Inside the Boxscore - The Game

Inside the Boxscore - The Game

Submitted by ST3 on November 29th, 2015 at 2:28 PM

     The week leading up to The Game saw Michigan fans unite around the tragedy of a family losing their 5 year old son to DIPG, an inoperable brain cancer. When I saw the picture of Chad's father holding his son's lifeless body, I cried. I am emotional just thinking about it now. When I hear about parents suffering the death of a child, two memories from my childhood return.

     When I was in sixth grade, a girl in my gym class collapsed in the parking lot and died. She had a condition that we later started referring to as, "that Hank Gathers thing." It was so sudden. One day, she was pretending to be a horse, running around at recess, and the next day, her parents were dealing with the thought of burying their daughter. We dedicated our yearbook to her, tried to heal, and move on with the knowledge that life is fragile so you should treasure every day, every moment. I didn't know her very well, but even now, 33 years later, I can picture her galloping around the parking lot, full of life and energy.

     The next year, I found out that a girl in my class had leukemia. I knew her better as we were the two best math students in our class and were selected to participate in an accelerated math program. As such, we spent time together studying in the hallway, separated from the rest of the class. She was tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed, with long tan legs. I was smitten, but I don't think she noticed me or knew me as anything more than the geek she had to learn math with. Her illness dragged on for several months. She was hospitalized for a time, and then during the spring of our 7th grade year, she too, passed away. Given time to prepare for the eventuality of the situation didn't make things any easier. For the second year in a row, we dedicated our yearbook to another fallen classmate, tried to heal, and move on. Today, when I think of her, I think that she could have been the world's first Fields Medal winning supermodel.

      In 1989, the movie, "Dead Poets Society" was released in theatres. In the movie, Robin Williams played an eccentric English teacher who exhorts his students to seize the day, "CARPE DIEM!" in Latin. It was rather fashionable at the time for people to exclaim, "carpe diem," as a reminder to make the most out of life. Williams' character quoted Thoreau, saying,

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life

"Suck out the marrow," that was such a powerful image at the time. Williams, who outwardly gave the impression of a person full of life, later took his own life after losing a battle with depression.

     What does all this have to do with a football game, a rather lousy one at that? Not a whole lot, admittedly, but this was the last game of the regular season, so it does seem like an appropriate time to take a step back and reflect upon our lives and our choices. This season will be remembered as Harbaugh's first as Michigan's head coach. But it will also be remembered for #ChadTough, and hopefully for all those good moments we shared as a community, from Chesson's back-breaking kick return against Northwestern to the defense's rallying together to stop Minnesota and Indiana at the goal line. For Jake Rudock going from the team's weak spot to it's strength, for Tacos and Peppers and an Aussie punter showing us how it's supposed to be done. I don't regret all the time I spent watching and writing about this team. What has made this season better than others of recent vintage is not the record. It's that my son has started to share my enthusiasm for Michigan football. Shared moments are so much more fulfilling, meaningful, and memorable, and so I say to Team 136, thank you. Your yearbook photo will be one that I remember for a long time.

(Thoreau's quote continues, "to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life." Frankly, I think Thoreau was a bit overrated. Who would want to live like a Spartan?)


Burst of Impetus
* It's hard to remember that this was a 4 point game going into halftime. Michigan started off the game playing well with two decents drive that combined for 17 plays and 71 yards. Neither ended up in points, but we were winning the field position battle. After Michigan stopped Ohio State on 3rd and 10, their two drives had combined to gain 27 yards on 9 plays. And then we ran into the punter, but the official called a "roughing the kicker" penalty that gave Ohio State a first down. They capitalized. Instead of grabbing the momentum, we gave OSU new life and they took advantage.
* I don't give burst of impetus awards for halftime adjustments because I don't know what happened at halftime, but something sure did. Ohio State scored quickly on their first drive and controlled the rest of the game as if RichRod, Hoke, and Gerg had combined to coach the second half. Perhaps, a team that had been running on fumes for the past few weeks finally hit empty on the old gas meter, and that was that.

The Two Jakes
* The Jake Hardock mind meld came to a conclusion on Saturday. Or would that be Jim Rubaugh? When I was mentoring under a soon to be retired engineer at work, we held monthly, "brain dump" meetings where my mentor would attempt to pass on his knowledge to me and another engineer one experience at a time. These were the types of things you don't learn about in text books. As I wrote above the link, Jake Rudock went from being the team's weak spot to it's strength after one season under Harbaugh's tutelage. Imagine what a QB can do with 4 or 5 years learning from Harbaugh. The future is bright.
* Jake Rudock was extra talented in his accuracy, going 19 for 32 (59.4%) for 263 yards (8.2 YPA). He completed one TD pass to Jehu Chesson.
* Jake Buttttt caught 5 passes for 54 yards.

NFL Route Tree Runners
* Jehu Chesson led the receivers with 8 catches and 111 yards. His blocked punt shows up in the boxscore as a 14 yard punt for Ohio State's "TEAM."
* Darboh finished with 4 catches for 68 yards. The refs let Ohio's DBs play very aggressively against him and that hampered our first half drives. By the second half, he figured out how to get open but by then it was too late.

* Jabrill Peppers led Michigan with 29 yards on 7 carries. It's not a good sign when a starting defensive player leads the team in rushing. I trust Harbaugh and his assistants to correct this situation going into next season.
* I will drink a lemonade if De'Veon Smith is not the starting fullback next year.
* Sione Houma ran 3 times for 12 yards.

Tacos and Peppers
* Ohio State's top three tacklers were it's three linebackers. This is even more impressive considering Michigan was spending most of the day passing the ball. Their linebackers were making plays against the run and the pass. Ours were not.
* Each one of our four main linebackers (Bolden, Gedeon, Ross and Morgan) should have had an extra tackle, as I saw each one of those guys miss a tackle on an Ohio State running TD. If we had held them to FG attempts instead of TDs, the final score would not have looked so bad.
* In the dot, dot, dot categories (the ones that show up as dots instead of zeros) Ohio State had 3 TFLs, 2 FFs, 1 INTC, 4 BrUps, 2 Sacks, and 5 QHs. Michigan had 3 TFLs, one 2 yard sack, and 1 QH. That's it. After filling up the boxscore all year with dot, dot, dot stuff, especially BrUps, Michigan had almost nothing to show. It's as if we implemented a brand new defense the week before the biggest game of the season and expected the players to perform as if they had been playing it the whole year long. It's as if we watched MSU throttle Ohio State's offense the week before and said, let's do the exact opposite of that. The second half meltdown of the defense was Gergian in it's inexplicability. Someone put the ooga-booga on the defense.

* We actually ran more total plays than Ohio State did, 72-69. There were 26 assorted special teams plays comprising 15.6% of the total.
* The only ST plays of consequence were the punt we downed at the 6, the punt we just barely failed to down at the 1 inch line, the roughing the punter penalty, and a nice Lewis kick return that was negated by a Michigan holding penalty.

Baughscore Bits
* First downs were much closer than the final score would indicate, 25-20 for Ohio State. Yes, after being held to 5 first downs by MSU, they accumulated 5 times that many against us. Three OSU first downs came via penalty.
* I thought OSU's weakness was their passing game. We had a defensive game plan that allowed them to get by only throwing 15 times. Inexplicable.
* Third down conversions were 7 of 13 for them and 9 for 18 for us. Again, these stats don't jibe with a 29 point drubbing.

* Before the game, my brother told me he had a ticket in row 2. I spent some time looking for him during the sideline shots but never saw him. After the game, I found out why as he texted me a photo from his seat. Turns out he was sitting behind Big Nut. I saw Big Nut at the game, but he blocks out the sun (or brother, as the case may be) and everything else behind him. My brother, Michael Thomas (NTMT) who had two less receptions than OSU's Michael Thomas, reports that Big Nut was quiet and polite, but it wasn't great sitting behind him because he never sat down and he had that stupid doll on his helmet for the whole game. No one will ever accuse Big Nut of not sucking the marrow out of life, but who wants to go through life as a Big Nut?

[Photo Courtesy Michael Thomas (NTMT)]

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 11

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 11

Submitted by ST3 on November 22nd, 2015 at 4:17 PM

     After nearly every game this season, my son would ask me if I took notes on the game for the diary. It's something I started doing early on when I realized this was going to become part of my weekend ritual. But this season I decided I wanted to just watch the games and experience Harbaugh's first season as a fan. You only get one chance to make a first impression in life, and I didn't want to be busy scribbling notes while Jim Harbaugh was making his first impression as Michigan's head football coach. However, after bemoaning the performance of Brock Huard last week but not being able to provide any specific examples, I decided to get the old pen and paper out this week and take a few notes. Next game, I'll revert back to my now annual tradition of rocking back and forth in the fetal position for three plus hours, but we'll worry about that later. For now, I'll just focus on game 11.


