Unverified Voracity Debates The Number Three Comment Count

Brian February 23rd, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Brief vacation note. I'll be limited Friday and Monday as I visit some friends. I don't think it'll be that noticeable Friday but it's likely there aren't going to be any major columns Monday or Tuesday. I won't be able to catch the hockey game since they're not on TV, but I will write something up on the Purdue game whenever I get a chance.

Northwestern. Via mgovideo:

Podcast. I guested on The Solid Verbal. They asked me if I could think of anything wrong with Brady Hoke and I came up empty. It's been a good 13 months.

Beilein recruiting vs. development. I'm not entirely clear on whether Dan Hanner's recruiting and coaching rankings have methodology gaps that would particularly affect John Beilien but the general idea is to evaluate a coach's recruiting on the ORtg of his freshmen and his development of players on the movement of that ORtg as the players age. Survey says:

Coach Team Tenure All Recruiting Development Overall
John Calipari Kentucky 3 10 1st 35th 1st
Thad Matta Ohio St. 8 10 3rd 12th 2nd
Bo Ryan Wisconsin 10 10 17th 2nd 3rd
Mike Krzyzewski Duke 10 10 4th 18th 4th
John Beilein Michigan 5 10 14th 8th 5th
Lorenzo Romar Washington 10 10 19th 4th 6th
Mike Montgomery California 4 6 25th 5th 7th
Bill Self Kansas 9 10 7th 21st 8th
Rick Barnes Texas 10 10 2nd 37th 9th
Jim Boeheim Syracuse 10 10 6th 29th 10th

There are some obvious holes in the evaluations here since they only take offense into account, they assume a guy like Burke's performance is all recruiting and no development when he's had on average a half-year of development by the end of his freshman year, etc. But they do make the case that Beilein's recruiting at Michigan has been horrendously underrated, especially since the defense is more than holding its own in this year's Big Ten. Throw it on the pile of evidence indicating Beilein has a great eye for players.

See also: Trey Burke, nation's #3 freshman according to CBS.

It might behoove us to move to a less three-mad offense. Emphasis on "might"—obviously there is something going on with Beilein's offense that works. But in Ken Pomeroy's ongoing quest to discredit defensive three point efficiency, he's doing collateral damage to offensive three point efficiency:



Oh dear. The defensive plot is just a random scattering of data, as has been discussed previously, but the offensive version isn’t much better. If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.

In contrast, two-point shooting correlates well. Pomeroy admits he doesn't know what the impact on strategy is, and neither do I. This could be an argument for Michigan to move its game inside the line, but it's not hard to see Michigan's #6 two-point shooting as a number that benefits greatly from Michigan's long-range bombing. As long as Michigan is going four-out, one-in they're going to have to take a lot of threes to stretch opponents into giving them decent opportunities from two.

Thirty-eight is way too many, though. Right now the Wildcats are obviously right with Michigan; in the future when McGary, Horford, Glenn Robinson, and Stauskas give M a huge size and athleticism advantage bombing it from the outside is asking to get upset. I wonder if we see Michigan cut back on the bombs in their new era of talent superiority.


Meet the new GERG? Iowa's new offensive coordinator:

If you were hoping that the Greg Davis rumors were nothing but smoke and disinformation, well, today is not your day. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, a gentleman who is about as well-connected to the Texas football program as Mack Brown himself, reported today that Greg Davis had accepted the Iowa offensive coordinator position.

Davis was run out of Texas on a rail after Colt McCoy graduated and the offense collapsed. Before that he'd told Vince Young to run around out there to good effect and transitioned to a pretty good McCoy-led passing spread, so this is not exactly hiring a guy whose only success in the past ten years was a one-year blip (Greg Robinson).

Still, a 61-year-old retread who cratered that much talent has Iowa fans shrugging. The consensus at BHGP is "decent"; if things go south this fall they'll turn quickly. Looks like Jacobi had to rewrite his headline after his initial take:


Also on the url of the above Prevail and Ride cartoon as uploaded to SBN:


Mattison is probably not quaking at the hire.

