Iowa will be a very tough game (night, on the road), but with the "A-Paki-lypse" upon us, I think I would put it down as a tossup rather than a probable loss. We'll see.
Preview 2009: Miscellaneous, Schedule, Stupid Prediction
Part twelve of the all-singing all-dancing season preview. Previously: The Story, 2009, quarterbacks, tailbacks, receivers, offensive line, secondary, linebackers, defensive line, special teams, offensive overview and predictions, defensive overview and predictions.
Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.
The theory of turnover margin: it is nearly random. Teams that find themselves at one end or the other at the end of the year are highly likely to rebound towards the average. So teams towards the top will tend to be overrated and vice versa. Nonrandom factors to evaluate: quarterback experience, quarterback pressure applied and received, and odd running backs like Mike Hart who just don't fumble.
|Year||Margin||Int +||Fumb +||Sacks +||Int -||Fumb -||Sacks -|
|2007||0.15 (41st)||14||15||2.46(33rd)||14||13||2.17 (67th)|
|2008||-.83 (104th)||9||11||2.42(33rd)||12||18||1.83 (57th)|
I should have stopped here in last year's preview…
I expect this to be solidly negative this year what with the n00b quarterbacks and the line and the no Mike Hart,
…but I kept going:
but Scott Shafer’s GOT what plants CRAVE so it could be around even again. Don’t think it will have a major impact.
…oh well. Michigan got crushed in this metric last year and this is a major reason for optimism this year, as has been discussed ad nauseum. If people
HOLD ON TO THE GODDAMN BALL
Michigan should again approach neutral (but probably not reach it: freshmen at QB and all). This should be enough for a one or two game improvement by itself.
Position Switch Starters
Theory of position switches: if you are starting or considering starting a guy who was playing somewhere else a year ago, that position is in trouble. There are degrees of this. When Notre Dame moved Travis Thomas, a useful backup at tailback, to linebacker and then declared him a starter, there was no way that could end well. Wisconsin's flip of LB Travis Beckum to tight end was less ominous because Wisconsin had a solid linebacking corps and Beckum hadn't established himself on that side of the ball. Michigan flipping Prescott Burgess from SLB to WLB or PSU moving Dan Connor inside don't register here: we're talking major moves that indicate a serious lack somewhere.
- Steve Schilling moves from tackle to guard and will start.
- Ryan Van Bergen sort of moves from DE to DT and will start.
- Brandon Herron moves from LB to sort of DE and will start.
- Stevie Brown moves from S to sort of LB and will start.
- Troy Woolfolk moves from CB to S and will start.
Though the italicized section above notes that minor moves aren't too damning and all of these fit the category save for Stevie Brown's, IME, that is a lot of guys at positions that are at least somewhat unfamiliar. Schilling's move is probably not a big deal—probably a net positive, actually—but er… that's suboptimal on D there.
An Embarrassing Prediction, No Doubt
Even if Tate gets injured and Sheridan is thrust into the starting lineup on a semi-permanent basis it's tough to see Michigan losing to Indiana, Delaware State, or Eastern Michigan. Western… well, Tate's healthy and it's a stretch to say he'll be out for that game. Also there is Denard. And you can throw in Purdue, too, as a game that Michigan should win. Plus seven other games. These cases aren't meant to encompass the entire spectrum of possibility, so 5-7 should be the realistic bottom.
Let's set aside the super fairy tale where Tate Forcier is Drew Tate as a sophomore, no one gets injured on the defense, and the safeties are a vast improvement over last year. But since this is the best case area: Michigan has five games they should win handily, and a slate of seven opponents who will all be slight favorites. If Tate is functional, Denard is good for one ninja move a game, and the run offense maxes out, Michigan will be in all of those games; I can see them picking off four at maximum. 9-3 is the ceiling.
I believe(!) in the Rodriguez leap.
The only issue is that even if Rodriguez makes a leap similar to that turned in by his 2002 West Virginia team—probably the most comparable since they were coming from so far back—Michigan will only improve to 68th in total offense. They would, hypothetically, get to 42nd in scoring offense if they turned in a 42% jump in points. And unlike Rodriguez's previous stops, his new quarterback is totally inexperienced instead of just mostly inexperienced or Shaun King.
