# regression...really?

Submitted by clarkiefromcanada on November 10th, 2009 at 12:06 AM
Hello friends,

Often in reading the posts I get to enjoy the witty and amusing posts of those truly overwhelmed and angry with the current state of football at Michigan. Indeed, THE USE OF CAPS IN POSTS TO DISCUSS ONE"S ANGER WITH THE CURRENT FOOTBALL ISSUES and RICHROD"S INCOMPETENCE and how we should FIRE ROD because THIS TEAM HAS REGRESSED is all too common from the shouters and the trolls. I

While the shouters are annoying I would say that based on the volume of posts I have recently read that I find the subjective concept of regression has become the most bothersome. Let's look briefly at regression as defined:

re·gres·sion  (r-grshn)
n.
1. Reversion; retrogression.
2. Relapse to a less perfect or developed state.
3. Psychology Reversion to an earlier or less mature pattern of feeling or behavior.
4. Medicine A subsidence of the symptoms or process of a disease.
5. Biology The return of a population to an earlier or less complex physical type in successive generations.
6. Statistics The relationship between the mean value of a random variable and the corresponding values of one or more independent variables.
7. Astronomy Retrograde motion of a celestial body.
8. Geology A relative fall in sea level resulting in deposition of terrestrial strata over marine strata.

So it would be 2. "relapse to a less perfect or developed state". So is it regression from the start of the season? Regression from last year? You see constant chatter about how the offense has regressed, the defense has regressed, the coaches should do better etc. but nobody who posts "regression"...like lemmings...backs it up.

Offense

2008 scoring: 20.2 points per game (97th out of 119 teams nationally).

Rushing: 147.6 yards per game (60th).

Passing: 143.2 yards per game (108th)

____________________

2009 scoring: 32.0 points per game (24th)

Rushing: 208.30 (16th)

Passing: 195.70 (89th)

...hmmm...seems like no regression here too much...I'll take a 58.4 percent increase in offensive output along with 41.1 percent increase in rushing and a 36.6 percent increase in passing. If this is regression, then I hope we see offensive regression to the same level year over year (or at least next year). Indeed, when considering the numbers below the offensive improvements almost cover the brutal defensive issues.

Defense

2008 scoring: 28.9 points allowed per game (tied for 89th).

Rushing: 136.9 yards allowed per game (51st).

Passing: 230.0 yards allowed per game (81st).

____________________

2009 scoring: 26.4 points allowed per game (76th)

Rushing: 158.30 yards allowed per game (80th)

Passing: 235 yards allowed per game (83rd)

...here, interestingly, scoring defense is actually improved by a couple points a game (8.7 percent reduction) while rushing is worse by 21.4 yards per game and a 15.6 percent increase (one might consider safety/linebacker play here) and the passing is more or less static at a 2.1 percent increase (despite having more or less one legit corner and walk on safety play).

Big picture what we see is very significant improvement on the offensive side of the ball with interesting scoring defense improvement and real issues with stopping the run and pass on defense. Neither of those issues are new and so it's difficult to consider the team regressing into poor play when the play was *already* poor.

In terms of team implications...well, one hopes Big Will works out in the offseason and improves, that Mike Martin continues to develop. Those seeking linebacker play improvement may be on to something with a position coach change *but* one wonders what linebacker play might look like with a) a second year with GERG and b) competent safeties behind them (here meaning not walkons and no offense to the Kovacs family). Nightly I pray one of the corners works out...I hope the offense simply continues on this arc of production.

Like all of you I am totally frustrated with how this is working out this year; however, I am sick and tired of the naysayers, trolls and newbie idiots posting the exact same material on "regression".

I am going out on a limb believing that we can win one of the next two games; but what is Michigan football without hope (Capital One Bowl 08, for example).

Best wishes to all of you and thanks to Brian for the common sense earlier today.

Preach on

I don't think you'll find many people around here saying they have regressed from last year. Last year was bad bad bad bad, and this is no fun, but it's obviously better than last year. I think most people that claim regression would be interested if you would do the same study comparing '09s games 1-5 vs games 6-10.

I think part of the problem, at least from the frustration standpoint, is that this team is losing games that it could easily be winning (and should probably win). I'd chalk that up to inexperience. Despite the, essentially, terrible defense we've had a chance to win three of the five losses on the last possession.

Yes, most of the team has regressed. In their Stats class. And gosh darnit, if you were on the field thinking about the normality of the residuals instead of your cover assignment, you'd probably blow a few, too.

