Progress, Quantified

Progress, Quantified

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on November 14th, 2010 at 11:43 AM


Now that we're seriously into the season, I thought it might be time to see how we're doing as compared to last year. Some people around here like tables (called "charts"), but methinks charts are hard to read. In fact, that's why last year I started plotting the Hennegraphs and other related graphical views of data B. Cook has put together.

The Graph

And hence, a graph of some key offensive statistics across the first ten games of the year, for both 2009 and 2010:

Click here for the full-sized graph, which is much easier to read.

The graph plots a number of statistics across each game of the season. On the left are all the number for 2009, and on the right the numbers for 2010. The bottom-most graph shows points scored in each game; the next graph up shows point differential (how many points we scored minus how many points the opposition scored); a similar set of graphs for how many yards our offense accumulated and yard differential (yards gained minus yards given up) are shown above those.

I also took some liberty of moving the 2009 Delaware St. game to before the Big Ten Season so that the comparable games are in the same part of the season.


These graphs I believe allow one to make a few observations about how much the team has progressed since last season. And so I do:

  • In 2009, we were outgained in yardage, often significantly, in virtually every game against serious competition (the Big Ten team and Notre Dame). I think it is reasonable to make the case, and the record indeed shows, that we were just a bad Big Ten team.
  • In 2010, there is only one game like this: the MSU game. We have thus made a jump, at least to the middle of the pack, and possible higher (which the next two weeks will play a significant role in determining).
  • In 2009, a number of Big Ten games were quite close despite the yardage differentials. Is this a testimony to the fact that the team is actually pretty tough mentally, never quitting in games even though they were getting pushed around? It is pretty amazing how close the team was to having a pretty good seasonin 2009.
  • In 2010, in many ways our record is worse than our yardage numbers. This has a lot to do with turnovers undoubtedly, and is a great sign for the 2011 season.
  • Your observations go here.

A lot of this is well known and obvious for those who follow the team (i.e. mgoblog fanatics like myself), but I thought the visualization was a nice way to see the differences between 2009 and 2010. Certainly, it can be shown to any idiot who claims we haven't made much progress. 

Enjoy! And please do suggest other items to include on said graphs; it is not hard to scrape the data from the espn box scores.

Why Mack Brown & Colt McCoy Are BSing All Of Us

Why Mack Brown & Colt McCoy Are BSing All Of Us

Submitted by Enjoy Life on December 6th, 2009 at 1:45 PM

So, both Mack Brown & Colt McCoy would have us believe that the end of the game was not a cluster F#@K. Why? Cause it wouldn't look good for the Heisman resume for Colt to have come within 1 second of costing his team the game.

I went back at looked at the DVR. Texas ran 4 plays in 1:44 (which included a stoppage for a penalty). Colt hiked the ball with 6 sec and then 3 sec on the play clock and then 6 sec on the game clock.

On the second play with 1:14 on the clock, Colt could have thrown the ball away but instead slid down.

If Colt had let the ball go one second later (which he might have if not pressured), game over. What if he had completed the pass? -- probably game over.

This was a monumental F#@k Up and they just got lucky. saying UM 5th worst team in NCAA? saying UM 5th worst team in NCAA?

Submitted by phild7686 on November 6th, 2009 at 1:32 AM

Mark Schlabach lists what he calls the "bottom 10." I don't know if he means that these are 10 teams that are just not playing well, or if he really thinks these are the 10 worst teams in NCAA. Either way, he has UM listed at #5. Does UM belong in the same list as WKU, EMU, and a host of other non-BCS conference teams that have 0 or 1 wins? Even though we've had some tough losses, I still don't think we deserve to make the list with those teams.



Submitted by phild7686 on November 3rd, 2009 at 8:50 PM

...and we've been losing. So why are we losing? Many people insinuate that coaching is the reason we are losing, and so we should entertain the idea of firing RR. But these people fail to realize that our personnel is not capable of being a great team yet. Usually this can also be blamed on the head coach for not recruiting the right personnel and then developing them into good players, but in only his second year, RR cannot be blamed for not having the right personnel. Coaching does influence execution, but in the end it is the players who have to make plays to win games. The coach cannot be blamed every time a freshman doesn't execute the way he should.

