As a rabid Michigan and Texas A&M fan, it seems to me that these two programs are on a similar path. However, the comparison I want to make is 2009 TAMU and 2010 Michigan.
Both have proven coaches (Rich Rod, Mike Sherman). Both have very talented offenses. Both have young players on defenses. Both have terrible defenses.
|2009 Rank||2010 Rank|
2009-10 A&M finished 6-7.
2010-11 A&M is currently 9-3.
What happened? A&M got a new defensive coordinator (Tim DeRuyter). Despite installing a new formation (3-4), there was a dramatic turnaround. By retaining his offense, and getting a new defensive coordinator, Sherman kept his job.
So, what does this mean for UM? Well, if Rich Rod can bring in a proven defensive coordinator (like DeRuyter) who runs a scheme suited to our strengths, we might see a similar turnaround. A conservative outlook might show a top-30 scoring defense to pair with a top-15 scoring offense. Given that 2010 Michigan has been handicapped with even more youth in the secondary than 2009 A&M, Michigan should show a larger benefit of an extra year of experience. (Additionally, Michigan's 2011 scoring offense should crack the top-10 as a result of the larger number of returners and a better defense).
Really, the turnaround hinges on who RR brings in to run the defense. Hopefully Brandon realizes that it would be premature to pull the plug on RR and uses all available resources to bring in an accomplished defensive coordinator.
2010 Texas A&M returned 9 starters on defense.
2011 Michigan returns 9 starters on defense.
2009 Texas A&M had 3 sophomores and 1 seniors starting in the secondary.
2010 Michigan has 3 freshmen and 1 senior starting in the secondary.
I did a graph of Michigan points scored vs OSU points scored over the last 100+ years:
Note that the longer a coaching staff exists, the more points OSU scores - these are the red trendlines.
Also note that at or just after a coaching change, the OSU points scored decreases dramatically - these are the green arrows.
Major Points of Inflection:
1938 hire of Herbert O. Crisler (0.816 win %)
1968 hire of Glen (Bo) Schembechler (0.802 win %)
1990 hire of Gary O. Moeller (0.771 win %)
Note the Carr (0.763), Oosterbaan (0.656) and Elliott (0.548) did not make a blip in the general trend.
Also note that when the OSU score pushes past 30, in coach change occurs, the exception being the 2nd year of Elliot, where the 1st 50 points put on Elliot did not cause a change, but the 2nd 50 pt clip resulted in the hiring of Bo.
Coaching changes at Michigan tend to occur when OSU puts 30+ on Michigan, the last being 42 pts in 2006.
After the coaching change, points given to OSU tends to drop quickly.
Note: When RR was hired, OSU scored 42 and last year only 21 a 50% drop-off.
Here's this week's update to The Michigan Difference, updated with stats from this week's games.
Another bipolar game against Wisconsin. The final offensive output was pretty good, but the defense couldn't stand up to their rushing attack. We remain #5 in Total Offense (TO) and are now #112 in Total Defense (TD).
Disclaimer: The NCAA stats are not linear, of course, and a difference of 1 yd/gm can be a large or small difference in rankings depending on how closely spaced everyone is. So as I cautioned, this isn't a hard-core statistical exercise. This analysis is pretty one-dimensional because it's long and complicated enough as it is.
I think the greatest value in this is to look back at the early games and see how well we did in comparison to what other teams ended up doing against them - what seemed like a good or bad performance at the time may look different in retrospect.
Part the First: Offense
We know our offense is great, but what kind of damage has it done to the Total Defense (TD) ratings of our opponents? Here they are thus far:
|Opponent||Games||Yards Yielded||Yds/gm||NCAA Rank|
What would these guys' defensive stats look like if they hadn't played Michigan?
|Opponent||Total Offense, M||
Opp. Avg - M,
M Total Offense,
*Opponents' average Total Defense yards per game, minus the Michigan game
**Michigan's Total Offense in game as a % of the opponent's average TD minus the Michigan game
Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin's defenses really wish they hadn't played us. They'd be in the top 20 nationally but for one game. Michigan has gained above our opponents' average yardage yielded in every game thus far, and their Total Defense rankings have suffered as a result. What's the damage?
|Opponent||TD Rank With M||TD Rank Without M||Difference|
Average change in Total Defense ranking for all opponents: -10.1 places.
Looking at the offensive performance versus the quality of the defense:
There is little correlation between Michigan's Total Offense for a game and their opponent's average Total Defense (minus M). Whatever is limiting our offense's output in a game, it is not directly related to the number of yards the opponent usually gives up. This would suggest that the offense tends to be limited by itself, rather than the opponent.
Part the Second, Defense
So the flipside of this, then, is how much has our defensive suckitude helped out our opponents stat sheet? Where would they rank in Total Offense without having played us? We'll run the same tables again, but from the opposite tack:
|Opponent||Games||Yards Gained||Yds/gm||NCAA Rank|
Wisconsin is easily the strongest offensive team we've faced thus far. The results of the game show that. MSU was pretty good, the rest varying degrees of average to bad.
|Total Defense, M||
Opp. Avg - M,
Opp Total Offense,
% of Opp Avg - M**
* Opponents' average Total Offensive performance, minus the Michigan game
** Opponents' Total Offense as a percentage of their average offensive performance, minus the Michigan game
Here's a nifty graph of our opponents' Total Offense against Michigan, versus their average Total Offense per game without the Michigan game:
In this case, we do have a reasonably good correlation. Our defense does worse against better offenses. That would suggest that we're talent-limited somewhere (either coaches or players) and the opponents' offenses tend to have their way with us. In other words, our defense doesn't shut anybody down. The more yards our opponents average per game, the better they'll do against us.
|Opponent||TO Rank With M||TO Rank Without M||Difference|
Average boost to opponents' Total Offense NCAA ranking: +5.9 places
From this perspective, the Wisconsin game was our 4th worst defensive performance of the year. As bad as we looked, three other games were worse. We were up against a very good offense, and it showed.
