In this instance, relating directly to "Mashed the "plow" button".
Heininger Certainty Principle passed its first two tests with QWash and Campbell (Upchurch)
It’s our weekly roundtable to talk about things that Michigan fans—and by Michigan fans I mean just me—are obsessing about. In honor of the family road trips you just got back from, this week’s it’s a great big “Are we there yet?” In the game:
PRESS AGENT #4
SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR #89
STATISTICAL ANALYST/THERAPIST #58
In 2011 Michigan was 6th in scoring defense, 17th in total defense, and 16th in defensive FEI. In 2012 Michigan finished 19th in scoring defense, 13th in total D, and 26th in defensive FEI. Do you consider that treading water, an expected fall given the DL graduations and tougher schedule, or a veiled improvement? And where do you see this trend going in 2013?
Seth: I admit this topic was a little brought on by panic after getting persistently torched in NCAA 14, which could just mean that Desmond Morgan is way better at playing as Desmond Morgan than I am.
Michigan didn't take a significant step back in 2012, which I would consider a victory. Replace WMU, SDSU, and Virginia Tech with Air Force, Alabama, and South Carolina, and you're gonna have a bad time. Factor in a regression to the mean on the fumble recoveries and the lack of Mike Martin, and those defensive numbers look pretty good to me. They actually gave up about 3 ppg fewer in conference in 2012 despite a tougher road/away split (though obvious BIG TENNNNN caveat applies). 2012 also felt more repeatable, though I have no objective means to demonstrate this.
I don't think 2013 is the Great Leap Forward, but I think we'll see continued progress. The numbers will probably look shinier if for no other reason than the easier schedule, but I'd bet on the defense being 'better' as well. The secondary will be more athletic, which should go a long way toward helping combat the 2012 struggles with spread teams. Hopefully Dymonte Thomas can indeed be deployed as the spread neutralizer. The ILBs will probably still have some struggles with the learning curve (and the training table), but last year's experience should lessen the pain. The meat of the schedule doesn't arrive until November, by which point Jake Ryan will hopefully be settling back onto his throne of skulls and flow. Questions remain on the D-Line, but Will Heininger. /Offers a small running back as a sacrifice to the Mattison. Praise be unto the Mattison. May his swag reign for a hundred seasons.
Mathlete: When I was preparing my pre-season projections, I compared the the 2013 Michigan defense profile to teams from the last several years, the nearest comparison, 2012 Michigan. In terms of production returning, recruiting profile and prior year performance this year's defense looks a lot like last year's squad. The turnover randomness could swing things a bit and with a strong group of underclassmen and Greg Mattison, there is certainly potential for upside.
The schedule should help mitigate the statistical rank downside risk, but if there was going to be a year where things took a step back, this looks like the only candidate. With that said, I don't see that happening. Defenses are a lot more stable and predictable in performance than offenses. Look at experience, look at recruiting profile, check to see that there are no stuffed animals on the sidelines and you should have a pretty good idea where your defense will end up. I rank this year's defense as the 10th most talented (based on age and recruiting profiles) in the country and they return nearly three quarters of their production from last year's squad. It appears we caught a break with the schedule and the timing of Jake Ryan's ACL tear with a Tommy Rees led Notre Dame offense the only major game he should miss. There is always a chance things don't turn out, but I don't see anything that says this year will be a major step back and if anything a few areas that could be signs that 2013 could be a step forward.
Seth: You guys keep denigrating my skills at videogame defense, as if you're not just mashing the "plow" button with Quinton Washington every play while trusting Gibson to run your defensive backs. To answer my question above, I thought Washington's emergence was very significant. The drop-off from Martin and Van Bergen to not them was going to be steep, and it happened but the linebackers improved to such a degree as to make it null. I blame the schedule and losing Countess early to any discrepancy (J.T. Floyd wasn't as solid against the Kenny Bells as he had been in 2011 vs. the big leapers). I also blame offensive regression for the difference in scoring D.
