It means everything to them.

It means everything to them.

Submitted by mistersuits on October 3rd, 2010 at 1:59 AM

"I don't mean much to you, but you mean everything to me."

- Nearly Every Michigan Opponent, 2010.

After reading the excellent diaries prescribing proper fourth down etiquette according to the numbers, odds, and expected values, it makes sense to me that when you have the nation's leading rusher on a 4th and 1, you go for it. Period. But this isn't about our offense's decisions.

Most defenses must put together three consecutive good plays. Michigan's defense has a hard enough time doing that as is, but for whatever reason I've noticed this year that our defense has faced an usually large number of aggressive opponents making the (tactically correct) decision to go for it on 4th down. Part of me thought this was just me being paranoid. But tonight after the game I wanted to see the actual numbers, and boy was this hunch right.

Here is a chart with Michigan and our Big10 opponents in 2010 and the number of 4th downs each team has had to face:

Chart of Opponents Going For It On 4th Down

  Average Per Game Total Converted


MICHIGAN 3 15 9 60%
MSU 1.6 8 4 50%
Indiana 1.5 6 2 33%
Penn St 1 5 3 60%
Wisconsin 1 5 3 60%
osu 1 5 2 40%
Iowa 1 5 1 20%
Illinois 0.75 3 1 33%
Purdue 0.5 2 0 0%

Does that jump of the page at you? It should.

Michigan, through five games, is facing almost twice as many fourth down conversion attempts as the next team (MSU) and three times or more as many as the rest of our Big10 opponents. Our defense is facing an enormous task of shutting down these hyper aggressive teams.


Does that mean our defense is just bad?

Contrary to that, I assert that it is an underlying trend in the games that Michigan plays, one that reconciles nicely another statistical blip coming from my stats on Normalized PPG and YPG, wherein our opponents typically far exceed their season standards when playing against Michigan.

Our opponents most of the time play their best game of the year against us.

Michigan is by far and away the red-letter, circled-twice, highlighted, make-or-break game of the year for every single team we have played. This will likely continue through Ohio State. Our opponents each and every week have thrown (and will throw) the whole playbook at us, and take risks when they normally would not - for a chance at knocking off Michigan.

  • UConn wanted ever so badly to bust open it's season as a Big East Title contender.
  • UMass wanted to be The Horror II.
  • BGSU wanted to be Toledo.
  • Indiana was absolutely out for blood big time.

Only Notre Dame, with their new head coach and coming off of a win and playing us at home, (despite us being rivals neither ND nor Michigan believes the other to be THE big rival), doesn't fit the bill of someone willing to sell their own mother in order to beat Michigan....and Notre Dame was 0 for 0 on 4th downs this year.*

There is playing to win and then there is playing as if the season ends today, and that is what we often times find ourselves facing on defense.

Can anyone really argue against the notion that the four teams listed above weren't playing their lights out when they played Michigan this year? Indiana's season, for all intents and purposes, is now over. They had hopes for an eight win season, now it's likely they will struggle to reach six. I have a hard time believing Indiana is going to come out anything but flat next week @osu.

Looking ahead, can we take some positive away from this?


As a direct result of our opponents being hyper aggressive against us this far into the season, it inflates our opponents' PPG, YPG, and TOP. Don't get me wrong, what UConn, UMass, and Indiana did was absolutely the correct strategy - but from a Michigan perspective we don't want our opponents to play correctly by the math. We would much rather them settle for 3 or punt the ball back to Denard. All of these things result in less of our defense on the field, less points for the opposition.

And if our big remaining opponents do that we will allow fewer PPG, and this gives our offense a better chance to equalize for the win. PSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, osu - all of these teams could fit the bill as a more "stodgy" and "conservative" Big10 school. (MSU has already shown a preponderance for trick plays and going for it on fourth down).

Ok. Sounds good to me, but I'm still pissed off about our defense!

Fine. Do yourself a favor and only read the offensive UFR and only watch the youtube highlights of Every Offensive Snap. It does wonders for the blood pressure. Understand that our defense performed precisely to expectations today, but so did our offense!

But seriously, in the meantime, take a deep breath. We now have three road victories in as many years. Road games in the Big10 are brutal (PSU lost, Wisconsin lost, OSU/UM/NW all nearly were upset). And for godssakes get excited! It's MSU week!


*In other years, the UM/ND game builds up differently and everyone lets loose, but this particular year it did not set up that way.

Changing our perspective on tempo and possession because of this offense

Changing our perspective on tempo and possession because of this offense

Submitted by greenphoenix on October 3rd, 2010 at 12:39 AM

I wrote this in another thread, but I wanted to put it in as an OP and let people snipe at it.

I think the rapid scoring nature of this offense makes a lot of aspects of how we think about football distorted and unhelpful, and more importantly this offense makes our defense look, in many ways, worse than it actually is. 

Here's my thinking on this:

1) In football each team gets about the same number of chances to score (give or take one posession because of time running out at the end of each half).

2) If one of the teams scores quickly, and often, the other team with a conventional defense will run up big numbers of time of possession and total yards, even if it's not reflected in the score.

3) Michigan's average scoring drive was about six plays and about two minutes long. (By the way, If there is any single statistic that you can take to the bar when you talk about this team, that is it. I have never seen anything like it.)

4) If that kind of efficiency keeps up, the defense against any competent offense (and say what you like about Indiana but their passing game today was outstanding, and their quarterback very good) will get a lot of plays and a lot of time of possession, not only because they want to keep the ball away, but because, frankly, it takes them longer overall to score.

So, the insane numbers being put up by this offense make us reconsider our traditional indicators of a team's effectiveness. Time Of Possession? Throw it out the window. It's a waste. Total plays run? Even that is a little suspect, because Michigan will score in 4-8 and their opponents will need at least a dozen, generally speaking.

