I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Forget ND. Here comes the first REAL test of Michigan's defense? Why do I say that? Because Indiana is 11th in the nation in passing and 10th in points scored and has a senior QB with 30 career TD passes. Last year they scored 33 points on us while rushing for nearly 200 yards.
Are you scared yet?
Okay, maybe that's because you looked at their scedule and realized that while they were scoring close to 40 points a game, they were doing so against what amounts to the equivalent of Bowling Green's JV team.
No, seriously. They've played three games, against something called "Towson", Western Kentucky, and Akron. I'm not exactly sure, but I think some of those might be division 1 opponents. Let's compare:
Michigan is pretty good from year to year, Michigan State is usually hovering around .500. Western Michigan is a middling MAC team. Kentucky SUCKS, Kentucky State exists? (maybe) So what does that say about Western Kentucky?
Yeah, Michigan played FCS UMass, but at least that SOUNDS like it could be a FBS school. "Towson"?? Is not exactly a two time defending nation champion of the lower level.
How bad are these teams? They're a combined 1-11 with the lone win coming in OT against *drumroll please* COASTAL CAROLINA! Although Akron did almost beat GARDNER WEBB in OT. In the other ten games, Indiana's opponents were outscored by an average of about 40 points (no I didn't actually do the math, but I'm not really that far off).
So while I did manage to dig up some film on them, there's not much we can learn other than formations and base plays (and the fact that IND is wearing some uglyass 1970's uniforms).
Grannie grab your gun.
Hey, remember when ND played Nevada? And Nevada had Gumar from 'Harold and Gumar goto whitecastle' playing QB. They ran this funky type of offense with the RB 5 yards behind the QB who was already in the shotgun. That's called the pistol. It's also what UCLA just used to depants Texas and will probably be the next fad spreading across the college football world, if it isn't already.
The point of this alignment is to get a little bit more downhill momentum for your running back so that he can hit the holes with speed.
You still get the ability to do playaction, but you lose the lateral fakes. To regain the lateral motion, the RB will line up next to the QB in the shotgun like this:
On Running downs, they might put a fullback into the formation. If the QB was under center it would just be an offset I formation. But with the group of them back an extra 5 yards, we have to call it something different. I'm gonna call it the .38 caliber.
Here we have both the FB and the TE to the right, so this is likely to be a run to the right 60-70% of the time. In this case, they ran a zone dive to the left.
When they go spread, they like to use three receivers in a bunch so they can run pick plays.
Here's a running play with the bunch formation.
The middlebackers and the safety are confused and out of position.
The middle backer blitzes to the wrong side, opening up a huge running lane.
So the hoosiers get an easy 50 yard TD with 4 blockers on 2 defenders at the point of attack.
QB Ben Chappell is the same guy that put 30 some points on us last year. 5th year senior? Not a super strong arm, throws with his body. Good size. Not fast. Decent pocket presence. Likes to do 3 step drops for quick routes or playaction boots. Has good timing with his receivers, can hit them on a fly in stride. Doesn't throw well on the run. His strength is in reading the defense and picking the right receiver to go to. I suggest we run more pressure and man coverage with a single high safety this week.
#88 Belcher is their deep threat. Tall kid, not blazing speed, but chews up a lot of yardage with long strides.
TB Darius Willis is their main running threat. He's 6 foot, 220 ish and can run through arm tackles. Has a good head fake. He also had an 85 yard TD against us last year.
TE #83. Tall, soft hands. Less athletic version of rudolph.
O-Line. They look small and meh. This is probably what separates Indiana from most big ten teams. There's just not a lot of talent there.
They run a base 3-4 on 1st and 2nd down, will not substitute against a spread, instead they flex out their OLB to cover the slots. On 3rd down they like to switch to either a nickle, or a cover 1 to put extra DB's on the slot receivers.
Not a lot of speed. Towson's QB had a 40 yard scramble against them on a broken play. So like WOOOOO DENARD! They've given up oodles of yardage against teams that really don't run the ball very well.
Their safety #10 looks like a weaklink. (He may even have been replaced already.) Takes a lot of bad angles. Towson managed several plays over 40 yards against them.
They've given up huge amounts of yards to teams that don't sport very good offensive lines. Here's an example of what might be the reason why.
This is Indiana's short yardage defense. If you're saying, 'but wait a minute that looks just like their base 3-4!" then you've been paying attention. Do the hoosier's have a defensive coordinator? Because this personell package, in this situation is almost criminally stupid.
It's 3rd and 1 and they're in a base 3-4.