Things are still coming along. Other than Air Force—blessedly we don't face one of those again—the defense didn't have any game where they performed significantly below expectations. Mattison didn't like the Nebraska game but raise of hands who thinks that was on the D? Northwestern is a legitimately good offense, even when Trevor Siemian isn't turning into an unstoppable throw god.
I'm less concerned about who rotates in at 5-tech since there's a lot of meat for the meat god there, and Heitzman wasn't so bad last year. What worries me is what we'll look like early. Jibreel Black versus Notre Dame's offensive line, and Jarrod Wilson versus a Brian Kelly passing attack: those are what scare me. Wilson will be good one day but right now he appears to be a big dropoff from Kovacs and needs some starts in a bad way. Later in the year I think we'll have more faces appearing at the 3- and 5-tech rotations, with contributions from Wormley, Henry, Godin, Strobel, and backup options including a highly regarded true freshman, or the other Glasgow, or even some of that Washington-Pipkins action they keep denying. They'll be a much better defense when they face Ohio State than when Notre Dame comes to town; in the aggregate they’ll look better in yardage thanks to competition but tread water otherwise.
Blue in South Bend: I think having Countess back will be huge. I'd remind you that with him in the game, we held Alabama to a three-and-out (miniscule sample size National Champions wooooo). I do worry about whether Wilson can prevent the home run plays the way Kovacs did, but overall I do think the secondary will be a surprising strength of this team.
/Offers a second small running back to a dormant but extant Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God.
/Mashes "plow" button.
Anyway: I spent a large chunk of last offseason fretting about that fumble recovery rate and expecting something less than impressive as a result, and that was kind of borne out. Michigan did take a half-step back last season, because that's the kind of thing that happens when you go from Mike Martin to one guy with the vague hope of beating a blocker one on one (Jake Ryan). Michigan explored the outer limits of how good a defense can be when you have almost no natural pass rush or athleticism in the secondary. Turns out the answer is "actually not that bad, at least compared to the GERG years."
I think Michigan will get back that half-step this year. There appear to be two major upgrades in the personnel turnover: Countess replaces JT Floyd and James Ross functionally replaces Kenny Demens. While I spent the duration of Demens's career talking about his surprisingly good coverage, Ross should blow by him as a player right now. Floyd spent most of his career on the edge of getting bombed; though he managed to come through repeated targetings mostly okay the fact that every offensive coordinator on the schedule decided to spin that slot machine was indicative. Meanwhile, Frank Clark and Jake Ryan post-injury should adequately replace Jake Ryan.
I'm still not seeing a great defense what with no pass rush from the interior three guys unless Jibreel Black blows up in a way that would frankly shock me. I don't see how a 280 pound three-tech holds up in the Big Ten, don't see much production out of SDE, and while those spots were not exactly gangbusters last year, a lack of developed talent on the defensive line remains a problem.
2014 is when this can get nasty. Michigan returns 8 starters, losing only five guys off the entire two deep: Washington, Black, Cam Gordon, Avery, Thomas Gordon. They add Jabrill Peppers, and Hoke's first recruiting class will finally be ready to infiltrate the starting lineup in earnest. A senior will have--get this--been in the same system his entire career. Craig Roh just started weeping uncontrollably and doesn't know why. He suspects why, he always does, though.
LATE BREAKING Heiko: Well, I guess I'll put in my two cents.
/Doesn't receive change.
I love the defense. I get weirdly excited when Michigan's defense takes the field, because I love watching a well-executed stop take the air out of the other team. The comforting thing about the defense over the past couple years is that they always seem to get better as the game goes on. In Michigan's seven losses since 2011, how many of them can be blamed primarily on the defense (i.e. defense let the offense down)? Only one: the Outback bowl vs. South Carolina, where Michigan was playing without its top two corners and therefore got bombed by SC's receivers.
In fact I think watching the defense improve last year after losing Martin and Van Bergen was something I clung to after it became apparent that the offense was in for a season-long struggle against good teams.
