How Tate Stacks Up Against M QBs of 2005-2008Update 10/22: Lots of changes. Reorganized. New Sheridan charting added. New, better metric proposed. Now fat-free!
Note: links all open in a separate window/tab, in case you were afraid of having to find your place again.
[Editor's note: bumped to front page for holy crap reasons.]
This is a collection of data inspired by Coach Schiano's brilliant new visualization of the Henne/HenneMallett/ThreetSheridammit/UseTheForcier Chart.
First, kudos, thanks, plusses, and a dozen sacrificed bulls go out to Coach Schiano. This is the most excited I've been about some new type of Michigan coverage since I read my first UFR.
I hope he doesn't mind if I go back and try to play around with the same stuff.
I went and made my own Excel spreadsheet (available here) to see if I could visualize some of the things we've been talking about here.
I replicated Coach Schiano's results (tossing out the screen metric).
One thing that stuck out right away, I think, is that the introduction of the "Marginal" metric (first discussed after FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON in 2006 but not implemented until mid-2008) kind of hurts the QBs functioning under it. Erstwhile "catchables" for Henne/Mallett were discounted for late '08 through '09 QBs. In other words, performances before last year's Penn State game, especially in accuracy, might be kind of overrated.
Also, there were a number of games not charted during this period. These include Delaware State '09 (and high school stats, for much the same reason); Ball State '06 (Comcast was blamed); all bowl games;* and last year's Ohio State game, which was only UFR'ed under a shadow Bolshevik government, and thus cannot be trusted.
* (a UFR for the 2005 Alamo Bowl was provided, but since the entirety of that UFR was, literally, "Screw 2005!", I was unable to get any passing info from it)
Part I: Where We Do It By Downfield Success RatingThe metric we've been using, gleaned from UFRs, is Downfield Success Rating. This divides the Dead-on, Catchable, and Marginal balls against all downfield (read: "Pressure excluced") attempts.
BEST 5 GAMES BY A QB
Sheridan's Minnesota miracle looks even more miraculous now! Note, however, there were only 2 Dead-On throws, and 2 bad reads. Also, just one throwaway, no batted balls, and no pressure. That's the O-line and running game's fault.
In other coaching-related-results here, Henne's 2005 Ohio State game was scrumtrulescent by any metric, except apparently not good enough for DeBord to use the passing game to put the game out of reach. Not that I'm bitter...
WORST 5 GAMES
Sheridan's putrid, I-Survived-That-Game-Patch-Inducing game against Northwestern is, unsurprisingly, at the top. In fact, it may even trump several of my 7th grade sexual experiences in the category of worst-executed-thing-ever-done-by-man.
But I'm getting off topic. Note that Forcier's Iowa game actually made this hall of shame. So RR's pulling him for that game may be excusable. However, it is still my considered position that even with shoulder/weather/concussion/bad game, had Forcier been given that last drive, he would have pulled himself back to respectability.
Though 2008 dominated the Top 5, if you look at the Top 10 we get Threet v. Miami (NTM), three Malletts (Min, PSU, NW) and Henne's all-things-good-in-the-world-destroying 2007 game against Ohio State. [Much, much more after the jump.]
Because really, having football teams win or lose doesn't change our lives. But having a brother does. Being the parent of brothers does. And sometimes the metaphor teaches us a lot more about the subject than looking at the subject alone.
There used to be a site called "Bitter Rivals dot com" that was about the Mich/MSU rivalry.
I wrote a thing for them, which if it was still online I could show you, which was written a lot better than what follows, and which called Mich/MSU a sibling rivalry back when Hart was deep under recruiting radars at some upstate New York high school.
The analogy didn't come from me -- I heard it first from a fraternity brother, and when I asked where he first heard the analogy, it was an older brother in the house, and so on... It's older than Hart. It might be as old as the rivalry itself.
Every relationship is different. Rivalries are relationships. The sibling analogy helps explain this one, because the two players act the way that rivalric brothers act, each fulfilling stereotypical roles of elder and younger.
I have two little brothers, one of whom is barely a year younger, and went to State (barely didn't get in to M, which was his first choice). He is my best friend. He will be my Best Man when I get married (in A2) next year. When I have an extra Tigers ticket, he's my first call, and I have spent enough time in the front seat of his 2000 Ford Ranger that my ass has left a permanent imprint.
And many, many, many times in my life I have wanted to rip his fucking testicles off.
Brothers fight. Brothers compete. Brothers piss each other off. If you have a brother that is close in age and you never fought each other, then that is really really weird, because this is primal shit.
If you want to delve further into the analogy, then yes, it's a juvenile fraternal relationship we're talking about.
M/MSU isn't about brothers who are late 20s through 40s and make their kids play together while talking about if the wives will ever come around to Mom. It's about brothers who are 10, stuck in the same house, the younger measuring himself by the elder, who measures himself against the big bully kid up the street, when fall Saturdays mean hours spent outside doing things that end up with one boy or several on the ground, which as winter onsets, hurts more and more.