Burst of Impetus
* Impetus, as discussed here many times is just another way of saying momentum. In the normal ebb and flow of a game, the momentum can swing back and forth many times. But that's just another way of characterizing the relative success or lack thereof of a series of offensive playcalls. Your team got RPS'd on back to back plays? Well, you lost the momentum. I use this section to try to pinpoint the one or two major plays in a game that change the narrative. Against Indiana, we were controlling the action until they returned a punt for a TD. In this game, the fumbled punt by PSU was important, but I don't think it changed the eventual outcome of the game. Michigan was the better team. How do I know this? Well, there are at least four major impetus-changing events that can happen during a ballgame. First of all, you've got penalties that can kill or extend a drive. Next would be big plays that can swing field position and energize a team and the crowd. Third, special teams can make a play (for example, Chesson winning the Northwestern game on the opening kickoff.) And finally, turnovers take the momentum from one team and give it to the other. Let's look at how these four impetus-influencing factors played out in the first half.

Penalties: Michigan committed seven for 45 yards to PSU's 1 for five. Edge to PSU. (More on this later.)
Big Plays: Michigan completed a 39 yard pass to Jake-who Chesson. Saquon Barkley had a run of 56 yards. Slight edge to PSU.
Special Teams: Michigan was called for a penalty negating a nice return. PSU blocked a Michigan punt. Big edge to PSU.
Turnovers: Rudock threw an INT (although I'm not real upset about that considering it was 3rd and 17.) PSU did not turn the ball over in the first half. Edge to PSU.

So all four of these favored PSU, and yet, the halftime score was 14-10 in favor of Michigan. Sometimes you can get all the breaks and still lose the game because the other team is better. Michigan is a better team than PSU. Michigan is more talented, more experienced, and better coached. Does that make me arrogant to state that? My Dad often stated, "humility is truth," borrowing from St. Vincent dePaul's quote, "Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying." I've never understand exactly what that meant, but to me, it says that to be humble you have to be truthful with yourself, and that means knowing what you are good at as well as what your problem areas are. Football is a great game because it exposes truths about ourselves and the teams we root for. Michigan has a darn good defense and an awakening passing game, and I'm just humble enough to admit that.

Trash Cans Full of Dirt
* I've got to bring this section heading back out from retirement in honor of the defensive line. Six of Michigan's 10 TFLs were made by defensive linemen, with Taco Charlton recording 3 for 18 yards. The defensive line also tallied 4 sacks. Excising sack yardage, PSU was held under 100 yards rushing on the day, finishing with 96 yards on 18 carries. Remember, 56 of those came on one run. Remove that and it's 40 yards on 17 carries. Not quite 27 for 27, but not bad either.
* A week after the two safeties led Michigan with 10 tackles each, the top 5 tacklers were non-safeties. Hill and Wilson each recorded 3 tackles. That's more like it.

The Three Jakes
* Jake Rudock was extra talented in his efficiency, completing 25 of 38 passes (65.8%) for 256 yards (6.7 YPA) with only 1 INT.
* Jake Buttttt caught five passes for 66 yards and a TD while Jake-who Chesson caught 4 passes for 69 yards.

NFL Route Tree Runners
* Early in the season, a couple B1G Network announcers discussed the complex "root trees" that UofM's receivers would have to learn to operate in Harbaugh's system. This week, just-a-guy Bob Windshield noted how Michigan's receivers were running NFL route trees. I suspect they are very similar to college route trees - a down and out is a down and out - but I never played the position. It is clear that the passing game has continued improving over the course of the season.
* Darboh had the biggest game among the receivers with 7 catches for 68 yards and a TD.

* Do I have to report on this?
* De'Veon Smith carried 13 times for 39 yards. His total was held down by not being able to break a run longer than 8 yards. It should be noted that PSU's formidable front 7 was only able to accumulate TFLs for 5 yards of non-sack plays. This prevented them from putting us in long down-and-distance situations. Of course, we compensated for that by committing numerous penalties, some real and some imaginary.
* Jabril Peppers is now 2nd on the actual depth chart at tailback, carrying 5 times for 19 yards. Are we sure we can't clone him?
* While playing defense, Peppers interfered with a PSU receiver using his facemask. Huard's commentary claimed it was normal hand fighting. That's the first time I've seen hand fighting between a WR's hand and a defender's facemask. Peppers had half of Michigan's 6 BrUps.
* Of Sione Houma's 4 runs and 1 reception, 4 either gave Michigan a first down or TD.

* There were 30 special teams plays out of 152 total, for 19.7%. Both teams punted 6 times. Both teams kicked off 5 times. That's what happens when both teams score 4 times. As Ace pointed out, we scored TDs and they kicked FGs.
* Net yards per punt were fairly even at 31.3 and 32.7 yards, but Michigan picked up an average of a first down on every kickoff. Our net yards per kickoff was 44.2 yards to their 34.2 yard. A big 55 yard return late in the game by Jourdan Lewis helped seal the victory.

Baughscore Bits
* PSU accumulated 6 first downs via penalty. That's one more than OSU gained against MSU's defense all game. As a humble person, I can admit that MSU's defense is playing very well right now. So well that I don't think Saquon Barkley and Christian Hackenberg have a chance to score a single point.
* Michigan scored a touchdown in every quarter.

* Late in the game, Brock Huard admitted to being "hyper-critical" of Christian Hackenberg. He spent the rest of the game discussing Hackenberg's NFL chances. Apparently, his idea of being hyper-critical is pointing out one time that Hackenberg should throw the ball away instead of taking a sack. I just don't understand the love affair with Hackenberg. He looks the part - tall, apple-cheeked, All-American boy - but in my opinion, he's just a below average college quarterback. He does hold the ball too long, he's not "extra talented in his accuracy" (BTW, Brock Huard, what the heck does that even mean?) and he sometimes gives the appearance of a spoiled child who isn't getting his way. That's not exactly a great leadership quality. And to top it off, he pulled off the first, "no mas," moment since Leonard-Duran. I do hope he proves me wrong, starting next week.
* Ron Snodgrass was the referee. I think he's been sniffin' some grass. He correctly identified a targetting hit against Anthony Zettel, only to be overruled by the replay official. Since it's apparent that the officials have no idea what a targetting foul is anymore, I have to conclude it's a 50/50 call. Michigan's coin has come up heads (no pun intended) about 8 times in a row now. The probability of that occurring randomly is 1 in 256. I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I think this targetting thing is just a matter of incompetence.
* Quick aside, I heard a conspiracy theory stating that Ronda Rousey lost on purpose because she is leaving MMA for a while to do a movie or another side project and they don't want to be without their champion for an extended period. The fellow espousing this theory is a pro wrestler and says this happens all the time in WWE. The difference is, WWE is staged entertainment. Besides, if Rousey really wanted to lose on purpose, why did she let herself get smashed in the face 30 some times before getting knocked out?
* Michigan was flagged 13 times for 117 yards to PSU's 3 for 30. Yeah. Sure. Uh-huh. Ezekiel Elliott was asked about PSU's gameplan. He said he couldn't understand why PSU went away from the one play that was working for them in the first half - the-hard-count-to-get-them-to-jump-offsides play.
* I've written numerous times that all I want from the officials is some consistency. So if they are not going to throw a flag when Joe Bolden is flagrantly held and waves his arm around trying to get their attention, they shouldn't throw a flag when PSU's center waves his arm around trying to get a holding penalty on Michigan's nose tackle. The fact that these two plays happened on the same drive is further maddening.
* When Darboh was correctly flagged for stepping out of bounds and coming back in, the side judge didn't throw his hat down to indicate Darboh going out of bounds, nor did he throw a flag. It was clear the other official had to explain the rule to him. It's high time we started paying officials as full time employees and required them to know the rules and interpret them correctly. Snodgrass from accounting and his crew aren't getting the job done. Instead of throwing more and more money at coaches salaries and facilities upgrades, how about the NCAA actually take a concrete step to improve the quality of the game by hiring and training full-time officials?

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 10

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 10

Submitted by ST3 on November 15th, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    There's been a popular line on this blog for the past 10 months or so, "Oakland is still in play." Popular in the sense that it is commonly used, not that any one likes it. The first pro team I remember rooting for was the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders' logo with the shield, crossed-swords, and eye-patched, leather helmeted Raider/Pirate guy was an undeniable lure for a six year old boy. I even had a black and grey winter hat with the Raiders logo front and center. That was the only non-Michigan hat I would wear. But then the Denver Broncos drafted Rob Lytle and I switched allegiances between bitter rivals as fast as only a six year old can.

    Besides their iconic helmet, the Raiders have been famous for a few things: their fanbase (the cooler-poopers of the NFL,) Al Davis, Al Davis' unfortunate son, and leading the league in penalties every year by a wide margin. Standing on the sideline and looking out onto a field of yellow laundry, one could excuse Jim Harbaugh for thinking he actually ended up in Oakland. Michigan committed 13 penalties, costing 72 yards. I dare say every one of those was earned. After giving MSU and Rutgers 4 first downs with penalties, Michigan gave Indiana 3 first downs via yellow hanky. Indiana returned the favor by committing 9 penalties for 79 yards. The Michigan of old would take advantage of a sloppy team. This Michigan team has yet to learn the difference between aggression and controlled aggression. When the senior captain ends up in the opponent's backfield before the ball arrives, it's apparent that something is missing.

