a terrible blight on our fine country
Weekend Visitors: Mayden In For Official
Michigan is hosting a few notable visitors for Saturday's game. Allen Trieu has a free rundown in the Detroit News. The notables:
- Four-star TX CB Jared Mayden, an Oregon commit taking an official visit this weekend. He appears to be a longshot to flip; having him on campus at least indicates a certain level of interest.
- CA QB commit Victor Viramontes, a newly minted four-star on 247, is the other official visitor this weekend.
- Top-100 2017 GA QB Davis Mills, who seems to be one of M's top QB targets in the class along with Dylan McCaffrey.
- Three-star 2017 GA RB Kurt Taylor, who has an early M Crystal Ball pick from 247's Steve Wiltfong.
- Wiltfong reports it's possible top in-state recruits Lavert Hill, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and JaRaymond Hall also come in for visits, but nothing is set in stone yet ($). He said that at the moment he thinks Michigan will land all three.
The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan reports Michigan asked four-star NC OT Landon Dickerson to push back his official visit to after the season after he was originally slated to take it this weekend ($). Dickerson told Tim "I guess if I still have interest at the end of the season I'll make my way up," which doesn't sound promising.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
|WHAT||Oregon State at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 12th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan -15|
|TELEVISION||National on ABC|
|WEATHER||low 60s, partly cloudy
10% chance of rain
Parking note sponsored by Park 'n' Party, which is your fancy same-place-all-the-time tailgate headquarters. They tell me they're now expanding into catering and equipment so they can accommodate all levels of commitment. They also say that if you wait you will not get parking and then you will
wander the earth doomed for all time have to explain this to your spouse.
Meanwhile maybe Oregon State should go with some iconography, because logos don't seem to be going so well.
The Wolverines' half of the Craft Beer Battle against the state of Oregon—winner gets to relocate the brewery of their choice—comes against Oregon State's Beavers. OSU (Not That OSU) got caught up in last offseason's weirdest set of coach swaps when longtime coach Mike Riley was somewhat inexplicably hired at Nebraska; Oregon State responded by pirating a discontent Gary Andersen from Wisconsin, who went and got Paul Chryst from Pitt, and then Pitt may have gotten the best coach involved in any of this by hiring Pat Narduzzi.
Andersen's got his work cut out for him. He inherits two defensive starters and is going with a freshman quarterback on a team that went 2-7 in the Pac 12 last year. Oregon State opened the year with a worryingly competitive win (13-7 deep into the second half) over Weber State, a 2-10 FCS team that doesn't even have its punter anymore.
Run Offense vs Oregon State
Jaswha James is the only returning Beaver starter in the front seven
While concern is clearly warranted, we are advising Michigan fans not to panic about Michigan's rushing performance against the Samoan-laden Utah Utes. If such a thing repeats against the Beavers it's time for the sackcloth and ashes. Oregon State was 87th in the country last year in rush defense and lost virtually the entire thing.
They've moved to a Real Actual 3-4 this year with 260-pound DEs and feature a safety-ish freshman WOLB. From the FFFF:
if you're wondering, the "Peko" at NT is former MSU DL Domata Peko's cousin
Even that white-spackled lineup might oversell Oregon State's returning experience. Jaswha James, one of two guys asserted as a "returning starter," only started 7 games last year. But you roll with what you've got in marketing:
James had 16 tackles last year and two TFLs.
That's a veteran front, which is good and not good for them. They're not freshman for the most part; hooray. Most of these guys couldn't start on a pretty bad defense that had every reason to start looking to the future about halfway through the year; boo. Also they are undersized at about five of the seven spots in the front seven, give or take a 233-pound ILB.
But things change so Oregon State could suddenly be good—Andersen's certainly a good coach. We didn't get much indication either way in the Beavers' opener, but Weber State did scratch out 4.8 YPC on just 15 carries. That's not good but neither is it definitive. OSU's best hope is probably that Peko, a JUCO transfer, is a revelation and he can disrupt Michigan's rather flailing guards.
As for Michigan, game one was confused and dispiriting. I thought just about everyone not named Glasgow was bad. Both guards got deposited yards in the backfield; Mason Cole struggled to block anyone on the sweeps Michigan had set up to break big; De'Veon Smith was all right but found maybe one or two cutback lanes the whole game and missed a couple of cavernous holes. We're going to see just how far a Harbaugh team can come over the course of the season, because they're not starting from a high point.
KEY MATCHUP: Tailbacks versus holes. I expect they'll be there because if I don't expect that I'm resigning myself to another season of painful, painful offensive football. Also, they literally have a 260 pound 3-4 DE named "Failauga."