We have 89 underclassmen on the roster, which means we have to execute flawlessly in order to beat good teams. In 2 years, we will have 89 upperclassmen on the roster, and we won't have to execute flawlessly to win, but we will execute better because we'll have more experience. Until then, be patient my friends, because RR is building the type of program that will be to compete with the best teams in the nation (unlike the rest of the Big 10).

Counter-productive coaching: turnovers and errors

Counter-productive coaching: turnovers and errors

Submitted by PeterKlima on November 2nd, 2009 at 5:08 PM
[EDIT: this is epinion]

I have been an avid RR supporter since he was hired.
  I think he has a great track record.  I think he is a moral and ethical leader of young men.  But, after the Illinois game, I began to realize something that might be his biggest coaching flaw thus far at Michigan: his coaching-style is counter-productive to the kids on this Michigan roster.  (I am not talking about spread v. pro-style, just the general way he coaches kids up.)

Let me explain.  We all know winning is everything to RR.  He pushes his players.  But, it may be the WAY he is pushing his players that is the problem.

He rides them.  He bi*tches them out on the sidelines and in practice.  This caused some players to leave.  Fine.  They were probably soft anyway.  

BUT, this team is extremely young.  This team has A LOT of people who didn't sign up to get yelled at every day.  This team is still a work in progress with pro-style players and a spread offense melding together.  Plus, there is already intense media scrutiny on Michigan and its players.  Put it all together and you have kids facing more pressure than most of us ever face.

RR's style isn't to quietly support his players after a mistake.  You can see this when he publicly degrades them.  You've seen it on the sideline like you never see it in other big-time programs in the current era.  (Michigan coaches are also yelling at each other A LOT - weird.)  I think that yelling and berating makes the players "tight."  It causes nervous fumbles and mental errors.  It builds on itself with these young kids.  A bad game and you're benched... for a walk-on. 

Its almost as if the team is taking on RR's problems (the pressure he faces at Michigan) and cracking because they are too young to deal with it.

RR may have been successful at WVU because the overall level of pressure on him and the players was lower.  If the team had trouble, the seat didn't get too hot and RR could still coach 'em up.  WVU was lucky to have him.  Plus, RR loved WVU as a former player.  He could share in that love of WVU with his players.  It may have motivated them.  Whereas, here, they may wonder whether is yelling is "tough love" from a fellow Wolverine or just a hired-gun screaming at the top of his lungs.

To me, this SOMEWHAT explains this Michigan team's turnover problems.  This SOMEWHAT explains the team's second half implosions.  This SOMEWHAT explains the mental errors.

Now, some of you may lament "going easier on kids."  You may think kids are GENERALLY soft today anyway.  And, you might be right.  But, that is reality and he has to be a realistic coach.  In the era of intense recruiting coverage, nationally televised high school games and "announcements," the fact that kids are a little soft is just something we have to live with.  Now, RR doesn't have to start holding hands with the kids, but he needs to understand the REALITY of the generation.

Of course, this might not be the WHOLE new generation and could be a Carr-recruit v. RR-recruit situation when it comes to "toughness."  Time will tell.  Maybe in the swamps of Pahokee and the hills of WV, there are still a lot of tough kids that respond well to being "chewed out."  The problem is that, if so, they are true freshmen on this team.

My suggestion: RR's coaching style needs to progress.  He needs to adapt to talented kids who may need a different form of motivation, maybe kids who didn't grow up getting yelled at every day.  He needs to adapt the pressure he doles by understanding the high level of pressure his players already face at Michigan.  He needs to stay tough, but adapt to what works to motivate and instill confidence in the young kids on THIS roster.

