No, Upon Further Review series is not comprehensive. Most years are absent Ohio State and bowl games (including last year), and 2014 checked out after Indiana. That said, I challenge you to find a greater cache of free data than Brian's masterful charting of Michigan plays going back to the DeBord Throws Rock age.
Every so often I pull all that into a massive Excel file and try to learn things like how spread the offense was, favorite plays, etc. Let's dive in shall we?
What're those pie charts at top? Shows the relative efficiency (by yards per play on standard downs) and the mixes of Michigan's backfield formation choices. For "standard downs" I mean 1st and 2nd downs when the offense wasn't trying to do a clock thing or go a super-long or super-short distance. So no garbage time, no two-minute drills, no goal line, and no going off on Bowling Green and Delaware State. The idea is to show which offense did they get in when they had the full gamut to choose from, and how many yards did it get when the goal presumably was to get as many yards as possible.
Nothing very surprising there. Rodriguez ran his shotgun offense, Borges inherited Denard and Devin and still managed to jam them half-way into an under-center offense in three years. Then Nussmeier ran his zone melange single-back thing. Harbaugh did what Hoke always dreamed of doing, and the offense climbed back to about where Hoke's offense was with a senior (but oft injured) Denard.
[Hit THE JUMP for each year's most charted play, visualized Hennecharts, how many TEs Harbaugh used, how many rushers defenses sent, and LOOOOOTS of charts.]
For a moment yesterday everybody ("everybody" meaning the 10 of us who excessively pour over roster data) got really excited that we might have some spring weights, as a spring roster was apparently circulating among reporters down at IMG. Some people even noticed huge weight differentials between the data on MGoBlue.com's official rosters and the numbers on the spring sheet.
Tall and thin or short and squat? Some positions seem to have preferences.
Methodology: The data are from my heavily edited version of Bentley's database (there are hundreds of errors in there but since they've only ever annoyed myself and Bruce Madej nobody's ever got around to fixing them), and filled in with subsequent roster data from media guides and whatnot. For guys who never enrolled I used their weight as a recruit on Rivals). Snapshots for a year are fall weights.
I also had to go through my starter data and refine it—originally I broke them up into wider position groups but this required some precise definitions. For the years Michigan went to a 3-4 it was at least obvious which DE was basically a 3-tech versus which correlated to SDE, likewise with the WDE/RLB distinctions, and which ILBs were MLBs or WLBs. The hardest part was parsing out hybrid spots versus when Michigan just started in a nickel, but it was quite obvious by which player they used. If Michigan was using the slot positions in a special way (e.g. slot receivers and spurs under RR), I counted them as such. That includes Funchess as a slot receiver and the base nickel with Countess or Leon Hall, but doesn't include Arrington, Manningham and Greg Mathews lining up anywhere (they're all wide receivers).
Ultimately I could say things like freshman Henne was X tall and started Y times, and once I had that I could properly weight that in a calculation of all QBs to determine an average QB starter.
And make charts!
Chart of freshman weight vs starter weight by position:
Starters are bigger than freshmen, duh. But certain positions required more growth than others. I thought the disparities at various positions were interesting. Both defensive end-liked positions demanded the biggest gains (even including some pretty tiny starters at times), with WDE (13%), SDE (12%) and DT (6.9%) the top three in starter/recruit disparity:
Avg Freshman Weight
Avg Starter Ht/Weight
Running back (1-2)
Wide receiver (2-3)
Tight end (1-3)
No, they rarely get taller. But I did find it interesting that the slot positions didn't see a lot of change from when those guys stepped on campus to when they graduated. But then they were rather young.
Chart of Average Starter Age:
If you didn't click for big you probably can't read on the left axis where it says a ONE equals a TRUE FRESHMAN—I figured that is less mathematical but more intuitive because "5th year senior" etc.
On average Michigan was starting a guy at least in his third year in the program. But nickel saw a lot of youth, while MLB (yikes!) and center (that seems obvious) rarely strayed from redshirt juniors and seniors unless they couldn't avoid it, or they had David Molk on hand. WLB was often used for MLBs in training.
I bet quarterback would have been much higher if the last decade's troubles didn't interfere. We can show that.