It's one thing when the big kid up the street calls you "scUM" or "Walmart Wolverine" -- he's trying to start a fight, and, lo, the fight will come to him when it is time (and that ground has grown hard enough that he won't be cushioned when you knock his ass on it).
But you can handle the bully -- what's really irritating is when Little Brother starts picking up on something the class bully says and repeats it again and again.
And you hear it, because Little Brother is always there -- going to the YMCA, camp, the bus to school, soccer practice, a friend's house -- you can't get away from Little Bro.
Whether you got your degree at Michigan or Michigan State really matters very little in my current world. The tangible, universal difference between The University of Michigan, and Michigan State University happens at 18: one group of in-state kids got to run around the house with their parents beaming, the other had to choke down the lump of rejection and embarrassment, and then learn to become comfortable with that.
And eventually, both will learn that this measuring stick didn't matter as much as they thought.
This rivalry takes place between those points. It's about one program that has ridiculous, permanent institutional advantages put in stone by Fielding Fucking Yost, and another that needed to take advantage of the middle 20th century South's dumb-ass-ness about skin color to ever be nationally relevant.
It's about one side that is introspective and intellectual, and another that acts like a meat-head when you know damn well that he isn't as dumb as he pretends. It's about one side that values intelligence as if it's the only judge of a person's worth, and how his brother knows damn well that he's not as smart as all of his pretensions.
Getting from childhood rivalry to grownup relationship with your brother is a trial. For those of us in the State of Michigan, we at least have this annual war-by-proxy to serve as a metaphor for it. Really, by whipping each other into a frenzy over this, we're acting like 10-year-olds. The thing is, that's an important thing to do -- by framing your feelings into juvenile arguments, you get to see exactly where you might be wrong, or in this case, pretension, or an inferiority complex.
It's not something that started with a tailback from Michigan, or a tailback from Michigan State. It started with Cain and Able. Or more precisely, when someone had the idea of putting two extraordinarily good universities in one state, and then one also happened to have the premier football team in all the land as soon as football meant something to the prestige of an extraordinarily good university.
If you have nothing but hatred for MSU, then I say go to your room and cool off, because so long as you live under this roof, you are going to live with him whether you like it or not.
Happy MSU week. Now let's put that little shit back in his place, eh?
Things We Know This is obvious territory: the Spread's "Score whenever possible" mentality renders T.O.P. moot as a way to tell which team was playing better at the end of the game. Thing is, T.O.P. was never meant to be an in-game metric, or shouldn't have been. It's an IN-GAME metric. The idea isn't to show who's dominating the game, but what shape the defense is in. Its continued popularity on networks is likely due to the ease with which it's calculated. I think we can come up with a much better metric for that, and retire T.O.P. Good guesses:
- Offenses tire less quickly than defenses. Giving blocks is better than receiving them. Reacting to a play that you didn't call puts you at a disadvantage. Pushing past a lineman to the one place he doesn't want you to is more tiresome than shoving one (a lineman) back from the one direction you know he wants to go to. There's a lot of chasing involved.
- Players recover from being tired in real time (not Game Time)
- Fatigue is generated during plays, not between them
- Greater fatigue reduces the effectiveness of a defense because a) tired players can't react as well, and b) substitutions are inherently a reduction of the talent put on the field.
- While fatigue can be recovered from during the game, the more that is drained, the lower the maximum recoverable energy.
Things We'd Like to Know I want a metric that:
- Gives an approximate likelihood of the offense scoring based on defensive fatigue.
- Since the above would be very difficult, the metric should at least standardize defensive fatigue, to be used as a reference point
- Is fairly easy to calculate with widely available stats
Pure guesses (opportunities for me to look stupid):
- Energy is recovered at an exponential (logistic? Math majors help! -- i mean a curve that slows as it goes, or y=x^[fraction]) rate.
- More plays depletes a defense's performance
- More plays in progression depletes a defense's performance faster
- Available statistics allow us to create a metric for a defense's performance based off of these fatigue factors
Let's Talk Variables It's hard to count actual time during plays, at least for us laymen. However, number of plays per drive is easy to calculate. I would like to count plays that are replayed due to penalties unless it is blown dead. I'd like to count overall time elapsed since the last defensive play.
However, actual time is hard to come by. We have the time the game took to play. We have the in-game time. But short of having a DVR with a timer, I haven't been able to find any real time metric. If someone can find me a place where that is kept and freely accessible, I will use it. Otherwise, we're going to have to ignore regeneration based on real time.
The atom for all of this is going to be plays run from scrimmage.
Defensive plays from scrimmage increase defensive fatigue. Offensive plays from scrimmage decreases defensive fatigue. Since they use so many backups, special teams plays do not count.
The test for it will be yards given up, since scoring equates too much with field position. Why yards? Because we know that yards gained and winning are correlated. A defense that gives up more yards is more likely to be scored on.
Needs a name. For now: SCHWING.
Defensive SCHWING: How it Works What we will create is a basically running play counter:
- Higher number indicates higher level of defensive fatigue
- Defensive plays count for +3 for the defensive team
- Offensive plays count for -8% for the team on offense
- No team can go into negative.