Third Down Numbers and Other Stats

Third Down Numbers and Other Stats

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on October 12th, 2009 at 2:15 AM

There's been plenty said on just how bad the third down defense has been, and I thought I'd chronicle that for you. For starters, our NCAA rank is currently #66 out of 120 FBS teams when it comes to overall defensive 3rd down conversion percentage (how often the opposing offense succeeds). We are listed at 38.78% with 38 conversions in 98 attempts.

From going over box scores, I found only 97, so note that discrepancy now. I'm not worried about one missing right now. Also worth noting, I used ESPN's box scores, not Brian's UFRs. So that may cause discrepancy if you go back and check plays there.

I'm not going to offer much more than interesting stats in this. I'll let you guys draw your own conclusions and leave them in the comments. Any thoughts or explanations are welcome.

So let's take a look at the different third down plays the defense has gone up against by yardage:

Yards To Go Conversions Attempts Percentage
1 8 13 61.54%
2 3 10 30.00%
3 4 9 44.44%
4 2 5 40.00%
5 3 12 25.00%
6 8 12 66.67%
7 2 2 100.00%
8 2 8 25.00%
10 3 12 25.00%
11 0 3 0.00%
12 1 1 100.00%
13 0 1 0.00%
15 0 3 0.00%
16 0 1 0.00%
18 1 1 100.00%
19 0 1 0.00%
23 0 2 0.00%
24 1 1 100.00%
TOTAL 38 97 39.18%

There's obviously a couple outliers out there. The 3rd and 18/24 plays against MSU and Iowa respectively definitely throw a wrench in the numbers. The number that is the most disturbing, though, has to the 3rd and 6 metric. Let's take a slightly closer look at that:

Opponent Down Distance Pass/Run Yards Note
WMU 3 6 pass 23 Fly play where a blanketing Warren dives and WR comes up with it
EMU 3 6 rush 13 Brown misreads zone read with running qb
EMU 3 6 pass 12 Umbrella coverage, missed tackle
EMU 3 6 rush -4 2nd team scrubs were in
Indiana 3 6 rush 0 Rollout pass turned scramble for no gain.
Indiana 3 6 pass 18 3-man rush, as hit, throws skinny post against Mouton for 15 yards
MSU 3 6 pass 0 Stevie Brown Interception
MSU 3 6 pass 9 Crossing under routes confuses our LBs
MSU 3 6 pass 15 Woolfolk stares down QB in man coverage instead of WR. Misses route. Misses tackle to allow 1st
MSU 3 6 pass 0 Blitz house, man open but thrown wide
IOWA 3 6 pass 10 Curl short of the two guys we have deep on that side. Warren backed off presnap.
IOWA 3 6 pass 33 Pumpfake by Stanzi to a laid out Stross on a fly-ish route.

Other than that pick and the four yard TFL against EMU by the scrubs, that's horrid. It doesn't seem to be laid squarely on blitzing too many, umbrella coverage, or anything in particular.

When you throw in those really long conversions, it looks pretty ugly. So what do you have to compare these numbers to? I've got two things. Brian did some extensive DIY Third Down Efficiency studies during the first few years of his blog, something he hopes to return to in the future, IIRC. There you can see that the normal conversion rate on a 3rd and 1 is ~68% (2007 statistics I believe). Michigan is outdoing that by about 7% on defense.

As you move down that trend line, however, you can see Michigan starts to approximate that line really quickly, then the extremely long conversions start to skew the results.

Also, we can look at how Michigan has done against opposing defenses.

Yards To Go Conversions Attempts Percentages
1 7 8 87.50%
2 6 9 66.67%
3 4 8 50.00%
4 5 7 71.43%
5 1 6 16.67%
6 1 3 33.33%
7 2 4 50.00%
8 3 7 42.86%
9 2 5 40.00%
10 1 7 14.29%
11 1 6 16.67%
12 1 4 25.00%
13 0 3 0.00%
14 0 2 0.00%
15 0 3 0.00%
16 0 1 0.00%
18 0 1 0.00%
21 0 1 0.00%
TOTAL 34 85 40.00%

As you can see, Michigan is doing much more poorly on offense when it comes to converting on third down. That said, we're also much better on converting on short yardage. When we get within 4 yards, we've got a very high percentage chance of converting.