It's 3rd and 1 in THE REDZONE and they're still in a base 3-4!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a DOUBLE TIGHT formation and they're in a 3-4?!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation WITH A FULLBACK MEANING THERE ISN'T A SINGLE WR IN THE GAME, and they're still in a base 3-4 with 4 DBs!!!?! (well hey, at least they walked up one of the safeties...)
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback and there are EIGHT OFFENSIVE LINEMEN AGAINST YOUR 3 DOWN LINEMEN!!!!!!!!! THEY ONLY NEED TO GAIN 1 FREAKING YARD!!!!!!!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback AND IT'S AN UNBALANCED LINE TO THE RIGHT!!!!!!OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT?!!?!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with extra o-linemen, no WR, in an unbalanced formation to the right WITH THE H BACK IN A WING TO THE RIGHT!!!! THE UNBALANCED SIDE!!!! THERE ARE 9 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS FROM THE BALL TO THE RIGH!!!!! AND INDIANA HAS 4 (FOUR!) PLAYERS COVERING 2 (TWO!) ON THE OTHER SIDE!!!?! WTF ARE YOU DOING??!
So you won't be surprised that WKU ran to the right and scored a TD on this play.
They use a spread punt formation.
Had an okay return against Towson and got a 70+ yard return against WKU, so they must at least know their blocking assignments on kickoff returns.
Tandon Doss, who some of you might remeber is a pretty nifty runner, even if he doesn't have a world class top gear.
Should be a high scoring game. And most likely a preview of things to come. If the offense doesn't score more than 45 points, they should hang their heads in shame. The key will be in stopping Chappell. If we can hold them to 30 points, I'll be happy. (not really, but I'll take it.) Their running back is talented enough, but that O-line just doesn't run block very well, and we should have a sizeable advantage there.
I'm gonna say 48-28 good guys.
[Ed.: Bump. As the OP notes, this data is still very shaky four games in, but the amount of improvement in the offense is so great it can hardly be a mirage.]
In my post the other day, Why should 2010 not be another 2009?, I looked at what our offense has accomplished in 2010 relative to what it had accomplished at this point in the season in 2009. It had two meaningful results:
1) This years' offense draws its potency from highly reproduceable, base set offensive plays, unlike the high variance scrambles and special teams play of 2009.
2) This year's offense is putting up far superior numbers to what they did a year ago (up 28%!!) against as-good or slightly-better competition (77th strength-of-schedule in 2010 vs 114th in 2009).
The Conclusion From the Former:
Our offense will come back to earth from meteoric numbers in out-of-conference play, BUT we have statistically significant evidence to believe that our offense will be far more reliable than last year due to depth, experience, and dilithium.
Our defense cannot stop any team that is executing, whether it's UMass or that-team-down-south. In other words, our wins and losses are going to be determined by how good an offense we face each week, and how well they execute.
Examples: UConn played bad (dropped passes, poor throws) and we stopped them. On the flip side UMass played well (good schemes, good execution) and they had their way with us.
Each and every Big10 offense we play is going to put up at least or slightly better numbers than their normalized offensive output.
So let's find out how bad it's going to be against us with a--
Chart of Infinite Defensive Gloom (after 4 weeks)
|2009 Rank||2009 Opponent||Expected N-PPG||Expected N-YPG||Actual PPG||Actual YPG|
Normalized Offensive Output - The important thing we're doing here is not looking at the raw PPG and YPG of these teams because it does not account for how good of competition they have played. Four weeks in, the SoS data is far from reliable, but it is at least forming.
Our opponent with the strongest SoS serves as the baseline (Notre Dame with 3 Big10 teams and Stanford). In other words, these numbers estimate what all of these teams' offenses would have generated if they had all played Notre Dame's schedule thus far (Purdue, Michigan, MSU, and Stanford).
Strength of Schedule is taken from Sagarin rankings. (BGSU and UMass are going to have way-inflated numbers at this time, but I included them on the chart anyway as a reminder this is not a perfect analysis and as an interesting couple of data points to track as the season progresses.)
N-PPG or Normalized Points-per-game is taken from the teams average PPG with a SoS multiplier factored in to deflate numbers from playing bad competition and inflate numbers based on playing good competition.
N-YPG or Normalized Yards-per-game is calculated using the same SoS multiplier as N-PPG but using this metric will help us determine a less variant guess as to how offenses will perform (PPG is subject to wild variance based on turnovers and special teams).
I am only tracking our 12 opponents because the only thing that matters is the twelve games Michigan plays and I don't want to get depressed that we are playing Wisconsin and Iowa instead of NW and Minnesota.
