagel toppings. I will not be breaking new rhetorical ground here by asserting this is why the Big Ten sucks. Northwestern is good at offense every year despite having no recruiting base. Take that, add draftable athletes on defense, and then find out what happens. In the worst case it looks like your offense is coordinated by… Greg Davis.
BONUS III: from an Eleven Warriors reader:
Very Big Ten move. I mean seriously SI, what?
Spring football '13 is the Jim Bollman OC of SI covers.
Etc.: Columbus wins "team I'd least like to go to" and "worst road trip" in Grant Wahl's survey of MLS players. Michigan won't wear the short-sleeved basketball jerseys the only incompetent Germans dreamed up. I've heard they will be wearing something. Here's this guy. Bacon on hockey's history. You like basketball graphs, right? Michigan has an abnormally low transition rate off of makes for how frequently they go on rebounds.
A win over Ohio, a BCS game win and a couple of killer recruiting classes have quickly escalated expectations of the Brady Hoke era. It’s time to put those expectations on ice. Not forever. But for another year or two it's safer to look at last season as the exception not the expectation.
The defense has been better than expected and I think this Greg Mattison thing is going to work out. They even have a fancy #7 ranking in total defense and a #13 scoring defense rank that’s not aided by fluck this time.
The offense has been a disappointment as Denard and Borges still seem further apart than ever, the offensive line has struggled and Toussaint hasn’t shown much when he does have a rare look at space.
I mentioned this in my season preview, but based on recruiting profiles and experience, this is the least talented Michigan team over the last 10 years [ed-S: I'm guessing attrition isn't taken into account?]. The Rodriguez recruiting bubble has arrived.
The other issue I was surprised to find this week is that Michigan is third nationally in a stat I call Garbage Points. For all of my analytics I exclude second half plays where the game is beyond two touchdowns, the approximate range at which teams deviate from their game plan and possibly individual effort in order to close out a less-competitive game. Garbage value has a pretty high correlation to team success because if you are good when it's close and in the first half you are having more drives in garbage time and probably having more success then, as well. Alabama and Kansas State are 1st and 2nd, Ohio cracks the top 10, but Michigan is the top team with a loss at #3 with a +57 EV during garage time. Lead extensions against UMass, Illinois and Minnesota all contributed to a Michigan spread that is one of the highest in the country. I have Michigan as the #28 in the country based on non-garbage time so a big spread between the two would likely indicate that Michigan has more of an issue with their official NCAA rankings being off due to extra time against over-matched teams.
Next year will be a first year starter at the most important position, which could be the newly popular Devin Gardner or five star Shane Morris. I’ll have more on this in the offseason but let’s just hope Gardner is able to win the job because the data on true freshman starting quarterbacks is emphatically troubling, even when they are elite recruits.
The defense should still continue on at a solid level, at this point the question with Mattison’s defenses is are they going to be good or great. A strong floor has been established.
Overall though, the talent/experience level isn’t going to be improved in 2013, in fact they may be worse. The upper classes will be Rodriguez’s final as well as the transition class. The elite classes will still be young enough that their contributions will likely be limited by playing time or play quality. By 2014, the team should be on par with the Carr-recruited, Rodriguez-coached teams in terms of talent and in 2015 back to the elite level of the late model Carr teams.
Michigan Talent/Experience Level By Season
Talent isn’t everything but it is certainly significant. At this point, the ability to overcome talent deficits seems more likely on defense than offense for Michigan, although the national trend is for talent to be more highly correlated to defensive success than offensive.
The other point of reference is that we aren’t talking about 2008-style drops, and especially in the current state of the Big TENNNNN! it could even mean conference championships. But don’t expect Michigan to make vast strides towards national elite until at least 2014.
Things keep coming back to eight wins. Northwestern is about 70%, Iowa 80% and Ohio 25% for the games remaining.
This week is probably Michigan’s last opening for the B1G Title game. If the Huskers survive a
trip to Happy Valley visit from Penn St it’s hard to see them losing to Iowa or Minnesota.
Another little chart I put together shows who controlled their own destiny to the B1G title game by week.
Leaders division on top, Legends on bottom.
Dumb Punt of the Week
Not a lot of suspense for this one. Mark Dantonio was staring in the face victory and chose what any man with a strong jaw does. Hands the ability to win to the other team for 19 yards. It was fourth and 2 at the Nebraska 39. 1:27 on the clock and Nebraska out of timeouts. Hand it off to the best running back in the conference, watch him get 2 yards, and that ices it. The WPA Calculator says that getting stopped gives Nebraska a 29% chance to win. A punt and touchback give Nebraska an 18% shot. Fourth and twos are successful 63% of the time, but even at 40% the return is positive. Even if you believe you can down them at the 1, going forward is at least neutral. Plus, Bell had just run five straight times in obvious running situations, gaining at least 2 yards on four of his five carries.
This week’s Ron Zook Memorial Dumb Punt of the Week goes to the refs in the Michigan St-Nebraska game for making Sparty punt the ball away.
+15% Gardner to Dileo for Michigan’s opening score
+9% Kirkwood stopped on 4th and 1 at the Michigan 41
+7% Nelson’s pass falls incomplete, forces Gophers into attempting long field goal at end of first half
-8% Gardner is intercepted at the Michigan 49
-8% Minnesota is on the board first with an 8 yard TD pass
-5% Nelson to Engel is good for 32 yards on third down
Devin Gardner, +14 EV, +30% WPA
Fitzgerald Toussaint, +4 EV (all on final run), +1%
Defense, +12 EV, +20%
Jake Ryan now 17th nationally in defender rankings, 11th in BCS players, 4th in Big Ten
Northwestern has surprisingly turned into a slightly more defensive than offensive player this year. Venric Mark is one of the nation’s most valuable running backs and the biggest threat from the Wildcat’s offense. If Michigan’s defense is up to task, the offense should be able to generate enough for a decent win.