The defense on a team with an offense like this like this could actually be pretty good, and still have wildly disproportionate time of possession, as well as running a lot of plays, just because the ball changes hands so many times, and because the offense scores so fast. We do have to look at average yards per play, total yards, and the final score.

I think another useful indicator would be average points scored per drive.

My point is that I thought that the defense did okay today. They shut Indiana down for most of the second half, even though Indiana went for it on fourth down four times. They were putting ridiculous pressure on a quick-release passer with a three man rush, which meant that the line is good, and more importantly, THE ZONE WAS WORKING. The linebackers didn't make we want to die (although Roh, man, that's just mean, put the dude on the line, that has to stop). The crazy assignment errors that we saw in Notre Dame didn't happen. Indiana couldn't get their running game going, and it took a lights-out performance from the best wide receiver we've played against to keep them in the game.


Big 10 expansion option

Big 10 expansion option

Submitted by [email protected] on October 3rd, 2010 at 12:13 AM

If the "Big 10" conference was considering candidates for further expansion, what other universities would hot prospects?

1) Notre Dame - a perennial favorite as the third university in Indiana and home of Touchdown Jesus.  - the only problems are its TV contract with NBC, their independent national schedule, and the fact they may only join if they are force to do so to get a BCS bid without an undefeated season.

2)  Boise State - mentioned by Kirk Firenze of Iowa as a good team to add to the Big 10 for football - they would provide another top 10 BCS poll team to the conference add to competition.  Problems - would they fit into the big 10 for other sports; will their football team remain prominent or will they dwindle in a few years after these classes graduate and the coach leaves?  How many other sports could they compete with other Big 10 teams?  Would they be able to handle the Big 10 schedule compared to the Mountain West schedule of lowly teams?  Would travel distances be a problem?  Do they have a decent airport in the winter that is accessable?  Do they have a decent hockey team?

3) Missouri - previously was a center of speculation this summer, but openly denied any interest in switching from the Big 12 to the Big 10 after Nebraska jumped this year. 

4) others?

It would seem Notre Dame would be a no-brainer, but adding just one team might be problematic for the two division organization - so adding at least an even number of teams would make easier for schedule making.

D Hart and Tate Thoughts

D Hart and Tate Thoughts

Submitted by backusduo on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:49 PM

I absolutely cannot wait to see D Hart in the backfield next year with Denard.  As good as this offense is, adding Hart will give us the chance to control the clock and make our playing drives 5 plays instead of 2 to 3. 

I have no doubt that D Hart (and probably half his team after they visit for WI) are coming to Michigan, and it is going to make greatness even better... if that is possible.  I love this Michigan team.

On another note How important is Tate too this team?  I think today really showed it.  He came in on 2nd and 2 and we didn't convert when we could have sealed the game.  I know he is paying a lot more attention on the sideline now, but today stressed how important it is for him to come in ready to strap it on.  He makes the first read correct on 2nd down we would have had a first down and potentially a sustained drive that would have let Denard shake out more of the cobwebs that made the next few possessions ineffective. 

Attn: bluebloods, Harbaugh lovers...check out these stats

Attn: bluebloods, Harbaugh lovers...check out these stats

Submitted by steve sharik on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Stanford's defense, playing 9 upperclassmen and 2 sophomores on defense (compared to M playing 5 underclassmen, sometimes more and as many as 5 freshmen) gives up 626 yards and 52 points to a spread offense.

Oregon: 626 yards on 80 plays, 7.825 yd/play

Indiana: 568 yards on 98 plays, 5.8 yd/play

Michigan: 574 yards on 45 plays, 12.756 yd/play

Be careful what you wish for...

OT: USC should fire DC Monte Kiffin

OT: USC should fire DC Monte Kiffin

Submitted by West Texas Blue on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Well, after the debacle today, USC should fire Monte Kiffin.  I mean, his D gave up 31 points and 537 yards to a Washington team that is 66th in total offense and 66th in scoring offense and lost to a 1-4 BYU team.  Don't know why USC hired that guy.... [sarcasm]

But seriously, even with all the blue chippers that USC stockpiled during Carroll, USC defense has struggled.  Hawaii even shredded them.  Could it be the talent or inexperience? (I used Rivals ratings)

Nickell Robey - true frosh CB (4*)

Shareece Wright - senior CB (4*)

Jawanza Starling - sophomore safety (4*)

TJ McDonald - sophomore safety (5*)

Hmm, does this look similiar to some other team that we know?

James Rogers - senior CB (4* WR)

JT Floyd - RS soph CB (3*)

Cam Gordon - RS freshman safety (4* WR)

Thomas Gordon - RS freshman safety (2*)

Jordan Kovacs - RS soph safety (Walk-on)

Even one of the best D coordinators of all time (Kiffin), hasn't been able to turn USC's D into a shutdown unit.  Experience is so key in college.  Everyone thinks that freshmen, blue chippers, and new starters can just jump in and become All-American players instantly.  It takes experience, gametime and in the system, for players to fully blossom.  I think Michigan fans should heed this advice as we watch our D, especially young and inexperienced in the secondary, go through growing pains. Monte Kiffin isn't going anywhere, and neither is Greg Robinson.

A record for Denard to break.

A record for Denard to break.

Submitted by mgoblueballer on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:30 PM

I hate that Juice Williams holds the record for the most yards by an individual in a single game at Michigan Stadium, 431 yards. I am reminded of that every time I see my former college roommate, who is a big Illini fan. As much as I would love to see Denard break it next week, the same buddy is coming to visit and we're going to the Iowa game, and I would love to let him witness in person  the breaking of Juice Williams' record. Over or under 2 weeks before Denard breaks this record?