Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
Play 18, +13.4%, Robinson to Roundtree for 46 on 3rd and 8
Play 73, +6.6%, Robinson scores from the 14 on 3rd and 1
Play 52, +6.3% Robinson to Hemingway for 26 on 3rd and 6
Play 46, –11.1%, Martinez to Kinnie for a 54 yard TD
Play 59, –7.6%, Brett Maher hits a 51 yard FG
Plays 54/55, –7.1%, Terrence Moore intercepts Denard (-5.1%) and returns it to the Michigan 34 (-2.0%)
It’s nice to see Denard re-claim the top 3 with both running and passing, all on big third down plays. Also good, when the second most negative play of the day was one that (at that point) was one you had no control over.
Nebraska Game Scores
Rushing: +1, not spectacular but effective
Passing: +9, second only to Northwestern, a very efficient performance
Rush defense: +2, didn’t allow Nebraska to do enough to set up the pass
Pass defense: +3, since ND, no games worse than -2
Special Team: +1, positive for the 4th straight game, even without counting the fumbles
Denard: +14 overall, +11 passing and +2 rushing, only Northwestern and ND were higher at +15
Toussaint: –3, final TD considered garbage time, would have pushed him to par
Martinez -4, +0 pass, -4 rush, his worst game of the year and first negative in the Big 10
Burkhead: +0 on his fewest carries of the year
Heisman and Award Tracking
My top 3 Heisman/QB:
1. RG3, Baylor: +3.39 WPA (2nd), +13 PAN (1st)
2. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +3.24 (3rd), +13 (2nd)
3. Kellen Moore, Boise St.: +1.77 (24th), +11 (4th)
Denard Robinson: +2.50 (7th), +5 (28th)
Robert Griffin’s big game against Oklahoma propelled him into the number 1 spot over Russell Wilson. Case Keenum is right in the mix, as well, but Kellen Moore gets the third spot thanks to the games against Georgia and TCU. Andrew Luck remains absent based on his good but not great resume.
1. LaMichael James, Oregon: +.69 (9th), +3 (3rd)
2. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St: +.39 (24th), +3 (5th)
3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: +.67 (10th), +3 (7th)
Trent Richardson, Aabama: +.29 (34th), +2 (11th)
Fitz Toussaint: +.22 (40th), +1 (41st)
As you can see from the magnitude of the RB numbers versus the QB numbers, I just can’t justify putting an RB on my Heisman ballot.
1. Kendall Wright, Baylor: +1.94 (4th), +9 (2nd)
2. Gerell Robinson, Arizona St: +2.47 (1st), +8 (7th)
3. Sammy Watkins, Clemson: +1.40 (12th), +8 (4th)
Sammy Watkins has slumped as the season as progressed and Gerell Robinson has come on strong of late. Justin Blackmon’s season has still been strong but nowhere near the dominance he had last year. Former Michigan opponents Jordan White and Jeremy Ebert where near contenders.
1. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
3. Devon Still, Penn St
1. AJ Johnson, Tennessee
2. Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
3. Johnathan Brown, Illinois
1. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
2. Antonio Allen, South Carolina
3. DeQuan Menzie, Alabama
Defensive players are rated based on how many negative EV plays they make and the magnitude of those plays. They are then divided by the number of non-garbage time plays the entire defense has faced so teams that force a lot of three and outs aren’t punished.
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Some tough calls this week. Notre Dame and BC both punted from inside the 45 with less than 5 yards to go in the second half, twice! Even though that game was an ug-fest both coaches get awarded dumb punt of the week.
Normally, I would have given the award to Mack Brown at Texas for punting from the 45 on 4th and 5 down 7 in the fourth quarter to Kansas St, but when your defense only gives up 120 yards for the game there is a defensible case for it.
The Game Preview
My son just turned three and he is starting to watch a little bit of football now. He always wears his jersey and says “Go Michigan” and asks every morning if today is a football day. I started getting nervous a couple weeks ago when watching other games he started telling me “I like the red team” for any team with red uniforms. This could not stand. So I started telling him that the red team was bad and he like Michigan. Yesterday I gave him a test and asked him if he liked Michigan or the red team, he yelled “Michigan!” and then told me, unprompted, that the red team is sad. I hope he is right, they deserve to be very, very sad.