Going back to the D for a minute, one of the other problems I'm noticing is how much worse we are on 1st and 2nd down. I'm not sure of too many metrics to gauge this, so I thought about a way to get a decent metric on this. While the standard 3 yards per play average will be fairly successful, it's probably not the best way to describe how successful you are. I decided to go with an arbitrary metric of half the distance needed instead. So, for example, if it's 1st and 10, 5 yards would be considered a successful pick up. So on a 2nd and 5, a 2.5 yard pick up would leave you with 3rd and 2 or 3. I would argue if you're able to do this, you'd probably be slightly more successful than just averaging three yards per snap.

I'll admit this metric is just my opinion, and I welcome ideas for a better way to measure success on 1st and 2nd down.

So with my metric in mind, here's the type of stats I'm seeing.

1st Down

2nd Down

Attempts Successful Attempts Successful
Passing 75 36 71 37
Rushing 102 38 67 38
Sacks 4 - 2 -
Total 181 74 140 75

While Michigan does a decent job of stopping a team on 1st down, about 40.9%, second downs, Michigan is quite a bit worse on second down, around 53.8%. This is understandable as you generally need less yardage on 2nd down while still getting about the same number of yards. To explain, Michigan averages a 1st and 10.38 and gives up an average of 5.807 yards. Meanwhile, one second down, they average 2nd and 8.41 and give up an average of 5.629. The opposing team gains between 5-6 yards per play [ed. -cringe] on both first and second downs, while in my metric, they should need less.

I guess, if anything is good news, on third down, we face an average of 3rd and 6.56 and hold an average of 5.18 yards per play, over half a yard less per play than 1st or 2nd down.

I'll probably be playing with these stats a bit more in the next few days. Unfortunately, most of my stats don't involve personnel, so that complicates things. 

Bill Martin = The Most Important Person in Wolverine Nation Right Now

Bill Martin = The Most Important Person in Wolverine Nation Right Now

Submitted by psychomatt on August 30th, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Generally, this is way overblown. We do not know the facts and they are not likely to be as blatantly bad as the FP makes it seem, but ...

One thing has been nagging at me all night. It is a very real possibility that the NCAA has watched programs push the envelope on "mandatory" v. "voluntary" activities for years and is looking for a situation to reign things in a bit. Michigan would be the perfect situation, given its big profile and unblemished history. The flip side of this is the NCAA knows if it just ignores these allegations at a program like Michigan then everyone else will think it is a license to go hog wild and ignore the time limitations entirely. I am not saying we are going to get hit with major violations or penalties, but this is a very serious situation and how it is handled by Michigan will make a big difference in the outcome.

Bill Martin needs to step up and launch a very, very thorough investigation of these allegations and, in fact, of all sports at Michigan. Hopefully, he will only find some minor violations in interpreting the rules, and he will implement new "institutional" controls to correct the situation and prevent a repeat of the violations in the future. And, depending on what the investigation actually finds, Michigan might need to impose some self sanctions, e.g., 2 year probation for the sports found to be most in violation. If BM and Michigan do that, they will change a negative into a positive, do the NCAA's job for them and become the example the NCAA wants without causing any major damage to the program. Bill Martin ... we never needed you more.

OT-Fantasy-4th pick?

OT-Fantasy-4th pick?

Submitted by ggoodness56 on August 29th, 2009 at 2:27 PM

So I already know this from the 3 guys in front of me on our draft tonight:

1-Brees-1st pick
2-AP-2nd pick
3-Turner-3rd pick

I am not sure where to go with the 4th pick....any suggestions?

DeAngelo Williams...sharing carries
Matt Forte...can't see anything wrong here
Maurice Jones Drew....overrated
Chris Johnson....Lendale gets the redzone touches
Tom Brady...injury?