I say enough of this regression thing. It's costing us wins on the football field.

That was great. Anything that brings a smile this season is nicely done.

Best wishes.

Last year, opponents often had much better field position due to the general awfulness of our offense (short drives and turnovers are contributors here). Therefore, it was easier for them to score points.

On the other hand, our rushing defense is clearly worse than it was (it went from middling to bad), while our pass defense remained bad. This makes sense, as our secondary sucks about as much as it did last year, our d-line is still good, but our linebackers have regressed, hence the increase in rushing yardage allowed.

...longer fields can mean more yardage gained, which could hurt our yardage numbers and also explains the lower point total. The theory goes, they may drive for more total yards with the longer field, but it's just harder to score (albeit not too hard, unfortunately) with more ground to cover.

Who knows... maybe the team can run some regressions and see what has a high R-squared, and I'm not talking about RichRod.

But you can't tell most of these people anything because its like talking about religion. Emotions, not facts take over for most in these conversations/debates. With facts like this I think you chip away at the number of doubters little by little.

With all due respect, either you are misinterpreting the typical message board complaints, or this is a purposely disingenuous post. When people talk about "regression," they are generally talking about the team regressing from its performance in the first four games of the year, not from last year. People are upset that the team is getting worse, rather than improving, as the year goes on.

Aside from that, the analysis of the so-called defensive improvement is silly. Any slight increase in scoring defense is likely due to the improvement in our offense -- we are giving the other team less possessions than last year, so they score fewer points. The worsening numbers for the pass and rush defenses belie any suggestion that the defense has improved. A more accurate statistic would be points given up per possession, which I would wager is at least as bad as last year.

Someone explain this to me. What I will refer to as the anti-Rich Rodriguez camp commonly cites two facts to support its view (based on the responses to Brian's post):

(1) MIchigan's successes against teams like Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan are inconsequential because those teams are horrible.

(2) Michigan has "regressed" from the performances against Western Michigan, Notre Dame (shaky defense), Eastern MIchigan, and Indiana.

Therefore, the anti-RR camp conveniently ignores the successes against lesser teams (compare to Toledo and Miami last year) and yet, while acknowledging the utter lack of talent those teams possess, demand that Michigan similarly dominate much better competition, and then has the audacity to cite diminished performance as "regression."

Do I have that right? Because I find that to be a very fascinating argument.

The aforementioned regression refers to several things. First of all, losing to the likes of Illinois and Purdue. Purdue is not good (they got blown out by a MAC team), but will occasionally put forth an impressive effort. Illinois is terrible, no matter which way you put it.

Secondly, the defense appears to be getting worse. Last game, we benched both of our ILBs (though they did come back near the end of the game). Ezeh in particular is a troubling development when you consider that he was a Butkus semifinalist and was benched for a walk-on. Furthermore, in the first seven games of the season, the defense appeared to be the weak part of a flawed team, but not completely terrible. Then our defense got their asses handed to them three times in a row, with the second two games coming against Illinois and Purdue.

Thirdly, and the point of view that I am not sympathetic to in the slightest, is that Michigan has been a lot worse under Rodriguez than under Carr. Winning consistently for a long period of time, even when other elite programs like Notre Dame, OSU, PSU, Florida, USC, and Oklahoma struggled, made large portions of the fanbase believe that Michigan would always be at the least good. Michigan's fall from grace came in Rodriguez's first season and unsurprisingly, many simply assumed that Rodriguez was the cause.

Are you honestly disputing that the team has not improved, and that its performance has diminished, as the season has worn on? I thought this was a generally accepted fact, but apparently not.

If you really want a breakdown, here it is (excluding Delaware State).

First three games of the season: Looked very good against a mediocre Western Michigan team, a poor Eastern Michigan team, and a pretty good Notre Dame team. The offense was running extremely smoothly, but while the defense did extremely well against an future NFL QB in the Western game, it's weaknesses were exposed against a good offensive Notre Dame team.

Second three games of the season: A little bit back to reality. Offense continued to look great against Indiana, but the defense was terrible. Reversal of fortune against MSU -- the offense did nothing absolutely nothing until its final two possessions, but the defense generally played bend-don't-break throughout the game and kept us in it. Iowa was frustrating -- the offense played very well except for turnovers, the defense did a pretty good job considering the position the offense put it in. Despite the two losses, people were still feeling generally positive about the team.