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 10th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +1, 38th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 41st (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +4, 15th, 3rd
Michigan: +2, 25th (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs Ohio O: +1, 34th, 4th
Michigan: +2, 36th (Oklahoma St), 6th (Penn St)
vs Ohio O: –4, 109th, 12th
Michigan: +0, 74th (Florida St), 8th (Purdue)
Ohio: +2, 23rd, 3rd
A one-dimensional offense against Greg Mattison, yes please. Limit the turnovers and don’t allow any big special teams plays and I think the streak is over. Michigan 28-20
This week was essentially a pick-em so we’ll skip the spread and chart it straight up.
I have been making a few tweaks to the math behind the chart to take out some of the noise, especially on possession changes, hopefully it’s becoming a better product.
Michigan jumps out early, is in good position but can’t close it out for the second and third quarters before finally putting it a way in the fourth.
1. +12.5%, Play 3, Toussaint for 65 on the opening drive.
2. +5.2%, Play 5, Robinson punches it in for the opening score.
3. +5.0%, Play 153, JT Floyd picks Scheelhaase (+1.5%) and takes it back 43 yards (+3.5%).
1. –5.8%, Play 65, Michigan stopped on 4th and goal from the 1.
2. –4.9%, Play 33, Robinson’s first fumble with Michigan driving.
3. –2.7%, Play 137, Scheelhaase runs for a 31 yard score to cut the lead to 10.
Other Notes from Illinois
Last year we had a consistent defense and hoped our offense was good enough to win the game for us. This year we have a consistent defense and hope our offense is good enough to win the game for us. The difference is last year the D was so bad that the offense had to hit home runs to pull it out. This year the defense has consistently held serve and the offensive variability has largely dictated our success or failure.
This week the narrative expanded and not only did the defense hold serve, it produced extra value. This is the first game all season that offense had a negative win percent added (-13%) and the team still won the game. Iowa and Michigan St both saw negative scores but the defense couldn’t do enough to overcome.
How you feel about this game is largely dependent on how you view Illinois. If you view them as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team you probably are part of the group that was uninspired about the showing on Saturday. You would probably point to stats such as Michigan had the best field position of any BCS conference team in any game so far this season and still only had 31 points (vs an expected 39 based on field position).
If you view Illinois as a Ron Zook coached mid-level BCS conference team with a stout defense and some weapons on offense, you are probably Brian. I have Illinois’ defense ranked #14 nationally at +7 and third in the Big Ten behind Penn St and MSU. Scheelhaase is a ranked as a top 20 BCS conference QB (+5) and AJ Jenkins is a top 10 receiver (+8, catches only) who was limited to +1 on a season-high 19 targets. I am in the second camp here. The offensive performance was far from perfect but the total performance of the team accounting for Illinois’ stout defense probably puts Saturday as the best/most important win of the year to date.
Rushing: –1, good and bad even out versus strong rush defense
Passing: +8, found some big plays and no meaningful interceptions
Rush defense: +1, decent day against a mediocre run game
Pass defense: +7, in JT we trust, apparently
Special Team: +1, a narrow miss on a FG away from best score of the year
Denard: +1 overall, +4 pass -3 rush, no games higher than +3 since Northwestern
Devin: +3, +5 pass –2 rush, best number of the year
Toussaint: +4, 3rd best of the year for a Michigan back (Fitz vs Purdue and VS vs E Mich, +6)
Scheelhaase: +4, +0 pass, +4 rush
Jenkins: +8 but took a season high 19 targets to get there
Third and Done
So I wrote this up on early in the week only to find that its become a topic across Michigan blogdom this week. Hopefully there is something new for you here, if not rest assured knowing that we own third and one.