So even if I believe in The Leap, the projections I threw out earlier are a variety of Super Leap Rodriguez hasn't experienced before. The main way I can justify that is by citing Forcier/Robinsons presumed VORP because that RP is a horrible amalgam of Threet and Sheridan. Also, it's a lot easier to go from wretched to okay than okay to pretty good. That, and the turnovers, is where the projections of the Super Leap come from. I'm sticking with 'em. Michigan offense: erratic trending towards sort of good if you squint. Book it.
The defense, well… it's a lot like the offense last year, not to terrify you into a catatonic state. What I mean by that is it relies heavily on a few players to be upright, healthy, and very good lest the whole thing dissolve into chaos. Last year those players were Stephen Threet, various tailbacks, the offensive line, and maybe Junior Hemingway, all of whom were laid up for significant portions of the season (or, in the case of the offensive line, saw significant portions of them laid up for the season). If a similar plague befalls Michigan, the bottom will drop out of the defense again. Probably not to the extent that the offense bottomed out last year—horrible defenses always seem to be coupled with totally incompetent teams (or hyper-pace passing spreads)—but a repeat of last year is possible if Graham or Warren or a variety of others go down. The unit hangs by a thread and could be a pleasant surprise or a fiasco. Splitting the difference, let's shoot for "meh."
|9/5||Western Michigan||Probable win|
|9/19||Eastern Michigan||Must win|
|10/17||Delaware State||Must win|
|10/3||@ Michigan State||Tossup|
|10/10||@ Iowa||Probable loss|
|10/24||Penn State||Probable loss|
|11/21||Ohio State||Probable loss|
Note that the "tossups" above lean to the opponent slightly except maybe for Michigan State and Wisconsin. Michigan should be large favorites in the five games in the jinx-preventing "must win"—no auto-wins here—and probable win categories. The lines in games Michigan will be the underdog in figure to be considerably smaller. If it's 3-4 points, Michigan's still got a 40% chance of winning by the numbers.
So… yeah. If Michigan is an 80% favorite in those five games and a 40% dog in the other seven on average their win expectation is 6.8. That's a simplification since they'll be a bigger favorite in some games and a bigger dog in others, but overall it seems accurate to me. I'd love to find some reason to defy the prevailing consensus for many reasons, amongst them the twin desires to be interesting and avoid the Motor City Bowl, but I can't. Michigan should win the five games against chumps and pick off two or maybe three of their other seven opponents. 7-5 is the chalky pick. FWIW, I think I've talked myself into the idea that 8-4 is a more likely outcome than 6-6.
Yeah, I actually think the Illinois game will be our toughest road game. I consider that game to be a "probable loss".
Regarding PSU, I want to see if they are able to adequately replace all the imact players they lost from 2008 before I dub them a "probable loss" for UM.
Bo wouldn't, of course. But RichRod will. Sounds like yet another distraction for the team.
If everybody could give that comment by me an up arrow, do it, because I think that I just made an awesome point for you to do your thinking about. I'm good at commenting, probably the best on here.
Good point about your good point. You are like a Midwestern Benjamin Disraeli.
If everyone could please give me a point for my reply about Oops Pow's good point about Oops Pow's good point, it would be appreciated. I feel I've earned it.
If someone gives you an arrow it counts as a point. Arrows are not points. I learned that in geometry and it is a fact. Please give me a point-arrow for my astute observation right now.
+1 for sack, + -1 for tallking about MGoPoints (whoops...) = 0. Not too shabby.
Well taken, old chap.
An interesting note on turnover margin for WVU under RR:
In every season after his first, 2001, RR's WVU teams had a positive TO margin. The numbers are as follows:
Year TO Margin
Make of that what you will, but it is pretty encouraging to me.
7-5 with a shot at 8-4
What a great day on mgoblog. Tomorrow we won't have as much content, but hopefully everybody will be loving the post at ~7 pm.
All of the content the last couple of days is truly impressive. Simply outstanding! What a treat to have all this to read the day before our first game.
I'm glad you changed "funtional DNP" to "must win." The karma gods are likely equally pleased.
That was oddly prescient...
I'm all in on this "Rodriguez leap" idea. Make it happen!
Can Michigan get a little luck this year? It doesn't seem like a lot has gone the Maize and Blue's way the last year and a half. We're due! Certainly the (fill in the blank) hating God will have another team to focus on this year.