Wow, Michigan has had effectively older quarterback play EVERY SEASON since Tate and Denard were freshmen. Let's post this. Or one more thing:
Effective STAR (recruiting) Ratings of Starters
Remember all that work I did to create a consensus star rating between the sites, kind of like 247's composite but slightly less useful? Here's how much of it was on the field any given year:
If you’ve been reading the site for a long time you’ll remember Seth’s “Decimated Defense” series, an excellent set of posts that painstakingly detailed why Michigan’s defense was so awful circa 2009. If you’ve been watching hockey the past few seasons, something similar may have crossed your mind.
David Nasternak is our jack-of-all-trades behind the scenes, and he’s also a huge hockey fan. He asked if I’d be interested in some data he was pulling together on power play goals against, odd-man rushes, and turnovers that led directly to goals. Naturally I was; Michigan’s defense isn’t quite Decimated Defense-level bad, but I could probably write a series of posts about the past four years and no one would bat an eye if I titled them “Disappointing Defense.”
The eye test, beloved by scouts for generations, tells us that Michigan’s defense has again been lacking in 2015-16. Thanks to the data David has compiled and some additional team-level stats from College Hockey Inc. we can try and see where the breakdowns are coming from on an otherwise solid team.
[After THE JUMP: it wouldn’t be MGoBlog without charts]
Meta: New interim column name is interim. Rhymes with "talkin' points" if you have a heavy Midwest accent. Hakn means to nag in Yiddish, literally to bang on […a pot or teakettle]. The reference.
Every touch is a little bit of magic. [Fuller]
Early last month Brian forwarded me a reader question about the relative experience of Michigan's players, and asked for a lot of research:
What has been the average age and game experience of each of the teams’ skill groups over the course of the season for each of Hoke’s years coaching here?
I’d love to see a table or graph that showed age/game experience by skill group by year of tenure for all the skill groups. Just data.
Everyone says – players aren’t developing. I’m not sure whether it’s true or a function of getting better but younger less experienced guys on the field.
My impression Defense is improving – and that’s where Hoke started recruiting (if memory serves) – those are some of his third year guys now (still juniors and RS Sophs) – getting better all the time. Offense – a year behind defense from age/experience. Mostly Sophs and RS Fresh. If that pattern is right and holds, a defense of 4th and 3rd year guys next year and an offense of 3rd and second year guys should continue to improve the product. No?
Off the cuff, we were plotting out age progression of Hoke's recruiting classes back in 2012 (when most of the 2013 class was signed) and concluding that 2015 was the probable germination point. I think a big part of why Hoke was let go was Michigan doesn't at all seem on track for that to happen. As Hackett mentioned in his press conference, the 2015 team should be one of the most experienced we've fielded in memory across the board (provided there's no mass exodus, which is hardly a guarantee).
Yay for Good News! How Good's Our GNews?
To get a real answer I really think we'd need other teams to compare it with, and that's way too much work. Also not all positions are created equal and relative experience does not say how quality the experienced players are: the 2003 and 2005 teams were nearly identical, but the 2003 was one of the best under Lloyd while the latter we thought of at the time as painful. Deciding which positions mature at what rate and have which effect of outcome is beyond the scope of this study. But I found two ways to approximate an answer:
1) Long ago I started keeping a spreadsheet of players, going back to the mid-'90s, with what years they were on the roster, when they left, and why. With some updating that was able to produce a list of how many scholarship players Michigan had available each year back to '97, broken up by year-in-program and eligibility and whatnot. By that count Michigan has the oldest team in 2015 in the post-championship era, with 85 accumulated years (average at UM for 1997-2014 is 68) since high school on offense and 83 (average is 61) on defense.
2) I scoured the Bentley team history pages (the links at the right on that page), for how many starts each player had. This turned out to be quite the rabbit hole, hence why it took me so long to produce a response. After fixing a bazillion duplicates and spelling errors and whatnots (like for example they have the Gordons mixed up), I had a list of starts by season of every Michigan player going back to 1994, which I've put on Google Docs for your perusal.
There's some other good tabs at that link if you like exploration.
"Whatever you need to make you feel, like you've been the one behind the wheel, the sunrise is just over that hill."
