Jeff Van Bergen? and Defensive predictions?

Jeff Van Bergen? and Defensive predictions?

Submitted by Umichmadness on October 14th, 2011 at 3:47 PM

America's fav. commentator Kirk herbstreit jus said on CFL "Mike Martin and Jeff Van Bergen really need to step up on the DL this week".  Just thought that was funny, but on to business.  After NU, our defense is still only giving up 12.5 points and we already have forced 17 TO (19 all last year), but I know that we haven't faced MSU yet.  I think Mattison is going to hit Cousins early and it will affect him the rest of the game (a couple TOs).  I say 20 pts  How many do you think we give up to Lil Bro?

 

Also, who do you think steps up this week??  I think Mark Martin gets to Cousins and Countless steps up again....oops!

1st/2nd half defense so far

1st/2nd half defense so far

Submitted by moredamnsound on October 9th, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Yesterday I was unable to watch the game, but I was receiving score updates throughout. When we were down 24-14 at the half, I told my Dad I wasn't too worried because they seem to be a 2nd half team. When I said this, I was mainly thinking about the defense. I couldn't think of any one thing to attribute it to, maybe Mattison had been making good adjustments or maybe the team just seemed to be playing better. What started off as a general statement (from someone who admittedly has a limited knowledge about football) made me want to look in to what I said, maybe back it up with stats, so I looked into it. These are just stats so take from it what you will, but I spent time looking the stuff up so I figured I would share it.

WMU (not a full game)
1st: 10, 194 yards, 1 punt, 1 turnover (interception)
2nd: 0, 60 yards, 1 punt, 2 turnovers (2 fumbles)

ND
1st: 17, 251 yards, 1 punt, 2 turnovers (2 interceptions)
2nd: 14, 270 yards, 3 punts, 2 turnovers (2 fumbles)
EMU
1st: 3, 172 yards, 2 punts, 3 turnovers (1 on downs, 1 interception, 1 fumble)
2nd: 0, 36 yards, 3 punts
SDSU
1st: 0, 138 yards, 2 punts, 3 turnovers (1 on downs, 2 fumbles)
2nd: 7, 207 yards, 3 punts, 4 turnovers ( 2 on downs, 2 fumbles)
MINN
1st: 0, 68 yards, 4 punts, 1 turnover (fumble)
2nd: 0, 107 yards, 6 punts, 1 turnover (fumble)
NW
1st: 24, 307 yards, 2 punts, 1 turnover (on downs)
2nd: 0, 161 yards, 1 punt, 3 turnovers (1 on downs, 1 interception, 1 fumble)

Total with WMU game counted:
1st half: 44 points, 1,130 yds, 12 punts, 11 turnovers (3 on downs, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles)
2nd half: 21 points, 841 yds, 17 punts, 12 turnovers (3 on downs, 1 interception, 8 fumbles)

Without WMU:
1st half: 34 points, 936 yds, 11 punts, 10 turnovers (3 on downs, 3 interceptions, 4 fumbles)
2nd half: 21 points, 781 yds, 16 punts, 10 turnovers (3 on downs, 1 interception, 6 fumbles)

Defense a Strength, Special Teams on the way

Defense a Strength, Special Teams on the way

Submitted by StephenRKass on October 4th, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Michigan's defense is a strength. Period. Admittedly, Minnesota was awful. And a freshman QB is a deer in the headlights. Having said that, there is no denying the dominance and strength of Michigan's defense. And it isn't done getting better.

  • With the score run up, Mattison was able to get lots of backups plenty of playing time and experience, and see what they could do. This builds morale, keeps the starters fresh, and pays big dividends.
  • On the DL, we now have seven solid contributors (Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Campbell, Black, Washington, Heininger.) This keeps them fresh, and means less disaster if any one is out. With three and outs, they just stay strong and get stronger.
  • In the secondary, we have four solid CB's (Woolfolk, Floyd, Avery, & Countess.) Countess is still making mistakes, but he will be a good one. At safety, Kovacs and Gordon are being freed up to do what they should be doing, and Johnson and Robinson have time to improve. Kovacs continues to do a great job, but doesn't have to bail out everyone else.
  • I'd like to see more depth at LB. But so do the coaches, with four 4-star LB recruits already in the fold for next year. This year, Hawthorne, Demens, and Ryan are doing a fine job, with Cam Gordon finally healing up. I'm not as confident in Fitzgerald, Morgan, Beyer, & Herron, but they haven't been exposed . . . yet.
  • The whole defense seems to be very opportunistic in causing and recovering fumbles. VanBergen's strip of a RB vs. SDSU was awesome, and seemingly a direct result of coaching. While Avery & Herron were more lucky than good in their scoring TD's, they still seized the opportunity and ran with it.
  • Assuming Michigan's defense last year had a failing grade, they have room for huge improvement over the course of this season, up to say, a B+ or A-. If a defense begins the year at B+ or A-, there just isn't as much room (or need, I suppose) to improve.