Elsewhere in Iowa blogging. The High Porch Picnic evaluates Michigan's recent recruiting from an Iowa POV and is a bit bothered that Hoke and Ferentz seem to have a lot more overlap than the Hawkeyes did with the previous Michigan regime. If I was Iowa I'd be more concerned with Michigan's sudden relevance in Illinois, a place they've struggled in for the past five years.

This reminds me to elaborate on something I mentioned in passing on the Solid Verbal: the current configuration of offenses in the Big Ten footprint is advantage Michigan recruiting. The two schools who do the best job of competing on the trail, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are now spread offenses. The second tier run pro-styles. Michigan looks like it's in a phase where it's rarely going to lose a battle against the second tier; meanwhile they should have an advantage with certain recruits in hostile territory simply because their opponents won't have a good place to put them.

Michigan's in a good position to starve Michigan State and, to a lesser extent, Iowa of offensive talent while bolstering their class with a guy like Jake Butt who Ohio State might have been pursuing hotly if they were still running a Tressel offense.

Side note: the impressive thing about Hoke's progress in Illinois is beating out ND. Remember when going up against Notre Dame was totally pointless, especially in Illinois? Yeah. We'll see what happens with Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell; if Michigan lands them that will be a huge statement.

List o' jerkos. CBS's Eye on College Football lists the 30 BCS schools who voted to override the multi-year scholarship legislation and points out that their real desire is to avoid giving out multi-year scholarships themselves:

The motivation in Austin, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Norman isn't that they can't hand out four-year scholarships, it's that they simply don't want to.

Of course, the legislation doesn't mean any school -- BCS, mid-major, or otherwise -- is required to offer multiple-year scholarships. But since that might put the schools that don't at a recruiting disadvantage against schools that do, the Texases (and USCs, and Alabamas) have tried to prevent anyone from offering them.

In short: because these schools don't want to promise their athletes a full four-year college education, they've decided the athletes at other schools shouldn't have the benefit of that promise, either.

But whatever, they failed. Wisconsin was the only Big Ten school to ask for an override. Their football team signed up with most of the rest of the conference in offering four-year rides, though, so why is unknown. IIRC, their hockey team has a bit of reputation for cutting kids loose. That might be it.

Now the Free Press won't exist for anyone else, either. Gannett hastens its own decline:

“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, [Gannett] president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.

The Free Press is a Gannett paper, so to get your Drew Sharp fix you'll have to start kicking in subscription dollars. I'm sure the line will be lengthy: Gannett projects they'll increase subscription revenues by 25%—$100 million per year. Think of all the press conference rehashes, trolling, and Mitch Albom columns about angels you'll be missing out on.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not going to steal Ace's recruiting roundup thunder entirely but just… holy hopping ham sandwiches:

The Levenberry family is looking for a paternal figure to guide son E.J.'s career. It's found him in Ann Arbor.

E.J. Levenberry Jr. said this week that Michigan is the lead school for his services. The ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker prospect from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton referenced Wolverines coach Brady Hoke as one of the primary reasons why.

"He kind of reminds me of my dad, the way he carries himself," Levenberry said.

Add Levenberry, Isaac, Treadwell, and O'Daniel—all players who Michigan reputedly leads for now—and that's nine Rivals 100 recruits, three guys who would be consensus five-stars if rankings hold, and a class that will compete for the best in the country. They'll probably lose at least one of those guys and rankings do not hold*; even so… good God.

*[Because there's not many places to go but down and as the year goes along recruiting analysts will turn up top flight talent they missed the first time around. See: Ondre Pipkins. Even if Rivals's opinion of Jake Butt doesn't change at all he's likely to slide 20-30 spots by Signing Day.]

