The Offense: Fandom, Confirmation Bias, And Why It's Probably Better Than You Or Brian Think

The Offense: Fandom, Confirmation Bias, And Why It's Probably Better Than You Or Brian Think

Submitted by mejunglechop on September 13th, 2011 at 7:44 AM

As anyone who has ever moderated a liveblog can tell you, the psychology of fans is a curious thing. Here are some submissions that seemed sane enough to publish in the first quarter (no usernames, that would be cruel):

  • So what if we get pounded, we're still 2-0 against them the past 2 years
  • our offense has been downgraded from AAA to "Greece".
  • If Denard don't get his shit together next series, I would entertain the thought of putting Gardner in.
  • How come ND bounced back from a couple sucky seasons so much faster than us?
  • I would suggest Michigan drop ND from the schedule until the team gets better
  • Good thing we didn't pay $300 a ticket for this, eh?
  • Enough is enough. Denard needs to consider calling his own plays in open rebellion if that's what it takes to win.
  • now we have a bad defense AND a bad offense
  • ...we are completely overmatched. No getting around that.

Small samples. We jump in it. The feelings fans get in their guts is so strong they can’t help but make bold public proclamations after less than a quarter when they know it’s dangerous to read too much into the result of an entire game. Sometimes USC loses as a 41 point favorite and goes on to win everything else. Sometimes James Madison beats that season’s ACC champ. Sometimes The Horror, then Tebow Smash. Everyone knows this. It’s at least partially why Brian felt compelled to protest the strictures and conventions of sportswriting when making his prediction Friday.

As you might be able to tell from the title, this diary is a reaction to Denard After Dentist. The title choice is apt, at least in some ways. My buzz didn’t wear off until Sunday evening. Brian’s as big a Michigan fan as there is, and between the muppets and the “that happened” post, I’m sure he got a great glow himself. But Denard After Dentist came from a guy whose trip took him some places he’d rather not go. Don’t take my word for it:

But I hope I'm not the only one who felt a sense of foreboding in the midst of the joy and relief. We've seen this script the last two years, and never has it been as rickety.

Rodriguez was hired on the promise of bringing our offense into the space age. Zone left, run, run, pass on third and long: gone. Dreadlocks, speed, Barwisbeasts, fuse blowing scoreboards, modernity: in. That’s what we were promised. One of Bo’s players came back to lead the program and pretty soon Rodriguez was gone. Dan Mullen was quickly ruled out, and when Hoke was introduced at that press conference he conflated Michigan football primarily with toughness and that seemed like the day Dilithium died. 

Perhaps the most surprising element of Denard After Dentist wasn’t anything Brian wrote, but that no one in the comments challenged the central premise: that Dilithium is dying. Certainly, it feels that way, it has since January. But that’s not enough. Not on MGoBlog. This is a data driven place. Where’s the evidence? WHERE ARE THE CHARTS?

 

Michigan 2010

Michigan 2011

total drives

16

14

avg. starting field position

MICH 31.6

MICH 22.5

total plays

83

50

points

28

35

yards

532

452

yards per drive

33.25

32.28

yards per play

6.41

9.04

points per drive

1.75

2.5

points per play

0.337

0.7

punts

10

5

giveaways

0

3

3rd down efficiency

3 of 16

3 of 9

net penalties (on offense)*

-54

11

**

Again, this is silly. Drawing conclusions from one game is a fool’s errand. But last year’s offensive performance against Notre Dame sure doesn’t look as good as you remember it, does it? If Brian wants us to accept that our offense is worse than it was, it’s inconvenient that our offensive performance this year was actually much better. 

This is an aside, but here’s what Brian had to say about last year’s win:

I was going to let my skepticism overwhelm, to wait until it was obvious that 2010 was not going to be 2009, but I lasted two games. I'm in the tank again...

I've got an answer for the Courant now: Michigan is receivers blocking like tiny mountain goats 40 yards downfield because it matters, because if you set Denard free he'll go "AHHHH" at you afterwards. He'll smile and it will seem like the sun is poking through dark clouds, scattering colors in a circle all around you.