Special teams is still a work in process, and yet:

  • 3 field goals, 7 extra points, one game. That's more points than Vincent Smith scored! Gibbons is heading in the right direction. At the very least, this isn't a liability.
  • No fumbled punts or kickoffs this year. And Gallon is going to break some big returns. I would bet on this.
  • With Hagerup back, there will be competition at punter, and this will only get better.
  • Kickoff coverage is still subpar, but I have to believe after last week, this will be a major point of emphasis in practice. Punt coverage isn't quite as bad, but also a place where there is room for improvement.

The point is, our defense is keeping us in games, and giving the offense the opportunity to shine. I can't quantify it, but I have to believe that there was a heavy psychological weight on the offense last year, knowing that if they didn't score, they were going to lose. (exhibit A:  Illinois game.) As we play teams with a staunch defense (MSU, Nebraska, even Ohio,) the offense can play with a different mindset. They can do all they can to gain yards and score, but the game isn't lost if they DON'T score. Really, both defense and offense have the other's back. This balance strengthens both.

I'm going to the game this Saturday, and honestly, I hope Persa plays, and plays well. I still think the defense will shut Northwestern down, but I think our D needs the challenge more than another tomato can, as they prepare for MSU. I want to see what our secondary can do against a real passing threat. And I am salivating about our DL going against Michigan State's OL. Cousins better have on a flak jacket.

At this point, I have lost all reason. I believe, looking at our schedule, that we will go 12 - 0, lose to Wisconsin, and win a decent bowl game (having a month to prepare!) for a final record of 13 - 1. The most challenging games remaining are Nebraska and Illinois, and I still think we win both. I could never have predicted this at the beginning of the season.

Defensive Changes Spotted

Defensive Changes Spotted

Submitted by Mr. Yost on September 14th, 2011 at 8:07 PM

I know a couple members of the football support staff and spoke to one today about the defense...I was definitely happy to hear that a few changes or "test situations" were spotted on the field.

 

What I wanted to share was regarding sub packages, situational subbing and changes on the defensive side of the ball. Here are some things that ARE being worked on:

 

Defensive Line:
("Normal Downs")

WDE - Roh/Black (rotating)
NG - Martin
DT - Campbell
SDE - Van Bergen

("Running Downs")
WDE - Heininger
NG - Martin
DT - Campbell
SDE - Van Bergen


(Passing Downs)
WDE - Ryan
NG - Martin
DT - Van Bergen
SDE - Black

 

Linebackers:
("Normal Downs")

WLB - Hawthorne
MLB - Demens
SLB - Gordon/Ryan (rotating)

("Running Downs")
WLB - Gordon/Hawthorne (rotating)
MLB - Demens
SLB - Ryan

("Passing Downs")
WLB - Hawthorne/Jones
MLB - Demens/Jones
SLB - Gordon (remember, Ryan is at WDE)

 

I think this is a work in progress, and a lot depends on the health of Hawthorne and Cam Gordon...but it's good to see they're trying things and making personnel adjustments after the first two games. Not to say they weren't practicing these groups before, they were...just more time now. I personally think they're going to try a few "new" things over the next game or two to find out who can play and where he should be playing.

Sidenote: As Wolverines we don't want to be compared to a Buckeye...but when I heard about Ryan playing WDE in passing situations and asked about it, it was "yea, it's crazy, he looks SO much like Bobby Carpenter did late in his career at Ohio, SLB and rush DE on passing down with the locks flowing out the back. But the real similarity is that both are sound and smart players from Ohio who love to HIT!" I looked up Carpenter and they're similar height/weight wise too (I ALMOST said "and they're similar in size too).

Tiny Upsetting Note - Turnovers

Tiny Upsetting Note - Turnovers

Submitted by Blazefire on September 11th, 2011 at 1:55 AM

I am basking in the glory of our win, so I don't want to come down here at all, but I feel like I should make a note. After our win tonight I was hoping to make the argument that our defense is a turnover generating machine. After all, our backfield did jump a couple of those routes pretty well. However, I'm not sure I can.

Last week we took over versus Western on turnovers. We may have won anyway, but still. This week, Western won, but still had 4 turnovers (2 Int, 2 Fumble) and an additionaly fumble that they recovered. The jury is still out a bit, but I'm not sure we can count on generating these turnovers all season.

Prove me wrong, Mattison!

Thoughts on Defense

Thoughts on Defense

Submitted by andrewG on September 3rd, 2011 at 7:32 PM

So... time to start dissecting the defense. Even though the game got called short, we got a full game's worth of defensive snaps thanks to the TDs. My thoughts:

- They don't look great. Minus the 2 obviously awesome plays, the defense was getting picked apart, bit by bit. They did a lot of quick throws to neutralize the pass rush, which should be one of our strengths, and exposed the coverage.