Last three games. The wheels fall off. We look like a poor MAC team against Penn State. Yes, they're a better team, but the offense simply could not run an effective play after the first drive. Then, catastrophe. We were destroyed by a BAD Illinois team which, contrary to your post, did not constitute "much better competition" than the teams we beat earlier in the year. The offense, playing against a terrible D, was inconsistent and could not sustain a drive, and the offensive line was embarrassed by what had heretofore been the worst defensive front in the Big 10. We then lose at home, blowing a 24-10 halftime lead, to a mediocre Purdue team that had just come off of a 37-0 drubbing against Wisconsin. Again, the wheels fall off in the second half. The offense can only muster one touchdown in the second half, until punching it in from the 10 at the end of the game. The defense, which had held up well in the first half, plays its worst second half of football all year.

If you can look at those results and assert that Michigan's performance has not regressed in the last third of the season, I don't know what to tell you. At the very least, the team certainly has not improved as the season went on, which is usually the goal with a young and inexperienced team.

Using latest Sagarin rankings

 7 Ohio State 87.99 15 Penn St 84.43 25 Iowa 80.59 29 Notre Dame 84.43 33 Wisconsin 77.5 37 MSU 77.02 69 Purdue 69.09 91 Illinois 64.74 92 Indiana 64.65 116 W Michigan 58.73 170 E Michigan 47.52

Here's what I take:
Three of our first four games came against the weakest opponents on the schedule.
When Tate's arm was 100%, and opposing defenses had no tape, the team over-achieved against ND.
Young team has struggled on the road.
The Illinois loss was a bad loss; Illinois had been an underachieving team; they woke up and exploited our weaknesses on defense
The next two games are tough challenges.

Forget the numbers. Watch the games with honest eyes and reflect.

Other than Little Brother not scoring the points their unabated drives would have predicted, the 2009 defense against BCS competition has been non-competitive. Not bad, not mediocre -- non-competitive. They've given up big plays to meh talent practically every week. They haven't stopped anybody.

If you want the answer why people like me are starting to lose faith, the reason is simple: Youngish teams going through transition are supposed to improve at the end of year 2, not regress. Nobody's going to begrudge a new coach with a new system an out-with-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink first year at 3-9. But when you see what we've seen this year, it's starting to look like something quite a bit different than a bad luck transition year on the path to something greater.

non-competitive?
2 pt loss on the road at Iowa
13-7 halftime lead at Illinois, before the roof caved in
2 pt loss to a Purdue team which had beaten OSU earlier
Watch the games. Think. Read. Think. Then post.

He said the DEFENSE has been noncompetitive, not the entire team. And he is 100% correct. Do you really disagree?

which is generally young and inexperienced playing as hard as they can.
I'll leave tags like "non-competitive", "regression" and "unacceptable" to others.

Its an entire team; without the knocked-down pitch, there's no 19 yd TD drive in last week's Q3 and the game is different.

So basically you won't use any negative words, and will replace them with euphemisms like "inexperienced." Whatever.

The defense is bad, and whether we call them "bad," "noncompetitive," or "inexperienced" doesn't really matter. (I didn't realize that "noncompetitive" was now a verboten phrase alongside the cliched "unacceptable"). No one has insulted the individual players or claimed they're not playing as "hard as they can."

So, are you suggesting that those of us who use negative words rather than euphemisms to describe the defense are big meanies? Or are you suggesting that we are mistaken, and that the defense is better than we think? What is your point, exactly?

You were condescending. To quote your response to Ed: "Watch the games. Think. Read. Think. Then post." Which was ironic, since you had just misread his post. That's why I responded to you, not just because you "disagreed" with me. (Even though you didn't disagree so much as quibble about semantics).

With that said, I'm over it. To show no hard feelings, I'll even give you a plus 1.

Last 5 losses, Michigan's defense has given up on average 435.2 yards and 33.4 points per game. Michigan has looked great against EMU, WMU, and Delaware St which has altered the stats.

Seth is right about the defense from this year to last years. Michigan's defense was hosed by their offense and the TO's in 2008.

While the Offense has shown great improvements in 09, they have still been very inconsistent. If we had the 08 Defense with the 09 Offense we would have 7 wins right now maybe 8.

Good post though our defense would be worse if it weren't for Baby Seal U. Maybe next year....

Well, it does seem like most of the Angry(!!!!11!!1!) people with DEMANDS are following the Psychological definition.

