Losing Denard Robinson and finding an offensive identity

Losing Denard Robinson and finding an offensive identity

Submitted by Blazefire on October 27th, 2013 at 12:43 AM

I see so, so many people complaining about the lack of a steady offensive concept, and an effective one, and I'm trying to understand the complaints as they relate to this year. I want to know what other people think as far as how the loss of a record setter affects a team going forward.

The past four years, Denard Robinson has been the face of Michigan Football. When the offense was working, he was amazing. When the offense wasn't working, he was still amazing. How many times did a play or an entire game almost fall apart entirely only to become "DO SOMETHING DENARD! Oh, wow... did you see what he did? DID YA!?!"

What I want to know is, what do fans think is a reasonable amount of time for a program to find its identity going forward following four years of DENARD DO SOMETHING football? Pre season? One game? Four? One Season?

I personally think that once you no longer have, nor expect to have, Denard Robinson\ in your backfield, it makes sense that you would at first try to go the other way, to bring some sense into your game, since so often, plays with Denard made no sense, and that's what made them awesome. I would, in fact, expect somewhere between one half and one full season, the team would start to figure out what works and what doesn't following four years of having a guy that made nothing and everything work.

What's your timeline?

Michigan First downs in the First Half

Michigan First downs in the First Half

Submitted by tasnyder01 on October 20th, 2013 at 2:29 AM

Since I've seen a lot of arguments regarding what we do on first downs, and a few people think that Borges still called a bad game re: first downs, I've tried to quantify the play-calls on our first downs through the first half. (Sorry about the table. It's not working for some weird reason?)

PA to gallon Gallon drops it
Toussaint run 9 yards
Pass Complete to Gallon for 15 yards
Toussaint Run 10 yards
Gardner Run 13 yards and TD
PA screen 70 yards Gallon to IND 11
Toussaint Run -4 yards
Toussaint run 5 yards
Pass INC
Green run 7 yards
Green rush 2 yards
Pass Incomplete
Pass attempt Sack for -5 yards
Green run 3 yards
Pass To Gallon, 17 yards
Toussaint run 5 yards
Pass INC (to Gallon)
Pass to Gallon for ten yards
Green rush -1 yard
Gardner rush 14 yards, and new first down
Pass 12 yards, to Jackson
That's a 10/9/2 pass/rush/Gardner-run ratio. (I can't recall if those runs were designed or scrambles, so I'm putting them in their own category).  That's a pretty good ratio, and there were never more than 2 first-down runs in a row. We opened the game up with a PA to Gallon, and most of those passes on first down were PA.
I really don't see how anyone could say this wasn't a great game in terms of playcalling, but that's besides the point. The main point is to quantify this new style of play-calling, and to show that Borges did adjust to the failures of the PSU game, or at least the first-down playcalling failure.
Now, will this type of play-calling continue? I don't see how it couldn't. This new balanced attack just put up record numbers, whereas the old style put up the wrong type of record numbers. And to those saying "we only played IU, so these stats don't mean anything", I really don't know what to tell you. We just broke records, records which also got posted on horrible defenses. Yes, IU is not good on defense. We still put up numbers that were better than anyone else who has ever played crappy defenses. And in the passing game, which I hope shows Borges where we need to go in the future.

Rodriguez's 2010 Scoring Offense = 3rd best in his career thus far

Rodriguez's 2010 Scoring Offense = 3rd best in his career thus far

Submitted by markusr2007 on November 29th, 2010 at 12:53 AM

I know. I know. Nobody cares about offense, and "It's all about defense GODAMMIT!" 

Alright already. I get it. Sheesh!

As many fellow UM fans are surely sharpening their pitchforks and drenching torches in kerosene this weekend, I just thought it was interesting to note that Rodriguez's 3rd team at Michigan racked up 412 points this year.   That's his 3rd best scoring offense since he became a head coach in 2001 at West Virginia. The previous bests:

1st  - 2007: West Virginia 11-2 (515 points)

2nd - 2006: West Virginia 11-2 (505 points)

3rd - 2010: Michigan 7-5 (412 points)

4th - 2005: West Virginia 11-1 (385 points)

On the other hand, Michigan's defense surrendered 406 points to the opposition.   This is RR's worst ever scoring defense as a head coach by a wide margin (104 points).

