Gulo Gulo Luscus
After the past two games, much discussion has centered around a rapid transition from guarded optimism to total panic in regards to our offense. The relative merits of our interior lineman, in particular, have been debated widely in platitudes as well as UFR minutiae. While Miller is facing a bit of a talent and size deficiency, we all return to the inexperience of these (and other young) Wolverines as a large factor in our offensive struggles. Though not speaking exclusively on the OL, ST3 hammers the matter of "youth" home in his most recent Inside the Box Score.
It’s widely accepted that an experienced line correlates with a successful offense. I didn’t expect to have to dig deep into an MGoSearch to find some statistical evidence accompanied by glorious charts, but the hunt turned up empty other than a 2009 Unverified Voracity linking to a WSJ article confirming the strong correlation. This particular evaluation used combined OL starts as a metric, determining that “offensive-line experience is one of the telltale predictors of success in college football.” I sought out to see how this correlation might look for Michigan and its immediate cohorts: the Big Ten member teams, Notre Dame, and next year’s new kids Rutgers/Maryland. I’ve dubbed this the B1G+.
So how would a lurking, stat-friendly but non-mathletic blog poster make some evaluations? Without data on career starts, I used eligibility year (per rivals depth charts as of 9/26/13) as a metric for experience of an offensive line. True freshman are a 1, redshirt seniors a 5. Herein lies an obvious limitation: "age” and “experience” can be quite different in matters of football.
Given that I’m interested in the effect of a young OL, my metric for success was an offense's yards per play; see Ron Utah's recent diary for another breakdown of how our offense stacks up based on yards per play. The WSJ study used AP poll result to measure success; see LSAClassOf2000 question the legitimacy of this measure. I included data on team RPI to give some sense of overall team strength.
Scientists: I got a B.A. in Psych from LSA and something called “arts and ideas” from the Residential College, so forgive me for my sins. If I understand your process, I'm testing the hypothesis that offensive lines with a greater average age will produce more yards per play. If I understand your caveats, it’s unlikely that my data set is a large enough sample to draw significant conclusions. But I've got a nifty heat map:
(Green = 1+ standard deviation above average, Orange = within 1 standard deviation either way, Red = 1+ standard deviation below average)
The hypothesis would suggest we see a lot more green on the top half of the map (other than SOS, which is mostly for reference). Of teams with older than average B1G+ OLs, Ohio State fits the hypothesis best with Wisconsin a close second. To be fair, 3.8 years into eligibility per OL in Madison is probably closer to 4+ anywhere else. What do they put in the cheese up there?
MSU and Purdue are extreme outliers against expectation. Michigan St. may be explained by the effect of the "age does not equal experience" limitation. If I recall correctly, they have shuffled guys to the line from other positions out of necessity. Purdue... I don't know anything about the makeup of that line, but to be fair their SOS is tops in the B1G+. Note that Michigan is the epitome of an average team across the entire row, including SOS.
On the bottom half of the map, there are several overperforming young offensive lines. Maryland is cranking out more yards per play than anyone but Wisconsin despite having the youngest OL in the sample. Indiana is having no problem moving the ball against a schedule more difficult than MIchigan. Same for Illinois, though the rush numbers are right on the fringe of going "red," leaving them an average overall offense. Notre Dame's rushing attack is a minor anomaly. How about a scatter plot?
At a glance, the hypothesis is bogus through four weeks of B1G+ action. That's clearly a negative correlation, both across and within quadrants. On the other hand, the trend line looks about right if you throw out Purdue, MSU and Maryland. Michigan is to the B1G+ as David is to man, but Minnesota will be out to prove they are the more perfectly mediocre offense from the most perfectly mediocre conference next weekend.
The tone of the blog after UConn has shifted towards acceptance of our averageness rather than extreme panic or outdated optimism. If nothing else, these cute visuals may lend credence to that MGoStageOfGrieving. Sure, we're not that "young," but we're not that bad either, independently or relative to age/competition.
The board has been abuzz in the wake of FItz Touissaint's July 24 DUI arrest. In judging Fitz actions, commenters have generally fallen into one of two camps: drunk-driving hard-liners who see no room for discussion and those who take a wait and see/legal gray area approach. I've seen reasonable arguments from both sides, but don't intend to tackle the moral/legal nuance of DUI or debate how/whether Hoke's response defines not only his own character but that of the program and university. My goal is merely to put this in perspective by referencing incidents of drinking and driving from this offseason and how a variety of coaches responded. If nothing else, it's clear that a one size fitz (had to) all solution doesn't exist. For those who are interested in more points of comparison, check out this review of notable DUI incidents from the past few years.
[Edit: Or Seth's take after the Rucker incident last year, which of course is more detailed despite being a mere comment/reply to the OP.]
|Player||Team/Position||Suspension||Y U No Use Links?|
|James Sims||Kansas/RB||3 games||Leading rusher suspended for first 3 games of 2012 by new coach Charlie Weis.|
|Stanford/LB||1 game||Reinstated after an indefinite suspension stemming from February incident.|
|Cayman Shutter||Hawaii/QB||4 games||Backup quarterback will miss significant time after pleading no contest to a March DUI charge.|
|Chase Vasser||Georgia/LB||2 games||Starting LB will miss opener against Buffalo and week 2 against Mizzou.|
|Tanner McEvoy||South Carolina/QB||None||Spurrier defends a decision not to suspend backup QB for "speeding and driving after consuming alcohol while under the age of 21" charges. McEvoy transfers anyway.|
|Ohio State/DB||Kicked off team||Multiple offender. Skeptical of Meyer's decision to revoke scholarship.|
|Justin Staples||Illinois/LB||Some game time||"It could be a half, a game, or a number of games."|
|Josh Huff||Oregon/WR||Undetermined||Pleaded not guilty and trial will occur after 2012 junior season.|