- They didn't give up the big play. While getting dinked and dunked for yardage and first downs is bad, they did not give up crippling plays. This gives me a small amount of hope that we'll be only a slightly below average defense.

- Turnovers and big plays!!! OMG, please yes more of this.

Agreement/disagreement? Other insights???

2011 Michigan Defense: Are You Experienced?

2011 Michigan Defense: Are You Experienced?

Submitted by Marley Nowell on August 13th, 2011 at 1:45 PM

[Ed-M: Apologies to mod who front-paged this. I bumped back to diaries. Plan on discussion in today's Dear Diary.]

I did this diary last year knowing our defense would be extremely inexperienced.  Here's hoping the 2011 numbers (and actual Defense) are more kind this year. At the time I did a simple breakdown between upperclassmen (Jr. to 5th) and underclassmen (Fr. to So.) and saw the strength of defenses climbing almost directly with the level of experience.

Michigan fans, myself included, are hopeful that our defense can be average compared to the rest of the conference. From an experience standpoint I believe this is a reasonable goal for 2011.

2011 Michigan Defense

WDE

Jr. Craig Roh

So.  Jibreel Black

DT

Sr. Mike Martin

RS Fr. Ken Wilkens

DT

Jr. Will Campbell

RS So. Quinton Washington or RS Fr. Richard Ash

SDE

RS Sr. Ryan VanBergan

RS Sr. Will Heininger

MLB

RS Jr. Kenny Demens or Sr. Marell Evans

WLB

RS So. Mike Jones

RS Sr. Brandon Herron or RS Sr. J.B. Fitzgerald

SLB

RS So. Cameron Gordon

RS Fr. Jake Ryan

SS

RS Jr. Jordan Kovacs

So. Marvin Robinson

FS

So. Carvin Johnson

RS So. Tom Gordon or RS Fr. Josh Furman

CB

RS Sr. Troy Woolfolk

So. Courtney Avery

RS Jr. J.T. Floyd

So. Terrence Talbott


Teams are listed from weakest to strongest based on 2010 Total Defense.

Northwestern

(courtesy of BigTen Nation)

Starters

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 0

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 16

Underclassman: 6

 

Indiana

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 7

Underclassman: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 15

Underclassman: 7

 

Minnesota

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Purdue

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 13

Underclassman: 9

 

Michigan State

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 6

Underclassman: 5

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Illinois

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 9

Underclassman: 2

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Penn State

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 0

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Iowa

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Wisconsin

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 11

 

Nebraska

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 17

Underclassman: 5

 

Ohio State

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 17

Underclassman: 5


 

Big Ten Averages:

Starters

Upperclassmen: 8.9

Underclassmen: 2.1

Two-Deep

Upperclassmen: 14.1

Underclassmen: 7.9

Michigan:

Starters

Upperclassmen: 7

Underclassmen: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassmen: 11

Underclassmen: 11

These numbers are much better than last year and are not too far off from the rest of the Big Ten.


 

Why That Matters...

After looking at the B10 Total Defense rankings from 2010 there appeared to be three fairly seperate categories of defensive quailty:

Craptastic: 419.9 yds/game (Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, Minnesota)

Decent: 345.8 yds/game (Purdue, MSU, Illinois, PSU, Iowa, Wisconsin)

Great: 284.5 yds/game (Nebraska, OSU).

There's no difference in the experience of Craptastic and Decent teams but to get from Decent to Great had a huge jump:

Starters Craptastic Decent Great Mich 2010 Mich 2011 
Upperclassmen 8.8 8.3 10 5 7
Underclassmen 2.2 2.7 1 6 4
 
Two-Deep Craptastic Decent Great Mich 2010 Mich 2011
Upperclassmen 13.8 12.8 17 9 11
Underclassmen 8.2 9.2 5 13 11

This is quite interesting (and different from last year). Most of the B10 teams, including Michigan, seem to be returning the same amount of experience. Michigan is still less experienced but the gap (especially for the starters) is a lot smaller than in previous years.

Another encouraging note is the four underclassmen being pushed into playing time have all at least seen the field and any true freshmen who play do so because they are actually beating out on another player for the spot.

GO BLUE!

The 2011 Defense: The Pace of Evolutionary Change

The 2011 Defense: The Pace of Evolutionary Change

Submitted by OysterMonkey on July 20th, 2011 at 1:47 PM

[Ed-M: Bumped because this totally punctuated my equilibrium. The best indicator yet of year-to-year defensive evolution. And great news: the mean has magnetism!]