So: Michigan is still looking for a back who can find gaps in the line that may not always be where they were supposed to be presnap. Drake Johnson may return; if so expect him to get a run out, and possibly lock a job down.
[Hit THE JUMP for A DENARD-ISH OFFENSE.]
Brian recently wrote a great Picture Pages that wrapped the “football is a game of inches” trope in a box and tied a nice, neat bow around it. Reading it is a visceral experience, a reminder of the miniscule events that can swing a game. If that’s looking at football through a microscope, what happens when we climb up to the photo deck and pull out a wide-angle lens?
We’re lucky enough to have people like Bill Connelly and MGoBlog’s own The Mathlete wondering the same thing and working toward achieving focus with a zoomed-out view of the game. Connelly wrote an influential piece about the five factors that he found to influence the outcome of a game, while The Mathlete’s research has come up with four. The purpose of this new weekly post is to pick through those factors and find what influenced last weekend’s outcome, as well as whether it was expected (turnovers are not great, Bob) or unexpected (I’d give you an example but then it’d fall into the “obvious” category, wouldn’t it).
I can hear my boss down the hall give me a quick summary of what I need to know about advanced stats before I have to switch to a different tab.
That’s oddly specific. It’s almost like the author of this piece has some prior experience with a scenario very similar to this one in a prior job. Anyway, Bill Connelly’s five factors are:
- Explosiveness: If you’re averaging more yards per play than your opponent you’re in good shape. Win probability swings wildly here; averaging just 0.1 yards per play more than your opponent raises win probability from 50% to 55%. Connelly also has a more advanced Equivalent Points Per Play metric that also accounts for the equivalent point value of the yard line from which a play is run.
- Efficiency: Last season the coaches often said that they “fell behind the sticks.” In effect, they were saying that the offense wasn’t very efficient. Success Rate is basically a measure of how well your offense stays on track; to be counted as a success a first-down play needs to get 50% of necessary yardage, a second-down play needs 70%, and third- and fourth-down plays need 100%.
- Field Position: Turns out starting closer to the endzone than your opponent is kind of a big deal. I’ll let Connelly explain it numerically.
- Finishing Drives: Connelly looks at how successful a team was inside the opponents’ 40-yard line. His argument is that there isn’t that big a difference in how teams perform inside the 20, but you do see some difference if you expand the range you’re looking at by 20 yards. It’s a pretty intuitive thing to look at; if you’re getting into opponent territory and not coming away with points you’re probably not going to win.
- Turnovers: Just don’t do them. Giving up the ball cuts off your opportunity to score while handing the opponent an extra one. We’ve already talked about field position, and with that being a component of a turnover you can understand how costly they can be from the standpoint of win expectancy.
The Mathlete’s four factors are similar in principle to Connelly’s, but are calculated differently. In his words, they are:
Conversion rate = [1st Downs gained]/[1st Down plays (including first play of drive)]. A three and out is 0/1. A one play touchdown is 1/1. Two first downs and then a stop is 2/3, etc.
Bonus Yards = [Yards gained beyond the first down line]/[Total plays from scrimmage]
Field Position = The expected point difference per game for where a team’s offense starts and where a team’s defense starts. Each drive is given an expected value based on the start of scrimmage, all of the drives for the offense and defense are totaled and compared. This accounts for all elements of field position: turnovers, special teams, drive penetration etc.
The fourth one is points per trip inside the red zone, which is self explanatory.
I’m back. Can you start writing about numbers so it looks like I’m doing something important and work related?
I mean, I guess? I’d recommend opening a sheet in Excel but that’s just me. Let’s look at The Mathlete’s factors first.
|Team||Field Pos||Rank||Conv Rate||Rank||Bonus YPP||Rank||Red Zone||Rank|
That’s about as close as it gets with the exception of field position. Mathlete has Michigan’s average start at their 21 while Bill Connelly’s advanced stats box score has Michigan’s average start at their 30.9. I did some charting myself and also came up with 30.9, so the 21 is likely just a typo. The national average starting position is 29.6. With both schools a little over a yard away from that mark, field position turns into another category that’s essentially a wash.
Switching from where they started to where they finished, Michigan and Utah both made six trips inside the 40 and 3 inside the red zone, and both came away with 17 points from those trips. As Mathlete has noted, that results in both teams averaging a fairly good 5.6 points per red zone trip.
From this we can conclude that field position data doesn’t do a good job of explaining what happened. Looking at efficiency doesn’t unmuddy the waters much either. Bill Connelly uses a stat called Leverage Rate as a part of efficiency. Leverage Rate basically tells you what percentage of plays the offense was on track (i.e. all first downs, second and seven or less, and third or fourth and four or less). Michigan’s leverage rate was 70.8%, while Utah’s was 72.9%. Both topped the national average of 68.3%.