- Commercial Breaks, Time Outs and Reviews count for -15% for both teams
- Half Time reduces all fatigue by 80 percent (rounded to nearest integer)
The Spreadsheet is here. Click on each image for full size
Michigan vs. Western Michigan:
Averages: Michigan 21, Notre Dame 17
Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan:
Averages: Michigan 21, EMU 14
Remember, higher is bad. It means that Eastern Michigan, over the course of the game, faced a Michigan defense operating, maybe at like 79 percent of its capacity, because of fatigue, while Michigan faced EMU's at, say, 86 percent capacity.
Keep in mind, it's impossible to be 100 percent the whole time. But notice how much better Michigan's defense was against Western, who's not much more talented than Eastern Michigan. There's a big difference in how well the Wolverines let the defense rest in Game 1, whereas they were considerably harder on the D in Games 2 and 3, whether by turnovers or quick scores.
So....Correlation?If Michigan's defense gives up more yards when its SCHWING level is high, that would indicate the metric works, right?
Notre Dame de South Bend:
The yellow lines are offensive plays. The ones sticking out below were negatives (or holding penalties).
Michigan gave up 236 yards (5.02 yards per play) to Eastern when our SCHWING level was 20 or higher. We gave up 61 yards (2.26 yards per play) when it was 19 or lower.
It was actually more drastic than that. A lot of short yardage was given up in the 2nd half against the backups in soft, clock-killing defense. The big plays in the first half were all during high-SCHWING periods. The 3-and-outs were during low ones.
Against Notre Dame, Michigan gave up 188 yards (6 yards per play) 2 with a SCHWING under 20. Not good. We gave up 294 yards (6.125 yards per play) when SCWING was over 20. Also not good. There wasn't as much SCHWING variance, however, against Notre Dame as there was against EMU. The Wolverine defense played much more of that game tired. If you take out the 27 yards on the last play, our SCHWING under 20 YPP goes down to 5.37 (161 yards). I think that just says ND's offense was pretty good (or held like bitches).
WMU was the opposite. With SCHWING under 20, the Broncos put up 81 yards (2.79 YPP). When SCHWING went over 20, they put up 222 yards (6.17 YPP). If I excise the 73-yard TD, it's still 4.26 YPP. But it shouldn't be excised -- that happened near the peak of Michigan's defensive fatigue during the game.
Here's what yardage against us looked like against WMU as SCHWING went up:
As the season progresses, I'll do more plotting to see if this sticks, but so far this seems a little bit correlative. If I had to guess, I'd say ND and their max-protect-bomb strategy caused the difference.
All told, when Michigan's SCHWING was under 20 this year, our defense gave up 330 yards (3.79 YPP). When it was over 20, we gave up 752 yards (5.74 YPP).
I'm sure we could play around with the factors, but as a very basic statistic, it seems to be fairly predictive. When the defensive fatigue rating for a given team is high, they are likely to give up more yards, in our extremely small sample of course. Feel free to plug in other games from years past.
Obviously, scores come after drives.
The thing to look at isn't the end of drives, but the start of them: what shape is the defense in as Team X gets the ball. For example, when Michigan put up three quick scores on Western, they got the ball each time with WMU's defensive deficiency rating already well over 20.
Similarly, EMU got the ball down 38-17 and had a magnificent drive (which should have been a TD), but every drive before that in the 2nd half, Michigan's D started under 10. The real backbreaker for them was when the QB buckled and fumbled -- that gave Michigan the ball back with EMU's defensive SCHWING over 20.
Couple things jumped out, though. The quick scores (Brown's long TD run, the kick return for TD against Notre Dame, Denard's existence) were answered with scores against Michigan, or long periods of scoring drought. Interceptions, too, created a fast turnaround. Look at Stonum's return: not only did it put Michigan back on the field after a tough stop (helped by Cheeseburger Charlie's inability to get a few plays called in*), but even more it helped the Domers' defense rest away the effect of that good early drive by Michigan.
Note how different this is from Time of Possession. By basically counting plays back and forth, we can see when one team or another is particularly likely to get scored on.
I think I'm gonna keep using this as the season progresses. It's pretty easy to calculate, especially if you have the spreadsheet handy. If it holds up as a decent indicator of expected defensive performance, maybe an addition to the UFR charting?
UPDATE 9/23:Bad news. I ran all of the plays from all three games (by ND, EMU, WMU and MICH) and there's such a small correlation it's almost not worth it:
Of course, it's not conclusive. Wait until we have at least 1,000 plays from scrimmage to analyze (we're at about 450 right now).
When SCHWING was 20 or over, offenses gained 1363 yards on 251 plays, and had 23 "big" plays (15 yards or more). That's 5.45 YPP, and 9.16% chance of a big play.
When SCHWING was under 20, offenses gained 984 yards on 175 plays, with 15 big plays. That's 5.67 YPP, and 8.57% chance of a big play.
Not exactly correlating.
One thing of note: Carlos Brown's 90-yard scamper came at a SCHWING level of 17. In fact, a lot of big plays took place around a SCHWING level of 17 to 25. I don't know that that means exactly, except perhaps that's early in drives but seldom right at the start of them. Or that 17 to 25 is the bell curve. This could simply be because early in drives there's more field to go, thus more space for big yardage.