—Cursive, The Gentleman Caller, The Ugly Organ
How about some good news regarding Michigan's football team? One runaway success you can attribute to this coaching staff is they've managed to hold onto their players, especially the ones they recruited. Better news: the thing about a lot of the teams that finished in the Top 10 in 2013 were they had lots of upperclassmen starters. Experience is still a big deal, and the only way to get that is to go a lot of years in a row without losing half your roster. Better better news: Michigan is (likely) going to be one of those teams in the not-too-distant future. Let's go right to the table:
% of PLAYERS REMAINING AFTER X YEARS FROM RECRUITING CLASSES 1993-'13
Average for 1993-2010
*(Played out eligibility, i.e. nonredshirted Sr's who played 4 years + guys who played 5)
**(Eligible seasons the class netted divided by 4 x class size)
There will be attrition from Hoke's classes as the position battles shape out, but for awhile there Michigan was regularly coming into a recruiting class's redshirt sophomore season with a third of that class already departed. As of now the only guy from that awesome 2012 haul not on the roster is Kaleb Ringer. You have to go back to the class of 2000*, which didn't qualify Reggie Benton, to find a class to make it this far as intact. It was so long ago that a guy from that class is now one of Michigan's coaches.
Plot the retention of the 2012 class to this point with the state of the classes before it coming into their 3rd season. It's stunning:
Years after coaching changes seem to witness an exodus spike, followed by a return to normal, which is to be expected. The last few years though…
*Even better was 1998. Henson (Yankees), Terrell (early NFL), Fargas (transfer to USC) and fullback Dave Armstrong (unrenewed 5th) were the only losses, and that was just a year of eligibility from each of them. Considering they were recruited after the championship year that's astounding.
That's about how I feel: A conference baseline of "C" (ie ranked around 50th) teams with one division recruiting at a "B" level and the other "getting the most out of" C level recruiting.
This I pulled from a spreadsheet of FEI and recruiting data that I'd like to mine further, because if you're looking at a chart it still counts as doing work.
Recruiting = legit, yo/maybe not so legit. So here's a new look at the old stand-by: recruiting on the Y-axis, performance on the X-axis, and a nice, heavy trend line with an R-squared of 0.46 to show an inconvenient-for-narratives correlation. Performance is FEI expressed as a percentile. The composite ranking is a bit more complex: the 2009 (5th year seniors) is weighted at 0.5 the 2010 and 2011 classes at full, the 2012 class at 0.40 and the 2013 at 0.10, which are arbitrary values I assigned based on expectations of how much a class contributes to a given team.
Blicking on it makes it cig.
It says they're correlated, but doesn't necessarily mean one is causing the other. FWIW the r-squared of the Rivals composite determined the same way was .4135; I haven't done Scout or ESPN yet. Look at how the correlation of recruiting %-ile of each class and 2013 performance %-ile changes by year:
2009 (5th yrs)
The highest correlation is to the freshman class, and the 3rd-highest is to the class that's not even on campus yet. There's a strong echo effect going on here, wherein the teams that are good today are getting the highest-ranked recruits. The diminishing returns from seniors, I would posit, are because they're the classes hit hardest by attrition, and most likely to have been recruited by a different coach or to a program in very different circumstances.
The other thing that immediately jumped out at me about that chart is look at all the color on top of the black trend line. Those gray dots are mid-major programs, who are largely outperforming expectations from recruiting, versus only one SEC team managing to do so. I bet that's a system bias in the recruiting rankings: there's little to parse between an under-the-radar guy who commits to Purdue versus one going to NIU except one of those is a Big Ten school.
Peter Frampton:Michigan's offense::Let's stop this analogy right now.
It's nearing Thanksgiving; which means it's time to make pie! Who likes pie? Everyone likes pie! Unless it's a "why our offense sucks so much" pie. Alas, you have all been sampling lots of "Why our offense sucks so much" pie these last few weeks, and we've identified most of the ingredients in this suck pie. What we haven't done yet is say how much any one ingredient is contributing relative to any other. This seems important.
So, I'm going to give you a list of identified ingredients in this suck pie, and you're going to tell me--pie chart like (i.e. adds up to 100%)--how much each suck factor, in your estimated opinion, has gone into our pie:
Fans demand Michigan Manliness. Thus putting the previous regime on not-firm ground and necessitating another transition and talk of MANBALL for stupid political reasons. Rosenberg/Snyder go here.