Are we ready to expand the Heininger Certainty Principle to apply to the entire defense? I think so. In contrast to last year's interior OL and tailbacks, no part of the defense has failed to improve over the course of the season. We already know about the D-line, but the linebackers and secondary each had question marks about their viability also at one point or another. Remember when "linebacker hesitancy" was a thing? Or when everyone panicked after Countess's ACL injury? I mean, here we are in 2013, and it's like we knew all along about Quinton Washington and Desmond Morgan and Raymon Taylor. High five.
Maybe it's because I've been primed to consider any defensive competency the best thing ever (I came to Michigan in 2008), but I think we're already at a place where we can count on Michigan smothering most opponents. Depending on how quickly guys like Chris Wormley, Dymonte Thomas, and Jarrod Wilson get up to starter speed, it'll be a question of whether Michigan ends up in the top 10 or top 20, and I think most of us will happily take that.
In this instance, relating directly to "Mashed the "plow" button".
Personally, I think this is my favorite new feature of the blog. I enjoy reading well informed observations from multiple knowledgeable contributers. While I apprecieate mathletics, they are, in my opinion, more practical as a review than used as a predictor. Hope to see more atricles like this, then read the comments after. It is the internet equivalent of sitting around a table and talking about Michigan football, which I enjoy very much. I hope all of you keep up the good work, you all speek from a different perspective with a different writing style, and I like reading as much content as possible.
Watching the Chicago Sports Reporters on PASS, but I love this stuff. For the reasons you mention the mathletic stuff I pass over, because beyond that it's pretty dry. (Which doesn't mean I think it should be done away with. Different things serve different audiences.) And frankly almost all of this stuff is for entertainment. Anything that can be said about the contributors here could be said about newspapers, ESPN talking heads, and frankly most play by play and color guys. Some played the game, but some played and are complete idiots. Being athletic or big and good at a particular skill doesn't automatically make you erudite enough to convey it in the media (no more than it makes one a "dumb jock.") I mean, how long as Terry Bradshaw been on the air? If someone has to have some qualifications to talk on sports, then the whole machine collapses. If it's supposed to be fun, entertainment (which last I check sports are....no one is curing cancer here), then it really just matters if you're producing something enjoyable or annoying.
And boy, would that make for a pretty barren and boring blog, Because to complain about the qualifications of others when posting comments on the same sports blog is a really...interesting...way to look at things.
Because to complain about the qualifications of others when posting comments on the same sports blog is a really...interesting...way to look at things.
Big Bleacher Report fan, are you?
But I don't go on their site and bitch about the content they provide. Or who does. I just don't read it.
I also don't complain about the qualifications of those who provide the content. What exactly are your sports qualifications to be able to properly judge others? Would you like to explain what in your background makes you capable of doing what you think others are unqualified to do? Any sports background? Any studying, homework, or analysis you've done to cover for anywhere you're lacking? Seth has laid out what he does....your turn.
If you don't think it has merit, don't read it, and don't complain about content until your bring ANYTHING to the site except snark and off-topic confrontation. Frankly, no one would miss it if you just left.
This is so fantastically confused about what I said that I have no idea how to respond. The second paragraph is detached from reality entirely.
The greatest day in your dogs life. The day he was finally free of your fucking bullshit.
If I had a time machine, I would go back to June 15, 1998, and run him over with a tractor. Put that poor guy out of his misery.
Are you a pretend farmer in real life, too?
I really like this new feature. Keep it coming!
"I don't see how a 280 pound three-tech holds up in the Big Ten"
RVB was less than 280 when he played 3-tech. He was more like 260. He got up to 280-290 when he moved outside.
I think you've got that backward. IIRC, RVB didn't play inside until his senior year, when he and Heininger would switch spots sometimes. I only remember him playing on the end until then.
but that is how I remember it as well. I thought RVB only moved inside his senior year. I thought he moved from outside in not inside out.
I like the feature, but feel like this discussion mostly lacked depth. Of course, I like really long posts that go into minute detail and analysis, and I think I'm in the minority there.