Situationally, there was a small difference. With SCWHING under 20, 26.55% of plays from scrimmage resulted in a 1st down or touchdown. When SCHWING was over 20, that number rose to a 31.62% conversion rate. The touchdown ratio went way up: 7.11% over 20, and 1.69% under 20. But I can't tell you how much of that is field position -- the likelihood of scoring goes up when you get closer to the end zone, and SCHWING goes up the longer a drive lasts, meaning high SCHWING generally takes place deep in an opponent's zone. So the TD ratio means pretty much nil. Anyway, the average SCHWING level before plays that resulted in 1st downs and touchdowns was about 24; the level before plays that didn't convert was 22. Small difference.
I'm not giving up just yet, though. I'm gonna track a few more games, because I think I'm getting thrown off by big plays late in the WMU and EMU games, when backups and whatnot were in (high SCHWING is supposed to necessitate more backups, so if the backups go in when SCHWING is low, that changes things).
Here's the big plays with Low SCHWING this year:
|40||WMU||17||WMU||43||TD||(1st and 15) Robinson, D. rush for 43 yards to the WMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 03:57.|
|3||ND||6||MICH||24||1ST||(2nd and 9) ALLEN rush for 24 yards to the ND45, 1ST DOWN ND (Williams, Mike).|
|6||ND||15||MICH||24||1ST||(3rd and 4) CLAUSEN pass complete to RUDOLPH for 24 yards to the MICH25, 1ST DOWN ND (Williams, Mike).|
|24||ND||19||ND||40||1ST||(3rd and 12) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Mathews, Greg for 40 yards to the ND41, 1ST DOWN MICH (WALLS).|
|37||ND||19||MICH||19||1ST||(2nd and 6) CLAUSEN pass complete to ALLEN for 19 yards to the MICH22, 1ST DOWN ND.|
|86||ND||14||ND||24||1ST||(2nd and 14) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Stonum, Darryl for 24 yards to the 50 yardline, 1ST DOWN MICH (McCARTHY, K.).|
|100||ND||17||ND||16||1ST||(1st and 10) Minor, Brandon rush for 16 yards to the ND33, 1ST DOWN MICH (McCARTHY, K.).|
|129||ND||10||MICH||15||1ST||(1st and 10) PENALTY MICH pass interference (Cissoko, B.) 15 yards to the ND19, 1ST DOWN ND.|
|205||ND||11||MICH||27||1ST||(1st and 10) CLAUSEN pass complete to TATE for 27 yards to the ND47, 1ST DOWN ND (Floyd, J.T.).|
|9||EMU||3||EMU||30||1ST||(1st and 10) Brown, Carlos rush for 30 yards to the EMU21, 1ST DOWN MICH (CARDWELL, Marty).|
|51||EMU||10||EMU||26||1ST||(1st and 10) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Odoms, M. for 26 yards to the EMU43, 1ST DOWN MICH (MAY, Chris).|
|54||EMU||19||EMU||22||1ST||(3rd and 1) Shaw, Michael rush for 22 yards to the EMU12, 1ST DOWN MICH (SEARS, Johnny).|
|63||EMU||17||EMU||90||TD||(1st and 10) Brown, Carlos rush for 90 yards to the EMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:15.|
|156||EMU||18||EMU||36||TD||(1st and 10) Robinson, D. rush for 36 yards to the EMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:14.|
|175||EMU||11||EMU||24||1ST||(1st and 10) Cox, Michael rush for 24 yards to the EMU41, 1ST DOWN MICH (PALSROK, Tyler).|
Three of those plays are garbage time (205 ND, 156 and 175 EMU). One is Shoelace's incredible Yakety Sax Moon Run. Another is Carlos Brown's 90-yard run. Three more are big plays against EMU's defense. The rest are plays from the Notre Dame game, which, like, they have a great offense.
This isn't nearly enough to put SCHWING back on the map. But they're certainly opportunities for SCHWING to look stupid.
* Weis: "It's MMFFPHHHI-RIMMMFGHT MMMPHTWINS!"
Jimmah: "What coach?!?"
Weis: "I MMMFFFPHH SAID RUNMMMMPHHH ISO MMPPPHHH RIHMMMMPPHH"
Jimmah: "Coach, I can't hear you! Take the ham sandwich out!"
Weis: "I MMMPPHHFFF RIMMMPPHHHHHHFFF SPLMMMMPHHFFF DAMMIT!"
Jimmah: "Dammit, coach? What? What? Dammit -- TIME OUT"
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Todd HowardNOTE: Major edits made 9/18 to fix statistical errors -- used the opportunity to do a little clarification, and add some context for the "you knocked on boobie -- die mthrfkr!" contingent, which I realize I kind of brought on myself by not adding any context.
ALSO NOTE: This is e-pinion, not empirical fact.
Alas, again, I have begun to write a long Misopo-reply, only to upgrade mid-writing to a Diary.