Briefly. Ohio State fans are now the ones annoyed by the "spread can't work in B10 lol" meme propagated by hobos, people who think wrestling is real, and newspaper columnists—all the same people. They get bonus annoyance because Rich Rodriguez just "proved" this by having a quarterback run for 1700 yards. As I said: people who think wrestling is real.

So they're trying to dispel the Rodriguez stink:

Rodriguez largely failed to evolve his offense past the spread's origins.  Chris Brown, for instance, prophetically predicated at the beginning of Rodriguez's Michigan tenure that Rodriguez's passing game lacked the conceptual nature necessary to succeed as teams adapted to the spread's basic tenets.  Nor did Rodriguez (for the most part) diversiify his offense in the way an Oregon has to counteract things such as scrape exchanges.  Michigan never embraced plays such as the midline option, inverted veer, power or counter trey like others.  The upshot is that, while Michigan's offense was largely succesful once Denard Robinson was in place, it never hummed in the way Oregon's offense did (particularly against better teams) to overcome Michigan's defense or special team liabilities. 

That's not really true. Rodriguez adapted his system to use Lloyd's collection of tight ends, burned many defenses with plays specifically designed to blow up scrape exchanges, and eventually shelved large sections of the old playbook in favor of having Denard Robinson run QB isos and stretches, pairing those with "aigh he's open" moments when a Robinson run turned out to be a pass. The reason 31 points against Penn State and 28 with a missed chip shot field goal against Wisconsin were bad performances didn't have much to do with the offense.

Rodriguez's offense never reached the high-pitched hum of Oregon's because he never had a returning starter at quarterback and the only non-freshman was a breathtakingly green Denard Robinson. Also his tailbacks were pretty bad. If OSU fans are looking for narratives to combat hobos, "we'll have an assload of talent relative to Rodriguez" is your best bet.

Etc.: Tremendous has an even more detailed breakdown of Hoke's appearance at the Glazier Clinic. Rodger Sherman narrowly survived the Michigan-Northwestern game but the prognosis is grim. Michigan's off to a healthy lead in the name-based recruiting class derby but there's a "Zanquanarious Washington" out there—they will not win. Blue wall! You've already seen Luke Winn's decision to put us in SI's "magic eight" teams from which a national champion will come. That seems like a bad bet to me, but whatever. TTB interviews Jehu Chesson, who I will probably call "Jehuu Caulcrick" at some point during his career.



February 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

It may seem obvious to say that 38 is too many three-pointers to take, but the problem with a stat such as number of three-pointers taken is that it says nothing about whether or not the shots were good ones to take or not.

I didn't watch the Northwestern game, but from the radio call and reading about the game afterward, it's clear that the defense Northwestern used dictated that Michigan take as many threes as it did. David Merritt commented several times during the game that the three-pointers the Michigan players were taking were "good looks"--even ones they didn't make. Beilein told the team to keep shooting the threes, and they eventually made enough to win the game. It's hard to argue with the coach's strategy given that it worked.

Eye of the Tiger

February 23rd, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

YES, a large part of the blame for losing those games falls on the atrocious defense (how many times did they just run up the middle in a row again??). But our offense also failed to score when the games were contestable.  Repeatedly.  

FTR, we did start scoring once the games were no longer in question, but that pretty much fits the 11W argument.  Our offense was good...just not nearly good enough to make up for deficiencies on defense and special teams.  If it had been, more games would have looked like Illinois '10.  

MI Expat NY

February 23rd, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

I know this is pointless and stupid, but... Against PSU, Michigan scored 10 points in 5 first half drives.  Not a great performance, but not bad either.  Game would have been far more "contestable" had the defense not given up 28 points on 5 drives.  We scored on the next three drives to cut the lead to 7 with 9:30 left.  We finally faltered again on our last possession.  31 points on 8 drives while the game was in doubt is good offense.

Against Wisconsin, missed a short field goal on 4 first half drives.  Again, not good, but even great offenses go through those stretches.  Game would have been a different story if the two quick TDs to start the third didn't just cut the lead to 10.  We proceeded to cut the lead to 10 once again with two and a half minutes left in the third.  Three TD's and a missed FG on seven possessions while the game was still in play is good offense.