Michigan was 52nd against the run last year in yards/game. We were 36th in yds/att. Neither of those is very good, and I expect both to improve significantly this year. QWASH is a year better, as is Black. Whoever ends-up at SDE will be a good enough anchor, and Frank Clark should be an upgrade at WDE. But the real key, IMO, will be James Ross. I believe that he'll have a huge impact on our rushing defense not only by being a tackling maching, but also by picking-up an extra TFL for our defense every game. Those plays are drive-killers. Furthermore, Dymonte Thomas should significantly improve our nickel run defense. Expect a few more busted plays with Kovacs gone, but on the whole, a better rushing defense in terms of yards allowed and yards per carry.
Also, I expect a more efficient offense and easier schedule and no Air Force to force more teams to pass against us as the scoreboard dictates that will be their only chance to win. Only Nebraska, Northwestern, and OSU should have the firepower to test our run defense this year, IMO.
The flipside of that is our absurdly good (statistically) passing defense (#5 in 2012) will probably take a statistical step back. More teams will have to pass to try to keep up with our offense and running will be more difficult. While I believe our secondary will be better, let's keep in mind that 'Bama's secondary finished behind ours last year. The fact that our passing defense was 37th in yds/att and 50th (!!!) in passer rating should tell you that our #5 ranking in terms of yards allowed per game is a bit misleading. I expect both the yds/att and passer rating stats to be significantly better, but the yds/gm stat to look worse.
In the end, what really matters is scoring and turnovers. I think we'll be better than #19 in scoring--closer to 17 pts/gm than 20 pts/gm--which should put us closer to #10 than #20. We were 77th (!!!) in sacks last year with just 22. That will be better, although I don't see us getting more than 30 unless Frank Clark and Jibreel Black have superhuman seasons. Our 7 INTs last year earned us the #100 ranking in that category. That will be better with Countess, Thomas, and Taylor as our primary corners, and I actually think Wilson will help there too, even though he'll have some head-scratching big plays allowed (another reason our pass defense will drop a bit). We were middle-of-the-pack on fumbles forced and recovered; I don't see that changing too much. Losing Ryan for 60% of the season could hurt us there, but Ross, Thomas, Clark, and Gordon should pick-up the slack.
If we can get into the top 25 in sacks and INTs, we could be looking at a 12-0 regular season.
One item we keep forgetting is how far the Big10 has fallen. The Big10 does not have the same talent even as recent as a few years ago. Last years QB play in the conference was particularly disappointing.
I am going to go back to 1999. Recall Michigan shut out Indiana. Yet a couple weeks later gave up 50+ points to Northwestern. A decent team that can stop the run can appear to be really good if you play a lot of teams with yucky quarterbacks. It seemed to me last year if a QB was half decent, we got our clock cleaned. Anyone is going to look good if a QB is going to throw the ball into the ground.
The big unknown for me is the pass rush. My guess is we struggled against decent QB's because we could not generate pressure without blitzing. If we can generate a pass rush and prevent a good QB from making a good throw because he is on the turf or throwing on the run then we can do better against some of these more balanced teams. The good news is most of the teams we play have poor offensive and poor QB play. So I see a lot of good results against the bad teams. Unfortuately we will then play a new years bowl against an SEC team and we will give up 30+ to them again.
Indiana was a giant ball of crap, as Indiana is always a giant ball of crap even when they have Antwaan Randle El.
Northwestern torched us because we couldn't stop the option 13 years ago, either.
I don't think the Big Ten in general has been great since AT BEST early 2000s.
Our defense did play pretty well against some good QBs...Everett Golson and Braxton Miller, to name two. I don't really count Alabama because we couldn't stop the goddamn run. The only truly awful game was the Outback Bowl because we stopped the run decently well and still couldn't defend the pass.
2006 and 2009 weren't bad and 2011 wasn't either, but yeah, the B1G was at its best in the last 20 years from 1996-2000.
Raymon Taylor was a very pleasant surprise last year. Thank you football gods
Who's the statistical analrapist?