This one goes out to MGoHero jg2112's "Support Boubacar Cissoko this Saturday" post, in which 'jg' posited that Boubacar Cissoko is this year's Martavious Odoms, i.e. a great player who gets the general M fan negbang beyond his actual faults.*
Cissoko is not Odoms.
For one, "Tay" is your vintage Rich-Rod slot ninja, a guy recruited for a system position. Cornerback, however, doesn't change much from Hermann to Robinson -- coverage, at the college level at least, is coverage, and every system puts cornerbacks in multiple roles during a game. In other words, Cissoko's size or jet-engine-ness are not something to get used to because of the coaching shift; he's a Carr recruit playing a position that fundamentally requires the same skill set.
His problems in the Notre Dame game, as noted in Brian's UFR, were not just size. He was bailing and leaving large cushions. This could be underclassman-y stuff from a true sophomore left out to dry with no safety help, but the mental mistakes, I think, were not what you expect from a lock-down corner. Or more importantly, not what you'd expect from a guy you might expect to join the ranks of the post-Bo pantheon of great corners.
Hey, Misopogon. It's Brian's bolded subconscious. Guess what I'm here for?
You know me too well...
That's Boubacar's stats through two games into his sophomore season. Now lets compare with other Michigan cornerbacks who
True freshmen who became serviceable-to-good late in their careers:
The Late-'90s/Early '00s Backfield of Horrors
And just so they don't feel left out, here's the stats after 2 games of true sophomores or redshirt freshmen who didn't start until their second years:
So what does this tell us? Well, it's not good, but it's also not much. Among the stars, the only one close to Cissoko's numbers (but still better by a solid margin) was Leon Hall. Hall, like Cissoko, was mostly a nickelback his freshman year, but Leon beat out upperclassman versions of 5-stars Markus Curry and Jeremy LeSueur for the starting gig as a sophomore. Without similar talent to compare Cissoko against, it has to be assumed that Cissoko's playing time wasn't as hard to earn as Hall's.
I think at this point, Cissoko has not demonstrated that he belongs with that group, who all:
- Were 6 feet or taller
- Earned starts as freshmen over returning starters
- Showed an early aptitude for generating tackles.
The stars-are-big-and-get-lots-of-playing-time-and-tackles-early lesson is the only relatively solid (and that has been questioned) thing I found in the statistics available (if anyone has access to better stats for corners, I'm all ears!)
So What Have We Here?We've established that Cissoko isn't likely to be Woodson or Law (which, like, it's not like it's a sin to not be a Heisman winner or an NFL All-Pro). So then what is he?
As for the guys who became serviceable/good later in their careers, they generated those stats in a lot fewer snaps (e.g. Weathers didn't start playing regularly in '94 until late in the season; M.Curry was mostly a backup his freshman year).
Markus Curry is a possibility. Like Cissoko, he was a kick/punt returner his freshman year. A well-hyped recruit, he played early his freshman year but lost playing time to classmate Marlin Jackson's emergence early in the Big Ten season. Curry was a starter early his sophomore year, but then fell behind LeSeuer and Zia Combs (until that horrible injury -- G-d bless him wherever he is today).
The big difference between Cissoko and Curry the Younger, I think, is size, which has a big effect on either player's game. Curry was hyped as fast, but on the field his speed and agility turned out to be overrated, while after what we've seen of Cissoko, he definitely has the quicks and flat-out speed to keep up with anyone. Boubacar, however, is probably a good inch shorter than his listed height of 5'9", while Curry was just under 6.
Overall, Curry is a good comparison, but not great. Curry was bigger, and when he finally broke into the depth chart as a junior, the major difference IIRC was that he played "bigger," i.e. he was at his best when leaving a cushion, closing the gap, and popping the ball out, as opposed to pressing at the line, staying between the receiver and the ball, then trying to get his hands in the way.
Cissoko is never going to play, act, or be a big cornerback. He's a cover guy. In gauging his career arc, then, I would think that he will become exactly what he wasn't in the Notre Dame game. I can't fault him for giving Floyd a cushion (and there was only one fade which was pretty undefendable). But that's never going to be Boubacar's bread and butter.
The guys that Boubacar charts out closest to: I hate myself for doing this, but it's Whitley and Howard. Both are short (like Boubacar). Both were highly regarded recruits. Both were forced into lots of early playing time. Both were labeled Future Stars of the XFL by their sophomore years.
Of these two guys, Cissoko's early numbers are more like Whitley, but he strikes me as more Howard-esque than Whitley-esque. Todd was the smaller of the two, but also the faster, and more effective. He was owned early his sophomore year against Plaxico Burress, mirroring Cissoko's game against Floyd, when Todd was forced to give a cushion and keep the big guy underneath. Eventually that game, Howard was moved over for David Terrell, who had the height and ups to run with Plaxico in man.
By his (Todd Howard's) senior year, he was a poor man's Morgan Trent, necessitating early starting time for freshmen Markus Curry, Jeremy LeSueur (RS) and Marlin Jackson. But he was world's more effective than he had been as a sophomore.
Howard, I remember vividly, also probably was more overrated than any other Wolverine -- every year -- in progressive versions of EA Sports's NCAA Football Series.