Rich Rod! One OL in 2010 and his own suck pie of defense that necessitated another transition. GERG goes here. Zero RS juniors goes here.
The Process. Which helped doom the 2011 offensive line class. "Just two OL, both of them fliers, in two classes!" goes here. "None of our tight ends are old enough to buy beer!" goes here. "We're stuck running high school blocking schemes because interior OL are too young!" goes here.
If you believe this is a result of Nebraska's defense having a sudden aneurism of competence (hence all the blood), please answer #10 "Universe" on your cards. [Fuller]
Hoke demands MANBALL! Only if you think there's an executive order from Hoke that forced Borges to use more "big"--ie TEs and FBs instead of WRs--formations and man-blocking.
Borges can't cook fusion cuisine. Incoherent playcalling and gameplanning, players constantly put in bad positions and asked to do more than their skills suggest they're good at. RPS minuses go here.
Dithered on MANBALL transition for Denard. Spent 2011 and 2012 trying to be all things; decision not to sacrifice those years to transition is costing us in 2013. "Older guys can't MANBALL" goes here.
Dithering in 2013. Personnel switches, gimmick offenses, acts of desperation burned practice time, retarded player development, and contributed to snowballing effect. "Tackle over" goes here.
Funk/OL and execution. Offensive linemen not doing the things that should reasonably be expected of them given their talent/experience levels. "Schofield is missing slide protections" goes here.
Ferrigno/Jackson and execution. Backs and tight ends who can't block or run routes (if you think this is just on them being too young, that goes elsewhere; if you think Funchess ought to be able to crack down and Toussaint get under a guy by now it goes here)
Bloodymindedness of Universe. IE anything else: Spain, Monkey Rodeo, MSU broke Devin, opponents are just that good, etc.
Going up early 'cause we're going on WTKA this morning to yap about HTTV Hoops/Hockey from 9-10 with Sam Webb and several of our authors.
What have I done? My brains are going into my feet!
Brady Hoke said his team was prepared for Indiana's ludicrous speed offense, in other words: "Buckle this." Following the science fiction movie at Michigan Stadium last Saturday, the old hypothesis is again making its rounds: teams that don't play up-tempo tend to not be as prepared for teams that do, leading to an uncharacteristically negative defensive performance.
Fortunately there are data here (thank you once again cfbstats.com). They say Indiana is indeed the fastest ship in galaxy.
To get a tempo stat I just divided time of possession (in seconds) by total offensive plays. Games against FCS opponents are removed entirely. The Big Ten by Tempo (all FBS in Google Doc):
It's not perfect since you can't pull out the seconds actually spent in a play, or the actual seconds during clock stoppages because of out of bounds or incomplete passes or first downs, but in the aggregate I think it does the job.* Michigan, as you supposed, is pretty low: 105th, and in the 26th percentile at 28.3 seconds per play. Nothing before or since on Michigan's schedule is like Indiana; for objects in the mirror: CMU is 97th, Notre Dame is 85th, Akron is 58th, UConn 55th.
* Anomaly: thanks to all the stoppages Penn State's offense vs. Michigan charted as fast as Indiana's. That's why I didn't use game-by-game stats, since those sorts of things average out and betray the offense's truer intentions.
High tempo does not equate or really even correlate that strongly with Yards per Play. Observe chart:
Click embiggens (updated)
Cal's offense functions at warp speed but its output isn't any better than Florida's ambles through the swamp. Wisconsin and Alabama both manage to move even slower than we do, and FSU is hardly faster, yet those are elite scoring machines. The linear tilt might be tempo teams winning a few more plays here and there, or it could simply mean the spread guys who run many of the great offenses today are just accidental carriers of up-tempo alleles (like how blue eyes followed the path of Vikings, but didn't necessarily provide any advantage).
The question, however, is not what tempo can do for you, but whether teams on the right side of the chart are more susceptible to those on the left. [Jump to see]
Yay recruits! I have no idea who these people are! /Upchurch
It's ours again, the title they don't give you for having the best recruiting class three months before the previous season begins. Yes, other classes are going to finish strong once a lot of five-stars make their decisions, you know, eight months from now. But like Notre Dame's September Heismans and OSU's November national champs, being in the top spot is better than not being there.