    Jim Harbaugh has mentioned how he passes by the statue of Bo Schembechler on his way to work. That prompted me to skim through my copy of Bo's Lasting Lessons looking for a nugget of wisdom to share with Team 136. Don't look in the index under "penalties." I'll bet Bo hated penalties so much he forbade Bacon to index them. What I did find was this passage,

Sloppiness in this building breeds sloppiness on the field. When a sloppy guy lines up, he'll jump offsides. When he goes out for a pass, he'll run a bad route. And when he carries the ball, he'll fumble it. Why? Because he's sloppy!

This quote, as with most things in life, reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.

Poppy and Team 136 are a little sloppy. Here's hoping the Michigan football team cleans things up in the next two weeks.


Burst of Impetus
* I'm torn here between the first play of the second half and the Indiana punt return touchdown that shortly followed. Michigan had built a 24-16 lead at halftime. Indiana was giving our defense trouble, but we were getting them off the field and forcing them to kick field goals. A good, sustained, scoring drive to start the second half would shorten the game and put us up by two scores. Instead, Michigan put Peppers in motion and pitched the ball to him as he crossed in front of the quarterback. Indiana's defense was ready for this and stopped Peppers for an 8 yard loss. An incompletion and a sack followed setting up 4th and 25. The ensuing punt was returned for a TD and all of a sudden it was a ballgame that was going down to the wire, and then some.

The Two Jakes
* Indiana's QB threw for 220 yards and their running back ran for 238 yards.
* Jake Rudock threw for 440 yards.
* Jake Rudock ran for 64 yards.
* Jake Rudock gained more yards than Indiana's prolific tandem of Sudfeld and Howard. Jake Rudock gained 504 yards running and throwing. Those are Denard Robinson numbers.
* Jake Buttttttt caught seven passes for 82 yards. He could have approached 100 yards if Rudock had turfed a couple obvious negative plays instead of throwing to Butt with a man all over him. This is a minor quibble considering the, you know, 504 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Root Tree Runners
* After spending much of the season spreading the ball out among numberous receivers, this was the Chesson/Darboh/Butt show. They accounted for 25 of Jake's 33 completions.
* I've probably grumbled more about Chesson's receiving abilities than most. He's an incredible runner and blocker, and Saturday he showed he's capable of being an incredible wide receiver as well, with 10 receptions for 207 yards and 4 TDs.

* The leading rusher was Jake Rudock with 64 yards at 9.1 yards per carry.
* Smith did the bulk of the running from the backfield, carrying 12 times for 58 yards.

Tacos and Peppers
* Our leading tacklers were safeties Delano Hill and Jarrod Wilson with 10 each. I don't have to tell you that's not a good sign. Hill did have the game-winning BrUp.
* Michigan only had 4 TFLs for 17 yards. 12 of those yards came on one sack. The inability to tackle Indiana behind the LOS was a big reason IU put up 41 points.
* There was only one FF, no FRs, no INTCs, no Blkd passes, and no QHs. I think you have to credit Indiana for having a very good offense, acknowledge that Michigan was missing Glasgow, Ojemudia, and Mone from the defensive line, and that combined with the "tempo" hurt Michigan badly. Tempo is in quotes because Indiana very rarely went hurry up. They got to the line and waited 20 seconds to get the right play called. My fear level for OSU ratcheted up a couple points. They can do what Indiana did with Howard and ADD a running threat from the QB position.

* This is the spot where I've been tracking total plays this season. There actually weren't that many plays run considering this was a double OT game and Indiana is noted for their pace. We ran 74 plays to their 89. There were 35 special teams plays (17.7%,) mostly extra points, field goals and kickoffs. There were only 5 punts total in the game, and only 2 of those were from IU.
* Michigan gave up another punt return TD this week. This one can be blamed on sloppy tackling.

Baughscore Bits
* 20 of Indiana's 32 first downs came in the first half. I took a look at the drive chart for an explanation for the discrepancy between 1st and 2nd halves. Thanks to the punt return, Indiana only had 3 real second half drives. Those took 9, 9, and 8 plays, but only consumed 10 minutes and 11 seconds of the clock. It's hard to gain a lot of first downs when you don't have the ball.
* All but one of Michigan's first half drives took less than 2 minutes. All but one of Michigan's second half drives took more than 2 minutes. I don't know if this was a conscious halftime adjustment, or just the variability of this crazy game. If anything, I thought Indiana was using more of the play clock by looking to the sideline before almost every snap.
* Since time of possession is meaningless, I also looked at total plays. Indiana ran 54 plays in the first half, but only 35 in the second half and overtime.
* Net yards rushing was 307 to 141 in favor of Indiana. I remember being on the other side of that many times. It was only the last two seasons of the RichRod era where we were outgained like that on the ground.

* I'm not sure what I'm going to track under the Ooga-Booga category. It's either going to be horrible announcing or jinxes. Brock Huard had me thinking back fondly of the days Matt Millen called our games. Bob Windshield (as my son called him,) is just a guy. So if there was an ooga-booga, it was the fact that our #1 defense against the run gave up over 300 yards to Indiana. I tried explaining the ooga-booga jinx concept to my son, but he just responded with a confused look and said, "but we won." He's right, and there's nothing sloppy about that.

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 9

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 9

Submitted by ST3 on November 8th, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    The format of this diary evolved slowly over the course of Brady Hoke's first season at Michigan. It began as a response to what I felt was a glaring void in MGoBlog's coverage of Michigan football games. The site was missing the boxscore. So I posted a link and added some brief discussion. As the Big Ten Network announcers derped their way through the season, I continually updated the section headings. The one section heading that has survived to this day is the "Burst of Impetus." I have a feeling we will be adding another perennial subject heading.

    In the first quarter, our favorite BTN announcing team of Kevin Kugler and Matt Millen pointed out that Michigan had been successful on 15 consecutive trips into the red zone. Much like a basketball player on a consecutive free throws made streak gets jinxed by announcers pointing out said streak, Michigan barely missed a field goal ending it's streak. Matt Millen's response, paraphrasing, went something like this, I guess we put the ooga-booga on 'em.

    I've never heard of the ooga-booga before, but if you had asked me what it was prior to the game, I'd say it was likely one of these three things:

1) a term that described Matt Millen's career as General Manager of the Detroit Lions.
2) the contents of my son's diapers when he was a baby
3) Rutgers University. As in, Jim Delaney put the ooga-booga on the Big Ten by adding Rutgers.


Burst of Impetus
* Rutgers is terrible. I had a brief blogument with Salvatore Quattro last week about Rutgers. I tried to quantify Rutgers abilities using statistics. He used the eyeball test. My problem is that the only time I saw Rutgers play, they had Leonte Carroo and they almost beat MSU. After watching Rutgers for a full 60 minutes of football, I can state without reservation that they are indeed terrible. Their only hope for winning the game was for Michigan to give them the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Drake Johnson apparently fumbled a pitch from Jake Rudock. We were fortunate in having the only sane replay official assigned to Big Ten games this season. He overturned the call, correctly asserting that it was a forward lateral and therefore not a fumble. Michigan kept the ball and the threat was over. Including the Northwestern game, this is now the second time Michigan has won a game in the first 13 seconds. I've gotta like that Jim Harbaugh hire.

The Two Jakes
* In Seth's, "Guess the Score" post, I correctly predicted that Jake Rudock would lead 8 scoring drives. I was only slightly wrong in predicting they would be 8 consecutive drives as the drive to end the half was disrupted by an official throwing an unsportsmanlike penalty flag because he didn't want to admit he wasn't paying attention to the game.
* Super-efficient Jake Rudock made his first appearance of the season, but maybe that's because he was playing against Rutgers. He completed 72% of his passes for 13.5 YPA (roughly double his season average) and did not throw any interceptions.
* His TD throw to Darboh should set aside any rumors of health issues. He put some zip on that ball.
* Jake Butttt caught 4 passes for 102 yards with a long of 56.

Root Tree Runners
* 10 players caught 18 passes from Rudock. After Butt, Darboh and Chesson were next with 3 receptions each.
* WRs caught 7 passes, RBs caught 6, and TEs caught 5. When everyone is a part of the game plan, this team is hard to stop (are you listening to me Minnesota gameplan?)

* The running game has me more confused than ever. This week, De'Veon Smith looked completely healthy and showed why he should be the feature back. He led the team with 73 yards on 15 carries and scored a TD. But maybe that's just because we were playing Rutgers.
* 10 players and the TEAM combined for 42 carries, 150 yards, and 4 TDs.

Tacos and Peppers
* I wish I had thought of the "Pepp-O-Meter," but I wouldn't have wasted that on tallying his number of plays. I'm sure there are some tempo teams that have players playing 80+ plays a game. It's what Peppers does with his plays that stands out. Peppers ran twice for 8 yards and a TD, caught a pass for 3 yards, decoyed twice setting up a couple big plays, held for a kickoff, fair caught up to 7 punts (they don't list these in the boxscore, but Rutgers did punt 7 times,) was third on the team with 6 tackles, had a TFL, and I'm sure a BrUp or two that wasn't credited to him. And he handled the post-game interview with aplomb.
* Morgan and Bolden led the team in tackles, with 8 and 7, respectively.
* There were plenty of other stats, including 7 TFLs, 1 forced fumble which we of course didn't recover, 1 interception, 4 BrUps, 4 sacks, and 2 QHs.
* Early season Chris Wormley returned with 4 tackles and 2 sacks for 21 yards.