Digging through more of Connelly’s advanced box score tells us what the eye test already has: the run game was a little below average, while the passing game was actually really good if you exclude the three interceptions.
I’m hiding in the bathroom please just get to the point.
The first place there’s any real separation is passing downs success rate, where Michigan was successful on 33.3% of throws while Utah was successful on only 10.5%. The separation in passing games is echoed by Michigan’s 25.8 to 19.1 advantage in equivalent points from passing (I highly recommend checking out the definition of equivalent points here).
That doesn’t mean that Utah’s passing game was a total flop; their IsoPPP, which is basically a measure of explosiveness, was 3.37 while Michigan’s was just 1.95. (The national average is 1.84). As mentioned above, I did some rudimentary charting where my criteria for explosiveness was a 10+ yard run or a 20+ yard pass. I had Utah with two such passes in the game while Michigan had three. I’m not sure I’m using the best explosiveness proxy, as Utah did have a number of throws in the range of 15 yards that didn’t meet my criteria for explosiveness but certainly could have had an effect on IsoPPP.
Hey thanks I had to go back to my desk and you still haven’t given me a good explanation of what happened.
If I had to pin it on one thing it’d be turnovers. Utah was +2 in turnover margin, while their turnover points margin was +13.8. In a game where all other factors were relatively close this is massive. In fact, Connelly’s projected scoring margin had Michigan losing by 13.0, but they managed to lose by only seven.
That, along with a good statistical performance from the passing game, was counterintuitively positive. The running game, however, was a fairly clear negative. The offensive line’s struggles resulted in 2.38 line yards per carry, well below the 2.82 LY/carry national average. Even Utah’s line generated 2.74 LY/carry despite the outward perception that Devontae Booker was bottled up. Michigan’s rushing success rate was 31.0%, which isn’t even in the neighborhood of the 42.9% national average. Not having an explosive run game is tenable if your success rate is high, which Michigan’s wasn’t. Improvement there and some regression to the mean in the turnover department should lead to success for Michigan.
they see me rollin' [Fuller]
With Craig on a worldwide don't-buy-my-book tour, Ace sits in this week. Topics:
- Positives and negative takeaways from the Utah game
- I point at Ace so he can say "Lotulelei" for me
- Ace's beard
- I get in a Shawn Hunwick crack ON SAM which is awesome
- more Ace's beard
- Ace talks about hockey a lot
- Oregon State is new like baby, also hopefully defends like baby
It was a good show.
THE USUAL LINKS
What this is: I’ll be running down the nationwide results from the week that was, in particular the P5 vs. P5 games, with an emphasis on the race for the playoffs.
This isn't SEC land where "who's got the best conference?" is asked before and after every meal. The point is to run down the five Power 5 conferences, since with four playoff spots it’s become very important to track the rare data points in that otherwise mundane argument.
Everybody’s pretty much fine
College football’s opening weekend was conspicuously devoid of significant upsets: not much of CFB’s upper echelon was challenged significantly in their opening wins and the highest ranked team to lose its opener was #15 Arizona State in a de facto road game against a tough Texas A&M team. Consider the preseason top 10:
3. Alabama beat Wisconsin 35-17. More below.
like this except we're Harbaugh and you're throwing gentler softballs [Fuller]
Alarming news about the US economy: bloggers will be on the radio. We are leading into the weekly coaches's show for the duration of football season. If things go well (ie: we get enough sponsors to at least break even) we'll look at continuing through basketball season.
|WHERE||1050 WTKA, streaming on WTKA.com|
|WHEN||5-7 Mondays, right before HARBAUGH|
|THE LINE||Brian mispronounces last names -infinity|
|TELEVISION||50/50 FS2 shows up just because they need anything resembling content|
|WEATHER||mid 70s, 0% chance of rain, 100% chance of sputtering condemnation|
The first one is Monday. For now we're expecting this to be formatted much like the podcast, except people can call in and rant about vaccines causing Michigan's offensive line to get hurled into the backfield by angry Samoans.
This is not 'Nam, this is radio:
RULE NUMBER ONE: only ask one question, we forget the others.
RULE NUMBER TWO: don't say anyone is "just a winner."
RULE NUMBER THREE: make the sporps takes piping hot or don't bring 'em at all.
If you're interesting in sponsoring us, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org; we're floating the show ourselves so it costs dollars.
Pictured: half of OSU's returning defensive starters.