Michigan hasn’t just been good on third (or fourth) and one, they have been amazing. Michigan has 15 stops in 27 competitive attempts against them this year. That’s a 44% offensive success rate. The national average is 72%. Michigan is literally getting twice as many stops as the average defense would on third or fourth and one.
Michigan is currently 12th over the last 9 seasons on the conversion rate in this situation. Only 1 of the 11 teams ahead of them have faced more than 18 attempts. The only comparison to what Michigan is doing so far this year is Boston College of 2008 who had 16 stops out of 25 attempts against. In fact, if Michigan gets two more stops on third or fourth and 1, they will have the most stops over the last 9 years in that situation. Michigan has ended a full 7 drives more than the average team would on super short yardage situations.
B1G Championship Game
The loss to Iowa effectively ended Michigan’s chances. I have them listed at 0.3% chance of making the inaugural title game but that assumes that Indiana has a chance to win on the road against Michigan St. A Sparty No on Saturday and a Michigan win puts the odds up over 20%. In total, Michigan needs wins over Nebraska and Ohio and Michigan St to lose to both Indiana and Northwestern. The Spartans hold a commanding 91% chance of making the title game, a win by both Michigan teams on Saturday would clinch it. Nebraska stands at about 8% but need to win out and have Michigan St slip to have any real chance. Iowa technically could win some 3 or 4 way tiebreakers but at less than 1 in 2000 odds, things don’t look so bright.
On the other side of the standings both Wisconsin and Penn St control their own destinies. I give Wisconsin an 84% chance of winning the head to head matchup so they have a 67% chance of reaching the title game. Penn St sits at 27% and thanks the Boilermakers upset over Ohio, those two schools both sit at 3% apiece. For Purdue the path is win out, Ohio beat Penn St, Illinois beat Wisconsin, Michigan beat Ohio and Wisconsin beat Penn St. Ohio isn’t dependent on as many game, but the odds are the same. Win out, Penn St lose out, and Wisconsin lose to Illinois.
My Heisman Thoughts
With some new chaos at the top of the polls, Wisconsin has got to be killing themselves for not being able to defend the deep ball late. It’s put them out of the National Championship race and buried Russell Wilson’s Heisman campaign. I think it should still be kicking. I have him leading in WPA (+3.0) ahead of Case Keenum (+2.8) and Brandon Weedon (+2.2) and EV (+13) ahead of Keenum (+12) and RG3 (+11).
Kellen Moore: +1.5/+10
Andrew Luck: +1.7/+6
Trent Richardson: +.3/+4
Denard still holds up well on WPA at +2.07 but his EV is way down at +4 and barely in the top quarter of all QBs.
PAN, National Rank (leader), Big Ten Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 12th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: –0, 63rd, 8th
Fitz: +1 (now in top 30 RB’s)
Michigan: +1, 50th (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs. Nebraska D: +2, 30th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 21st (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs. Nebraska O: +0, 53rd, 7th
Taylor Martinez: +1
Rex Burkhead: –1 (24th of 28 back that average 100 yards per game)
Michigan: +2, 39th (Oregon), 7th (Penn St)
vs. Nebraksa O: +3, 25th, 4th
Taylor Martinez: +4
Michigan: –0, 79th (Florida St), 9th (Purdue)
Nebraska: +2, 27th, 3rd
Rex Burkhead has the yards and the carries but my per play valuation point to a Nebraska team that pounds the ball on the ground for yards, but puts points on the board through the air courtesy of a throwing motion that makes Tebow look like Tom Brady. These teams are pretty evenly matched. Mobile QBs that are flawed passers who can succeed on the back of the run game and defenses far below historical precedent but not major deficiencies either. Michigan 31-28
Kick it off like we always do…
The early touchdown saw the unadjusted numbers drop below 30% but the spread adjustment kept the expectation at about 70% or above for the whole game.
Top 3 Plays:
Play #45, +12%, Robinson to Roundtree for 49 yards on 3rd and 20.
Play #73, +11%, Robinson to Gallon for 42 yards and 1st and Goal.