Part the Third: Summary
Michigan's O Difference
on Opp TD Ranking
Michigan's D Difference
on Opp TO Ranking
|Connecticut||-12||+1||W: Good O, OK D|
|Notre Dame||-15||+11||W: Good O, Terrible D|
|Bowling Green||-20||0||W: Awesome O, OK D|
|Indiana||-8||+14||W: Good O, Terrible D|
|Michigan State||-1||+10||L: OK O, Terrible D|
|Iowa||-8||0||L: Good O, OK D|
|Penn State||-4||+6||L:Good O, Bad D|
|Illinois||-22||+9||W:, Awesome O, Terrible D|
|Purdue||-1||--1||W: OK O, OK D|
|Wisconsin||-10||+9||L: Good O, Terrible D|
In subtly maize-and-blue graphical form:
New observations for this week:
Many of our previous opponents had good weeks offensively, making our defense look a bit
betterless bad in those previous games.
- Wisconsin is easily the best team we've faced yet. Offensive and defensive performances were close to mid-pack, but we got our butts kicked.
- Our offense remains impressive and will keep getting better.
- Our defense is terrible and had better get a lot better.
- Winning is still a lot more fun than losing.
After Penn State, many on the board snapped. The conclusion for a majority was that Rich Rod's job security was in jeopardy. Further, Gerg needed to go, probably as soon as the season was over.
Now, with the win over Illinois, and the strong probability of a win vs. Purdue, RR has some breathing room. The polls here, and the consensus, are that RR has won the right to coach at Michigan a minimum of another year.
Things are less clear for Gerg. I think that many still want to see him cut loose, either after OSU, or after the Bowl Game.
My question is whether the balance of the season will affect Gerg's tenure. Chait suggests that his slim hopes rest on the games against Wisconsin and Ohio State, and how the defense does in those games. (link: http://michigan.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1148722)
I personally think that Gerg should be given at least one more year, even with a 7 - 5 record. My reasoning is as follows.
- Gerg has only had two years to prove himself.
- It is not his fault what has happened in the secondary this year.
- Next year, with more defensive depth, and with more experience, we will have a much more accurate picture of the defense.
- A change to another defensive coordinator would not be good, in terms of continuity.
I believe that even though I predicted a 7 - 5 record, we will end up at 8 - 4. I actually have been completely befuddled by the koolaid, and actually believe that we will win in Columbus. Of course, if yet more injuries hit, especially to our key personnel, all bets are off. But I believe that we beat Purdue, finally get the monkey off our back with Ohio State, and do well in a bowl. This allows Gerg to stay, and to be judged, good or bad, in 2011.
What about you? Do you want him out of here, no matter our final record this year? Would you rather see us win out and Gerg stay, or lose just enough for him to be cut loose? I can never root against Michigan, under any circumstances, but then, I'm also not pining for a Gerg departure.
If the pollster here at Mgoblog could structure a Gerg specific poll, that would be great. I'd like to see what those on the board think.
We spend an awful lot of time griping about the defense here and what it is doing for opposing offense's stats. I thought I would instead look at what our offense is doing to our opponents' defensive stats. So brace yourself for lots of charts.
Here is how our opponents' defenses have looked thus far:
Well, how did Michigan's offense do compared to these teams' season averages?
M % of Avg
|M % w/o M|
So our offense has gained more yards than what every one of our opponents' defenses yield per game.
What would their statistics look like if they hadn't played us? I went and calculated what each team's Total Defense season average would be and their resulting ranking with the FBS statistics:
Average difference: -12.25 places.
So there we have the Michigan Difference. Playing Michigan so far this year has cost our opponents on average of 12 places in their NCAA Total Defense statistic. I suspect an analysis of rushing offense, passing offense, or scoring offense would yield silmilar results.
The Leaders, and Best. Let's Go Blue!
Edit: As per suggestions in comments, added % over average w/o Michigan, above.
Added another chart for the defense:
TO/gm - M
Average difference: +7.13 places
Overall conclusion: Our offense is doing more damage to our opponents' defensive stats than our defense is helping our opponents' offensive stats. And WTF was up with the MSU game? We whiffed on both sides of the ball on that one.
*counting their missed FG as the defense holding them.
Yeah, we gave up a lot of points to Illinois. But our defense stepped up more times than the score would indicate to someone just glancing at it. We turned the ball over 5 times and still won.
Illinois had 16 drives.
They had 1 turnover.
They had 1 missed field goal.
They had 3 made field goals.
They had 5 touchdowns.
They had 6 punts.
Side note, only one team this year has made Illinois punt more than 6 times, and that was Purdue (obviously though they didn't have as many possessions in any other of their games).
Oh, and we held Illinois scoreless during the third quarter, too.