During the season I’ll be posting a weekly review/preview/tidbit piece. For now it’s named Mid-Week Statistical Nuggetry but I am open to better ideas. Within the article I will try and look at pertinent notes from the past game, and look forward to our next opponent. Occasionally a bigger topic might come out of the previous games that will get a full treatment.
As a side note, after Week 1’s games the database now has crossed the 1,000,000 play mark.
Plays That Made the Day
A new addition for this year. I went back over the last eight years of data and have added a “live” win percentage indicator based on score, down and distance and possession. It’s still being tweaked but for the most part it is in place. Using this, I will try and pick out the most valuable and least valuable plays for each game in terms of WPA (Win Percent Added).
Bad Play #3, 5% lost. Carder hits White for 17 yards to move Western into the Red Zone on their second drive of the day.
Bad Play #2, 6% lost. Denard misses Roundtree on third down on the opening drive of the second half, forcing a three and out punt after good starting field position.
Bad Play #1, 7% lost. On 3rd and 7 on the opening drive, Carder hits White for 14 yards to set up first and goal.
Big Play #3, 8% added. Western Michigan misses a 38 yard field goal with the score tied at 7 early in the second quarter.
Big Play #2, 9% added. Kovacs sacks Carder, forcing a fumble and Herron scoops and scores to push the lead to push Michigan’s lead to 17.
Big Play #1, 35% added. No brainer here. With the score still tied at 7, Jake Ryan hits Carder and Big Play Brandon Herron is there for the pick six, taking Michigan from a 38% chance of victory to a 73% shot.
Brandon Herron’s Big Day
With two defensive touchdowns, Brandon Herron added 9.1 points of value in just the returns, not to mention 8.5 points in value from the turnovers themselves. Since 2003 only one player has ever accounted for more value in what I call miscellaneous returns (any return that’s not a punt or kickoff) than Michigan linebacker did Saturday: In 2008 Utah was playing at San Diego State and the Utes’ Deshawn Richard returned two Ryan Lindley passes for touchdowns, one for 89 yards and the second for 38. The two returns barely eked ahead of Herron with 9.2 points in added value.
Special Teams’ Bad Day
Michigan finished the day –2.8 PAN against the Broncos Saturday. All five special teams units were below zero.
Punt return was the closest to zero at –0.1. Kick return was also serviceable at –0.2. With Hagerup, the punt team was –0.5, the Gibbons was –0.9 thanks to the blocked PAT and kickoff was obviously the worst at –1.1. The kickoffs weren’t great, 48th out of 75 teams on Saturday, but the coverage was even worse, coming in 71st out of 75 on Saturday.
Field Position and the Offense’s Short Day
Last week Michigan’s offense had the fewest number of relevant drives (4) of any team facing an FBS opponent. On average, those four possessions should have yielded 7 points, they yielded 14 (2 defensive TDs and a final touchdown after they already had a 17 point lead). Michigan was +1.66 points per drive (PPD – Expected PPD), which was tenth best for the week.
The sample size is extremely minimal here so plenty of caveats apply, but considering how little opportunity the offense had, they didn’t do terrible, but they weren’t exactly Wisconsin scoring 38 in six drives with an expectation of 13 either.
On the flip side the defense faced an expected 13 points and gave up 10 and Western Michigan missed a field goal that is made about 68% of the time. This obviously doesn’t factor the defensive touchdowns which more than negated points actually allowed.
Biggest Comebacks From Back in the Day
Even if Michigan wouldn’t have been able to score with their good field position when the game was eventually called, they probably would have at least taken the game into the fourth quarter. I ran fourth quarter comebacks of 24 or more points through the database and since 2003 there has been only one.
Last year Kansas’s big comeback over Colorado from 28 down in the fourth quarter is the only game I could find in the last eight years where a team came back from 24 or more in the fourth quarter, although TCU actually came back from 24 down to take the lead against Baylor Friday before losing it in the end. Ten teams have come back from 24 down prior to the fourth quarter, most notably Auburn in last year’s Iron Bowl.
It Was Over Before the Lightning Called it a Day
One of the benefits of the WPA metric is the ability to track the progress of the day and put it in you know what form:
The big interception return from Herron made a dramatic swing and Michigan’s win percent hit 100% for the first time after Michael Shaw’s long TD run.
*This is still a bit of work in progress so some of the jaggedness in the chart isn’t real. I am having some challenges getting the win percent smooth across possession changes but overall the trends are right.
Notre Dame at Night
A quick mini-preview of Saturday’s history making showdown. Numbers from last week aren’t opponent adjusted, numbers from last year are.
Michigan last week: +4
Notre Dame defense last week: +8
Michigan last year: +6
Notre Dame defense last year: +2
Michigan last week: +2
Notre Dame defense last week: +4
Michigan last year: +3
Notre Dame defense last year: +6
Notre Dame Rush
Notre Dame last week: +5
Michigan defense last week: –2
Notre Dame last year: +0
Michigan defense last year: -3
Notre Dame Pass
Notre Dame last week: –2
Michigan defense last week: +0
Notre Dame last year: +0
Michigan defense last year: -3
Michigan last week: –2.8, bad in kickoff and kicking
Notre Dame last week: –5.1, really bad in kicking and punting
My numbers are slightly more favorable than Vegas but still tilt toward the Irish.
Notre Dame by 2