* I discussed the referees in more detail last week in lieu of the special teams specific thoughts. The special teams cannot be ignored this week. I have a feeling we might fall from the #1 spot in the special teams efficiency rankings. That's quite a difference from last season when a performance like that might drop us from last place to even more last place.
* There were 35 special teams plays out of 163 total, for a whopping percentage of 21%. For context, this number usually hovers around 15-16%. Maybe that's why the game took 3:22 to complete; there are lots of commercials stuck before and after those special teams plays. Or maybe I'm just getting old. I never thought I'd complain about the length of a Michigan football game, but then again, we never used to play Rutgers.
* Rutgers beat us in the punting game, averaging 35 net yards per punt to our 22, but that was mainly due to one return aided by a questionable non-targeting call. One of the commenters here at MGoBlog nailed it when he/she wrote, if the guy has to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms, head-to-head contact was likely involved.
* Even though Rutgers had a kick return for a touchdown, Michigan faired better overall in the kick-off game. We netted 31.8 yards per kickoff to their 19. This is likely aided by the fact that they rutgersed a failed on-side kick attempt and we kicked off 9 times to average out the one big return.

Baughscore Bits
* First downs were in Michigan's favor, 25-17, as were total net rushing yards, 150-128. However, those numbers are troubling enough that I am going to stop predicting Michigan gets a shutout every week. (Am I really complaining about holding a team to 225 total offense yards? When that team is Carroo-less Rutgers, yes, I am going to complain. Facetiously.)
* Rutgers had 4 first downs as a result of Michigan penalties. Sometimes you get the ooga, and sometimes you get the booga.
* Rutgers QB was the exact opposite of unstoppable throw god, Gary Nova, as they were held to 3.6 YPA.
* BTN selected Leonte Carroo as Rutgers' impact player of the game. He caught no passes for no yards and didn't play. I think he made the greatest positive contribution to Rutgers offense.

* John O'Neill's crew did not work this game, although at times it felt like it. No, they were doing another game of no consequence and did nothing noteworthy at that game. In fact, I think they called a perfect game.
* The side judge is listed as one, "G. Smith." I'm not sure why OSU's AD is allowed to ref our games, but at least now I understand the unsportsmanlike conduct call at the end of the first half.
* Matt Millen did say one intelligent thing during the game. After yet another early Michigan penalty, he said, "Eh, I don't know about that one." After watching Rutgers attempt to play football for 60 minutes, in regards to Jim Delaney's decision to add them to the conference, I'm left thinking, "Eh, I don't know about that one."

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 8

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 8

Submitted by ST3 on November 1st, 2015 at 9:28 PM


     Earlier this season, I proposed the Stribling's cat paws sequel to Schrodinger's cat illustration. I'm not sure everyone got the idea, so let me present it again. First of all, Schrodinger's cat is imagined as being in a box with a radioactive source and poison that will be released when the source emits radiation. According to quantum mechanics, the cat is considered to be simultaneously both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat is observed.

      Likewise Channing Stribling's hands are either hands with fingers and opposable thumbs good for gripping a football, or they are cat paws that can only bat at a ball much like a cat plays with a ball of yarn. We can only determine which appendage is connected to his arms at any particuluar moment by throwing a football at him. It appears that this very odd law of quantum mechanics has spread to others in the UofM secondary, in particular, Dymonte Thomas. Seth did a great job recapping multiple points in this game where the cats paws returned. Those who aren't versed in the finer points of quantum mechanics, such as dear leader Brian, refer to this as, "the Gypsy," but it's really just an extension of Newtonian mechanics at the secondary level.

      For this theory to make any sense, I need to propose a plausible explanation for where their hands are going when their cat paws show up and bat seemingly interceptable balls right into the opponents' hands. Allow me to make a little detour. I took calculus and differential equations at MSU my senior year in high school. When I started at UofM, they gave me 7 credits for those three courses. Fast forward four years to when UofM tells me they reveiwed MSU's syllabus and it didn't include matrix algebra, so I would need to take a 400 level math class at UofM. It was an interesting class, but it mostly confirmed my decision not to pursue math as a degree. What I remember most was studying n-dimensional space where n>3. I consider myself a practical person, so the idea of studying mathematics to describe 4 or 5 or more dimensional space, when I've never seen more than 3 dimensions seems like a waste of time. What does all this have to do with Michigan's inability to intercept passes at random points this season? I propose that n-dimensional space where n>3 actually does exist and Michigan defensive backs' hands have occupied these multi-dimensional planes of matter at rather inopportune times this season.


Burst of Impetus
* Michigan raced out to a 14-3 lead and I, not thinking, said, "this game is wrapped up." After the three consecutive shutouts, could you blame me? However, as soon as I uttered those words, I wished I could call them back. Minnesota tallied a field goal to make it 14-6 and then the Burst of Impetus occurred, changing this game from what was headed for a 28-6 Michigan victory to a back-and-forth, sludgefart of a game.
* With about 5 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, with Michigan facing a 3rd and 7, They're'an Cockran was called for offsides. This moved Michigan to a very manageable 3rd and 2. Instead of powering for the first down, Michigan tried the naked bootleg play right into Theiran Cockran. He blew up a similar play only two plays earlier. I'm not sure why Michigan thought this was a good idea. Additionally, the receivers only ran 1 yard routes on 3rd and 2. Therean forced a hurried throw and Michigan had to punt. A relatively poor Blake O'Neill punt of 32 yards gave Minnesota reasonable field position.
* On the first play of Minnesota's drive, Desmond Morgan decided to engage a Gopher blocker instead of plugging a hole (UFR -3.) Rodney Smith ran for 23 yards. Two plays later, the gypsy struck Jeremy Clark, or Leidner threw a really horrible pass, that was somehow completed and turned into a 52 yard TD. (Gypsy, UFR -5, is that how this works?).
* But that's not all. Michigan once again could not keep the drive alive and turned the ball over to Minnesota. After a gypsy-aided 39 yard pass, Claeys played it very conservative (foreshadowing the end of the game) and settled for a field goal. Instead of taking a commanding 21-6 lead into halftime, it was Minnesota 16, Michigan 14. What the heck just happened?

The Two Jakes
* Sad Ghost Snake Boodock completed 62% of his passes with only 1 INT, (2 of my arbitrary efficiency marks) but only threw for 6.7 ypa. He also was credited with a fumble on a play that didn't matter since it was 4th down anyway. He left the game after getting Malachi-crunched by a couple gophers. I hope he is able to return next week as I don't remember being impressed by the movie, "Butt Speight."
* Jake Butttt caught four passes for 38 yards. I'm positive there's a parallel universe where the M in MGoBlog stands for Minnesota and their main blogger Briean Boddy-Cook is giving Jake the Maxxxx Williams treatment.
* Doesn't "speight" sound like the name of a ghost or supernatural being? I looked it up and found something even better:
A russian name meaning fun, awesome, and a name to be jealous of
That Speight guy is really cool
I wish i could be Speight, because they are so cool

Root Tree Runners
* Amara Darboooo led Michigan with 6 receptions for 73 yards. Je-whoooo had 3 for 33.
* Khalid Hell was the only other TE to make a reception.
* De'Vil Smith and Sione Whooo-ma each had one reception. The lack of RB participation in the passing game was glaring. With They'rean Cockran regularly making a beeline to the QB, you'd think a screen pass might work.

Jack O'Lanterns
* Drake Johnson led all ballcarriers with 10 carries and 55 yards. I think we beat MSU if he was healthy for that game.
* Joe Cinderella Kerridge gained 7 key yards on 3 carries. However, the fullbacks were not able to break one of their patented 30 yarders.
* De'Meon Smith carried 9 times for 15 yards and appeared to be banged up later in the game.
* Derrick Green continued running into the first tackler and getting tackled.

Smelly Worms and Moss
* James Moss III and Joe Olden led Michigan's defense with 9 tackles. Moss also contributed a 12 yard sack.
* Is it possible after all those years of getting torched by spread offenses that Michigan has done a complete 180 and now dominates spread O's, but can't stop Pro-Style offenses?
* Ryan GlassGhost had 6 tackles from the nose tackle position and won the game single-handedly by stuffing the last play QB sneak. (That's in response to a poster saying Peppers won the game single-handedly. Hey, everybody's hands helped, except those that turned into cats paws.)
* Jourdan Lewis definitely does not have a scary, Halloween style name and should return to Michigan next season to work on that. He had a BrUp and 5 tackles.
* Delano Hell had 3 tackles as did Maurice Liverwurst. Former Israeli prime minister and UofM linebacker Ben Gurion had one tackle.
* Michigan only had 3 TFLs all game and that was one of the big reasons this game went down to the wire.

