UM/MSU Rivals Previews
As many of you may know, MSU was featured yesterday (7/14) as the number 31 team in the Rivals Preaseason Countdown. The preview is more of the same unwarranted (in my opinion) hoopla about how it's time to start "dreaming big" in East Lansing. While reading the preview, I naturally began comparing the breakdown with that of U of M. MSU was given the following grades: Offense B, Defense A, Special Teams A-, Coaching B+. U of M's grades are as follows: Offense C, Defense B-, Special Teams B, Coaching A.
While looking at these grades for each of the respective team's units, one grade really stuck out to me, and that was the B given to the Sparty Offense vs. the C given to the U of M offense. Some of you may think that a one-letter-grade discrepancy is not worth further analysis, but I think that, after reading so many unsupported and superfluous previews of the 2009 MSU football team, I finally reached my breaking point. I decided to do a little more research into the personnel that will make up each unit this season and came across the following:
|Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's||Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's|
|U of M||MSU|
As you can see, my analysis included only players that have contributed in some fashion during their career. The quarterback position is almost a complete wash as neither team has anything even close to resembling a proven player. Michigan absolutely dominates the running back position, having almost 2300 more yards, while having double the yards per carry numbers and over 6x more TD's than the returning Spartan ball carriers. MSU gains a little bit of ground back in the receiving department as they return more yards and yards per catch, though M returns more TD's from its group of WR's. Finally, I included TE's to be fair, and as you would expect, State dominated having roughly 4x as many yards and 5x as many touchdowns. This, however, is not an apples-to-apples comparison as the M offense puts nowhere near the same emphasis on tight ends as does the Sparty offense.
I would like to note that I did not include any offenseive line statistics as they are exceptionally difficult to come across, however I will mention that the offensive line was the "biggest problem" for both teams in the Rivals analyses, thus we can conclude that this area is roughly a draw.
Going a step further, if you want to include a high-level overview of incoming offensive recruits, M is bringing in 11 players with an average Rivals ranking of 3.8, while Sparty is bringing in 13 players with an average RR of 3.5.
Based on this analysis, I don't see any way imaginable that Sparty's offense can be rated a full letter-grade above M, and I hope that this provides further evidence that the unbelievable amount of optimism surrounding MSU football is both unwarranted and unsupported.
Nice work. If Rivals could respond, though, they'd probably say that, yeah even though Michigan has more returning production on the offensive side of the football, what's returning was the worst in the Big Ten last year. Personally, I'd still take our offensive situation than MSU's, which has more unknowns, but anyway, that's probably what Rivals is thinking. Well done, though.
if we assume two teams are nearly equal in other departments, the team starting a freshman QB should lower its expectations by a letter grade, or a few wins, or whatever. There are mitigating circumstances in Michigan's case to be sure, e.g. the supposed perfect match between Tate's skill set and Rodriguez's system, the end of season improvement in OL play, etc... All that said, I wouldn't expect an impartial observer to see beyond the words: 18 years old.
But still, I bet we score a heap more TDs than Sparty this year.
This interesting, but since MSU relied so much on Ringer, your running back comparison is practically meaningless. I mean, I'd love to believe that their RBs are worthless, but they never even got a chance to accumulate stats.
It's tough to do a comparison of running backs and say that Michigan's running backs are far superior, then compare tight ends and say "well, we didn't use tight ends, so Michigan State's superiority is moot here". We didn't use any of those running backs last year, either. Will there be a drop off? Certainly. Will there be a total of 30 yards or so gained on the ground for the year? Probably not.
That said, I'm really nervous about Michigan State's offense next year. The defense looks to be good bordering on great, but the offensive line is untested, with a new quarterback and a new running back. If these questions are left unanswered, State is looking at a 6-6, 7-5 season.
Agreed, Tight Ends should probably be included with WRs to make a full comparison, in which Case MSU maintains an edge in receiving.
But with both teams starting over at QB, it remains to be seen how last years result translate.
Michigan's offensive results this year probably have a higher volatility/variance (standard Deviation? Not sure which term to use here), higher upside but higher potential to fall flat.
Nice post. Also, I can't believe Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady have 1248 career rushing yards between them. When did they get them?
Brown had 41 yards as a freshman, 382 as a sophomore, and 122 last year (almost all against Northwestern).
Grady had 483 as a freshman, 187 as a sophomore, and 33 last year.
I always seem to forget that Mike Hart wasn't the only one to get carries between 2004 and 2007. That's not intended as a slight on any of the other guys who were on our roster, more a reflection on what a workhorse Hart was.
There are exceptions of course - I'll always remember that Jackson game against Iowa, Carlos Brown against Illinois '07, a couple others. But I would never have believed that Grady picked up almost 500 yards in 2005.
Sparty played much better than their talent level when they had Stanton, then Hoyer at QB. Rivals must think Cousins or Nichol can carry on in the same manner. True freshmen may be the liability, at least in the beginning.
I live here in Chicago, and follow HS football pretty closely. Anderson was a good, not great, HS player at Barrington. This HS traditionally places their best players at Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin. He received offers from none of those, MSU being his best choice.
I'd take Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown any day over Anderson.
If Forcier/Robinson combo is somewhat serviceable at QB, we will be able to beat MSU. Talent is there.
