The Michigan Difference
This is probably old news to veterans and many Ann Arbor residents who know about Team Red, White, and Blue and it's links to UM already, but I'd never heard of them until this piece on NPR's Morning Edition today. (LINK) The story opens up in Gallup Park and details how Team RWB started up as a way for veterans to connect with each other and the community through fitness activities. Started 5 years ago, now has 83k members.
Mike Erwin, Army vet of Aghanistan and Iraq, founded the group when he was a grad student at UM and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Link to Team RWB website
Trevor Sullivan is a 14 year old kid waiting for a heart transplant. Maurice Hurst went to visit him at the hospital and they've become friends.
I know all the players make visits there, but Hurst has really taken it to another level. Hanging out with the kid, having dinner at his house, etc.
Hurst sets an example that everyone should follow. I'm proud to have him representing the University of Michigan.
This has been your feel good story of the week.
P.S. Trevor has a GoFundMe page accepting donations to help out with current and future medical bills. I imagine that a 14 year old with a new heart will be racking up some pretty big bills.
EDIT: Link to his GoFundMe page.
I thought for a while that Brady Hoke's treatment of Shane Morris was without parallel, and then I remembered Lane Kiffin's treatment of Robert Woods against Utah in 2012. And here is the silver lining: there is no record, at least so far as I can find on the internet, of USC fans demanding Kiffin's head for the dangerously poor judgment.
The Michigan Difference is just this: this community actually cares. We care about the safety of our players and the integrity of our coaches. When a coach does not live up to the standard of integrity at Michigan, we demand change. When an athletic director runs a program that does not put the well-being of student-athletes first, we demand change. And when a football player's future is endangered by the incompetence or callousness of a coaching staff entrusted with his development and protection but blinded to the realities of medical science by the mantra of toughness, we demand change. Let there be change. Ensuring that the job not only gets done, but gets done right--that's the Michigan Difference. This time, at least, it has to be.
Sub-snowflake addendum: the main reason I don't like Dave Brandon is that he is the only person I have ever met in the administration at Michigan--and maybe Brady Hoke will turn out to be this kind of person, too--who does not respond to criticism from their Wolverine brethren with an honest attempt to learn from the feedback to do the job at a level that reflects well on an institution that's bigger than all of us. Dave Brandon is the only one who reacts to criticism with sarcastic dismissal, the only one who won't listen to his fellow Wolverine, and the only one who does not do everything he can to do the job at a level Michigan deserves.
The Michigan Difference: seeking input on offseason article topics and the first request being about punting and then getting a quick second! Ask and you shall receive.
MGoUser stubob asked whether or not outkicking the coverage on punts was a real thing and if there was an optimal distance to kick the punt. To look at this I looked at all “returnable” punts. Punts kicked from at least the 20 yards and that did not go further than the opponent’s 10 yard line and occurred in the first half of the game unless otherwise noted.
Unsurprisingly from the original hypothesis, the longer the punt, the longer the average punt return.
Average return yards/punt given punt distance
Initially, it does look like longer punts yield longer returns. Of note though is that the slope is significantly flatter than a 1 for 1 trade. The rough slope is that for every four yards of distance you add to the punt, you give back a single yard of average return (not counting touchbacks). This accounts for the average case, but doesn’t address the risk and variance.
The Big Return
Percent of returns going 10+ yards (Blue) and for TDs (Yellow)
Again, the data backs up the conventional wisdom on long punts. A 55+ yard punt has a one in four chance of coming back at least 10 yards. With an average return of 7+ yards this isn’t much of a surprise. The longer returns aren’t just a function of more space between the punting team and the return team. But even with smaller sample sizes, there is a strong trend between likelihood of a touchdown and the length of the punt. Even though the total odds of a 55+ yard punt getting returned for a touchdown is about 1 in 75, that is about 3 times the rate of a 30-35 yard punt.
If you look at the net implications of these two charts, the long term strategy clearly points to kicking it as far as you can, concerns be damned. Even when you factor in touchbacks, the odds of a punt netting 40 yards goes up dramatically the longer the kick.
Percent of punts netting 40+ yards by punt distance
55+ yards net over 40 yards nearly 9 out of 10 times, nearly 50% more than a 40 yard kick. Outkicking the coverage isn’t a valid enough fear to push for any decision other than kicking it long, except possibly in a late game situation where the small but increased risk of a touchdown on the return becomes more highly leveraged.
The Spread Punt
One of the few questionable decisions the Hoke era has produced has been the refusal to move to the spread punt. While I don’t have data on which teams have converted to the spread punt when, but if you trend punting data over the last 10 years, its clear that something is happening.
Average return yards per punt by season, excluding touchbacks
Over the last ten years, the average return yards per punt has decreased by 42%.
Percent of punts returned 10+ yards (Blue) and TDs (Yellow)
Just like above, the move towards lower return yards corresponds with a lower rate of long returns. The real indication of change comes next.
Gross (Blue) and Net (Yellow) punting (including touchbacks)
This generally otherwise uneventful chart shows that over the last ten years both gross and net punting have improved nearly every season. Not only has net punting improved, but it has improved at a rate faster (10.3% cumulative) than that of the gross punting (5.6%), which is the exact opposite effect you would expect based on the fundamental connection between punt distance and punt return yardage. This indicates that over the last 10 years there has been a shift in the basic nature of both the punt and the punt return. Correlation and causation and all that, but this is a pretty clear indicator that the widespread adoption of the spread punt formation has been a huge win for the punting teams.
If we make the weak but directional assumption that 2003 = Traditional Punt and 2012 = Spread Punt, the formation is worth about 3.5 yards per net punt and a 50% reduction in punt return touchdowns. Otherwise of note is that the block rate has dropped along a similar slope from 2.6% in 2003 to 1.0% in 2012. So net punting up, gross punting up, punt returns down, punt returns touchdowns down and punt blocks are down. Whatever has happened between 2003 and 2012 let’s hope Michigan is on board.
Take 5 minutes and watch 3 great former players help raise money for future scholarships and the LSA Emergency Aid Fund. Also get a chance to hear all of them talk candidly about Michigan. Miss you already, 16.
For those that haven't seen these pictures...Michigan's current QB and it's future got to hangout with EA for a little bit at the Michigan/Ohio basketball game.
(oddly enough, that's JJ Sullinger --- Jared's older brother in the background)
(Imagine being an 11th grader...I'm pretty sure the conversation goes something like this...
De LaSalle Student: "Hey Shane, where were you this weekend bro!? We went over to Tommy's house and played Halo 3 and NCAA '12 for 20 straight hours. It was SO EPIC! Tommy's mom even bought us our own pizzas!"
Shane Morris: "Damn man, that's awesome...I was up in Ann Arbor, got a few guys to commit to play there with me. Went to the game. Oh, and I got to meet Erin Andrews so I guess that was cool. But nothing too major...who won in Halo?")
Additional Note: I'm no Twitter stalker (even though that's where the picture of Shane and EA is from), in fact, I don't even have an account...however, I was reading on another board that the commits are all chatting it up pretty good about how they can't wait to play for Michigan. Sounds like they're having fun with each other, bonding, talking about the c/o and Team 134 and just enjoying being a part of the Michigan family.
Some of you "lurkers" may want to check it out. The stuff I read on another forum was pretty funny. Also how they all connect with one and other and get along so well was pretty cool.
While I think stalking people you don't know...even if you're of the same age is creepy. I think it's pretty damn cool our 11 commits are already a team. I truly enjoyed watching Team 132 become a team this year. Martin, Molk, RVB, Koger...all of them. It was special, and to know this is the beginning and there is more to come is awesome.