Play #67, +10%, Avery picks off the Marve deflection
Bottom 3 Plays:
Play #6, –18%, TerBush to Bush for 48 yards a Purdue lead.
Play #36, –9%, Robinson picked on third down.
Play #46, –9% Gardner picked for the first time this year.
The story of Saturday was mostly Fitz Toussaint, and rightfully so. His +7 on the day was the best mark for a Michigan running back on the season. In fact, other than Vincent Smith’s +6 against Eastern Michigan no Michigan back had even crossed +3 on the season.
The defense continues to do enough to allow the offense to take hold of the game. After four B1G games this season the defense has had a best Win Percent Added (WPA) of +6% from Saturday to a worst of –7% against Northwestern. That is a incredibly tight window to operate in and means that defense has essentially held serve in every B1G game this season. The offense is still doing the heavy lifting, but at least the defense isn’t adding to load this season.
Grades are in PAN (pts/game) and opponent adjusted.
Rush Offense: +3
Vincent Smith: +1
Pass Offense: +5
Rush Defense: +2
Pass Defense: +0
Special Teams: +1 (best of the year)
A little frustrated with the coverage on the Heisman this year. Apparently the NFL GM’s are now deciding who the best performer is in college football. This isn’t a knock on Andrew Luck, but just because the NFL says he is a sure thing, doesn’t automatically mean he is going to have the most deserving year. He has piled up good stats against bad teams so far and the conversation could still change.
Here are my ratings of the top contenders looking at both PAN and WPA.
Player, School: PAN (Rank), WPA (Rank)
Andrew Luck, Stanford: +6 (25th), +1.7 (8th)
Trent Richardson, Alabama: +4 (2nd RB), +.4 (11th)
Kellen Moore, Boise St: +11 (4th), +2.1 (4th)
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +13 (1st), +2.4 (1st)
Case Keenum , Houston: +13 (2nd), +2.2 (3rd)
Denard Robinson, Michigan: +6 (22nd), +2.2 (2nd)
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Pickings were a little slimmer this week but this week’s award goes to the Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. Trailing by 4 in the World’s Largest Non-Alcoholic but Actually a Total Drunkfest Party with a little over 8 minutes to go, the Gators faced 4th and 2 at the Georgia 37. This one works out for the Gators, even though they go on to lose, anyway. After taking a Delay of Game to give the punter more room (the first sign of a dumb punt), Florida manages to down the ball at the 4 and get a three and out. Florida gets the ball back at the 36, trading 2+ minutes on the clock to get a yard and a fresh set of downs, the Gators throw three straight incompletions and then go for the 4th and 10 but fail, never getting the ball back.
Projections and Ranking
If you missed it Monday I posted detailed odds for the B1G championship game. Michigan stands at 9.5% overall. Going 4-0 down the stretch bumps it up to nearly 40%. A loss to division foes Iowa or Nebraska effectively kills the chances where going 3-1 with a loss to either Illinois or Ohio still leaves the odds around 20%.
After an expected win last week against Purdue, the overall win projection for Michigan is relatively unchanged in between 9 and 10 wins.
Opp (Change vs last post)
@Iowa: 67% (-1%)
@Illinois: 55% (+6%)
Nebraska: 56% (-8%)
Ohio: 70% (-7%)
My Top 5
1. Oklahoma St
2. Boise St
15. Michigan St
19. Penn St
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +5, 3rd (Georgia Tech), 1st
Iowa: +1, 53rd, 7th
Michigan: +2, 32nd (Boise), 4th (Wisconsin)
Iowa: –6, 118th, 11th
Michigan: +2, 25th (LSU), 5th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 18th, 3rd
Michigan: +1, 43rd (Oklahoma St), 7th (Michigan St)
Iowa: +3, 23rd, 2nd
Michigan: 0, 88th (Florida St), 10th (Purdue)
Iowa: +1, 49th, 7th
The next three games are all slight Michigan favors before matching up with an improving Ohio team. A home game versus Iowa would make me more comfortable but I still think it goes our way, 37-30 Michigan.