He's keeping it updated. Make it a weekly, guy with the Hail to the Thief logo. No Virginia Tech because even if the 2014 guys redshirt they won't be around for 2020. Good to see Bielema is still recruiting the Wisconsin way despite the move to the SEC.
Blueheron took a look at recruiting over the back end, in how many NFL draft picks Michigan contributed over X period. This was always going to be the case once we went to a spread offense but yeah 2009-'13 wasn't our best period. Relatedly Chris Brown of Smart Football asked for crowd-sourced data on conference contribution to NFL rosters and whether there's a difference for guys in the league less than 5 years. I responded with a chart (click it for full size)…
So we've got more old dudes (even with Hutchinson and Backus retiring) left from the middle Carr years, but since Rich Rod we've had a Sparty-like contribution. I expect this will change with the NFL types now working their way up the roster, and in five years you'll look at this chart and see Michigan next to OSU (with maybe a residually small yellow portion). Really, Michigan is the difference between the B1G being just as much an NFL factory as the SEC, and being something between that and the Pac12.
In other people who probably love Pivot Tables, The Mathlete looked into the recruiting of Maryland and Rutgers to see where they get their players and if getting into those markets might help Michigan and co., kinda like how we went into Pennsylvania in the '90s and snatched up Rob Swett, Damon Denson, Will Peterson, Dave Armstrong, Marlin Jackson*, Scott McClintock, Tim Massaqoui, Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Chad Henne, Marques Slocum, and Marques Slocum's pet Fuck Lion.
*[Marlin could count for Ohio, since Sharon is just the Pennsylvania suburb of Youngstown, but then PSU still felt that one sharply. Speaking of PSU fans, if you know any tell them to get the Penn State version of HTTV (3 days left on the kickstarter).]
Getting Nebraska didn't come with the same windfall, rather the Huskers and their Ohioan of a coach are probably damaging Michigan State and Iowa and Illinois rather than opening up new territory. On the other hand D.C. and environs have a lot of talent which, unlike Nebraska, concentrates in a certain geographic area. Nudging Virginia Tech out of there would be nice. As a follow-up maizeonblueactionlooked at how the SEC has fared in the Midlands since adding Texas and Missouri. Answer: very small uptick, but I disagree that you can tell from 2012 numbers since those kids were mostly at the "down to five schools" phase when A&M was announced. If there's an effect, it's probably the opportunity to play close to home sometimes, and to be on TV at home, which means kids in the Dallas region aren't going to go to Mississippi now because they'll get to travel to A&M, but Houston kids might.
And finally LSAClassof2000 downloaded the Rivals database and WENT. TO. TOWN. on charts of average star rating for B1G teams and comparisons to Michigan. I take two:
Arrested development. Speaking of recruits who didn't necessary pan out as well as we thought, hey did you see this year's hockey team? MGoBlueline did a comparison of the stats between the beloved 2011-'12 squad and the begrudged 2012-'13 guys. There's a mass exodus of defensemen from here and, guh, the streak. By the way his inspiration was Ron Utah's thing back in January that I know you didn't click on in January because I track those links – his does the same thing with the last two football teams.
And since the board's been pretty calm in these OT days, a quick…
Best of the Board
COMPANY CHEATS, GOOD GUY CHICKENS OUT, MUST BE TRESSEL-RELATED
yUP. mGrowOld had that dinner with Tressel he won for his company winning an award and him being a good employee who never posts pictures of his hot wife on the internet or spends time during the work day on message boards. But they pulled the bait 'n switch at the last minute and stuck the big sponsors instead of the promised winners at the keynote's table. GrowOld also chickened out about asking Tressel whether he was embarrassed, like at all, AND chickened out about the tie. Still a good read.
LIKE LITTLE YOU PEOPLE
MGoParents saw an opening when we didn't moderate an "OT: I Just had TWINS!" post and made an MGobaby thread, which became an all your kids thread. All the Aunt points in the world to julesh for crocheting a winged helmet for her brother's kid—you can tell your brother his laziness in not instantly getting a photo of the kid in the hat when duty called has cost his son a chance to be seen by thousands of strangers on the internet. Victor of the thread would still have gone to ems78, who produced* this:
Three weeks old and already has the song down.
* [Double entendre!]