Rodriguez's worst scoring defense at WVU was his 2nd team (2002, 9-4 record) when the Mountaineers gave up 302 points (13 games).    Rodriguez's defenses at Michigan have surrendered 347 (2008), 330 (2009) and 406 (2010).  Pretty damning, Godammit.





Football Outsiders Says M Offense Has NOT Declined In Big10 Play

Football Outsiders Says M Offense Has NOT Declined In Big10 Play

Submitted by Enjoy Life on October 23rd, 2010 at 11:42 AM

I posted a question @ FO (Brain Fremeau - FEI) about Ms Offense in OOC games versus Conference games. Fremeau's reply:

From best to worst, here are Michigan's game-by-game OFEI results (opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency), including national rank and "relevance" category for each data point:

1.766 (5) vs. Iowa (Med)
1.383 (18) vs. Bowling Green (Low)
1.229 (38) vs. Michigan State (Med)
1.223 (39) vs. Connecticut (Med)
0.679 (176) at Indiana (Low)
0.342 (305) at Notre Dame (High)

I think the data supports your conclusion that Michigan's offensive efficiency hasn't dropped off in conference vs. non-conference play.

More info here: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/fei-ratings/2010/fei-building-resume


Prediction-More Tate

Prediction-More Tate

Submitted by myantoniobass … on October 20th, 2010 at 9:02 PM

It's a bye week, time for us to play future know-it-alls. What % of snaps will Tate see the rest of the year, assuming Denard is healthy?  And why?  I guess the more popular answer will be 0%.  The most shared fact will be Tate's 2 INTs against Iowa, even though 1 of them was when the game was out of reach.  However, I disagree with the 0% camp.

I'll predict he sees 30%, but it moves close to 50% for both Wisconsin and O-state.  Tate put up 21 pts in less than 2 quarters, while Denard put up 24 pts. in his last 6 quarters.   Also, forget the film/prep for Tate argument, we were clearly in a pass heavy situation the entire attempted comeback.   

I'd love to see Denard return to September form.  But I believe Iowa and State revealed a game plan that others will replicate.  He still had good rushing stats against Iowa, but after Tate's bombs to Hemingway and his poise in the red zone, I think they have to platoon him at least a bit.

Halftime mal-adjustment in the Pats and UM

Halftime mal-adjustment in the Pats and UM

Submitted by michelin on December 11th, 2009 at 2:22 PM

I was listening to a local analysis of problems the Patriots are having (see link below). An announcer noted that the Patriots have trouble adjusting at half time. They often go into the half with a lead, the other team adjusts to what they are doing, and then the Pats offense sputters. It's a new problem for the Pats' formerly high-octane attack.

Yet, it sounded all too familiar. Since UM had similar half time adjustment problems, it might be useful to consider what the announcers said was a cause of the failure of the Pats offense to adapt. They didn’t trust their O-line. So, they kept everybody (including the tight end) in to “max protect.” That limited their playbook, leading to the use of many of the same rushing and passing plays. I wondered if this analysis might also be pertinent to UM, given the near invisibility of UM’s tight end and the O-line problems after Molk went out (not to mention the limited confidence in freshmen QBs in newly learned plays). Another reason to “max protect” would be Tate’s injury problems. I realize that our offense was a far cry from that of the Pats, yet our offense too seemed incapable of change and our problems were legion after the first half, especially during the latter part of the season.

I apologize if this discussion is repetitive given much earlier discussions. But I wondered if this link might provide some new information. Since I haven’t had the time or skills to analyze the UM offense, and since Brian posted quite a lot of analysis on this site, I wondered what other peoples’ thoughts were on our mal-adjusted half-time. Is the analysis of the Pats' problems pertinent?

(PS the video linked below is pretty brief, if you want to listen to it)


Offensive Big Ten Football

Offensive Big Ten Football

Submitted by Jeff on November 22nd, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Pop quiz hotshot, who has the best offense in the Big Ten? If you don't know the answer or want to follow along with some simple stat manipulation, read and find out.

As usual, 12 data points is not enough to draw solid conclusions but if you didn't enjoy making statistical interpretations about college football you probably wouldn't be reading mgoblog.