One final note is that based on a little twitter prompting from @cdbarker I have begun work on a game-theory manifesto and it's going to be long, probably to be posted in December. Planned topics include: how to use timeouts, suprise on-side kicks, a better 2-point conversion chart and possibly a revisit of 4th down stategy. Hit me in the comments or @The_Mathlete with other things you would like to see.
Mid-Week metrics will be coming…well, mid-week.
Since we are within four weeks of the end of the regular, running some end of simulations start to make sense. Below are my projections based on my PAN ratings through last weekends games, run through 20,000 simulations and pushed through the Big Ten’s mildly confusing tiebreaking rules.
Odds of an outright win or two-team tie with straight ahead tiebreakers:
Michigan St: 58.3%
Three Way Tie: 6.0%
4 Way Tie: 0.1%
3 or 4 way ties mostly split between Nebraska and Michigan with a couple going Iowa’s way. Any 3+ team ties go against Sparty. The only judgment call I made was assuming in the event of a Michigan/Nebraska/Michigan St tie that went to the BCS computers I assumed that Michigan St would be out due to the ND loss and Michigan would lead Nebraska thanks to the head to head. Doesn’t change much, would swing a couple scenarios away from Michigan if they weren’t ahead.
In the end, Michigan’s odds are about 9.5% to reach the Championship game.
Update: MGoUser But I aint a Crip though had a good comment about Michigan's odds if they win out or go 3-1. Winning out gives Michigan a 37.5% chance of winning the division and going to the championship game. A loss within the division is a killer, odds reduce to 0.3% with a loss against Nebraska and 4.0% if they lose versus Iowa. An Illinois loss drops but winning the rest puts the odds at 21% and winning the next three but dropping to Ohio still means a 17% chance at the inaugural championship game.
Penn St: 42.9%
Three Way Tie: 6.3%
Four Way Tie: 2.1%
Five Way Tie: 0.2%
Despite a two game lead over Wisconsin, Penn St and Wisconsin are about even odds to win the division. Thanks to both of their losses coming out of division, Ohio wins almost any tiebreaker scenario they are in. There are a couple ties that the Buckeyes missed out on and Wisconsin and Purdue! split those.
If Michigan Makes It
Odds on who they would face:
Penn St: 41.2%
Odds Used for Each Game
Minnesota @ Michigan St: 99% MSU
NW @ Nebraska: 99% Nebraska
Indiana @ Ohio: 99% Ohio
Purdue @ Wisconsin: 99% Wisconsin
Michigan @ Iowa: 67% Michigan
What a crappy set of games this weekend
Wisconsin @ Minnesota: 99% Wisconsin
Nebraska @ Penn St: 52% Nebraska
Michigan @ Illinois: 55% Michigan
Michigan St @ Iowa: 71% Michigan St
Ohio @ Purdue: 61% Ohio
Minnesota @ Northwestern: 77% Northwestern
Indiana @ Michigan St: 99% Michigan St
Nebraska @ Michigan: 56% Michigan
Penn St @ Ohio: 57% Ohio
Wisconsin @ Illinois: 72% Wisconsin
Iowa @ Purdue: 54% Purdue
Iowa @ Nebraska: 87% Nebraska
Michigan St @ Northwestern: 89% Michigan St
Purdue @ Indiana: 81% Purdue
Ohio @ Michigan: 70% Michigan
Illinois @ Minnesota: 89% Illinois
Penn St @ Wisconsin: 85% Wisconsin
Taking a stroll down memory lane during the bye week to see how pre-season predictions stand now along with various nuggets of interest.
In my preseason post I grouped the season into four groups, Cupcakes, Just Don’t Screw It Up, Toss-Ups, Countdown Games (plus Nebraska).
Eastern Michigan and Minnesota coming into the Big House without much hope. Eastern was bad every year considered and only gets a slight uptick from returning starters. No points awarded for hiring Mike Hart.
Minnesota saw last year plummet below already-low-for-a-Big-Ten-team values and returning starters push them down slightly further.
Both of the cupcake games are in the bag. Eastern is looking slightly better than expected and Minnesota has inspired GopherQuest.