Point to the OSU game and the Mississippi St. games as struggles against good defenses.  Wisconsin and PSU were NOT on the offense.  To say it was is to hold that offense to an unattainable standard.

Eye of the Tiger

February 23rd, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

11W paraphrase: the Michigan offense wasn't good enough to bail out a terrible defense and terrible special teams.  Case in point: Wisconsin and PSU

Brian retort paraphrase: yes it was, we scored respectable amounts of points against Wisconsin and PSU...the defense was just really really bad.  

No one in their right mind would say that our defense should get off the hook for our 6 losses ion 2010.  But if you can't score when you need points, and then fall so far behind you can't catch up...then how is that not, at least partially, "on the offense?"  As you point out, those games would have been a lot different with a few more touchdowns.  But we didn't score those points.  This was also an issue against Iowa, which went up on us 28-7.  

IF our offense had been good enough to bail out our terrible defense and terrible special teams, then we would have seen a lot more games like the one against Illinois.  Instead, 5 of our 6 losses go into one of two categories:

1. Games where we couldn't score (Ohio, Miss St.)
2. Games where we couldn't score until the game was out of reach (Iowa, PSU, Wisconsin)

[Michigan State is the exception...that was actually a close game that turned into a second half collapse, a la '09.] 

Conclusion: our actually good offense was not actually good enough to compensate for our defensive deficiencies.



MI Expat NY

February 23rd, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

Your argument was that we failed to score when the game was "contestable."  The reason that's unfair, is that with average-to-decent defenses, those games would have been a lot closer when the offense got going.  The end result is that you're punishing them for not scoring just about every time they touched the ball, something you can't expect even great offenses to acomplish.  The standard for whether the offense was good should be completely independent of the quality of the defense.  

Even in your own argument, in every game in the second category, we brought the score into winnable range, and I'm not talking,  force a three-and out  so we can get the ball back with 30 seconds left.   By no means were any of these games out of reach, or at least they wouldn't have been had our defense been remotely competent.  

Even Iowa, which was actually the best example of your second category, we scored to get within 7 with 6:30 left after three turnovers and a blocked FG.  We couldn't stop them, eventually missed one tackle that could have given us a shot, and Iowa was able to put the game away.  

Again, this is stupid.  The offense wasn't perfect.  It was a complete failure against OSU (I'm willing to discount the bowl game a little bit, as there seemed to be a lot going on), and it wasn't absolutely perfect when it had to be to make up for other team deficiencies.  But you're crazy if you don't think there was evidence that they system could work in the Big Ten.


February 23rd, 2012 at 8:11 PM ^

I am crazy. The system the way it was recruited, implemented and game planned, wasn't going to work in the Big Ten to make Michigan a regular Big Ten Champion again.  The good teams with big physical athletes on their defenses had figured it out and could put their foot on our necks any time they wanted.   Not that it was easy, which probably accounted for the late game frantic touchdowns more than anything. The only advantage I'll concede it gave Michigan against those teams was they normally didn't see it all year except for the one game.   We still didn't cash in until the other team had checked out.

If this year taught us anything is that good offense is about efficiency (holding onto the ball, converting on third down, points) when it matters, not explosiveness when it really doesn't.



Eye of the Tiger

February 24th, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

That's the ultimate question.  Yards are meaningless if they don't produce points.  I saw 3 games where we couldn't score enough until the game was out of reach, 1 where we couldn't score enough after a good first half, and 2 games where we couldn't score at all.  

That means we had 6 games--all losses--where our offense couldn't score enough to bail out our atrocious defense.  That's the 11W argument--not that our offense was bad, because it wasn't--but that it wasn't good enough to make up for how bad our defense had grown.  To be perfectly honest, I don't understand how anyone can look at 2010 at conclude differently.  Those Wisconsin, PSU and Iowa games are case in point: when the games were in question, we didn't score consistently.  