Scoring Offense

As everyone knew, going into the OSU game Michigan had the best scoring offense in the Big Ten.  Unfortunately that 10 spot we put up drops us all the way to 4th.  How do we drop so quickly from 1st to 4th?  What it really means is that we are in the 1st tier of offenses and a virtual tie for 2nd.  If we had made that field goal (or gotten a safety) we would have been 2nd place in the Big Ten.

So how does the Big Ten stack up?  Well, Wisconsin is the best scoring offense in the conference.  Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State make up the rest of tier 1.  Purdue*, Northwestern, Indiana and Iowa are the tier 2 offenses.  Finally, Minnesota and Illinois bring up the rear.

Points per game Standard Deviation
Wisconsin 31.09 11.1
Penn St 29.67 12.54
Michigan St 29.58 10.93
Michigan 29.50 15.6
Ohio St 29.25 8.8
Purdue 27.83 13.27
Northwestern 25.08 9.88
Indiana 23.50 8.28
Iowa 23.08 9.41
Minnesota 21.58 13.84
Illinois 20.2 14.25

The main point to take away is that our offense was comparable to the Big Ten's offenses this year.  Would you have said that last year?  The other important thing to note is the standard deviation.  Michigan was the most inconsistent of all Big Ten teams.  Shocking statistical analysis there.  Isn't it a good thing we can look at the numbers to see things we could never have known by watching the games?

Cupcakes aren't a high fiber diet

Again as everyone knew, part of that number 1 ranking was built out of baby seal carcasses.  Michigan wasn't the only team that played a cupcake though.  How can we adjust for these blowout games?

Well, one possibility is to look at performance against average points allowed.  However, this takes some work and is already covered in great detail by The Mathlete.  I prefer a quick and dirty approach.  We take out the high and low score for each team to get more of a sense of what the consistent performance of the offense is.

Adjusted PPG Std Dev
Wisconsin 31.89 8.49
Penn St 29.70 8.92
Michigan St 29.30 8.56
Ohio St 29.10 6.67
Purdue 28.20 8.00
Michigan 28.10 11.33
Northwestern 24.1 6.97
Indiana 23.70 5.50
Iowa 22.50 7.01
Minnesota 21.7 11.66
Illinois 19.63 10.7

The only change in the adjusted points per game is that Michigan drops from 4th to 6th.  It still remains in tier 1 though, along with Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and this time Purdue.  Northwestern falls more in line with the tier 2 offenses along with Indiana and Iowa.  Minnesota and Illinois are still tier 3, although Illinois should probably be it's own tier 4.  By the way, who wants to guess how many of the high scores that got eliminated were scored against Michigan?**

What does this all mean?

Everybody will have their own interpretation of these stats.  When combined with the eyeball test, I think that it means our offense has made a lot of improvement over last year.  It's not quite the offensive juggernaut we hope to see soon, but a lot of that could be explained by a true freshman QB and Molk's absence.  We'll see how much more they improve next year, but I think there is a real reason for a lot of hope on the offensive side of the ball.

* Purdue is hard to judge because it is basically in between tier 1 and tier 2.  There is a gap between the tier 1 teams and Purdue so I made them tier 2.  I probably should have included the Boilermakers in tier 1 though, as we'll see in the next section.

** Trick question.  Surprisingly, only Wisconsin scored their season-high against us.  Although, Illinois and Indiana came within a touchdown of their season highs when they played us.

45 Points in 20 Minutes of Possession Time

45 Points in 20 Minutes of Possession Time

Submitted by markusr2007 on September 21st, 2009 at 12:34 AM

I was surprised to see Michigan's time of possession vs EMU at only 20 minutes Saturday. EMU held the ball for the remaining 40. Against future ball control teams this year like Wisconsin, MSU and perhaps Ohio State, Michigan's offense will be under considerable pressure to be more effective with its opportunities(score touchdowns, not field goals).

UM finally appears to have some decent offensive weaponry (if they can stay healthy).

After 3 games it's refreshing to see Michigan leading the Big Ten in scoring (1st place with 38 points/game) and yards per game 439 (2nd place to Purdue has 440/game).