This chart pans out as expected. That-team-down-south is the clearcut leader. (Michigan is actually second in N-PPG with 36.3 but FIRST in N-YPG with a staggering 494.5).
We see a clearly defined pecking order in the Big10 that matches very closely the general consensus: clear-cut leaders in OSU-Wisconsin, a muddled middle of Iowa-MSU-Indiana, and a struggling bottom of offenses PSU-Illinois-Purdue.
The exceptions are Indiana, which is trending higher up the rankings due to its offense, and Penn St, which was generally considered a top-4 team in the Big10 going into the season (but is clearly not the case with their offense).
UMass and BGSU will continue to fall down this chart as their SoS gets watered down with conference and 1-AA play.
Conclusions Based on Not Enough Data
NSFMF! Teams always seem to play their lights out when they play Michigan. Michigan's defense has a way of making teams look better than they are. Notre Dame for instance had their highest offensive output of the year against Michigan, operating at 125% of their average YPG.
If we take the MOST pessimistic view and give our opponents 125% of their offensive AND scoring outputs against us and only give ourselves 80% (assumption our offense slows down entering league play) of our average going into the Big10, Michigan ends the season 7-5 with wins over PSU, Illinois, and Purdue.
If instead we give ourselves just our average offensive production going into this weekend - our Big10 expected record jumps to 6-2... 10-2 overall!! - with losses coming from Wisconsin and that-team-down-south.
Where does the truth lie? Probably somewhere in between 6-2 and 3-5. Would you take that outcome at the start of the season? In a heartbeat? I know I would.
It is going to be tremendous to watch this Michigan team storm into the Big10 season knowing that our offense only needs to hold serve and our defense can surrender season-best performances from every single opponent and we still have a fighting chance in all of those games! And lest we forget... DILITIHIUM!
For now, I think we can look at this and add one more reason to the growing pile of why 2010 is NOT 2009! Get excited! Indiana here we come!
Prediction for Indiana:
Michigan's ground game operates at MINIMUM of 100% our normalized average and puts up above-average PPG, but since we only score touchdowns we go to the next closest number after 36! Indiana plays their lights out and operates at 125% of their normalized efficiency, mostly through the air.
Is anyone going to to Bloomington, Indiana for the game on friday or saturday? I have 2 tickets to the game that I can not return. I am looking for a ride from Ann Arbor to Bloomington and back and can split gas or whatever. If you, or anyone you know, is going to the game, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!!
Thanks a million!
Email me at: sawenet at gmail dot com
Reaching out to experienced football minds here.
The knock against blitzing, it would seem to me, is that it is a high risk, high reward tactic.
Yet, in situations where these things hold true...
- You have a great offense
- You have a marginal defense
- You have an inexperienced secondary
- You want to maximize your possessions given that you are 6th in the country in points per possession (thank you Rash)
- You want to prevent the opponent from limiting your possessions with a measured, ball-control offense
- The opponent has a great offense
- The opponent has a marginal or weak defense
...is not the downside to an aggressive, disruptive blitzing campaign relatively negligible?
- You would increase the number of possessions for your offense against a bad defense, probably yielding a higher PPP than average,
- You would decrease the need for your secondary to be better than it is, and
- You would prevent one of the few things that would give us all gray hair on Saturday: enduring long, glacial drives by Chappell that have us into the second quarter with perhaps a single TD on the board (a la UMass in the first half).
It seems Indiana and Michigan State fit the above profile perfectly.
So, expert panel, please describe the downside of this strategy against such teams. (Note: I am assuming a rational blitzing scheme, not jailbreak insanity every play.)
There is debate about what the word "Hoosier" actually means, but about this there is no debate: Indiana is known for being good at basketball and tragically bad at football. This week's schedule wallpaper explores the idea that after all these years, the University of Indiana is still just trying to figure out football. I love the idea of an Indiana shooting guard about to be trucked by a Michigan running back.
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
This wallpaper was created using parts of 9 different images: a closeup of a red cushion, a scrapbook that was stretched to fill the screen, a vintage photo frame, a Life image of the 1955 Michigan vs. Army football game, an Army football helmet cut out of a different photo from the same game, a basketball player from an unidentified school, an old photo with water spots and other features to give the base photo a distressed appearance and two scans of watercolor brush strokes that were sampled and repeated to form the Michigan and Indiana logos. I made color and contrast adjustments to just about every element to accomplish the final look.
All of the 2010 Schedule Wallpapers
I think we win, but that seems REALLY high considering IU's offensive power.
Let's hope the money is right.