Unlike Whitley, Todd Howard was fast, and wasn't relegated to the short side. He was out-manned against top talent, but help up pretty well against receivers who weren't 6'8" or could leap small buildings in a single bound, or ran NFL routes, or scurried around in free space underneath thanks to Northwestern's spread, or had Drew Brees bullseyes coming at them, or were named Charles Rogers.
That's not to say that his career potential is lifelong bomb threat. Remember, after all, Whitley was the one who generated the bulk of M fan ire. Howard, on the other hand, covered the wide side, made the occasional great play (especially against Ohio State -- that photo below was a key PBU in the '01 game) and fared well when he wasn't going against future NFL talent. Like you, I was hoping for a lot more. But Todd Howard isn't all that bad.
It's perfectly okay to be Todd Howard -- so long as the guy opposite him isn't Whitley. And fortunately for us, barring early NFL, Donovan Warren is probably only just past the half-way mark of his career, and between Turner and the guys we look pretty good for next year, I think M's chances of scoring another one of those top-end guys ain't too shabby.
What's in Store?In Year 2, Game 3 of Todd Howard's career, he had a breakout game at Syracuse minus McNabb, with 10 tackles, 1 sack for 15 yards, 2 PBUs and a forced fumble. Eastern Michigan isn't Syracuse '99, but hey, if Cissoko is all over the field on Saturday, remember you heard it here first.
There's a lot of time left in Cissoko's career. This is just an early analysis, and I think only made possible because he plays a position which, at least at Michigan, has tended to show its cards early.
Still, provided the other side of the field has Day 1 Draft Pick caliber guy opposite him, another Todd Howard isn't that bad of a prospect, really. What did Brian say in his secondary preview:
My go-to (and now rapidly aging) comparison was Arkansas corner Chris Houston, who I once saw battle the South Carolina star receiver before Kenny McKinley (his name escapes me) in a pitched Thursday night battle. Houston lined up two inches from his cover's grill and rode him into fades all night, some of which the opponent brought in spectacularly. That's life with feisty dwarves.Word.
P.S. If Cissoko is Howard, this only adds fuel to the "Justin Turner is Jeremy LeSueur" contingent, which does not yet exist, and thus probably can't use fuel. But now it's out there.
* The whole "folks tend to knock on Odoms" thing is played out, IMHO, as evidenced by every show of Odoms support being met with a cascade of "I've always liked the guy" posts. I don't remember ever wanting to knock him, except to yell "take your gloves off!" into a couple of monsoons.
Also, warning: it's long. For those who like their baseball games in ESPN highlights, and their Melville in Cliff Notes, I put bullet points under each heading.
I wanted to generate a discussion on different polling strategies, and come to a consensus on what we expect from NCAA polls.
- Polls are not and will never be exact, even at the end of the season. There is no "right answer." Comparing over 100 teams with hideously unbalanced schedules with absolute accuracy is nigh impossible.
- We want polls anyway.
- A higher-ranked team is considered better than one ranked below it.
- Even if we produced that theoretical "perfect poll" there would be plenty of people who disagree on it.
- To a degree, there is an unstated general consensus that some teams are better than others, i.e. the masses can agree on certain things, like Florida is in the Top 3, and Michigan isn't.
- We will know more as the season progresses.
- The perfect poll would be the exact same in the preseason and at the end of the season, and still be entirely justifiable.
- Consensus is the ultimate goal -- corollary: fewer polls is better.
- Best At: Being a ranking on this year's performance that actually has its basis in this year's performance
- Worst At: Providing a non-laughable poll before November
- Primary Gripe: Small sample = useless
I have respect for resume voters because they have the same standard throughout the season. The downside is their polls take awhile to come together. Resumes grow more demonstrative only after there's experience on there. If I showed you the resumes of two 16-year-olds and you had to pick which one will end up making the most money by the time they are 50, we would be clueless.
At least it's a metric that makes some sense. But the wild variance defeats the purpose of having these polls in the first place: it's not to generate discussion, it's to provide a frame of reference for assessing the difficulty of beating one team or another. If Cincy loses next week, nobody's going to believe it if you say "oh wow, they beat the No. 1 team in the country."
It also, when it's used in concert with other voting metrics, has the unintended effect of compounding things like an overrated conference. A great example is the Big East a few years ago, when South Florida, Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia took advantage of some early season flukes and an incredibly soft middle of the schedule to leap-frog each other to the top of the polls. This was the primary culprit in the short-lived appearance of USF at No. 2 in the BCS poll -- any ranking that has South Florida second in the nation in anything beside STDs is a travesty.
The upside of resume voting is that every week it gets more and more feasible. The BCS poll has been, in many of its incarnations, essentially a resume poll, which had the good sense to begin releasing data late in the season. Ultimately, resume voting is a justifiable system so long as it remains pure, but isn't very useful early in the year at providing a poll's primary objective: to provide a plausible ranking of NCAA's best teams.