It’s a jarring contrast to the quote about the script never having been as rickety. And this:

All the reasons it left you with your finger between your teeth are reasons to wonder about the smoothness of this transition (not very), the repeatability of such miracles (even less).

Another aside: what a strange turn of phrase. Reasons to wonder? If Brian were wondering those parentheticals wouldn’t be there.

The smoothness of the transition is still an open question. As I showed above the statistics of the only real test so far this year don’t indicate anything is amiss. 

Turning to how repeatable our road to victory was***

I think any reasonable observer would answer that we got at least fairly lucky. But I don’t think we were as lucky as Brian seems to think or nearly lucky as last year. We had two big factors going for us last year that were not replicable with any sort of consistency.

First, if your recall, Notre Dame’s starting quarterback was knocked out of most of the first half (his backups and Brian Kelly’s ethics were of such quality that he returned and played for the second half with what was almost certainly a concussion).

Secondly, while this year we were the beneficiaries of two gift fumbles (certainly quite lucky), that’s outweighed by the fact last year we were +3 in turnover margin with a defense that was absolutely abysmal at creating turnovers and an offense and special teams that gave gifts freely.

Possible items that one might argue are not replicable from this year’s game:

  • Denard completed a couple jump balls to Junior Hemingway, who has a knack for catching those sorts of things . I guess that’s kind of lucky, but not particularly when you consider he missed a couple long shots downfield too.
  • Denard also threw a couple jump balls to Gallon. Both got completed in the end zone, but one to the other team. Tell me if I’m being cavalier in counting that as a wash.
  • The Denard fumble recovery score- How lucky is something when it mainly cancels out catastrophic unluckiness? I guess it depends on your perspective, but, of course, it registers.
  • Gallon being invisible isn’t any more lucky than the blown coverage we had that allowed the go-ahead score two plays before. 

Conclusions:

  1. Making bold conclusions from a single quarter or game is silly (remind yourself)

  2. We should be conscious that even minor failures in this year’s offense feed into our confirmation bias that a MANBALL head coach won’t hire someone who can handle Dilithium nearly as well as Rodriguez
  3. Michigan’s offense performed significantly better against Notre Dame statistically than it did last year
  4. (remind yourself of the first thing)
  5. We were at least fairly lucky to win this year
  6. We were luckier last year
  7. BONUS: The luck we had last year didn’t suppress our optimism. Maybe it should have a little, but the idea that there’s a script and if we let optimism creep in we’re doomed to follow it is silly.

Footnotes

*It should be noted that the yardage numbers don’t include the net yardage changes incurred by penalties for/against the offense. Last year’s game featured a lot of drive killing penalties and Notre Dame’s defense incurred none. Whereas last year our offense had a net of 54 yards of penalties against it, this year the offense gained a net of 11 yards from penalties. Again these aren’t reflected in any other yardage numbers.

**Caveats: ND has 8 defensive starters back, it’s fair to assume they’re better defensively this year… Last year’s game featured two missed Brendan Gibbons field goals from 39 and 40 yards, take your wild guess as to what the chances are of either going in this year and adjust your assessment of the offense’s performance accordingly.

***Given that Brian’s preceding sentences gave examples from both sides of the ball, I’m fairly certain I’m on safe ground including defensive play in my response.

Gauging Team Effectiveness: Part I: Season In Review

Gauging Team Effectiveness: Part I: Season In Review

Submitted by stubob on April 24th, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hoke

Since it’s the offseason and there’s not much going on, I thought I’d take a look at last season’s team production, offensively and defensively. All the data is from either NCAA.org or ESPN’s drive charts, except for the Air Force and New Mexico games, where I had to extrapolate the drive data from the box score. That’s what’s known as foreshadowing. Offensive and defensive stats are broken out individually, to try to handle those phases of the game on their own.