Baughscore Bits
* Even though first downs were even at 20-20, Minnesota outgained Michigan 461 to 296. This is a new trend that I don't like.
* Minnesota averaged 19.8 yards per completion. Shoot me in the head. Just go ahead and do it. 19.8 yards per completion?!?
* Cody Poock was second for Minnesota with 10 tackles. I knew he was terrifying.
* The story of this game is the "Red-Zone Scores-Chances" section. For the "Touchdowns" line, it read 4-4 for Michigan and 0-4 for Minnesota. You have to convert when you get your chances, and that's how you overcome a 165 yard discrepancy while losing the turnover battle 2-0. Wait, we won the game? Huh...

* While Michigan was going over what play to for the critical two point conversion, Jehu Chesson decided it was a good time to play that old party game, guess what card I have on my forehead. I mean, WHAT ARE THOSE?


Officiating Madness
* After the MSU game, I decided to eavesdrop on the officials for this game. I pressed record and slipped my cell phone in referee Dan Capron's back pocket. You see this happen all the time on sitcoms. I'm sure it's plausible, so go with me. I got the phone back and was shocked. I'll spare you the gory details, but I did want to transcribe two interesting sequences - the penalty for Thomas interfering with the Gopher punt return and the late hit on Leidner they picked up.

Play 1
{Referee Dan Capron meets up with Line Judge Brian Bolinger near midfield}
Ref (whispering): drop your flag.
LJ: Wut?
Ref (whispering, a little louder): Drop your flag.
LJ: I didn't see nuthin.
FJ Al Terry approaches, and says: Hey guys, how you doing?
Ref (again to LJ): DROP YOUR FLAG!
LJ: Oh, OK (and he drops his flag.)
SJ Craig Jeffreys enters the scene: Hey guys, we can't let Michigan get the ball back. They're ahead and I need this game to become an instant classic. I'm depending on those residuals to get the boys something good for the holidays.
CJ Steven Thielen approaches: Are you guys getting anything for Jerry Kill for his retirement? I was thinking maybe some dilly bars, but he might take that the wrong way.
LJ: mmm, dilly bars.
FJ: How about a nice crockpot. I hear you can't go wrong with a crockpot. It's good for any occasion.
SJ to Ref: Dan, I need those residuals...
LJ: Isn't a Capron a type of chicken?
FJ: That's a capon, you idiot.
Ref: Personal foul on Michigan for interfering with the punt returner.

Play 2
{Umpire Pat Bayers has dropped his flag indicating a late hit on Michigan}
Ref to Ump: What'd you see Pat?
Ump: Michigan swung the QB around like a rag doll. That's something you see on WWE wrestling. That's gotta be a foul of some sort.
SJ wanders over: Guys, you're ruining this for me. Minnesota's ahead and if you don't let Michigan get the ball back, that ruins any chance we have for an instant classic. The boys need presents for the holidays.
FJ approaches: I've been having second thoughts about that crockpot. Just look at Jerry. I'm sure he's eating fine. How about some crystal stemware?
BJ Scott Buchanan joins the conversation: No, the traditional retirement gift is a watch.
LJ: mmm, dilly bars.
SJ: Guys, Harbaugh is really chewing my ear off. He suggested we look at that big video monitor thingy.
{they all look and see nothing out of the ordinary}
Ref to rest of crew: we're going to look pretty bad throwing a flag on that after not throwing one when Rudock's helmet got torn off and he was injured to the point he had to leave the game.
Ref to CJ: Just to be sure, Steven, what'd you see?
CJ: I'm still trying to figure out what Jehu Chesson has on his forehead...

(H/T to Bull Durham)


Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 7

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 7

Submitted by ST3 on October 18th, 2015 at 12:22 AM

     25 years ago, I was a junior at the University of Michigan. I went to the Michigan-Michigan State game that year. I ended up sitting right on the goal line, about 15 rows up. This, of course, was the game where MSU got away with tackling Desmond Howard in the endzone on Michigan's two point conversion attempt. Michigan ended up losing 28-27. I wandered around the stadium and the parking lots and Ann Arbor in a daze, occasionally yelling at random people, "They tackled him in the endzone!" 25 years later, I still don't handle defeats very well, but at least I've stopped yelling at random strangers. This is going to be a little (or a lot) shorter than most weeks, because I really need 2 weeks off.


Burst of Impetus
* The rules of the game have changed over time. I remember when, at least I think I remember, you could have 12 men on the field on defense as long as you got back to 11 before the ball was snapped. Even today, you'll see defenders hurrying off the field trying not to get flagged for having too many men on the field WHEN THE BALL IS SNAPPED. On MSU's 2nd drive, they were facing a 3rd and 5. Michigan was flagged for 12 men on the field and MSU converted without having to run a play. In fact, IIRC, Kody Kieler fell over and came out for an injury before the next play was even run.
* Later on the same drive, MSU was facing a 3rd and 18. The drive was apparently stopped, but the officials called Jabrill Peppers for holding. What I saw was the MSU receiver run into the official, fall down, and then Peppers ran over the Spartan because he fell right in front of Peppers. I'm not sure how that is a holding penalty. A 10 yard penalty on 3rd and 18 should result in a 3rd and 8, except MSU got an automatic 1st down on the play. I don't recall holding giving you an automatic 1st down, I thought that was reserved for personal fouls of the 15 yard variety. These two plays kept the Spartan drive alive, allowing them to keep the ball for 16 plays, drive 70 yards, and take 8:05 off the clock. They didn't score on the drive, but they took the starch out of our offense by keeping them on the sideline for more than half of the 1st quarter. It's hard to get in rhythm on offense when you are stuck on the sideline.
* In the second quarter, Joe Bolden was whistled for a targetting foul for being blocked into the Spartan quarterback. Let's just pretend we didn't notice Conklin's hand grabbing the back of Bolden's jersey. So instead of MSU being assessed a 10 yard holding penalty, they gained 15 yards and didn't have to face a 3rd down. Later in the drive, Royce Jenkins-Stone was held by the back of his jersey, opening up a lane f or LJ Scott to waltz into the endzone.
* Late in the third quarter, with the play still going, Willie Henry jumped on one of his fellow defenders to "finish the play." The refs called a personal foul on Henry. I guess they didn't think it was sportsmanlike for him to land on his teammate. Instead of 4th and 3, MSU had another first down via penalty.
* With Michigan leading by two scores and less than 10 minutes to play, MSU completed a 74 yard pass to their fullback. Michigan fans around the country wondered what we had to do to finish off these guys. It was like a bad horror movie where the villain keeps getting back up for more. At the end of the Terminator movie, Arnold is apparently blown up when a gas tanker explodes, only to emerge from the fireball, minus his flesh, but robotic skeleton fully intact. At the end of T2, the Terminator is frozen solid, shatters, and is disbursed across the factory floor, only to slowly reassemble and continue the attack. Yes, I'm comparing MSU to a heartless, soulless, robotic killer, programmed to do only one thing - terminate Michigan's football lives.
* The last 10 seconds of the game.

The Two Jakes
* Jake Rudock was once again, 2 for 3 on my efficiency metrics, going 15 for 25 (60%, passing, but just barely) with zero turnovers, but missing on the YPA by averaging 6.7 per attempt.
* Early on, someone said my YPA was not sufficiently difficult. I checked the stats this week and saw about 84 QBs average at least 7 YPA. There are 128 FBS teams, give or take, so that doesn't seem like a high bar. However, I want my efficient QB to do this AND this AND this. Of all those QBs, only 60 throw for 60% or more with 7+ YPA and 1 or fewer TOs per game. I'll take that. Either you are efficient or you are not. If ~1/2 of the QBs pass my test, I'd say my WAG at efficiency is close to the mark.
* Rudock clearly needs to hit some deep passes to het his YPA up. I don't want to say bad things about the players after a game like this, but on one of the deep routes, Chesson heads towards the center of the field before breaking it deep. That could be the difference in a completion versus a ball that is 1 yard too long.
* Jake Butt caught one pass for 4 yards and had a tackle. He was also just a couple yards late in tackling the MSU special teams player on the last play of the game.
* Butt would have had another catch, except he was clearly interfered with, only it wasn't called. He also caught a ball off the turf that was originally ruled a catch only to be overruled. The replay official did not overrule the 2nd call. I thought his hands were under the ball, in which case it is OK for the ball to touch the ground as long as the ground doesn't dislodge or move the ball around in his hands. Butt clearly thought he made the catch. I hate the replay system. It may be better than the alternative, but it's not perfect. How can the replay official not overturn the Butt call, but he can see clearly that the Spartan receiver's toe was still touching the ground when he made the catch at the sideline, even though both officials at the scene emphatically ruled it not a catch? You're telling me there's not the slightest chance his toe was maybe a centimeter off the ground by the time he caught the ball?

Root Tree Runners
* After distributing the ball to various and sundry blocky-catchy types in prior weeks, Rudock completed half of his passes to wide receivers (not including the one he caught himself.) After using the backs and tight ends so effectively, this game saw Williams get 2 passes, Butt caught 1, and Smith and Higdon each had one.

* Aside from one 27 yard gain from Houma, De'Veon Smith was the ground game, gaining 46 yards on 19 carries. Not great, but his runs did set up the play action passing game that sort of worked sometimes. I thought they tried to run him outside far too often instead of attacking up the gut of the Spartan defense. It seemed like Smith was most effective (and by that I mean the few times he got 5 or 6 yards) when we were blasting straight up the middle. I could be wrong.