I wonder what callers "Dave from Phoenix" and "Linda from Grand Blanc" think about all of this???

.....is all too common from the shouters and the trolls.

5. Biology The return of a population to an earlier or less complex physical type in successive generations.

See it isn't #2 its #5

-Notice the the loss of a 5th digit off of both hands and feet
-The hair which is the obvious result of some toxic waste spill or massive dose of Radiation
-I have even heard from a good source that certain parts of their bodies glow in the dark though I haven't been able to confirm that myself.
-The conspicuous lack of knees or elbows, but the addition of a massive belly button and distended stomach
-Not to mention the lack of any reproductive organs which is actually a blessing as they seem to be devolving themselves into extinction.

So don't worry they will eventually all die off

I do think DSU needs to be taken out of comparisons between last year and this year. We did not play a team of such caliber last year and it throws off stats for comparison between the two years. I would imagine that taking similar opponents, we would see a slightly less rosy picture.

I responded to another comment on Brian's post, but people seem to be forgetting that between last year and this year we lost:

Morgan Trent (CB)
Terrence Taylor (NT)
Brandon Harrison (DB)
Will Johnson (DT)
Tim Jamison (DT)
John Thompson (LB)

The linemen in the list (and John Thompson) would have helped with rushing yardage, and may have given Brandan Graham more opportunity to impact the passing game. (This is nothing against Martin, Roh and Van Bergen. I think they've done a great job this year, and when they have a few more pounds on ...)

And then there is Morgan Trent ... As much as we dogged him after USC and App State, man we sure could use him this year.

I may be wrong, but I think the regression that the MGoBlog denizens have been talking about is the performance as of late (the last 5 B10 games) compared to the performance of the first 4 games of the year.

There is no doubt our team is better overall this year than last (although the last 2 games have been eerily similar to last year's), but we seem to be getting worse every week, which is frustrating.

That's still a good comparison though, and it gives a little more hope for the future.

You're right on point.
It's one thing to regress from season one to season two.
It's another to regress within season two. I don't know which one is worse, but I'm not happy with either.

Clearly, we are "better" than last year. Of course, 5 wins should not be enough to make any UofM fan happy. We are also, clearly, worse now then we were 5 games back. If we started 1-5 and then rolled off 4 straight W's, I'd be happy(ish).

Instead, the team is faltering and any attempt to point that out lands a bunch of negative votes for anyone willing to say it.

I'm a firm believer that RR will get things going and will be successful here as he has done elsewhere. I do however, think that the team is faltering. I attribute this to freshman playing significant time at very significant positions and the lack of anything remotely resembling competence at the LB and S positions. I think the word here I would use when speaking of the team as a whole is "inconsistent" which, IMHO, is understandable given our youth at QB and lack of FBS level talent in the secondary.

Year one in a completely new and foreign offense and culture= 3-9
Year two in a familiar offense but with freshman= 5-7, MAYBE 6-6
Year three in a familiar offense with talent on both sides of the ball= 8-4

Bottom line is that if we are playing inconsistent next year we need to evaluate the team and coaching staff. However, right now its too soon and the only reason we are bitching is that not one fan as old as 40 has faced adversity in their lifetime when it comes to Michigan football.

I actually agree with the anti-Rich Rod people and the pro-Rich Rod people, and here's why. Anti: I do see regression over the course of the season. If the team played against Purdue and Illinois like they played against ND (i.e., poise, confidence, emotion), there is no way we lose those games. Even Tate said the team has been coming out flat in the 2nd half. That fire and drive has faded over the season, and it appears to be costing us games. Some of this has to be attributed to coaching, especially since we have seen it in the last several games. As for the Rich Rod supporters, I am officially one of those. I think the coaching staff has a long way to go, like the team. Unfortunately, they weren't able to produce the rebound we were all hoping for this year. But, given the youth on the team, the attrition and the injuries, they need at least one more season. With the huge number of returning starters next year, the bar will be set high, and rightfully so. Until the staff has a chance to reach that bar, I will withhold judgment and support my coach.

Sagarin rankings for the two seasons

2008:

Utah 5
Miami (OH) 157
ND 53
Wisconsin 61
Illinois 68
Toledo 134
Penn St 8
MSU 33
Purdue 78
Minnesota 75
Northwestern 44
OSU 14

2009 up to this point:

WMU 112
ND 32
EMU 179
Indiana 91
MSU 51
Iowa 16
Delaware St 189
Penn St 19
Illinois 90
Purdue 72

Games upcoming
Wisconsin 24
OSU 12

So it's almost like we replaced a top-5 team in Utah with Baby Seal U.