The guy with the ewok avatar?
about Thomas Gordon already? He is a ball hawk and makes plays. i think he will be a large important part of the defense and should be the leader as well.
not saying he is the next Ed Reed, but dude is pretty good and probably deserves a mention.
I don't know that I would call Gordon a ball hawk, but I would definitely agree that he is going to be a major part of the defense. Potentially even the key contributor on the defense. It's been a long time since UM had safeties you could rely on and thus the past couple of years with JK and TG have been damn nice. Could also be why he is being over looked now (being so steady you almost forget he's there).
may have been too strong on my part, but he just seems to make plays and be around when good things happen
But if we're taling year-over-year changes, Gordon is largely status quo. He was good last year, and he'll be good this year (and probably better). The big swings will come from areas of significant turnover (3-tech and 5-tech, the other safety spot, boundary corner, SAM until Ryan returns, etc.).
Believe you me, I'm expecting some pretty solid play from Gordon.
Why are there people complaining about this article?
"It makes me so angry that there is an an open discussion by people on staff at a website I like a lot on a topic that interests me!"
Jeff Tweedy was right about the internet.
I think more-of-the-same is about right. We bring in more talent, but they are young and experience is important. So, we'll have some ups and downs early in the season as experience is acquired. However, if we can finally generate a sustained pass rush, then that will cover up some of the youth and inexperience in the seconday. May Tommy Rees land on his ass many times during UTL II. Crossing my fingers someone breaks out on the D-line.
A couple things:
1) the schedule look easier b/c of home/road and no Bama... but looking at this from a defensive perspective- look at how many returning starters at QB the B10 has this year. lol BIG TENNNNNN... but that's a lot of returning experience from a critical position in the conference. That, with the loss of big play killer kovacs may spell a slightly dissappointing defensive output this year. I'm still worried about the Dline not having much play making ability.
2) I rank this year's defense as the 10th most talented (based on age and recruiting profiles) in the country and they return nearly three quarters of their production from last year's squad.
3) Giggity giggity giggity if I'm wrong
I think the athletic upgrade in the secondary will allow Mattison to bring more rushers. The zone blitzing was great disguising where the pressure was coming from, but with more speed in the secondary, maybe he'll start bringing more rushers. I don't know enough about Hoke to know if he would gamble more on the defensive side, but I get the feeling that if Mattison could, he'd get pretty aggresive.
in his first two years back, and that leads me to believe he pretty much has free reign on that side of the ball, at minimum during actual game calling. I think the reason we've been burned glaringly a couple of times on some of his risks was due to a rather shallow pool of talent on the back side, an issue that seems to have been addressed and should continue to get stronger as this and future seasons progress. Often times, people forget just how few defenders, somewhere between 21 and 24 were on roster when RR took over. Ideally this number should be right at about 42-44 for this level of play.
what with their unverified voracity and what not. What a disappointing sentiment to see here, Shoe.
That's not what he said. He said there is no expectation that someone will be an expert in a subject area. It's perfectly possible for a blog written by a generalist to provide high quality analysis. He didn't say blogs have lower standards than other publications.
A real one. Bravo.
A 500 word stanza on American leadership in a globally interdependent age that moves beyond triumphalism by this time tomorrow.
If it's 501, don't show it to me.
An ode to the greatest police state of our age? That's politics, bro.
I enjoy this feature. It has been around long enough for people to know what type of article/discussion they are about to read. If it's not your cup of tea, don't read it. The ability to make decisions and think for ourselves is what separates us from the robots. That and the ability to love...don't be a robot!
Separately, Marcus Ray did a pretty good impression of Brady Hoke on WTKA. Definitely, made me laugh.
When I see Will Heininger's mom tomorrow -- do I mention the Heininger Certainty Principle?
How my karma isn't 0 by now I couldn't tell you.
As long as everyone hates everyone else this will be a perfect place to talk Michigan athletics.
All the site staffers suck. Viva anarchy.
Then getting past 9 wins is going to be a tall order.