All Spreadsheeted-up and no place to go

I started out planning to show that the offensive effectiveness remained somewhat consistent through the season, and that only the number of drives per game decreased into the meat of the Big Ten season caused the downturn in scoring. The data did not support that. The number of drives did vary between UConn’s 8 and the Illinois 19-drive trackmeet. But the numbers did not coincide with strength of opponent, final score, or much of anything. You need look no further than the Wisconsin game vs. the OSU game for proof. Against Wisconsin we scored 28 points on 10 drives, compared to 7 points on 12 drives against OSU. The chart doesn’t show any correlation between drives and points:

Chart:

Opponent Yards Drives Pts. YPD PPD D-Yds D-Drvs D-Pts D-YPD D-PPD Net YPD Net PPD
UConn 473 8 30 59.13 3.75 343 9 10 38.11 1.11 21.01 2.64
ND 532 16 28 33.25 1.75 535 17 24 31.47 1.41 1.78 0.34
UMass 525 10 42 52.50 4.20 439 11 37 39.91 3.36 12.59 0.84
BG 721 11 65 65.55 5.91 283 11 21 25.73 1.91 39.82 4.00
IU 574 12 42 47.83 3.50 568 12 35 47.33 2.92 0.50 0.58
MSU 377 11 17 34.27 1.55 536 11 34 48.73 3.09 -14.45 -1.55
Iowa 522 12 28 43.50 2.33 383 11 38 34.82 3.45 8.68 -1.12
PSU 423 10 31 42.30 3.10 435 10 41 43.50 4.10 -1.20 -1.00
Illinois*** 676 19 67 35.58 3.53 561 18 65 31.17 3.61 4.41 -0.08
Purdue 395 15 27 26.33 1.80 256 15 16 17.07 1.07 9.27 0.73
Wisc 442 10 28 44.20 2.80 558 12 48 46.50 4.00 -2.30 -1.20
OSU 351 12 7 29.25 0.58 478 13 37 36.77 2.85 -7.52 -2.26
MSU(SEC) 342 11 14 31.09 1.27 485 11 52 44.09 4.73 -13.00 -3.45
averages 488.69 12.08 32.77 41.91 2.77 450.77 12.38 35.23 37.32 2.89 4.58 -0.12

And Graph:

So I need to look a little deeper, namely at typical markers of yard and points. The basic idea is straightforward: good yards per drive equals good “effectiveness” and good points per drive equals good “finishing.” First up: YPD. Offensively, YPD varies from unstoppable against weak competition (UConn, BG, and UMass) to not-very-good against MSU, the other MSU and OSU. Defense, on the other hand, was great in the rain against Purdue, better-than-average against ND and Illinois (per drive, remember), and shelled by MSU, the other MSU and Wisconsin. This should not be news.

Alright, so now we know we couldn’t stop anyone. How about scoring, PPD? Because we’re dealing with a smaller range, I think the data is clearer. Offensively, after throwing out the Bowling Green anomaly (seriously, 6 points per drive?), most of the games turned out be between 2 and 3 PPD, with OSU being a lowly 0.5. Defense tells the rest of the story. The season started out well enough, holding ND to 1.4 PPD, but the number crept up from there, 3 PPD to Indiana, up to 4 PPD to PSU and Wisconsin. Even Tressel-ball managed to score almost 3 PPD. And that chart just looks worse and worse as the season goes on. This is also the point where I get to mention 4-for-14 on field goals and lament.

So what does any of this say? I’d like to be able to adjust some of those values for strength of opponent, so that the 27 points against Iowa’s #7-ranked defense look a little more in line, but I can’t decide on a formula to adjust expected versus actual points. Someone wake up the Mathlete for me, if you don’t mind.

I think that all I can say at this point is that the defense was bad across the board last season, and performed worse against good opposition. The offense was at-best inconsistent, ranging from good to average from game-to-game. With a team consisting of mostly true sophomores at skill positions, I don't that should come as a big surprise.

Coming tomorrow: the same analysis for SDSU's season, and comparisons to what Michigan did.

New Year's Day Viewing Plans?

New Year's Day Viewing Plans?

Submitted by eth2 on December 30th, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Since the last snap of the regular season, the days at MGoBlog have been (over) ripe with relentless CC chatter, prolonging each day to a near eternity.   While college football has recently resumed, the run of throwaway bowl games with their tortured corporate epithets has done little to sate the senses of this Michigan faithful.