Suggestion for improvement: Stay out of it until near the end. I want resume to determine who plays for the National Championship, but I'd rather not half-finished resumes affecting the mid-season polls. Other words: I'm with you if you wanna put '03 LSU and '03 Oklahoma in the Championship, but let's call '03 USC No. 1 right up until the end of the Rose Bowl, just so we're clear that Michigan is facing the hardest team in the country. Make sense?
- Best At: Pre-Season Poll that passes credulity test, Mid-season difficulty rankings
- Worst At: End-of-Season Poll that passes credulity test
- Primary Gripe: Not enough data, plays down this year's performance, which, like, isn't that what the poll is about?
Early in the season, this is most polls, including the AP and Coaches. Since no games have been played, it's a vote based primarily on how good the team was last year, with plusses for returning players, minuses for returning players.
This does a much better job of placating the masses in the pre-season. As the season progresses, however, as opposed to resume voting, this metric tends to disappear almost entirely, which I think is a major disservice to these polls.
Essentially, they fall victim early on to resume voting, rather than stick to their guns. This means big drops for teams as they lose. The downside, of course, is that if there's a consensus No. 1 team that loses its only two games early in the year, you'll see a major shift in that team's ranking -- big drop, steady incline, etc. This hurts the usefulness of the poll, since it changes its base metric mid-way through, essentially calling out its own initial justification.
A roster-based poll shouldn't be oblivious to the unfolding season, but it also shouldn't abandon its basis. Updates would be based on roster shifts, such as Oregon losing Dixon, Pat White losing a finger, or Michigan discovering one of its 4-star freshman recruits is already a more-than-serviceable and perhaps awesome college QB. This does not seem to generate much shift, but revelations abound in college football -- if someone pays close attention, we could end up with a fairly decent poll insofar as showing how much of a challenge each team should present.
Like resume polling, a roster poll is justifiable -- last year's performance, injuries, player statistics: these are all available metrics.
However, as the year progresses, such a poll would require A TON of input to remain accurate. Barring a UFR for every team, a roster poll seems unfeasible.
I can't think of a poll that keeps this metric throughout the season. I'd like to see one in the blog poll. It would wrack up a lot of Mr. Stubborns, and a few other outliers as other voters respond to season upsets, etc. And more importantly, while it's very useful at showing which team is the hardest to beat talent-wise early in the year, the more the season progresses, the more you'll have major incongruities, like a highly talented 4-loss team in the Top 5 while a lucky, scrappy, undefeated mid-Major team lingers at the bottom of the Top 25.
After about 8 weeks, a roster-voted poll would get lapped by the resume voters in placating the general populace, and take a lot of flack along the way. And at the end of the year, it would be totally useless.
Suggestion for improvement: This needs statistics, or it's as bupkis as pre-season polls. One day (I'm already looking into it) there will be UFR-like statistics kept for every player on every team. This will facilitate player and position rankings. And coaching ratings, too. And team rankings (offensive/defensive efficiency, etc.) The more info compiled and thrown in, the more this type of polling becomes feasible. Never going to be useful for who belongs in a championship, but I, for one, would find such a stat very interesting when having one team go up against another.
- Best At: Pre-Season Polling
- Worst At: BCS Selection, Precision
- Primary Gripe: Factors are compounded
This is a straight-up attempt to get the final poll right in Week 1. A lot of AP voters fall into this trap, as evidenced by the justification they give for their preseason ballots.
"I ranked Ohio State 1st because the lolBigTen is so weak the Buckeyes can knock off a freshman-quarterbacked USC, then tapdance to the BCS championship again."In this example, does this hypothetical
Predictive voting does have a strategy for keeping itself in line, which makes it somewhat useful, if still inaccurate, for mid-season and late-season polling. Essentially, teams are not down-rated at all when they lose something they were expected to lose in the fashion in which they were expected to lose it. They play against their expectations.
Predictive voting is often used in concert with another metric, most often as a correction to Roster Voting ballots that generally have mid-Majors and giants in weak BCS conferences underrated. It generally has a lot of opportunity to look stupid as the season progresses, since the swings after unexpected wins and losses, in practice, are never truly in line with expectations. It also doesn't account for surprises, like Notre Dame losing to Michigan (not expected) but demonstrating that its offense is for real (i.e. they're not worthy of a major fall).
Predictive voting is, however, not a bad way, conceptually, to achieve the goal of a preseason ballot that bears some resemblance to the end of the season. Of course, it's hideous at providing an accurate ranking of teams' actual ability. But it does a fair job of passing the eyeball test, and remains a well-used tool for college polling.
Suggestion for improvement: Accuracy is the problem, because all changes are totally subjective. So use computers. Run 10,000 simulations of every game left in the season. This becomes the base prediction for each team, and should provide a solid framework for an initial season. Derivation from expectation down-ranks them or up-ranks them as the season progresses. Easier way: use the spread -- gamblers know what they're doing.
- Best At: Wooooo!!! Tate Forcier is a god!!! I'm gonna go online now and see if the national consensus agrees! Woooo!!! They agree! We Rock!!!!
- Worst At: NCAA Polling
- Primary Gripe: Loose grip on reality
This metric is among the least justifiable of the non-biased metrics, but is also rampant. Except it's also the easiest way to create a poll that readers generally agree with mid-season. It's basically rearranging teams each week based on carrots like "so-and-so deserves a 10-slot bump" or "Team X defeated Team Y so team X should go above Team Y."