On a completely different note. Ricardo Miller looked good last night even if it was just Dexter. A couple of touchdowns including one on about a 30 yard run-after-catch. The Pioneer place kicker is really pretty good sending just about every kick-off into the end zone. That's more than I can say for Bryan Wright.
Happy to hear about Ricardo doing well.
In regards to Pioneer's kicker, one note of caution is difference in the kick off line from highschool to college. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I want to say highschool kickoffs are 10 yards further up the field than college ones. So instead of kicking from the 30, they are kicking from the 40.
I'll be perfectly happy with 7 - 5. Throw in a bowl win, and good things should happen in 2010.
Everyone predicting an undefeated season for the Wolverines. I don't think so... more like WolverNOPE! I would say Michigan should win the five games against chumps and pick off two or maybe three of their other seven opponents. 7-5 is the chalky pick. FWIW, I think I've talked myself into the idea that 8-4 is a more likely outcome than 6-6. Give me point-up-arrows if you're not too scared of some UNBIASED thinking!!!
On that video of RR giving people a tour of the new facilities, he mentioned how last year at this time only 1 guy on the team could do a certain lift (clean and jerk?) with 300 lbs whereas this year over 30 guys can do it. Hopefully, this will translate into superior play and fewer injuries.
Also, what if we are as lucky this year as we were unlucky last year? Every year there are usually 2-3 games that easily could have gone the other way. Most years, we win more than our fair share of those games. It is entirely possible, though not likely, that we could go 10-2 if we get a few breaks along the way. Of course, 4-8 is also a possibility if the breaks go the wrong way and we suffer some injuries given our scary lack of depth at almost every position.
Penn State and Ohio State are the only two teams on the schedule clearly better than us (assuming the rosy "we have really improved a lot and nobody gets injured" scenario). Both of these games are at home and there is no reason to think we do not have a chance in those games. Look what Ohio State did to us (at the Big House) in 2001.
Oh, the joys of the day before the first game where the world is full of happy possibilities.
Props for a sober analysis (and a bit of a sobering one, too). My only beef: It's the "Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl" now. Biggest regret about the large chance of ending up there is that it's probably not a good idea to taunt other teams (especially of the younger sibling variety) that they are likely to end up bowling in the great, white, economically depressed north. Playing our way in to the Alamo (or whatever) would be worth it just to keep the "Mo-tor Ci-ty" (or "Lit-tle Cea-sar's", I suppose) jeer alive.
It all depends on the defense.
"Note that the "tossups" above lean to the opponent slightly except maybe for Michigan State and Wisconsin."
UM is going to be favored with a true freshman QB in their conference road opener against a one-sided rival?
I don't see how, looking objectively, Michigan can go on the road and be a "tossup" against a team they lost to last year at home by 14 (and that score was generous; M was gifted a TD and MSU missed two field goals)that is as good or better than last year (better defensively; potentially as good on offense).
Other than the "OMG I will totally die if we lose to Sparty again this year" factor, I just don't see it.
msu lost a good chunk of line, starting qb and star rb. While you may consider 14 generous, bear in mind that it was tied in the 4th quarter.
And also, state isn't a good program. The local media might be all over their nuts, but they don't have some stack of amazing defenders. They don't reel in talent like Michigan does. And they don't have the coaching staff that Michigan does. Toss up is more than fair.
"state isn't a good program."
This is a stupid statement. Are they elite? Definitely not. Are they good? Consistent bowls under Dantonio, better recruiting, excellent fan support (even in the JLS years), 16 wins in the last two years (in the Big Ten, only PSU and OSU had more)... I'd say so.
"but they don't have some stack of amazing defenders. "
MSU's depth at LB and secondary >>> UM's depth. UM has a better d-line, though.
"And they don't have the coaching staff that Michigan does."
Is that supposed to be a negative? Dantonio won a NC with the last Big Ten team to win it all.
Toss-up, sure. But favored in the preseason? I don't agree. UM's win over WMU is better than beating a 1-AA team, but irrelevant to this argument.
I really like all the content on here today, it's awesome to read so much on Michigan football.
We're probably looking at 6-6 or 7-5. Either way we go to a bowl and that will be enough for me this year especially if we manage to get one of ND, MSU or OSU. GO BLUE!