Tacos and Peppers
* Peppers had his best game statistically so far. He caught 2 passes for 35 yards, returned three punts for 48 yards, 3 kickoffs for 81 yards, he had 2 tackles, and he got called for holding for running into a player who had fallen down running into an official.
* Desmond Morgan had 8 tackles. Our leading tackler on the season, Joe Bolden, had 2 tackles before he was thrown out of the game for being held and thrown into the Spartan QB.
* Jourdan Lewis had 7 tackles and 6 BrUps as he was repeatedly targeted since he was guarding State's best receiver. I guess I would call this matchup a draw. I was surprised that Michigan didn't try to mix up the defensive looks more. I thought they might be able to bait Cook into one of those high lob passes and have the safety come over to pick it off. But the safeties were selling out to stop the run game, as we saw on State's 74 yard pass.
* Michigan had 7 TFLs, 3 big sacks, and 10 BrUps, as they continue filling up the rest of the defensive stat sheet. The only thing missing was a turnover. Give State credit, they protected the football.

* Kenny Allen was 3 for 3 on field goals. The problem with settling for field goals is sometimes the other team gets TDs. The spartan kicking game is in such disarray that they didn't even try a FG. Instead, they went 0 for 4 on fourth down. The team on the short side of that stat usually loses. Oh well.
* Net yards per punt was 44 for Michigan and only 23.6 for MSU. That's 2 first downs difference on every exchange of punts (or would that be 4 first downs, 2 when we punt and 2 when they punt?) That explains why even though MSU outgained Michigan 386 to 230, it didn't seem that lopsided to me.

Baughscore Bits
* I'm just going to put up the first down stats here and let you guess what point I'm trying to reinforce.

  Michigan MSU
First Downs 10 20
Rushing 3 3
Passing 6 13
Penalty 1 4


Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 6

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 6

Submitted by ST3 on October 11th, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    After the first game of the season I made a somewhat negative comment on this here blog and someone responded with, "what did you expect?" That exchange stuck with me. What does it mean to have an expectation? Google can't even figure it out. The first definition is, "a strong belief that something will happen." The second definition is, "a belief that..." So did I strongly believe we would go 10-2 at the beginning of the year, or was that just a belief that it could happen? I don't like to expect 8 win seasons. Why should I root for a team that I expect so little of? (I already have the Lions for that.) This is my team and my school. I want the best for them. If they fail to live up to expectations, we'll just work that much harder and try again. But we should never settle for mediocrity, nor should we expect it.

    I've been asking myself, are my expectations realistic, or are they more "best-case scenarios," or my hopes for the season. I was conditioned by my first 36 years of life to expect 9+ wins per season, the occasional Big Ten championship, and to see a team that while maybe didn't win every game, at least was competitive in every game. After all, the ball can take some funny bounces and there is an RPS-aspect to every game. But the Michigan football team was well coached and controlled what they could - putting 11 men on the field, limiting penalties, making tackles, executing blocks, etc. The last seven years sorely tested the expectations I had built up over three decades.

     Initially, the team failed to live up to my expectation as a 5th year senior quarterback coached by a QB guru, threw 3 interceptions in one game after throwing only 5 all last season. In the next two games, the team met my expectations by handling inferior opponents at home. In the fourth game against a ranked opponent that had demonstrated competence playing against serious competition, Michigan far exceeded even my lofty expectations, winning 31-0. I expected Maryland to score on us. I expected a close game, heck, they beat us in Ann Arbor last season, and this Michigan team hasn't traveled very well the past few seasons. But this season isn't last season, and that was proven yet again yesterday. Michigan far exceeded my expectations by blowing out the #13 team in the country and recording their third consecutive shutout. My son is 10 years old. The last time Michigan recorded 3 consecutive shutouts, I was 10 years old. A time when my expectations for Michigan football were being formed.


Burst of Impetus
* Is it possible to win a game in the first 13 seconds of action? With this Michigan defense, I'm going to say yes, yes it is. The opening kick return for a touchdown by Jehu Chesson set the tone for the rest of the day. Late in the 2nd quarter, Northwestern had an 8 play drive, granted they only gained 20 yards, but 8 plays is a lot against our defense. On the next drive they eked out a first down and started looking a little comfortable on offense. Then, Jourdan Lewis basically pick-pocketed the NU receiver and returned the ball for a touchdown. Had NU been able to score at the end of the half and score to start the 3rd quarter, maybe you could convince yourself they had a chance. Heck, the past 3 years, we've seen Michigan have trouble with the first and last 5 minutes of a half. But this season is not last season. Do you know what these two plays have in common? It's play-makers making plays. After writing 57 diaries about boxscores, far too often I've seen games decided not by the overall statistics, but by a few plays here and there. The Utah game to start the season is a prime example of this. They got the pick-6 in a 7 point game. Against NU, we got the pick-6 and the kickoff return, but we also dominated in every aspect of the game. When you can do both - make the big plays and dominate the down-to-down action - you've got the makings of a special team.

The Two Jakes
* For the first time this season, Jake Rudock met my arbitrary efficiency metrics with 74% completion percentage, 7.8 yards per attempt, and no turnovers. See, all we need is an efficient QB and we can beat top 20 teams by 38 points. I don't need greatness at the QB position, efficiency is sufficient.
* Jake Butt caught 3 passes for 40 yards with a long of 32. He was overshadowed by...

A.J. Williams, Receiving Threat
* A.J. led the receivers with 4 catches for 48 yards. Exhibit A in the case for Harbaugh's coach of the year nomination is this stat line. He takes guys that Brady Hoke struggled to put in positions to succeed and makes them significant contributors to the team. Other examples include Braden, Clark, Poggi, Houma, and Strobel. And the list just goes on and on. And he knows how special teams are supposed to work.
* Rudock spread the wealth again among 7 receivers. 7 passes went to TEs, 7 went to WRs, and three went to Smith.

* 9 players and one TEAM made carries in the game. Surprisingly, it was Derrick Green who led the team in carries with 12 followed by Smith with 8 AND Karan Higdon with 8.
* De'Veon is clearly the lead back, but I'm starting to think it doesn't matter who gets the next carries. Joe Kerridge got a 34 yard carry. Five player had long runs of 10 or more yards.

Tacos, Peppers and Captain Morgan
* I'll give Northwestern some credit; they did make our back 7 relevant. Safety Jarrod Wilson led the team with 7 tackles followed by linebackers Morgan and Bolden with 6 each.
* Michigan recorded 8 TFLs with Willie Henry leading the way with 2.5.
* A couple weeks ago, I noted that Michigan had 6 BrUps, a huge number. Well, against Northwestern, Michigan had 5 QHs, an equally huge number. I've been doing this for awhile and I don't recall ever seeing that many QHs.
* Peppers led the way with 3 of Michigan's 5 BrUps. Like I said before, play-makers making plays.

* Michigan ran 69 plays to NU's 58. There were 27 special teams plays. 17.5% of the plays were from special teams, or roughly 1 in 6.
* Michigan punted five times. Northwestern returned zero for zero yards.
* Michigan also kicked off seven times. Northwestern returned four of those for a total of 75 yards. Jehu Chesson returned NU's only kickoff for 96 yards and a TD. I'd say that's a win for us.

Baughscore Bits
* Michigan gained 21 first downs to NU's 13.
* Net yards rushing was 201 for Michigan and only 38 for NU.
* Both teams came into the game allowing roughly 20% on third down conversions. Michigan went 7 of 14 while holding NU to 2 of 13.
* Michigan had the ball for 37:05 to NU's 22:55. Like DJ Durkin said after the game, a shutout really is a team statistic. The other team can't score if they don't have the ball, and they can't get in field goal position if the special teams are working and the offense isn't turning the ball over.

* Those are robots and nutrients. You look confused, so let me explain. I didn't think I'd have one of theeese, or more properly, one of thooose, this week, until I turned on the MSU-Rutgers game. During every televised game, in an attempt to maintain the facade that college sports are integral to the academic mission (have I gotten that cynical?) the television network will show commercials for the two competing institutions. During the Michigan game, they showed Prof. Jessy Grizzle's robot. I know and like Prof. Grizzle, and I'm sure his robot is really cool, but it seems like they've been highlighting his research for several years now. Surely, there must be other interesting things going on in Ann Arbor?

* Fast forward to the Spartan game. The MSU commercial promoted a faculty member from their environmental engineering department and his work separating nutrients from cow manure. It was 30 seconds of cows and cows' manure footage. Great big machines were shoving rivers of cow manure towards a nutrient separation system that separated the 90% of manure that is water from the nutrients. The commercial ended with the professor suggestively taking a drink of yummy, recycled, nutrient separated cow manure water. I don't understand how they think that the average high school student watching at home is going to see that and get excited about applying to MSU. It's like they know they are Moo U and they have decided to double down and own their ag-based, academic mission. I have numerous friends and family members who root for sparty. If it was any other week, I probably would have skipped this section of the diary, but you know, there's a somewhat important game coming up on Saturday. Regardless of the outcome, my expectation is that we'll go back to our high technology jobs working with robots, while they will go back to separating nutrients from manure. Have I sufficiently beaten this to death? Yeah, I suppose so.