Just Don’t Screw It Up
Western Michigan, San Diego St, Purdue, and at Northwestern all seem pretty safe on their own, but there is only a 55% chance we go 4-0 in these four games. Successfully do that and a nine-win season becomes a more attainable. Dropping one or more will make it tougher to top last season’s win total in the regular season.
The last of this group comes on Saturday vs. Purdue. That game sits at 84% chance of winning, 1% better than preseason. So far we have taken care of the first three games from this group, a win against Purdue should is a must.
Notre Dame, at Iowa and at Illinois all place Michigan a percent or two below 50/50. 5-2 between these last two groups keeps us on pace to 8 wins. Iowa overachieved last year but is brought down to earth thanks to a depleted roster. Illinois is heading in the opposite direction after [NAME REDACTED] made one last run to save his job. Notre Dame is the highest rated of the bunch as Brian Kelly begins to purge the Weis ratings from the books. The Domers get the benefit of a strong returning group but are in the mix with Iowa and Illinois thanks to an under the lights meet-up in Ann Arbor.
The formula for eight wins was 5-2 against the previous two groups. Currently we sit at 4-0 here. Iowa has moved from 49% preseason to 62% currently, Illinois is holding at 53% from 49% in August, but showing signs of fading. Winning two of the next three would obviously guarantee eight wins and make 9 or 10 very possible.
Countdowns and Nebraska
To hold serve on an 8-win season, expect one win out of this group. Ohio has been the cream of the Big Ten for the last several years, but graduation and Tressel-gate have dropped the Buckeyes into the mix. Michigan State and Nebraska both saw 6+ point improvements last season and have a decent group returning. Nebraska should definitely be the better team, but they won’t have the luxury of home field.
Sitting at 0-1 from this group now but a real shot at picking up at least one and maybe two wins from here. Ohio is already sitting at three losses and despite only a single loss on the season, Nebraska’s projected strength seems overstated. In August both games were projected about 35% for Michigan. Nebraska currently sits at 62% and Ohio at 75%, virtually flipped from where we started.
All told, the eight win projection seems pretty safe. I am projected a 96% chance of at least eight wins. The coin flip win over Notre Dame and holding serve against the Don’t Screw It Up group pushed the 8 wins to 9. Despite the loss to Sparty, Nebraska and Ohio’s weakness has pushed that from a 1-2 expectation to a 1.5, putting Michigan smack dab between a 9 and 10 win year projection at this point.
Big Ten Predictions
2. Ohio St
3. Penn St
Drop Ohio St down a couple spots and everything looks about right.
3. Michigan St
Swap Nebraska and Michigan St and you have my latest projections, pretty good for the Big Ten.
Overall, the Big Ten is slotted third in my preseason conference ratings behind the SEC and what’s left of the Big XII
LSU and Alabama are the real deal but this is a down year for the rest of the SEC. Georgia is the only team outside of the big 2 that I have in my top 30 power rankings. Right now the Big XII sits atop my conference leaderboard, followed by the SEC and the PAC12/Big Ten. ACC is next with the smoking ashes of the Big East a distant 6th.
There is a lot of turnover in my conference champ picks. Only Alabama, Oregon, Boise, Toledo and Nevada carry-over. Oklahoma St, Michigan St, Clemson, Cincinnati, Houston, and Arkansas St take over for Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Tulsa and Troy respectively.
The three biggest overachievers versus preseason projections (+12 PAN vs projection) are Baylor, Oklahoma St and Temple. Michigan St is tops in the Big Ten and 5th overall at +10 vs preseason. Minnesota checks in at the bottom of the Big Ten at –11 vs preseason (which was already bad) and Michigan is #30 at +6 pts.
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Goes to…Ron Zook and Paul Wulff at Washington St. Both coaches faced 4th and 3 from the opponent 38 trailing by 3 scores in the second half. Both coaches punted and both teams lost.
- Denard drops to #2 in Win Percent Added (WPA) on the season at 2.11. Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech holds the top spot at 2.17.