ETC. Urban's secret: telling recruits he likes big butts, and he cannot lie—okay the other brothers are calling on the lying thing and say they deny—completely and utterly deny. And in the thread about the Penn State thing that SI was trying to make a thing but really wasn't a thing at all, this appeared and I wow'ed:
Origin? Previous thread? Did I miss a photoshop thread somewhere of Branch going on a destructive rampage of all sorts of famous photography? SIAP, but can we have one?
Left: Leon Jones doing a thing that kind of resembles defense while a teammate goes in search of somebody to foul. Right: Dani Wohl when fully assembled.
So let's get a thing straight: I'm not the basketball guy around here.
When I was a wee little freshman on the Daily the seniors were busy exposing the Ed Martin scandal and Michigan was busy carousing and hacking their way through an unwatchable season. For those reasons I didn't go to my first game as a student until Christmas Break of sophomore year ('99-'00), when LaVell Blanchard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines and Leon Jones dropped 98 on Towson in a student-less Crisler. They didn't play defense then either—unless fouling counts as such—but they were young, and fast (when Ellerbe didn't make them play Bo Ryan ball), and most importantly they were winning.
Winning makes everything likeable. Recruiting red flags were full-page Chris Duprey personality features on overcoming adversity. Rumors of goonish behavior (e.g. Jamal Crawford fighting one of the assistant coaches in November) were evidence of personality and competitiveness (or that coach's fault). Michigan could face anybody except Duke and expect to win, and Duke we made close.
When the students got back Michigan went on a brutal losing streak, ending the regular season with a 114-63 curb-stomp courtesy of Cleaves et al. in EL. Gaines got into a fistfight on the side of US-23 [EDIT: M-39], Crawford had to leave for the NBA, and we were off to mediocrity.
The first sign of post-Fisher life proved to be just the first of several high-water marks in a long and terrible ice age. In this one I learned to make references to Leon Jones and complain intelligently about Crawford's de facto forced departure. In another I got some stories about Horton as a freshman and Amaker-era student traditions. In another it was Dion Harris and Courtney Sims. Then suddenly it's a different Harris and Sims and I have to ask someone "whatever happened to that big guy we were excited about—Ekpe Udoh or something. Oh he did transfer after all? I missed that." Then I learned this Harris's name was actually Corperryale L'Adorable. Then he argued with Beilein and here we go again. A chart of that:
SRS is sports-reference.com's "Simple Rating System" and is meant to represent that team's expected points differential versus an average team.
There's a small segment of the fanbase who stuck it out even when Michigan's backcourt was down to the heart of Dani Wohl plus a few other functioning body parts of Dani Wohl. Dani today would tell you that was a good investment that's now paying off with a high return, but that's because he doesn't understand why anyone should be afraid of a little pain.
There were entire stretches of Ellerbe and Amaker when this team basically dropped off my plane of interest. Like many others squishing into a crowded bandwagon since Beilein's ceiling started to look an awful lot like the sky, I've had to play a little catch-up. I got about 75% through putting together an all-drought team, but then I stumbled onto the same thing by AC1997 in 2009. So…yeah…an article on this. Well I made a database and some charts to visualize the stats to help me put "Back" in perspective, so have those I guess.
The Family Measuring Shtick
We've yet to face MSU in the Big Ten Tournament so the head-to-heads since '89 are all regular season matchups. Here's what that looks like:
Click for bigger. The blowout in East Lansing this year was the worst of the series except for the three-year span that began with the afore mentioned 2000 thing.
I tried but couldn't find historic league averages (the above was calculated from Bentley's stats) and compiling them myself would have taken too much time, but you should know that non-Wisconsin teams in the Big Ten averaged 71 to 85 points a game in 1989, and this year that spread is 59 to 82.
EDIT: I forgot to post the 3's chart. Treys chart. Trips chart.
They're not going in any more often, but there's more of 'em. That's a good thing. The 3-point line was moved back a foot for the 2008-'09 season, so that may have depressed the numbers after Beilein's first year and made that 46.8% in 1989 seem even further from possible.
On the Road:
This makes me feel a little better: it's really hard to win NCAA basketball games on the road. Wait until after Indiana to declare anything about how well we fare at Crisler. By the way I forgot to label: the Y-axis is # of games.
Details for home (left), neutral (right) and road (below) sites:
It's just hard to win on the road.
Have at it:
The database is here if you'd like to piddle around and find more things.