That was a good overview. Just shows you don't have to dig terribly deep to get highly useful information.
"I would like to note that I did not include any offenseive line statistics as they are exceptionally difficult to come across, however I will mention that the offensive line was the "biggest problem" for both teams in the Rivals analyses, thus we can conclude that this area is roughly a draw."
Michigan's offensive line outgained Michigan State's last year (3.91ypc to 3.31ypc, and 147ypg to 130ypg) and gave up fewer sacks (1.83pg to 1.85pg). Meanwhile, Michigan's line returns all 5 starters, while State's lost 2. It may be a bit harsh to Michigan to say their offensive line, which was better by any reasonable measure last year, won't widen the gap even more this year.
MSU led more than Michigan did last season, and their offense was of the (predictable) Ringer right, Ringer left, Ringer up the middle variety. Defenses on teams that are behind "know" you are going to run more often and try to kill the clock. So that can erode on running statistics. It might be best to look at 1st half rushing stats. Based on what you state, can you really say that the Michigan line was better? After all sacks are (essentially) a wash, and while MSU's rushing totals are a little less (0.6 ypc and 17 ypg) you could attempt to explain that with the predictability of the MSU power running game offense. I think we need to look more deeply into the numbers and find a variance on the ypc stat. Especially in the beginning of the season Michigan had plenty of negative yardage rushing plays, which would be a large variance. Did MSU have similar problems? My feeling is that they didn't, and that 3.31 ypc fits in well with the "Three yards and a cloud of dust" philosophy of that offense.
I'm interested in seeing how the WRs work out this year, since MSU benefited quite a bit last year from their dominant running game setting up play action and safeties cheating up to the line. At the same time, UM had two below-average QBs supported by a mediocre running game (at least until MINOR RAGE started to kick in). I like Dell, but beyond him I'm not sure MSU's WR corp is going to scare anyone this year.
As for the RBs, I agree with the earlier posters that the loss of Ringer kind of skews the numbers here a bit. If you looked at last year's RBs before Hart left, you'll see a similar drop off in carries, yardage, etc.
makes good use of the TE, to his credit. Considering their inexperience at QB, I think you'll see MD lean heavily on the 5- to 15-yard dump offs to the TE. Sideline out routes to the WR's will be another popular (low risk) pass for this season's Sparties. But, I totally agree, overall I don't see how MSU's O can be rated higher than Michigan's this season.
I didn't check anything else, but that 2.0 number jumped out at me... unless I'm missing something, that should be 3.25 per carry (325 yards over 100 carries). Still not nearly as good as our RBs, but slightly better than it looks.
Anyway, nice work on putting all this together. I'm feeling like Cartman in that South Park episode about the Wii... I'm strongly considering freezing myself for the next two months so I don't have to wait any longer for football!
I think that we should probably account for turnovers in the comparison too. If the offense can stop turning the ball over, we'll perform better than a C.
But I'm not sure I agree with your reasoning. The players that are coming back had different roles in their previous seasons than they will have in 2009. Past performance, in this case, can be a very poor indicator of future results.
I will ask a totally subjective question: If you could pick any of the MSU players on offense, on the condition that they must start, who do you take?
For me it is a very short list:
Maybe an O-lineman (but I don't know about linemen enough to tell you who or where he'd start).
Think about it. I like our TB better. Their QBs are noobs too. The WRs (with the exception of maybe Dell) aren't nearly as athletic as ours. Their TEs wouldn't fit in our offense very well, and Koger is suited to RR's offense. That leaves the line.
The stats are there and agree with your posting. The intangibles are hard to list...but we do need to note the skill of the O-Line and take that into consideration. I think it would be complete listing them.
I like the post, it's well thought out and well researched.
The chart included, however, runs over the right-side MGoBlog sidebar in a normal-width browser window. This could be done better.
Yes, this was the first time that I had posted, and obviously it could have been done better. I will improve upon that in the future, but hopefully what I meant to get across was well accepted.
From what I’ve seen of White, I think he’s more of a threat than Dell (despite the numbers ill reflection. Nevertheless, I think the D is what's boosting up sparty’s ego.
We weren’t productive on offense because of turnovers and poor QB play. If our quarterback can stay away from costing us games and we limit our turnovers we will be near the top of the conference; anything less we will back were we were last year regardless of stats. It was still a very informative post and good food for thought. Thanks young sir.
Everyone seems to forget the egregious number of fumbles M had last year. It was awful. 5 in the first half against ND? 7 total if I remember correct.
If then can cut TO's down to half, you know, only twice the national average, I think they'll be quite a bit better from that alone.
Zoltan disagrees with the special teams comparison.
They finished 24th in both polls last year (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex). I would think 31 would be a disappointment for a program with such a bright future as the Spartans. I realize they have a new qb but many Spartan fans think this will be addition by subtraction. I think if I was a Spartan fan I would be looking forward to at least breaking into the top 25 for the second straight year. Of course doing that would mean UM is pretty much a must win game. It might be interesting with the pressure clearly on Sparty this year.
Nice job on the post, stats, and analysis. I think its tough to give a letter grade on any offense pre-season. I'm a homer, but I think M will surprise a lot of people next year with their offense.