- Michigan’s offense has done more to contribute to wins than any other team. The offensive WPA is 2.61. Clemson is the only other offense above 2.
- The defense has been average in WPA, –.14, #63 in the country. Rutgers defense leads at 2.39 and the Nittany Lion defense is tops in the Big Ten at 1.63 games won on account of the defense.
- Michigan has dropped to #17 in turnover value on the season, producing 3 ppg of value more than average from turnovers.
- After starting slowly Michigan is starting to even out the field position disparity. Michigan ranks 71st nationally at –.06 points/drive difference vs opponents.
- Michigan is #5 in Red Zone efficiency with 89% of possible points scored on 23 relevant red zone trips. The defense is 31st, allowing 68% of possible points on 18 relevant trips.
- Denard is ranked as the 11th most value QB at +7 points per game (this adjusts for opponent, but not “clutchness.” WPA does not adjust for opponent but does adjust for “clutchness”). He is +4 rushing which is #2 behind Collin Klein at Kansas St. Robert Griffin leads overall with +15, Russell Wilson is second at +13.
- Jordan Kovacs is ranked #11 nationally in impact value, contributing 21 points on negative value plays for the opposing offense. Other LB’s are way down the list. Kenny Demens is #17 among Big Ten LBs at +9 and Jake Ryan is #26 at +6. Our DL hasn’t been much better with RVB tops at #16 among Big Ten linemen.
PAN (Points Above Normal), National Rank (Leader), Big Ten Rank (Leader)
- Michigan: +6, 3rd (Oregon), 1st
- Purdue: +1, 43rd, 6th
- Pass Offense
- Michigan: +2, 33rd (Baylor), 3rd (Wisconsin)
- Purdue: +1, 51st, 7th
- Rush Defense
- Michigan: +2, 32nd (LSU), 4th (MSU)
- Purdue: –1, 87th, 11th
- Pass Defense
- Michigan: 0, 53rd (Oklahoma St), 8th (MSU)
- Purdue: –2, 87th, 9th
- Special Teams
- Michigan: –1, 96th (Florida St), 12th (Purdue)
- Purdue: +3 , 9th, 1st
Purdue has special teams and everything else points to M. I do think that this could be a proverbial closer than the experts think, Michigan 31 Purdue 21
Wanted to throw some numbers and charts up to look at the six candidates Brian outlined, the two that are in the media but off of his list and the dream candidate who won’t quite go away.
For the uninitiated or the those who used to know but haven’t seen anything for the last month or two (which would be all of you!) all numbers are in PAN, Points Above Normal. 0 is average +5 is really good and anything over +10 is incredible. It is adjusted for opponent/strength of schedule. The data I have goes back to the 2003 season but nothing before.
Coaches will appear in the order that Brian had them ranked. I looked at each coach versus who the program did in the two years preceding their arrival and the two years after in the case of departure. Where they were coordinators in some cases, I looked only at the appropriate side of the ball. Caveats apply in all situations depending on who was hired before or after. Stan Parrish can make my 2 year old son look like he can coach football but following a national championship season under Nick Saban is a tough act to follow.
#1 – Dan Mullen
Big increases in year 1 and from year to year 2. The offense improved by 3 points immediately in year 1 but stayed flat into year 2. The defense jumped 2 points in the first year and 4 more in year 2. Based on the Miss St experience, Mullen’s team has shown dramatic improvement, but not a ton (except against us) on his historical side of the ball.
Gaps between pre and post are pretty strong but asterisks abound on this one. First of all three of the four years Mullen was at Florida, they had this guy you might have heard of playing quarterback. At least he used the talent there as the cupboard was far from bare the last two years when the performance regressed significantly.
Utah was a similar story going from nearly +9 in 2003-04 to +3 in the two years after his (and Urban Meyer and Alex Smith’s) departure.
Lots of caveats apply but the guy can clearly coach with proven improvements at every stop and drop offs after his departure.