There's no doubt the offense is much better, even if you take out Delaware State. They've shown a lot more ability to throw the ball downfield this year, when last year it seemed like we never threw more than 15 yards the whole season. Running game is improved with QBs that can run/scramble.

Scoring defense is going to end up worse because I don't think we hold either Wisconsin or OSU to the same 26.4 average we have up to this point.

The average team rank of teams played last year is about 31% tougher than this year up to this point (about 42% tougher for all games.*)

That's a big difference.

*ie (geometric) mean rankings of teams played last year vs this year are: 41 vs 55 for all games; (45 vs 64 up to the last 2 games of the season)

the difference between a 41 ranked team and a 55 ranked one is 3.25 points. How would reducing our points by that much affect our WL record this year? We would have lost one more game (Indiana), making us 4-6 to this point. So, if we lose the next 2 games, it’s not really a big improvement from last year based only on the WL record (+1). However, I think the other stats do provide better reason to believe there’s been some improvement. Win or lose, this team has played some really exciting games; and the future looks a lot better than our current record IMO.

there's a 1/4 chance we would have lost an extra game.* So that means, we're currently 1.75 games ahead of last year (with 2-3 left to play). That sounds a little better.

*(Since you can't lose by .25 points ieIndiana was a 3 pt win and we would have had 3.25 fewer points. Thus, we'd lose to Ind by .25 points except that's not possible--so for argument's sake, let's say that's a 25% chance of losing by one point)

Not to mention the aggression of Rich Rod supporters, who seem to open every post in support of him with ad hominem attacks (and always have) on those who dare question the greatness that is Rich Rodriguez. Ahem.

The progression includes Delaware State. 'Nuff said. It also includes games against the completely farcical Eastern Michigan--arguably the worst team this side of Delaware State (I'm really not sure Eastern would beat DSU)--and again, by all accounts, worse versions this year of MSU, PSU, and Illinois.

You can shout all you want about progression and improvement; it's been conceded that the offense is more capable this year than lst. Wow. Last year was so goddamm bad that if the team didn't improve, Rodriguez should have turned in his headset and voluntarily resigned by now. Go ahead and compare this year's team to last year's, toss in all the stats and the weaker schedule (and many here have ALSO SAID CAPS ARE FUN that OSU is "worse" than last year--so how 'bout that?) and do whatever you can to justify the belief that the team is better--but they're not, really--it's a smoke and mirrors approach that covers up the fact that the team is still in trouble, and there isn't much help on the way besides another year of experience--the NEW battle hymn of the republic.

We have a much better offense, better special teams, and a somewhat worse defense, we have 5 wins including an actually good team in Notre Dame, and we haven't improved over last year? Try this exercise: match up this year's team against last year's and tell me who wins.

Now, as far as next year goes, we are still in trouble on defense. Hopefully, our freshman on the secondary are able to step up next year and provide some level of competency. Even without Graham, we should still be good on the D-line, as everyone else has been generally good and more experience, believe it or not, generally results in improvement*. The unit might be weaker, but it still will be solid.

This leaves us with the linebackers, who are a big question mark. Stevie Brown is leaving, but I doubt replacing him will be that hard when we can put Mike Williams or any one of his dozen or so backups in. Then we have the ILBs, who seem to have regressed. This is a scary area and hopefully someone steps up.

The picture on defense that I've outlined above seems to me to be a fair conjecture. It isn't necessarily better than this year, but at least it isn't worse. At the same time, with a bunch of returning starters on offense (no more freshman QB unless Gardner turns out to be amazing), along with up and coming talent at RB, we should improve again next year.

*A thought experiment for you: There is a team full of freshman. We make clones out of all of them and then put them to sleep for three years. Meanwhile, the original team plays three years of college football. When the clones wake up, we have them play the original freshman, who are now seniors. Which team wins?

Well, hard to do, but how do you mean that? Last year's team as returning this year? i.e.: A sophomore QB in Threet, a healthy McGuffie, the three defensive linemen back? Hard to comprehend this type of primal argument. This is kind of like a republican soundbite.

As for "much better offense"--75-12 outscored in the last three games in the second half. The last hurrah was against--fucking Indiana--who is the only thing between us and last place in the Big Ten right now.