On Saturday, that will all change as we witness the final three hours of our 2010-11 season.

So with the big day nearly upon us, I ask what grand plans have you hatched for our first bowl game since Jan 1, 2008?

  1. Where are you watching the game?
  2. Who are you watching with?
  3. What other NYD bowl games do you plan to watch?   
  4. Your drink of choice will be _____ ?

 

For me, it's

  1. At home, in 54" of glorious high definition.
  2. Typically watch the game with 2-4 other M grads who live nearby plus token appearances by my family who sometimes tolerate my viewing habits.
  3. I'll probably Tivo the Alabama v. Michigan St game and watch later if it's a remotely close game.   Am definitely planning to watch the TCU v. Wisconsin Rose Bowl matchup live.
  4. A sampling of cervezas.  Projected starting lineup includes:  (1) Stone Brewing Co.Ruination IPA, (2) Lagunitas Brown Shugga' Ale and (3) Rogue Dead Guy Ale.  Coming off the bench if the need should arise: Sam Adams Boston Lager, Corona, Heineken, and Molson Golden.  If things go severely awry I have about a half a bottle of Makers Mark tucked away in the up-high cabinet.

 

Michigan football players at my Thanksgiving table

Michigan football players at my Thanksgiving table

Submitted by FabFiver5 on November 22nd, 2010 at 12:20 PM

So it looks as if I'll be having at least 5 or 6+ U-M football players at my Thanksgiving table on Thursday. And I have now have to help my parents cook ALL THE DAMN FOOD THAT WILL BE NEEDED TO FILL THE STOMACHS of Mike Martin, JB Fitzgerald, Steve Watson, Renaldo Sagesse, Jibreel Black and possibly others.

Mike Martin's family is friends of ours and we had them over for Christmas dinner last year. With the OSU game being after Thanksgiving this year, the players obviously won't all be with their families to celebrate the holiday. Since the team has practice Thursday morning, some of the guys will be coming to my parents' house for the meal afterward.

So far, we have 3 turkeys and one spiral ham planned in addition to approximately 137 side dishes. But I'm thinking we need another meat/main course. Anyone have suggestions? I was thinking a beef roast in the slow cooker or some center cut BBQ pork chops on the grill.

What would you feed massive Michigan linemen? A little help here!

EDIT: I'll post pictures of the aftermath/table devastation next week.

Michigan offensive "inconsistency"

Michigan offensive "inconsistency"

Submitted by tf on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Like a lot of people in these parts, I felt a Michigan victory over Penn State was nearly a certainty prior to Saturday. And, like a lot of people, instead of enjoying the Halloween weekend comfortable with the knowledge that Michigan was at least going to a bowl game this year, I instead fretted about what exactly had gone wrong. Obviously, the defense is ridiculous, having managed to get worse despite the fact that the last two year's defenses were the worst in history and could only get better, but that's another story.

As I read through comments on the board, a common theme was that the offense is tremendous and that doing anything (like firing Rodriguez) to mess that up would be the worst decision that could be made. While I don't claim to know whether or not Rodriguez should be fired, I was having a hard time accepting the argument that the offense is fantastic. Somebody referred to the offense as #4 in FBS; I pointed out that while they are #4 in yardage, they're only #19 in scoring offense.  #19 is still good, of course, although that ranking has been dropping as they've been playing Big 10 teams that are not named Indiana.

I did some research trying to figure out why I felt compelled to argue with fellow fans who had nothing more obnoxious to say than that the Michigan offense is somewhere between really, really good and fantastic right now. I looked at the top 20 scoring offenses and tried to find something that would jump out at me as the source of my dissatisfaction. I didn't find it. The data (courtesy of ncaa.org) showed that Michigan doesn't score TDs as regularly as the heavyweights like Nevada, TCU, Boise State, and Oregon (all over 50%), but at a 42.4% TD rate, Michigan did rank 12th among the top 20. With 13% of UM drives ending in turnovers, they were pretty much middle of the pack (and ahead of Oregon -- the gold standard in my book -- at 13.3%), and having 4.3% of their drives end in failed fourth down conversions was again more or less middle of the pack.  I threw third and fourth down efficiency into the mix to see if something stuck, but it didn't. Michigan's numbers don't look drastically different than the other top scoring offenses.