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 5

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 5

Submitted by ST3 on October 4th, 2015 at 2:47 PM

     At the beginning of this season, Seth wrote

If Ann Arbor was hit with a nuclear bomb and declared a radioactive zone for 100 years (or 7 football seasons), ST3 will still be there digging out scorecards and sharing the gory details. We just tried this and it worked; the organism is more on point than ever

At the time, I wasn't sure what he was referring to by "the organism," but now I think I know. Friday night, I was diagnosed with shingles. If you don't know what that is, let me spare you the gory google image search. It's basically adult chicken pox, fairly common for people in their 60's. I'm only 45, but I've always been precocious. I was yelling, "get off of my lawn!" when I was living in an apartment on E. Washington in Ann Arbor and my yard was Thano's Lamplighter's back door. Shingles is basically a red, bubbly, pus-filled rash that has inhabited my left side. (Aren't you glad you clicked on this diary?) The organism has taken up residence most prominently on my left hip. But I won't let that stop my boxscore analysis. I will let that stop me going to Church, my son's baseball game, and work this week - doctor's orders, thank goodness for sick leave - but the diary will live on. A guy's got to have priorities, don't you know.


Burst of Impetus
* The first half was impetus free. What a slog-fest. There were a couple nice plays that led to Michigan field goals, but one was left thinking Maryland was only one big play away from awakening the Michigan road ghosts. Instead of picking the burst of impetus play or sequence, I'm going to focus on impetus denied this week. There were three times Maryland got the ball as a result of Michigan turnovers. The first stopped a Michigan drive as Maryland recovered at their own 34. They went three and out and punted. Michigan fumbled again, giving Maryland great field position and their best chance of scoring all day. Three players later, Michigan's Jeremy Clark intercepted the ball to end that threat. In the third quarter, a ghastly interception (half on Rudock for throwing, half on Houma for bobbling) gave Maryland the ball at our 45 yard line. Three Maryland plays saw them gain zero yards and they punted.

The Two Jakes
* I posted this during the week, but wanted to share in case it got lost in all the comments.

Let's compare college career stats for two notable Michigan quarterbacks:

Player A: 59.5% completion percentage, 7.1 yards per attempt, 27 TD, 15 INT (1.8:1), 130.6 Rating
Player B: 60.7% completion percentage, 6.9 yards per attempt, 38 TD, 23 INT (1.65:1), 128.8 Rating

Who is better? But wait, let's add in rushing totals, because QBs sometimes run the ball.

Player A: 85 carries, -81 yards, -1 ypc, 4 TDs
Player B: 155 carries, 448 yards, 2.9 ypc, 10 TDs

Looks like Player B has the edge. But wait, what about punting?

Player A: 14 punts, 36.3 yard average.
Player B: 0 punts.

Player A is Brian Griese. Player B is Jake Rudock prior to the Maryland game.

* Jake Rudock missed on all three of my efficiency metrics, 50% completions, 5.6YPA, 2 TOs, yet his team won by 28 points and his statistical profile matches National Championship winning QB, Brian Griese. Maybe my metrics are worthless. It's good to remember that National Championship winning QB Brian Griese didn't become National Championship winning QB Brian Griese until he won a national championship. I guess what I'm saying is, let's all relax with the microscopic evaluations and criticisms of Jake Rudock. He's only been here 5 games and a couple months and he's already taken charge of a top 20 team that has outscored it's opponents 119-7 (or thereabouts) in the last 15 quarters.
* Jake Butt caught 4 passes for 61 yards with a long of 44.

The Three Harbaughs
* Hey, John Harbaugh looked pretty good in maize-and-blue. If Jim decides to follow his dream and coach the Colts, maybe we can get that John guy to replace him.

AMARAcan Darboh
* Darboh caught 3 balls for 27 yards and had a nice block on Johnson's TD reception.
* Catches were distributed to 7 receivers, the low mark for the season.

* De'Veon Smith proved in his absence that he is our best running back.
* Drake Johnson started showing some of the burst he displayed at the end of last season. He's not back completely to my untrained eye, but he did scamper for 68 yards on 13 carries for 5.2 ypc.
* Jehu's one carry left him two yards from being our leading rusher for the day.

Tacos and Peppers and Captain Morgan
* I need a beverage with my tacos and peppers. I'm fairly certain if we had more than three 5th year seniors, Desmond Morgan would have been voted captain. He's definitely the leader of the defense. Morgan tallied 9 tackles, 1 interception and had two BrUps.
* Michigan tallied 8 TFLs, 4 of which were sacks. Interestingly, after leading the defensive line early in the season, Wormley was held without a tackle against Maryland. If he's drawing double teams now based on early season production, that's opening up things for Hurst, Glasgow and the rest of the d-line.
* Michigan had three interceptions and 6 BrUps. I'm perfectly happy with the referees letting some physical play go between the WRs and the DBs now that we are the ones pressing the action.

* I was watching BTN this week when they showed the B1G punting leaders on the bottom of the screen. I kept waiting for Blake O'Neill's name to show up. It never did. He doesn't have the best average in the conference mainly because he's dropping dimes inside the 5 yard line on the regular and he's sliced a couple punts. But the difference between this year and last is so stark I expected him to be 1st or 2nd in the conference. Perhaps he does better on net punting yards.
* 32 of the game's 167 plays were special teams plays. That's 19%, or roughly 1 in 5. That's a high-water mark since I started tracking this 8 or 9 games ago. Maryland punted 13 times. Of their 13 punts, none went for touchbacks because they were never close enough to our endzone.

Baughscore Bits
* First downs were 14-7 in favor of Michigan. That, combined with the turnovers, all those Maryland punts, and the weather made it the ugliest 28-0 victory I can remember. Or maybe it was just the pus-filled blisters exploding forth from my skin.
* Maryland was held to 105 yards of total offense. Isn't that what BYU got? Back-to-back shutouts are incredible, but holding teams to 105 yards in back-to-back games? I wonder when the last time was that that happened.
* Maryland gained 1.7 yards per play. {Insert Nelson Muntz "ha ha" gif here.}
* Maryland was 1 of 18 on third down. ONE OF EIGHTEEN!!! I guess going 1 of 18 would explain why they never tried to convert on 4th down.

* When you see Michigan defenders moving before the snap to confuse the offense, those are called defensive adjustments. Matt Millen, for all his ham-handed announcing* (yeah, we all get it, follow the fullback,) he made one insightful comment. One in 3.5 hours. He pointed out Michigan's defensive backs moving around before the snap and he said Michigan was trying to bait Maryland into making a throw. In this day and age of offenses eschewing the huddle, hurrying to the line, surveying the defense for 10-15 seconds, and then making the playcall, why do defenses play right into the offense's hands by standing still? This bothered me and all the Michigan faithful during the past several years, but particularly the last couple. We would give away a blitz and stay with that defensive playcall. I watched the defense more carefully after the Millen comment and always saw someone, whether they were a defensive back or a linebacker or a down-lineman move before the snap. It was glorious. We have more talent on defense and we are not going to let you out-scheme us.

*I looked up ham-handed and found these synonyms: clumsy, bungling, incompetent, amateurish, inept, unskillful, inexpert, maladroit, gauche, awkward, inefficient, bumbling, useless, pus-filled blister. Yep, they all apply to Matt Millen, yet he has the gall to call Jake Rudock myopic?!?

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 1

Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 1

Submitted by ST3 on September 5th, 2015 at 4:57 PM

     How was your off-season? I could say mine was good, but that's just a qualitative assessment. Here in boxscore land, we rely on numbers to tell a story. Every summer, my company gives out pedometers and encourages its employees to track their steps. At the end of the step-tracking, the health assessments begin. The insurance companies use the health assessments to set the coverage rates they charge my company. I'm sure those two items aren't related at all. I cranked out over 850K steps during the 8 week step-tracking period. I felt so good about that, I kept the pedometer on for another two weeks and went over 1 million steps in 10 weeks. What does all that mean? I don't know, but they are nice round numbers.

     Besides the step tracking, my new year's resolution was to do 10,000 push-ups this year. I'm on pace, having done ~7,000 so far. With all that walking (hey, when you get older, any sort of movement is good,) and the push-ups, I was hoping my health assessment would be improved over last year. I went to get my numbers Friday morning and found out that my blood pressure is still a little high. The numbers are in the "pre-hypertension" range. My glucose reading was still just a little above normal, so I fall in the "pre-diabetic" range. Finally, my BMI is no better than last year, so I'm still pre-obese.

     Like me, the University of Michigan football team has spent the past 8 months trying to improve. They brought in a new coach with a track record of success. They trained like never before, eschewing film study to spend all 4 daily allotted hours on the practice field. They entered a submarine (metaphorical, I suppose, but with Harbaugh who can say for sure) and focused exclusively on football during fall practice. So have they improved? I submit that the numbers will show that the quarterbacking is pre-efficient, the running game is pre-effective, and the defense is pre-dominating.


