Michigan's "High-Powered" Offense

Michigan's "High-Powered" Offense

Submitted by Brady2Terrell on November 30th, 2010 at 12:53 PM

http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/20554/the-2010-all-big-ten-teams-award-winners

Apparently the Big Ten coaches and media do not agree that Michigan's offensive weapons are significant - count of players on the media and/or coaches two-deep on offense per team:

10 - Ohio State
10 - Wisconsin
6 - Iowa
5 - Michigan State
4 - Illinois
4 - Michigan
3 - Penn State
3 - Northwestern
2 - Indiana
0 - Minnesota
0 - Purdue

Solidly in the middle, tied with Illinois.  When you expand the count to defense and the honorable mentions, this gets much, much worse (obviously):

34 - Wisconsin
31 - Michigan State
30 - Iowa
28 - Ohio State
20 - Illinois
17 - Penn State
12 - Northwestern
12 - Purdue
11 - Michigan
10 - Indiana
4 - Minnesota

While many on this board may still have faith that we have the talent on this team to compete for a BIg Ten Title next year, the Big Ten coaches and media appear to strongly disagree.

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.