  TDs FG Atts Punts Tos TO on Ds Total   TD % FG Att % Punt % TO % TO on D%   3D% 4D%
Nevada 45 7 16 13 4 85   52.9% 8.2% 18.8% 15.3% 4.7%   59.4% 75.0%
TCU 50 6 27 8 4 95   52.6% 6.3% 28.4% 8.4% 4.2%   53.9% 63.6%
Boise State 44 10 17 9 5 85   51.8% 11.8% 20.0% 10.6% 5.9%   46.8% 44.4%
Oregon 58 7 28 15 5 113   51.3% 6.2% 24.8% 13.3% 4.4%   49.1% 64.3%
Stanford 43 14 16 13 2 88   48.9% 15.9% 18.2% 14.8% 2.3%   57.7% 81.8%
Utah 48 10 25 14 2 99   48.5% 10.1% 25.3% 14.1% 2.0%   54.3% 75.0%
Houston 45 9 22 16 3 95   47.4% 9.5% 23.2% 16.8% 3.2%   56.8% 62.5%
Ohio State 48 16 30 11 1 106   45.3% 15.1% 28.3% 10.4% 0.9%   44.3% 85.7%
Wisconsin 37 12 25 6 2 82   45.1% 14.6% 30.5% 7.3% 2.4%   51.7% 66.7%
So Cal 40 9 22 14 5 90   44.4% 10.0% 24.4% 15.6% 5.6%   52.0% 66.7%
Auburn 45 19 25 12 2 103   43.7% 18.4% 24.3% 11.7% 1.9%   50.0% 60.0%
Michigan 39 9 28 12 4 92   42.4% 9.8% 30.4% 13.0% 4.3%   46.5% 69.2%
Hawaii 45 17 30 15 4 111   40.5% 15.3% 27.0% 13.5% 3.6%   37.9% 55.6%
Nebraska 39 11 33 12 2 97   40.2% 11.3% 34.0% 12.4% 2.1%   39.8% 66.7%
VA Tech 37 14 30 9 3 93   39.8% 15.1% 32.3% 9.7% 3.2%   42.1% 50.0%
OK State 45 16 35 16 5 117   38.5% 13.7% 29.9% 13.7% 4.3%   42.6% 44.4%
Oklahoma 37 8 42 8 5 100   37.0% 8.0% 42.0% 8.0% 5.0%   45.8% 58.3%
East Carolina 38 11 36 16 2 103   36.9% 10.7% 35.0% 15.5% 1.9%   44.4% 84.6%
Tulsa 37 19 34 11 2 103   35.9% 18.4% 33.0% 10.7% 1.9%   49.2% 71.4%
Arkansas 36 9 35 16 8 104   34.6% 8.7% 33.7% 15.4% 7.7%   39.2% 42.9%

I thought of Denard's interceptions in the redzone and threw redzone efficiency into the mix, but that really just makes Michigan look better. They are only 43rd nationally with an 85.3% success rate (meaning TD or FG) in the red zone, but their TD percentage of 76.5% ranks 6th, well ahead of most of the top 20 scoring offenses. (Data below with the unwashed masses removed and only the top 20 scoring offenses depicted)  