#2 – Pat Fitzgerald
Obviously off the table at this point. His numbers were nothing impressive but his “luck” has been off the chart. Northwestern finished this past year #1 in my annual luck rankings (luck = actual wins vs. statistical expectation) and is a clear number one over the last five years. NW has been the only team in the country to exceed expectation by at least a game each of the last five years and has been first or second nationally in three of the last four years. Guy is doing something right.
#3 – Gary Patterson
TCU total team PAN:
Patterson’s been at TCU as long as I have data for so their are no comparisons but the team has made consistent improvement over the years. Even though the program was ranked the year before he took over, it was the only time in 40 years that TCU had finished in the top 25 and they have been in the top 25 7 of 9 years and will probably be top 3 at the end of this year’s Rose Bowl winning run.
My personal first choice, FWIW.
#4 – Charlie Strong
Only one season, that followed the immortal Kragthorpe and always be wary when N=1, but man, that was a nice season Strong’s Cardinals put together.
Improvements of at least 4 points in all three phases of the game. Went from 104th in 2009 to 44th in 2010.
Florida saw a dropoff in their first year without Strong from +7 to +4 but also lost a host of talent from the previous year’s squad. One season means a change is highly unlikely and the results above may be an aberration but it’s about as good as you can expect for a one year change.
#5 – Chris Petersen
Another highly unlikely candidate but has certainly taken Boise to new heights after the foundation had been laid. As head coach he took the offense that he formerly coordinated from +4 to +6 but showed he knew both sides by overseeing a climb from +1 on defense to +6. Has a number of big institutional advantages but has exceeded the progress of those before him.
#6 – Kyle Whittingham
Haven’t heard much on Coach Whittingham and the move to the Pac-12 makes it that much less unlikely. Probably the toughest comp of the bunch being preceded by Urban Meyer and an undefeated season. Has shown modest improvements on defense and special teams since taking over but hasn’t been able to recreate any of the offensive magic of the Meyer/Mullen/Smith.
“Michigan Man” #1 – Brady Hoke
Better than I expected, actually. Slow steady growth taking the program from terrible to average over four years and then a big leap forward. The team obviously fell apart in two years under Parrish. The good news is that the team progressed well over a long period of time, the bad news is that during all the period at the helm, Hoke only produced one above average team.
San Diego St has shown nice improvement during Hoke’s time there. The Aztecs have improved by over 7 points each of the last two seasons. The big jump has been repairing a terrible defense (-11 in two preceding years) and turning them into an above average group by year 2. The offense has improved as well, but the majority of change has been driven by the defense.
“Michigan Man” #2 – Les Miles
Miles has been at LSU a while now and the comps are a little tougher. His Bayou Bengals have averaged +10 a season, the 10th highest program average over the same span. This is actually a decrease from what they have achieved in the two years prior, which includes the aforementioned Saban National Championship.
Oklahoma St saw a drop-off upon his departure. The Cowboys were +7 in 2003-04 under Miles and fell to +2 in Mike “I’m a Man” Gundy’s first two seasons.
What’s Your Deal – Jim Harbaugh
hitting refresh to check if status has changed
Michigan may or may not be out on this one, but the Harbaugh effect on Stanford has been impressive.
Improvement has come each and every year with big jumps in the last two. The only question might be defensively as the year’s squad was decent after two really bad years under Harbaugh.
What does it mean?
Heck if I know, this whole thing has turned into a disaster. Strong, Mullen and Patterson all seem like very good long-term prospects if we can get one of them. Obviously Harbaugh is first choice if Brandon can pull a coup. Miles would probably appease enough of the base in the short term but doesn’t have the upside of some of the other candidates. Hoke at least has indications he could be good, but there is also huge risk involved hiring someone’s who’s success is so limited at such lower levels.
Sorry I don’t have anything to satisfy the “who is going to be” question but hopefully this sheds some light on the pros and cons of the names being thrown around these parts.
On a peronsal note, probably won’t see many more posts from me in the offseason and very low likelihood next season. Just found out this week that my wife is having triplets this summer so I’ll be lucky if I even get to watch any games this fall!