While the defense is a significant question mark for Oregon State this year, they passed their first test by doing what should be done against a bad FCS team, holding Weber State to 178 yards and no offensive points in their 26-7 win. How much can be learned from such a game is in question, but let's try anyway.
Personnel: Oregon State is the ninth-youngest team in the country. This is on full display in Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Your eyes do not deceive you. There are two—two!—returning starters.
Base Set? Oregon State hired former Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, who runs a real, two-gapping 3-4 defense. It usually looks like the diagram above, but they'll show some different fronts, especially on passing downs.
This created a strip-sack when the standup rush linebacker ended up one-on-one with the fullback somehow. Weber State: not good.
More often, the Beavers would go with a 2-4-5 look, lifting the nose tackle for the nickel:
Or, on shorter third downs, they'd run a more traditional 4-2-5:
If you're looking at the diagram and wondering "isn't Oregon State really undersized to be running a 3-4?" then you are an astute reader.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
And it's over six ounces! That's like a double whammy!
Ah, Golden Tate. You made a good rival, a better Stuffing the Passer puppet, and most recently an excellent number two to Calvin Johnson. But the reason I love Golden Tate the most was he was money on my fantasy team last year. And whenever I cheered for him people thought I was rooting for the Lions and felt sorry for me.
It's weird to have these feelings for former rivals. I'm not like Ace, who as we speak is probably in some dank Ann Arbor basement hoping to draft Carlos Hyde because Alex Boone is blocking for him. Go ahead Ace!
In fact, this time I welcome you to draft all the Urban Meyer quarterbacks. Wait are there any Urban Meyer quarterbacks? Ah yes, Alex Smith: drafted by Ute fans who are bad at trolling everywhere.
I can get behind a Badger or a Husker (hey Abdulla is cheap!), but I usually avoid rival-rival guys in fantasy because there's a wrongness. Unless he was a puppet. Or if he's still underpriced and could win you 100 large. Then it's okay.
NFL starts tonight. First NFL game of the year with our fantasy partners at Draft Kings starts Sunday.
- $1,000,000 prize pool
- First place wins $100,000
- FREE for new users or $3 to enter
- Top 84,950 scores win money guaranteed
- Starts on Sunday, September 13th at 1:00 PM EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Defense
2016 Lima (OH) point guard Xavier Simpson became the fourth member of Michigan's 2016 class yesterday. The day started with what appeared to be concerning news when in-state point guard target Cassius Winston announced that after initially pushing back his planned official visit, Michigan was no longer an option for him. With Simpson looking all set to commit to Wisconsin yesterday afternoon, this didn't look great for the Wolverines, and memories of the Battle/Langford saga had fans concerned.
That concern was unfounded. As it turns out, on his way back from visiting Wisconsin last weekend, Simpson made a pit stop in Ann Arbor.
For those thinking this came out of nowhere, it did not. Simpson visited michigan Sunday afternoon/evening.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) September 9, 2015
Been wrapped up for a few days now
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) September 9, 2015
Michigan had a chance to lock up a top-100 prospect at a position of need. In doing so, they pulled the rug out from Wisconsin, but I'm sure since this is John Beilein we're talking about here their fans reacted in a totally reasonable fashion.
Or the total opposite. This is without a doubt funnier than anything that dude has posted on his Bo Ryan parody account.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
We have managed to maintain our sponsorship relation for a day, which is progress for us. During this day we would like to reiterate that Seth and I both refinanced with Homesure, which was both easy—everything's over a secure internet dropbox, so you don't have to put on pants—and efficient—he asks all the banks which one will give you the best deal. He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Where the defense alternated between basically two setups, the offense was a smorgasbord of stuff ranging from five wide…
…to unbalanced goal line packages…
To this, which I called "offset Maryland I":
FWIW, I filed Poggi as a tight end in the table.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Rudock your QB. Line was Cole/Braden/Glasgow/Kalis/Magnuson the whole way except for a few snaps on which Logan Tuley-Tillman came in to play tackle that used Mason Cole as an inline tight end (who can't go downfield).
Butt played almost every snap—maybe every single one. There was a lot of rotation aside from him. Henry Poggi got the most time as an H-back; Kerridge was your traditional fullback. Williams got the most time other than Butt as an inline TE. We saw a little bit of Hill and Bunting.
WR was mostly Darboh and Chesson on the outside, with Harris rotating in. Perry played in the slot, sometimes in twins formations in which there were two TEs.
Smith was the main back with Isaac getting maybe 20% of the snaps behind him. Green and Taylor-Douglas got a few snaps each.
[After THE JUMP: throwing guys in the wrong direction.]