Name Gm Drives Scores Points Rush TD Pass TD FG Pct TD PCT
Wisconsin 8 41 37 242 25 8 4 90.2% 80.5%
TCU 9 46 41 265 30 6 5 89.1% 78.3%
Michigan 8 34 29 190 19 7 3 85.3% 76.5%
Southern California 8 32 28 183 10 14 4 87.5% 75.0%
Arkansas 8 27 25 154 10 10 5 92.6% 74.1%
East Carolina 8 34 32 195 11 14 7 94.1% 73.5%
Utah 8 39 35 216 19 9 7 89.7% 71.8%
Boise St. 7 39 34 215 18 10 6 87.2% 71.8%
Nevada 8 44 37 234 24 7 6 84.1% 70.5%
Oklahoma St. 8 36 35 205 14 11 10 97.2% 69.4%
Stanford 8 50 46 273 18 16 12 92.0% 68.0%
Houston 8 43 36 223 19 10 7 83.7% 67.4%
Oklahoma 8 43 35 220 15 14 6 81.4% 67.4%
Ohio St. 9 51 45 272 18 16 11 88.2% 66.7%
Oregon 8 42 37 226 21 7 9 88.1% 66.7%
Auburn 9 44 39 229 19 9 11 88.6% 63.6%
Virginia Tech 8 38 34 198 16 8 10 89.5% 63.2%
Nebraska 8 24 19 117 12 3 4 79.2% 62.5%
Tulsa 8 42 35 201 14 10 11 83.3% 57.1%
Hawaii 9 46 37 211 10 15 12 80.4% 54.3%

To cut to the chase, I wound up focusing solely on the last three games. I took ESPN's drive charts and just added the score at the time the drive started. That information is below:

OPP START QTR POSS. YARD PLAYS YARDS RESULT SCORE

MSU

14:55

1

3:23

MICH 25

9

65

Interception

0-0

MSU

7:14

1

5:49

MICH 10

13

73

Field Goal Good

0-0

MSU

14:05

2

1:52

MICH 12

3

9

Punt

3-0

MSU

11:28

2

3:21

MICH 40

9

60

Passing Touchdown

3-7

MSU

4:23

2

1:33

MICH 15

3

1

Punt

10-14

MSU

0:23

2

0:23

MICH 20

2

55

Field Goal Missed

10-17

MSU

12:32

3

2:25

MICH 34

7

58

Interception

10-24

MSU

4:55

3

1:22

MICH 36

3

3

Punt

10-31

MSU

1:28

3

1:32

MSU 42

8

41

Rushing Touchdown

10-31

MSU

13:16

4

0:53

MICH 20

3

11

Interception

17-31

MSU

7:14

4

1:33

MICH 25

3

1

Punt

17-34

Iowa

12:59

1

4:41

MICH 25

13

75

Passing Touchdown

0-0

Iowa

7:20

1

1:50

MICH 20

3

1

Punt

7-0

Iowa

1:21

1

1:42

MICH 28

5

17

Interception

7-7

Iowa

13:22

2

4:49

MICH 20

12

59

Field Goal Missed

7-14

Iowa

4:15

2

3:58

MICH 7

10

48

Punt

7-21

Iowa

14:55

3

1:45

MICH 23

3

4

Punt

7-21

Iowa

11:18

3

4:24

MICH 16

12

71

Fumble

7-21

Iowa

5:12

3

0:42

MICH 35

3

5

Interception

7-21

Iowa

1:45

3

3:40

MICH 15

12

85

Rushing Touchdown

7-28

Iowa

11:37

4

1:09

MICH 25

4

75

Passing Touchdown

14-35

Iowa

8:08

4

1:13

MICH 30

6

69

Rushing Touchdown

21-35

Iowa

2:47

4

0:59

MICH 37

3

-9

Interception

28-38

PSU

15:00

1

1:42

MICH 28

3

8

Punt

0-0

PSU

7:26

1

3:25

MICH 20

9

80

Rushing Touchdown

0-7

PSU

1:24

1

1:38

MICH 29

6

32

Punt

7-14

PSU

13:12

2

4:29

MICH 25

15

55

Field Goal Good

7-14

PSU

3:27

2

0:58

MICH 2

3

2

Punt

10-21

PSU

1:02

2

1:02

MICH 27

4

9

Turnover on Downs

10-28

PSU

9:57

3

1:59

MICH 20

5

80

Passing Touchdown

10-31

PSU

3:59

3

2:23

MICH 48

8

53

Rushing Touchdown

17-38

PSU

13:21

4

3:56

MICH 29

11

72

Rushing Touchdown

24-38

PSU

5:43

4

0:59

MICH 26

4

2

Turnover on Downs

31-41

Breaking that down by game situation (e.g., Michigan leads, game tied, Michigan down by one score, etc) yields:

Michigan leads
Number TDs FGs Missed FGs TOs TO downs Punts 3 and out
2 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
Score tied
Number TDs FGs Missed FGs TOs TO downs Punts 3 and out
5 1 1 0 2 0 1 1
Michigan trails by one score
Number TDs FGs Missed FGs TOs TO downs Punts 3 and out
7 2 1 2 0 0 2 1
Michigan trails by two scores
Number TDs FGs Missed FGs TOs TO downs Punts 3 and out
11 2 0 0 5 1 3 2
Michigan trails by more than two scores
Number TDs FGs Missed FGs TOs TO downs Punts 3 and out
8 5 0 0 0 1 2 2

Conclusions?

  • In those (rare) instances when Michigan had a lead, the ball, and a chance to potentially take charge, they failed to move the chains at all.
  • When starting drives with the score tied, Michigan has managed TDs 20% of the time and has committed turnovers as often as they've scored.
  • When down one score the TD percentage picks up a bit, and missed FGs have hurt, although neither of the misses would have tied the game or given Michigan a lead (they trailed by 7 both times).
  • When down two scores and needing to score to keep it close/get back in the game, the wheels come off, with turnovers happening much more often than scores. Witness the Iowa game: down 21-7, four consecutive Michigan drives occur with a chance to close to within 7.  The results?  Punt, punt, fumble, interception.
  • In 25 drives where the score delta was somewhere between +7 and -14, the offense scored TDs on just 20% of those drives (less than half the season average of 42.4%), tried FGs on 16% (converting only half ot those), committed turnovers on 28% of those drives, and punted on 32% (with 75% of those punts coming after 3-and-out).
  • It is only in the 8 drives that started when Michigan trailed by more than two scores that the offense really shined, managing TDs on 5 of those drives to go along with 2 punts (both after 3-and-outs, unfortunately) and one failed fourth down conversion.
  • Since Tate Forcier was the QB for 3 of our TD drives in the last three games, that means the offense as led by D Rob has only tallied 7 touchdowns.
  • Going 3-and-out on nearly 25% of our drives in the last three games *feels* excessive to me, but I haven't yet tried to determine how often that actually happens to other "elite" offenses.

In that data, I think I discovered the source of my discontent. Yes, the offense has put up pretty good numbers against MSU, Iowa, and PSU, but the fireworks didn't really start until we were desperately trying to mount a comeback. The offense has been sputtering when games have been close.

In the board topic where I first tried to present this, there were suggestions that examination of the failed drives would lead to extenuating circumstances, and given the relatively small sample sizes, that is a possibility. I've pulled the UFRs for the MSU and Iowa games but haven't yet tried to assemble them into this analysis.

I put most of this together while I was (supposed to be) working today, so I won't be surprised if there are some errors, although I'm confident the numbers are largely correct.  Like I said, I looked into this just to try to help me understand why I wasn't freeling very impressed by the offense despite the gaudy yardage statistics, threw it into a board topic to back up another poster's assessment, and moved it to a diary upon request. Also, in case it's not clear, this is not a suggestion that Rich Rodriguez should be fired, that Tate Forcier should be starting, that the spread can't work in the Big 10, etc. Rather, it's just an attempt to help those who are convinced the offense is spectacular understand why other Michigan fans (who also bleed maize and blue) are somewhat disappointed by what the offense has done in our three losses.

UofM vs. MSU preview from the Enemy

UofM vs. MSU preview from the Enemy

Submitted by Michigan Shirt on October 8th, 2010 at 3:36 PM

So I know how most people rag on RCMB, but I thought some people might like to see a Michigan vs MSU game preview from the Enemy. It is actually pretty well done and doesn't rag on the team like most of their posts and gives good insight into the opposing team and their players.

http://www.spartantailgate.com/forums/msu-red-cedar-message-board/46853…

Good News or Bad News? College Defense Stats Are Messed Up

Good News or Bad News? College Defense Stats Are Messed Up

Submitted by Enjoy Life on October 7th, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Unlike the NFL, college defense stats include sacks as negative running yardage instead of negative passing yardage. The good news is that, if you include sacks against passing yardage, the passing defense is much better. The bad news -- rushing defense is worse.

