the season has truly begun now
You're kidding right? Mr. Funchess doesn't break top 50 in this Top 100 list?
"Wide receiver or tight end? Funchess' position might be forever debated, but his talent is not. The 6-foot-5 junior is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, averaging more than 15 yards per catch in his first two seasons."
Okay ESPN. Whatever..
Predicts Funchess at 28 and 8 total B1G players in the 1st round.
Is Borges TRYING to do this on first down?
Much has been made of Al Borges using first down much like the CFL uses fourth down. I wanted to know exactly what has been happening to us on first down this year. Is the play-calling really that bad, or is AB hamstrung by a turnover-prone QB? How stubborn is the play-calling? Are we a bad passing team on first down?
What's open for debate is whether or not Hoke is mandating the first down MANBALL attempt. What's not open for debate are the results:
Chart? Chart of 1st down rushing attempts. NYP = Negative Yardage Plays
This is the story you know. For me, it was even worse than I thought in one respect (NYP%) and better than I expected in another (YPP). The 3.5 YPP feels high, but that's because nearly one in five times we go backwards. And, 11 more times, we gained nothing. That means that 27.3% of the time--more than one in four plays--we end-up in 2nd and 10 or longer. Those are drive killers.
But that average still feels high...what's brining it up? Glad you asked. Gardner has only had one NYP on his first down attempts, and averages 4.9 YPA when he runs it. When you add in the WR runs with DG, the YPA jumps to 6.6. What this means is that if you remove the 21 attempts by non-RBs on first down, you end-up with 2.9 YPA. That's more like it.
So, 59% of the time, we're running our RBs on first down, and averaging 2.9 YPA. Even that sounds good (isn't that three yards and a cloud of dust?) until you remember that only TWO of the NYPs happened between the QB/WR carries, and there was one bad snap. That leaves 22 NYP out of 110 RB attempts--an even 20%--that we go backwards with our RB on 1st.
Want me to make it hurt more? Okay. Add-in the zero yardage plays, and it's 33/110 (30%) NYP. Yep. We have a 30% chance of ending-up in 2nd and 10 or longer when we run with a RB.
Should we be passing more? I really wasn't sure about this. Can we trust DG to be throwing on first down? There's only one way to know...
THIS! This is much, MUCH better than I thought it would be. In fact, it's TOO good (I'll explain in a moment). We only pass 29.4% of the time on first down, but man, does it work. We average a ridiculous 12.6 yards per play (this includes scrambles), have only 14 incomplete passes (25%), and DG is MUCH less turnover-prone, throwing INTs at a rate of only 3.6%. There have been only three negative plays (sacks or TFLs).
It is obvious that our tendencies set us up for big passing plays on first down. But is it worth it? To end-up in 2nd and 10 or worse 30% of the time we try MANBALL? We end-up at 2nd and 10 (or worse) 34% of the time when we throw (including INTs), so the risk is almost exactly the same. The reward is more than four times better. That's a good investment.
The reason I believe these numbers are too good is that they indicate that our run tendencies on first down are so strong that there is wide open space to be had in the passing game. I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know, but now it's quantified into a ridiculous 12.6 YPP.
This is a problem because it means that defenses are staying in stacked fronts against us and betting we simply won't even try to pass. We aren't good at run-blocking, but we're REALLY bad at run-blocking against stacked fronts. Against both Akron and UConn, the running game took off when the defenses backed out of their stacked fronts when they had the lead late.
And what about those two INTs? Both were on go routes way down the field. AB dials-up bombs on first down, which is fine, but I think it's clear there's room for some short-to-intermediate stuff.
Furthermore, if you want your QB to stop turning the ball over, stop putting him in 2nd and 3rd and long--ALL of DG's INTs have come with distances of 5 yards or more to go.
TL;DR - While passing more on first down is likely decrease its effectiveness, it is still FAR better than running with our RBs, and it should open-up some space to be better at that.
Inspired by the Great T-Shirt Debate of 2013, I've decided to completely revamp the format. But first, let me share with you some great t-shirts I found over at MinnGoBlog's t-shirt store.
Minnesota Football, Play Like a Campion Today
... BAK to the Future
... Win one for the Killer
... No Epping Way
Snake Plsek, I thought he was dead
and from the Seinfeld-inspired section of the store,
Minnesota Football, Folks are Talking about our Botticelli Shoes
Ski-U-Mah Harbison, no wait, he sounds made up
Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now.