It passes the eyeball test, which is the whole point of hype voting. But it also generates a goodly chunk of the eyeball rolling from other pollsters who want something more concrete behind their polls.
Suggestion for improvement: This basically comes down to faking it to get the results you wanted when solid metrics fail. I'm of a mind to either improve metrics or believe them before turning to pre-conceived notions out of convenience.
- Best At: No. 3 Notre Dame @ No. 1 USC. TONIGHT on NBC!!!
- Worst At: Honesty
- Primary Gripe: Subversion of polling for selfish gain
Brian uses the Coulter/Kos Award to keep the bloggers honest about their own teams, but I don't know how much he's watching what they do to their rivals and opponents. Just because you wear your bias on your sleeve, that doesn't mean you're immune from it (e.g. Coulter, Kos).
Suggestion for improvement: Not that Brian hasn't said it 1,000 times, but this bears repetition upon repetition: MAKE ALL VOTES PUBLIC AND HOLD VOTERS ACCOUNTABLE.
What's Best? Obviously, aside from a few resume polls, most polls are a combination of many of these metrics, all of which have major holes in them that strain credulity, over/under-reward scheduling and biases and notoriety, etc. At any given point during the season, and depending on the function a poll is meant to serve at that point in the season, there are better metrics than others.
So let's go back to our suppositions, and pick out what it is we want from a poll at any given time:
- Preseason: Closest as possible to the final poll, plus something that passes the eye test, i.e. readers can generally agree with it. For this, I suggest a combination of Roster and Predictive polling. Both are in dire need of better statistics, but the stats are out there already, and currently being employed to good effect by oddsmakers, who have a stake in getting it right (although they move their bets based on hype). We know who's on what team, and who will most likely be playing X amount of time at each position. We have a record of play for every year prior for every player on every team. We know the recruiting value of incoming freshmen, and we know the base value of freshmen to keep the recruiting value in perspective. As the season progresses, we have more records of play, which should make us more accurate. Transcribing this to a statistical value is not impossible, just very time-consuming.
- Early Season: Still, I would stick to exclusively Roster and Predictive polls, for reasons shown above. I think one consensus poll would be best for this period.
- Week 8 to Bowls: Start publishing a second poll, sort of like the BCS numbers, but not really, because it would be entirely Resume based (note: would also be used to determine playoff spots). This poll would show teams ranked by their resume If they were to win every game left on their schedule. It seems counter-intuitive, since, yeah, a lot of them play each other. But actually, that keeps it cleaner -- those that play each other get credit for doing so based on where each is at before the inevitable down-ranking of each other.*
- End of Season: Publish a final Resume-based poll.
It would be awesome for fans, as major programs try to schedule each other early to build a high resume before Week 8. Then, as injuries deplete rosters and cold sets in, each team is in do-or-die mode every week, or else risk losing their place in line.
Okay, I've said my piece. As with everything else I write, I ask you to please find as many holes in it as you can (except typos, which I plan to go back and fix when time allots).
So, who wants another long, cathartic, vindicating take-down of a B.S. local newspaper article?
Who wants to have a meaningless tournament over which Michigan uniform is the most awesome?
|Let's rip on the Freep for like the 100th time|
|pollcode.com free polls|
Okay, you asked for it…
(click on the image to get the full effect)
Summer's almost over. It's back to school time. Whatever shall you wear? You want something that's going to make you stand out, that shows you are part of something great, that makes you look so good that your hot English GSI will start hitting on you in your story reviews…
But this is Michigan. So can we say the same thing, but a little more understated, a little more traditional, a little more intellectual?
That is an awesome hat.
No doubt that's why the survivors of the Final Four of our M Uniform Tournament were the first two teams in Michigan history to sport Michigan's iconic wings (or is that a forehead stache?)
That's right, the first two.
The football team had it first. Says Bentley:
The famous "winged" design dates from 1938 when Coach Herbert O. "Fritz" Crisler arrived from Princeton to begin a new era in Michigan football. Even as the design and composition of helmets evolved from stitched cowhide to high-tech, molded plastic, the winged design has remained the pre-eminent symbol of Michigan football.
The wings and stripes made their debut against Michigan State in the 1938 season opener, a 14-0 triumph in the Big House.
The hockey team took a few decades to catch on to the amazing powers of painting a mega maize mustache with soul patch and fu manchu on one's helmet. The painted helmets debuted against Bowling Green on March 3, 1989, at the start of the CCHA tournament.
And wouldn't you know it: (Red had red hair?) the jerseys were the forerunners of today's blues, including the big honkin' M in the middle of the chest.
And thus we have our two final contenders: football's home blues, and the icers' block-M blues. If you want to see the rest of the tournament, head back to the Final Four, which has the entire recap, and links to each round. If you're ready for this whole Uniform Tournament thing to be done and for the football season to start already, rotate that mouse wheel down just a tad and vote for the ultimate uniform of Michigan varsity and club varsity sports.