Richard Goldschmidt hypothesized that the incremental changes to organismal phenotypes over the course of even thousands of generations was insufficient to explain the change from one species to another. He posited that evolutionary change is powered by great leaps forward, instances of saltatory mutation that generate a new species from the old. Goldschmidt’s ideas were ridiculed, mostly, and with good reason. The overwhelming evidence of population genetics and the theoretical triumph of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis seem to indicate that evolutionary change is effected gradually over time by the additive effects of allele substitutions in the genetic makeup of a given population; population change happens slowly, if at all.

But there are situations in which sudden changes to an organism’s ecological niche—a new predator or prey introduced, migration or population bottlenecks, climate change, a massive meteor falling from the sky and killing all the dinosaurs—opens up the opportunity for rapid (on the geological time scale) evolutionary change.

The defense was bad last year. And bad the year before. And the year before that. A number of reasons have been put forward for the awfulness. The defense was decimated. Really decimated. Seriously, it was decimated. GERG is a force of nature complete with his own effect. The coaches thought making in-game adjustments was tantamount to cheating. And so on. At the risk of overstraining the metaphor, it certainly felt as if we were watching the extinction of that species of animal previously known as the Wolverine defense. It’s at the very least an endangered species. But if the combination of the addition of Hoke and Mattison, Nebraska joining the BIG, and the tattoo-laden implosion of the 614 area code don’t count as a change in the environment that opens the possibility of rapid change, then my metaphor has no validity at all.*

Folks have tried to take a stab at what might happen this year, based on small sample sized studies of returning starters, even smaller sample sized bits of anecdotal evidence, and a healthy dose of Hoke-A-Mania! I collected data from http://www.cfbstats.com/ on total defense numbers from 2006 through 2010 and analyzed year to year changes for every team, based on total defense rankings. Even though I’ve got five years of data, I’m going to talk in terms of “Base year” and “Year 2;” since I wasn’t looking to find multi-year trends in defensive performance all I care about is the movement from one year to the next. So with five years of data I have four years (2006-2009) worth of data in my “Base year” set and four years (2007-2010) in my “Year 2” set

This diary doesn’t propose to do anything other than aggregate a little bit of data about what we can expect based on very recent history and to show how many teams over the last few years have been outliers. From there we can start to see what Michigan’s chances are of bucking the odds of Darwinian uniformitarianism.

Natura non facit saltum: The Case For Phyletic Gradualism

My first task was to look at the aggregated data on a very coarse grain. I wondered how much movement there was in rank from year to year, so I grouped teams into sets of ten based on their base year finish (top ten teams, teams 11-20, etc.) and then tracked where those clusters of teams finished on average in year 2.

The result:

So the 40 teams in the data set that finished in the top ten in the base year averaged a finish at around 20 year 2. If a team finished in the 111-120 rank range, they could expect to be at around 95 in year 2. The obvious thing that jumps out is regression at the two ends of the line. This suggests what should be obvious: it is difficult to sustain excellence or ineptitude. So, by staying terrible last year, Michigan is already an outlier. Yay? But as you move away from the ends of the line, the movement away from the base year gets less and less, so that teams that are average appear to stay average.

Then, since I care mostly about one of the teams at the gruesome end of the line, I looked more closely at teams that finished the base year in the 90-120 range, and got this for my troubles:

This looks at every spot in the ranking from 90 to 120 and plots the year 2 average for the teams that finished at each of those spots. There is a lot of noise here, because for each ranking spot there are only four data points, but the trend line is pretty much what we’d expect. The worse you are in the base year, the worse you can expect to be in year 2.

So the numbers look gloomy, suggesting that expecting much movement in one year is a recipe for disappointment. These numbers provide the baseline for the geological timescale. The pace of change appears to be slow.

Hopeful Monsters: The Case for Saltationism

Despite this evidence of evolutionary stasis there have been a number of teams who’ve managed macromutation from one year to the next, both up and down. Since 2006, 37 teams out of a possible 278 (obviously only teams ranked 51 or worse could possibly make a 50 spot leap) have managed a leap of 50 or more spots in the ranking from one year to the next, and 107 out of 378 possible have made jumps of 25 or more spots.

 

 Macromutation

 Micromutation

 Population size

 Percentage

50 spot leap

37

243

278

13.3%

25 spot leap

107

273

378

28.3%

For what it's worth, these percentages are higher than I expected prior to compiling the numbers. It's not worth anything, by the way.

My original goal was to analyze the factors that these saltatory leaps might have in common, but finding reliable data on returning starters, experience, changes to coaches or defensive co-ordinators, etc. has proven difficult. I might try to look in detail at a few case studies to see if there are any similarities between Michigan 2011 and the hopeful monsters who point to the possibility of rapid change, but provide a link to my table so that anyone else who may want to can do the same.

Viva la evolucion.

*Yes, I’m aware my metaphor already has no validity at all.

Edit: I think this is what the first commenter is asking for.