None of the NCAA stats take SoS into account. The folks at football outsiders (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ncaadef) do look at defense stats that take this into account. M is ranked #62 in overall defense, #83 in rush defense, and #48 in pass defense.

The rushing defense will need to be better than that this Saturday.

Tracking 2010 Turnovers & Special Teams – Updated Through Indiana

Tracking 2010 Turnovers & Special Teams – Updated Through Indiana

Submitted by Enjoy Life on October 4th, 2010 at 11:25 AM
Technorati Tags: ,,

Synopsis for Turnovers:

Wow, when I started tracking turnovers each week, I never thought TOs would be this important in so many games. Except for the BGSU laugher, the other 4 games have been significantly impacted by TOs (including when and where they happened).

WolverineMy exact word was F*#K when DRob fumbled on the 1. It looked like we were ready to put the game away (was about to be 21-7) and momentum was definitely with the Wolverines. Indiana took that fumble and turned it into a fracking 99 yard TD drive, followed by a stop and an M punt. Double-F*#K. Now momentum had abandoned the Wolverines and Indiana was driving for a go-ahead TD. But the goddess of Turnover Margin (it must be a she because TOs are so fickle!) decided to put everything back to even with the Cam Gordon interception at the goal line (it was 14-14 at the time). The Wolverines turned that into an 81 yard, 9 play, 3:56 drive (most plays and time of any drive) for a TD to go ahead 21-14.

For the remainder of the game, neither team led by more than 7 points and, although M never trailed, the game was tied 3 times. Another TO by either team probably would have decided the game.

image Overall, M remains about average for TOs gained and is still very good with TOs lost for a current TOM of 4.0 (which is what is was after the first 2 games). M again failed to force any fumbles but picked up another interception. Certainly, the interceptions by the M secondary are ameliorating the massive yards being given up (pass defense YPG is now #120 out of 120!). Historically, TOs tend to come in bunches rather than a consistent number from game to game. (BTW, TOM was +2.0 after 5 games last year.)

Synopsis for Special Teams:

image Woooo, an excellent game for special teams! Hagerup seemed to get settled down and ended up with a 46.2 average yards per punt and a net of 40.2 yards per punt (that would be #15 nationally if it was the average for the year). Tandon Doss only averaged 22 yards per KO return, which was well below his average of 47 yards per KO return (although that was for just 3 KO returns). Starting field position for the opposition after our kickoff remains at the 29 yard line (slightly better than average). Broekhuizen came up with perhaps his best KO of the year at the end of the game – a 70 yarder from M's 15 yard line (thanks Lewan) that was only returned by Doss to the 35.

National Rankings:

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Details for Turnovers:

Here is the Summary by Game. According to the folks at Football Outsiders  a first down TO is worth 5 points, second down TO is worth 4.5 points, and a third down TO is worth 4.0 points (regardless of field position!).

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The extrapolation is a straight line [Totals] X [13 Total Games / Games Played]. AQ Best and AQ average is over the past 10 years. AQ Best is kind of funky because the team with the "best" in each category is different so the numbers don't add. But, it does provide a point of reference.

Here is the detail of each fumble/interception and a comment providing insight if the turnover (or lack thereof) was significant. Note, blocked punts are not considered a turnover and an interception of an extra point is not considered a turnover (player does not get credit for a interception).

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Here is the overall summary by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).

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Details for Special Teams:

Here are the Punting and Kickoff statistics. (Touchbacks are included as –20 yards when determining net yards.)

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Remember here are the correlations of TOM to WLM at season's end.

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Lloyd Brady T-Shirts?

Lloyd Brady T-Shirts?

Submitted by Glen Masons Hot Wife on September 30th, 2010 at 11:16 PM

Where does everyone stand on this? I would buy one immediately.

Thoughts on design, what it would say, etc?

Would Lloyd be entitled to royalties for using his likeness? Would it affect his eligibility as a student-front row ticket holder?

My apologies if this great idea has crossed MGoBoard already.