* When you finally grab the momentum in a game, you want to hit the gas and build on it. UofM did just that by taking the 2nd half kickoff and going 75 yards in 9 plays, to extend a 7 point halftime lead to 14. Considering it takes Minnesota ~10 minutes per drive to score, that meant that they would have to be perfect to come back. They weren't.
We're putting the band back together
* The band will be back together when Jake Ryan comes back. For now, the defense is doing their best to bring back the tradition of Michigan defense. Once again, the Michigan defense prevented the opposition from scoring a rushing touchdown.
* It's a rather large band with an impressive horn section, as 23 players recorded a defensive stat. Desmond Morgan, once again, led the way with 10 total tackles. JR3 had 9, plus a fumble recovery.
* Minnesota only passed 21 times, so it was not a big week for QHs and sacks.
* If there is one complaint, it's that we only tallied 3 TFLs on 41 Minnesota rushing attempts. However, once they did cross the line, they didn't get far, averaging only 3.3 YPC, with a long of 18 yards.
We're on a Mission from Gard (NOW THAT'S A T-SHIRT!!!)
* ZERO TURNOVERS. Hallelujah!
* The "inaccurate" Devin Gardner was 13 of 17, for 235 yards and a TD. Let's see, that's 76% completion percentage, 18.1 YPC and 13.8 YPA, but he's inaccurate? I've heard Big Ten Network announcers better than that bozo Ed Cunningham.
* Gardner only ran 7 times for 17 yards, but he did have a rushing TD.
It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?
* Fitz had 78 yards on 17 carries, and 2 TDs. More importantly, he only lost 1 yard all day. Is it the new Bluesmobile or what? Frankly, after going through four weeks of multiple negative rushing plays, I'll take it.
* Green added 23 yards on 10 carries and another TD.
Four Fried Chickens and a Coke
* The four returning linemen joined with newcomer, Chris Bryant, to provide an effective rushing attack. Michigan only fumbled one snap, something that we were all worried about, and gave up only one sack. It was really nice not watching our center get pushed back five yards on nearly every play.
* Besides the 9 yard sack, our o-line only gave up 4 yards worth of TFL's to Minnesota.
And some dry white toast please
* Wile was back to normal, providing all the excitement of dry white toast. He averaged 51.7 yards on three punts, that netted an average of 45.7 yards.
Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters... sell them to me. Sell me your children!
* Norfleet returned two kicks for 52 yards total, and recorded a tackle on special teams.
* Dileo returned two punts for 13 yards and caught 1 pass for 12 yards.
Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.
* The excitement was provided by three wide receivers, particularly Funchess, who caught 7 balls for 151 yards and a TD.
* Chesson had three catches as he increasingly becomes a larger part of the offense, and Gallon had two grabs.
Cook County Assessor's Office
* Minnesota was called for 6 penalties to our two.
* There was one drive we had in which penalty flags were thrown on long Michigan gains. My heart sunk, but fortunately, both calls were on the Gophers.
* I was a little leary going into the game, as these officials just sound like Gophers: Roggeman, Krogstad, and Riepenhoff. Wasn't that the starting frontline of the '79 Minnesota basketball team?
I hate Illinois Nazis
* If you're going to make a Blues Brothers-inspired T-Shirt about one of our longstanding rivals, how is this NOT the shirt?
* This is the announcers section, but I already discussed them. That was a brutal game to listen to. Minny-Tebow for Heisman!
Minnie the Moocher
* Minnesota almost matched us, with 16 first downs to our 17. They also converted 8 of 15 third downs, but couldn't get us off the field either, as we went 10 for 13.
Besides being a huge UofM football fan, my dad was a big fan of John Belushi's. He would have a Mass said every year on the anniversary of Belushi's death. Dad was extremely protective of his kids, not allowing us to see or hear anything R-rated. However, he made an exception for John Belushi. There were two movies that mattered when I was a kid, Animal House and Blues Brothers. One year for Christmas, Dad bought us "The Best of Belushi" video that had his best SNL skits. While other kids were learning the Beastie Boys and Run DMC raps, I was memorizing Belushi's "Luck of the Irish" SNL News bit (Let's talk about the bad luck of the Irish, all right? How about this, POTATO FAMINE!! How about that? It scares them, doesn't it? Well, it should.) So with that as a backdrop, I can still honestly say, I think Dad would look at that T-Shirt and ask, "Why is Joe Paterno praying on that shirt?"