The Two Jakes
* Jake Rudock was everything I was hoping he would be, except for the three interceptions. He threw X+1 yard passes on third and X. He completed 27 of 43 passes for a 62.8 completion percentage. I'm thrilled to see a number there north of 60%. He passed for 279 yards, good for 6.5 yards per attempt.
* I would define an efficient quarterback as one who completes 60+% of his passes for 7+ YPA, with 0-1 INTs/game. Jake was close to meeting those numbers, except fo the three interception. After one game against a pretty good defense, it says here that he is a pre-efficient passer. All he needs to do is get more comfortable throwing to Grant Perry and hit on a couple long balls at normal elevation under reasonable conditions. I think the ball sailed on him on the long throws due to the elevation, much like baseballs at Coors Field.
* Jake Butt in 2015 >>> Jake Butt in 2014. He appeared fully healthy and a near lock for the Mackey Award. Butt tallied 93 yards on 8 catches, including a ridiculous catch for a TD with 2 Ute defenders draped all over him.

Amazing Amara Darbaugh
* As good as Butt was, Darboh led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 101 yards and a TD. He's realizing how nice it is to have another receiver actually block for you on a bubble screen.
* Nine receivers caught passes from Rudock. He did have his two favorites in Darboh and Butt, but he also distributed 11 completions among 7 other receivers. That will make it hard for opposing defenses to prepare for Michigan. There'll be no more just shutting down Gallon or Funchess. Several guys can hurt you on this offense. I expect to see more contributions from the new guys, Perry, Bunting, and Isaac, as they get more familiar with the offense. I expect to see fewer contributions from A.J. Williams. He just showed no ability to separate from defenders.

* Since Brian inexplicably didn't use "Jackhammer" for his best performer award, I'm going to use it for the running backs. I think jackhammer is a fitting description for these guys because in practice, a jackhammer doesn't really go anywhere. It bangs and bangs and bangs at the concrete until the concrete finally breaks. I expect what you'll see this year is Harbaugh giving Smith, Isaac (and the occasional carry to Kerridge) carry after carry where they bang out 3 yards per, until the fourth quarter when the defense breaks and the Michigan running game starts cranking out 7 yards per carry. The net effect will be around 4.5 ypc, but we'll be able to win games in the fourth quarter by controlling the clock and limiting the opposition's chances. Older fans like myself will smile knowingly as the Harbaughfense cranks out 7 minute drives in the late stages of close games, hopefully finishing with 7 points while salting away another victory.
* De'Veon Smith got the majority of the carries and yards (17 for 47, 2.8 ypc.)
* Derrick Green only gained 1 yard on 2 carries. I was waiting for him to enter the game as a change of pace back. The pace changed alright, it just got slower.

Tacos and Peppers
* Bolden and Morgan led the way with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively.
* Ojemudia and Taco each had a sack that cost Utah 3 yards, a mini-sack if you will.
* Wormley led the way with 3 TFLs. Michigan had 9 TFLs total for 21 yards. By comparison, Sack Lake City Utah had no sacks and only 3 TFLs for 3 yards. We've come a long way on the O-Line.

ST3's STSTs (these are my Special Teams Specific Thoughts)
* Many have complained about our less than special teams the past few seasons. During these discussions, you'll often see someone say, special teams are 1/3 of the game. I did a quick check of the last few games last season and found out that ~1/6 of the plays run during a game are special teams plays. In this game, Michigan ran 72 plays and Utah had 70 total offensive plays. There were 26 assorted punts, kickoffs, PATs, and field goal tries. 26/168=0.155. Once again, roughly 1/6 of the total plays were special teams plays.
* Of course, at altitude, it can be argued that the kickoffs were merely ceremonial as only 1 of the 9 kickoffs total was returned.

Baughscore Bits
* Brian's game recap stated, "You have read this column before." Well, I have seen this boxscore before as well. In an otherwise evenly matched game, turnovers swung the game to our opponents.
* First downs were even at 20-20, but Michigan only gained 3 first downs by rushing. I hope that's the low point for the season. It better be.
* Total offense yards was slightly in Michigan's favor, 355-337, with Michigan cranking out 4.9 yards per play to Utah's 4.8.
* Although it didn't seem like it, Michigan was actually better on 3rd down, converting 6 of 16 to Utah's 3 of 13.
* Neither team had a QBH. Try telling that to Jake Rudock.

Hexadecimal Points
* All Hail the Return of Hexadecimal Numbers. With the loss of Legends Jerseys and the re-retiring of retired numbers, we've got a numbers crunch. James Ross III is listed as #1F and Mason Cole is 5C.
* With all the talk of white pants, one thing was overlooked. The first initials of the Glasgows and the Coles were removed. I don't expect Mason to be confused with Brian, and the Glasgows play on opposite sides of the line so that should be OK.

There's a Cat on the Field
* Lineswoman Catherine Conti, to be precise. This was the first time a woman reffed a Pac-12 game. I don't recall if a Michigan game has had a female ref before. Maybe WD can help me out.
* Refs weren't noticed often, which is a good thing.

No real closing thoughts today, except to say that as far as beginnings go, this was a fine one but for the final score.

Inside the Boxscore - Team 135, The Game

Inside the Boxscore - Team 135, The Game

Submitted by ST3 on November 29th, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Boxscore Link:

Play-by-Play Link:

     The astute reader will notice that I put the links up first this week. The reason being is that I don't expect anyone to read through what I have to say, except for my brother, Michael Thomas (YTMT.) Ohio State's Michael Thomas (NTMT) is an imposter, I tell you! I'm not even sure why I'm bothering to write this. But write I will because I had an idea two weeks ago, and I'm not letting it go to waste.

     When I was a kid, I heard that Bo and Woody preferred to run the ball because when you pass the ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad. The Michigan offense of the past two years has redefined that calculus. I now believe that when you pass the ball, six things can happen and five of them are bad. Of course, you have the original two bad items, the incompletion and the interception. I've seen enough of Michigan's offense to realize that we have to add these additional bad outcomes: 1) throwing screen passes for negative yardage, 2) getting sacked, and 3) getting strip-sacked.

     In case there was any doubt, Michigan drove the point home to start the game. On our first play, Drake Johnson ran for 7 yards. On the next play, Devin Gardner threw an interception. On the next drive, Michigan threw a screen pass for -5 yards, ran the ball for 15 yards, took a sack, ran for 4, and took another sack. Three good running plays and four bad passing plays. The second drive ended with yet another poor special teams play, as Jalin Marshall returned a punt 23 yards.

     After the Rutgers game, someone asked the MGoBoard to sum up the season in a song. I went with Johnny Cash's version of Hurt (I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real.) While I still think that song is an apt metaphor for this season, there can be only one song that describes where we're at this weekend. I present to you, the Sunday's, "Here's Where The Story Ends," with commentary provided by yours truly. If you press play and read the following notes, you'll find they sync up like The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the MOON.

People I know, places I go
Make me feel tongue tied

I think I was aware somthing happened, but I'm not fully aware

I can see how, people look down
They're on the inside

Brady's ultimate insider, Dave Brandon resigned this season. Does he have any support left from insiders?

Here's where the story ends

The story ends with a 31-20 record at Michigan with declining win totals year after year

People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side

Yeah, you can say that again

I can see how, people look down
I'm on the outside

You will be soon (wow, this is starting to sound harsh. But don't blame me, I didn't write this song.)

Here's, where the story ends
Ooh here's, where the story ends

The story ends with your fifth year senior quarterback being outplayed by a freshman and a third string QB

It's that little souvenir, of a terrible year

The tent stake?

Which makes my eyes feel sore

Watching Michigan this season made my eyes feel sore

Oh I never should have said, the books that you read
Were all I loved you for

I'll admit, graduating 69 of 69 seniors is a good thing

It's that little souvenir, of a terrible year

The two bottles of coke?

Which makes me wonder why
And it's the memories of the shed,

In year 4, Michigan was on the wrong end of woodshed games including:
0-31 versus a mediocre Notre Dame team
10-26 versus Utah
14-30 versus Minnesota
11-35 versus Sparty

that make me turn red

No! Anything but red!

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Losses to Minnesota, Rutgers, and Maryland provided the biggest surprises of this season

Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired

Tired of the losing, tired of the miscues, tired of the turnovers, tired of losing the places you go, i.e., road games.

I can see how people look down
I'm on the outside

Here's, where the story ends
Ooh here's, where the story ends

With Michigan leading #6 Ohio State 14-7 late in the first half, Michigan punted with 15 seconds left on the play clock. Unsurprisingly, Ohio State drove down the field and scored a TD with 7 seconds left.

It's that little souvenir, of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore

The "KEEP BRADY HOKE" banner that flew over Spartan Stadium?

And who ever would've thought, the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for

Oh the devil in me said, go down to the shed
I know where I belong

But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong

It's that little souvenir, of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside

I know, it's the "Quit Drinking and Go To Bed" novelty t-shirt I bought from the MGoStore!

So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise

Here's, where the story ends
Ooh here's, where the story ends

With Michigan down by 14 points, Brady Hoke used his last timeout with 1:12 left to extend the game by one more play. Sorry Brady, you're now out of timeouts. The story ends. Your story. But there's always next year and another story to tell.

See you in '15.