HAD WE DONE SO, then we might be having a different conversation.  But we didn't, so we're not.  


El Jeffe

February 23rd, 2012 at 4:57 PM ^

Right. I forgot that the only way to have a good offense is to be so dominant that someone couldn't cherry pick one or two games, misread the data, and still conclude that you had a good offense. What M offense of the past would hold up to that standard?

Think of the best offense of the past decade or so, say, the 2000 Henson/Thomas offense. Fucking hell, they only scored 20 against UCLA? 13 against Wisconsin? 14 against MSU? Gawd, they sucked right?

Eye of the Tiger

February 24th, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

That's only 1 game, and everyone has a bad game or two.  

In 2010 we lost 6, 5 of which fit my argument.  So that's 5 of 13 games, or 38% of the games we played, it's 63% of conference games and 83% of our losses.

I'd say that constitutes a trend, wouldn't you?



February 23rd, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

My mom is a Texas grad.  She's a big football fan but not, like, a football fan, if you follow.  Not the kind to obsess about coordinators.  That is until I answered her question about why Texas's playcalling was so damn stupid on third down.  "It's the same play every time! Why do they do that?"

When moms think your playcalling sucks, that is when your playcalling sucks.  Poor Iowa.  I would rather see that happen to, like, Wisconsin or someone.


February 23rd, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

The CBS article about Trey Burke contains this gem:


Myck Kabongo is rounding into form. He’s putting up 15.0 points and 4.3 assists in his last four games.


February 23rd, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

With regard to newspapers (i.e. Freep) charging to view online, I'd recommend a simple workaround...

Clear your cache/cookies once you hit the limit.  It's quick, easy and allows for unlimited NYT reading.  See how I said "NYT"...that was for my boy, Section1, so he doesn't stroke out at the possibility of someone reading the Free Press.


February 23rd, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

I don't know how you could fail to come up with something that Brady Hoke has failed at so far.  There are a ton to choose from.  For example:

Not 100% successful at getting committments to come in pairs.

Has not yet made me rich.

Hasn't cured cancer.

Can't fly simply by flapping his arms.



February 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

Maybe he has made you rich with accounts in escrow that you don't know about yet. Ever thought of that one?

Maybe he does have a cure for cancer but he's decided that pointing at cancer can be too traumatic for healthy cells and he's not sure the cure is perfected yet, and wont risk human testing.

Have you ever seen him fly by flapping his arms? doesn't mean he can't. And you can't prove to me that he can't do it. Does being able to fly by pointing at the gound count? that's at least 1 flap and we all know a Hoke point could make the ground back away from him.

Hoke Uber Alles

coastal blue

February 23rd, 2012 at 5:41 PM ^

I can think of an easy one: Burning up recruiting excitement in the winter. 

Seriously, we're going to have our whole class signed by the end of March Madness and then what do we have to look forward to but the beginning of the football season? I need my Hello posts come June and July, not February and March. 

Space out the thrills Hokester. Space them. 


February 23rd, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

from being what you think of as "creative" with your children's names. Zanquanarias is all well and good when you are a large football player or star athlete, but if not your kids have to live through the inevitable childhood hazing, you do not.


February 23rd, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

Obviously, the spread will work in the B1G.  As Ohio fans will be sure to remind us, Meyer will have access to a lot of talent.  Unlike in Ann Arbor, everyone is aboard and working together down there.  Nobody is sabotaging their recruiting classes, nor are they denying recruits access to school.  

Also, Ohio has offered illegal perks for so long with so little consequences, that it is safe to say they are still one of the two or three dirtiest programs in the NCAA.  If Meyer doesn't quit on this team, he will get plenty of opportunity to bring in elite personnel to run his offense.  

Our best hope, other than Meyer being caught cheating, is that defenses "catch up" with the spread within the next two or three years.  Ohio will be running the spread with personnel better than that of Oregon, and it might not be pretty unless someone, preferably Greg Mattison, comes up with a way to neutralize it.  