Michigan 24 Northwestern 14
With one night game and two ESPN fan reaction shots "Facepalm guy" made his way into our MGohearts in 2011. But who can forget the one fan whose visage got us through the years previous? Six Zero wins a Diarist of the Week for reviving the MGoProfiles to introduce us to the original fan we obsess over, one Lloyd Brady.
Because this is college football we cannot simply declare a champion of fans. No. We need a regional championship game. Then we need a national championship game. And then maybe a Plus One just in case Victor Shirtless (below) is the real deal. Yes, it's that week again. Not bowl week, but bitching about the bowls week.
Between the yummy Sparty NO schadenfreude (michelin) and the faint ignorable buzz from the Fredo schools passed over for their inability to make the family rich, there is a sense among us that something is terribly wrong with the BCS. Gameboy points out what the bowls are really supposed to be (they're exhibitions, not rewards). Eye of the Tiger has a rundown of some but not all of the criteria a playoff has to meet:
What an alternative to the BCS would have to look like:
Any viable alternative to the BCS, and by viable I mean palatable to ADs and school presidents, needs to do the following things:
1. Preserve the bowl system
2. Not extend the season far beyond its already extended point
3. Not threaten to engulf the regular season by morphing into an actual tournament
And lo the diarists had solutions:
POSTSEASON REFORM THE FIRST: Eight teams, ends January 21st. Gajensen's is an 8-team, 3-round playoff that confuses the hell out of everyone in order to try to appease everyone. I think the Top 4 BCS teams are automatic qualifiers and the rest goes down the line of conference champs.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE SECOND: Sixteen teams, and I'm 90% sure this guy likes the names of the Big Ten's divisions because he has a 7-step plan. Bluestreak expands this to 16 teams, with automatic qualifiers for every conference (Join the Sun Belt!) but a consistently weak conference loses their autobid (bye Sun Belt). He gets rid of some regular season games to make room so Michigan plays Ohio State in early November. There are tiers called "Champions" and "Contenders" and…this idea has lost me.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE TRAID: Six-teams, Round 1 at home instead of conf. champ games, Round 2 in the Bowls, Championship in the Plus 1 game a week later. Wolfman81 starts off by getting rid of conference championship games, and shows very good reasoning (they're more apt to repeat a game already decided than actually determine a champion). He makes an even stronger case about the BCS rules as it stands being a patchwork of reactions to things that went wrong before, basically an entire ship made of caulked holes and no foresight. The he suggests the Brian playoffs, end diary. I want this guy to write more diaries.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE ONE AFTER TRAID: Get rid of conference divisions but still have conference championships.Vasav read Wolfman's thing and then tried to replace the conference championships we just got rid of with a system that isn't very clear except don't replay games. You're still having 11-1 teams needing to play 9-3 teams to win their conference championship.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE MINE: Instead of an official conference championship game have a "Showcase" game that matches the best two teams from each division that haven't played each other yet. Occasionally you'll actually get to have a championship game. This year MSU would get the Rose Bowl bid and Michigan could play Wisconsin over an almost certain BCS bid. No automatic anythings: the conference chooses to game. If you ever do need to settle the score between two teams that didn't play each other, this becomes the Big Ten championship trophy.
Bwgrudt1484 notes that the Big Ten is playing 5 of our 8 bowl games
within an hour's distance of our opponents' home fields (EDIT: within the home state) of our opponents. What else is new?
The Year In Review (Like How We Beat Ohio State)
Some of your favorite weeklies recap the year that was following Michigan's season-ending defeat of Ohio State, not counting the bowl game that comes after the game where we beat Ohio State. First, I bet you're wondering, after we beat Ohio State, what the final turnover margins and effects were for Michigan. Enjoy Life shows the year at +6, ranked 26, which is a GERG-to-Greg level recovery. A new metric that measures fumble recovery rates also shows this may be a little bit lucky:
Also abnormally lucky: 2006. Brian is convinced this is random except for offensive experience and pressure but I believe in non-random parts that come from things like good pursuit angles and attacking holes. When you don't touch the other team they don't fumble as much; good defense gives you more chances to knock something loose.
Maize_in_spartyland has grades for everybody. I mean everybody in the Big Ten. What's with failing Indiana? Don't they at least deserve a "thank you for participating" ribbon or something?
CRex got to the end of Three & Out and wrote a long thought on Carr and living up to Bo—pretty much exactly what you were thinking and feeling after reading Three & Out. Like so:
That's what we need to take away from the RR era. Our dad [Bo] died. Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure. Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a meltdown. Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel. So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.
That was similar to my 3&O reaction except I also found myself wondering "I wonder if you can buy those Twin City socks on the internet?" Turns out a.) you can, and b.) THEY REALLY ARE THAT AWESOME AND I'M WEARING THEM RIGHT NOW (not yours Rimington winner David Molk).
For recruiting junkies, Ace put up the post-Darboh recruiting rankings. Ohio State got a 3-star from Florida I guess Urban knew and Adolphus Washington. Nebraska, Michigan, and Penn State had decommits.
And hockey plays Michigan State this weekend. Yesman2221 has the weekly preview but the short version is Michigan hasn't been playing as well as we'd like and MSU is coming off of a good series against the Gophers. Then again they're kind of like Michigan (one good defensive pairing then guh), except without a real head coach.
So, that's it for the diaries. Best of the board after a jump I guarantee you want to make.