February 23rd, 2012 at 5:25 PM ^

Well, since he brought it up: Brian, in his never-ending quest to dismiss the RR's-spread-wasn't-so-great meme as a fact-selective canard, continually propogates his own fact-selective canard. His central point: "RR's offense put up flashy numbers in all those losses. Ergo, the offense was very effective."

No, not ergo. Brian just won't accept the fact that -- in RR's final season, especially -- M's offense didn't put up numbers (against the quality opponents) until M was down by 3-4 touchdowns. Unfailingly, M's offense sputtered and flailed until M found itself down 31-7 late in the 3rd quarter. At which point, because teams with large leads frequently relax or go into a prevent, M would come scrambling back, only to lose once the opponent again steeled itself. The pattern was obvious. 

Numbers really can be deceiving. Michigan's offense ran wild against meh teams. It didn't run wild against quality teams. Ergo, Michigan's offense was not very effective. 


February 23rd, 2012 at 6:44 PM ^

led by 1st year QB's with little QB experience, combined with awful defense that couldn't stop anyone, that did "run wild" against quality teams? Crickets.

The offense that year did great against meh/average teams and put up points against quality teams even though they always got behind early and often against any good team.

Ergo, that offense was very effective.


February 23rd, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

Blanket statements like "The offense was bad against good teams" are the reason why MLive exists. Brian takes the time to UFR each game to figure out just what the team is good and bad at doing. Using the information that he obtained from his analysis in 2010, he concluded that the offense was great at moving the ball forward against every team Michigan went up against last year (against Mississippi State, Michigan was about average), which boded well for Michigan if the following 3 things happened in 2011 (in a theoretical year under Rodriguez):

1) Michigan gets better starting field position, reducing the number of yards Michigan's offense needs to score points,

2) Michigan improves its field goal kicking, reducing the number of empty possessions, and

3) Michigan turned the ball over less.

Of these, only (3) can be pinned directly on the offense, which Brian decided could have been a problem with the coaching/scheme but could also have been a problem with having young players playing at skill positions (*cough* first-year starting QB *cough*). Ergo, Michigan's offense was very effective and had the potential of becoming elite in the near future.

You OTOH cite an "obvious pattern" of "not putting up any numbers" which, like, what? What are these "numbers" you're talking about? Touchdowns? I guess; since Michigan fell behind, they must not have been scoring points. Yet Michigan still had plenty of sustained drives against even their most difficult opponents in the first half of games but did not score touchdowns due to the above 3 factors. So from my--and Brian's--point-of-view, Michigan sustained plenty of numbers throughout every game against every opponent. Ergo, Michigan's offense was very effective.


February 23rd, 2012 at 9:54 PM ^

Michigan sustained plenty of numbers throughout every game against every opponent.

As much as I'd like to believe that, the Ohio State and Mississippi State games that year left me without much sense of that offensive being very effective ... certainly for those two games at the least.


February 23rd, 2012 at 7:59 PM ^

They were terrible for the duration of the game against MSU, Iowa, and Virginia Tech (losing the first two despite great chances to tie the game late and eeking out a win in OT thanks to a fumbled kickoff return and stellar defense).  They did nothing for 3 quarters against ND (until we were down by three scores).  The first half against NU and the second half against SDSU saw Denard put on an interception demonstration.  The offense sputtered against WMU and EMU for long stretches and struggled mightily when in scoring position against Illinois (punt after getting the ball at midfield, fumble on the UI 23, turnover on downs at the 5, fumble on the 30, missed 38 yard FG, all in the first half).  OSU at 6-7 could hardly be classified as a quality opponent. 

And that is with a team full of returning starters and a healthy Fitz added to the backfield.  Unless you are prepared to label the 2011 offense as "not very effective" (an inaccurate label for them as well), then you are just talking out of your ass because you are mad we lost games in 2010 and you don't like Rich Rodriguez.