I compared last year to this year here:
http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/aome-interesting-thoughts-progress

I think it's pretty fair--and I do allow that there has been progress on offense. But lemme axe you this: How about if Threet cmes back this year? Tate redshirts? Or, goes in when he has had time to grow into the yob? We're going to end up at 5-7, with the possibility of ending the season with five consecutive humiliating defeats.

Yeah, I think last year's team could have manufactured this kind of season easily.

When I say "last year's team", I mean that you look at the skill level at the team at the end of last season, with all the players healthy. In this situation, the offense includes a QB who is at best below average, a mess of an offensive line that cannot do much, and a variety of receivers who are worse than this year's relatively uninspiring crop.

The offense has definitely improved. When Molk was healthy, it was clear that the line was much better and his injury was some serious bad luck. Meanwhile, a freshman Tate Forcier is lightyears ahead of a freshman Steven Threet (who left for fear that a freshman Tate Forcier was better than a sophomore Steven Threet), and the receiving corp has improved with the addition of Roy Roundtree at the slot and Odoms' improved consistency. I won't address the wideouts because last year's corp was destroyed by Hemmingway's medical redshirt, meaning that it would be an unfair comparison.

To remove the effects of the Delaware States of the world and the MAC, we should look at the Big Ten only Stats:

Rush offense decreased 12.1% from 153.5 to 135 yards per game. Somewhat surprising, but given the loss of Molk and Minor's traitorous ankle it can at least be somewhat explained.

Pass offense increased 43.9% from 137.4 to 197.7 yards per game.
Pass efficiency offense increased 29.3% from 90.5 to 117. Not DEATH.

Total offense increased 14.4% 290.9 to 332.7 yards per game. However, scoring offense only increased 7.7% from 22.1 to 23.8 points per game. The reason for that: Turnover Margin has doubled from -5 in 2008 to -10 in 2009. And we thought last year was bad.

Rush defense worsened by 11.1% from 172.1 to 192.1. Pass defense worsened by 7.9% from 230.8 to 249. Pass efficiency defense has actually improved 0.8% from 141.9 to 140.8. Total Defense has declined 9.3% from 402.9 to 440.2, while our scoring defense has improved 0.6% from 33.5 to 33.3.

I will take a deeper look at the numbers later, specifically yards per carry, sacks, penalties.

Also can anyone tell me how to put in a chart or table?

Thanks Seth that was very helpful, here is the Offense in table format, to make it easier to read:

 2008 2009 % Increase/(Decrease) Rush Offense 153.5 135 -12.1% Pass Offense 137.4 197.7 43.9% Total Offense 290.9 332.7 14.4% Passing Efficiency 90.5 117 29.3% Scoring Offense 22.1 23.8 7.7%

And the Defense:

 2008 2009 % Increase/(Decrease) Rush Defense 172.1 191.2 -11.1% Pass Defense 230.8 249 -7.9% Total Defense 402.9 440.2 -9.3% Passing Efficiency Defense 141.9 140.8 0.8% Scoring Defense 33.5 33.3 0.6%

Taking the sequence of wins and losses this year alone, there is roughly* a 63% chance that the W-L record this year is not random.* If you base this analysis on our actual record, it suggests we've gone from good (1st 5 games) to bad (last 5). But this is not really valid, since the chances of winning each of these games was not equal. Thus we really need to look at the WL record relative to the point spread i.e., did we beat the PS or not? Based on this analysis, there's again a 63% chance that we've gone from good to bad. However, the "good" period was, more or less, the 1st 7 games of the season and the "bad" only the last 3 games. Why? Because the late season losses to MSU IA were actually wins vs the point spread (based on the score at the end of regulation); whereas, the early season win vs Ind was actually a loss vs. the point spread.

That is, actual WL recordL WM(W) ND(W) EMU(W) IND(W) MSU(L) IA(L) DSU(W) PSU(L) IL(L) PU(L)
or WWWWLLWLLL ie losses in 4 of last 5

WL record VS point spread WM(W) ND(W) EMU(W) IND(L) MSU(W) IA(W) DSU(W) PSU(L) IL(L) PU(L)
or WWWLW*WWLLL ie winning 6/7 games followed by 3 losses in a row.

Clearly, there are a lot of other; aspects of the question about whether we've regressed. But this analysis suggests that, just based on this season's WL record vs. pt spread, we may have regressed but the regression is only during the past three weeks.

*Based on a runs test for randomness. The 63% chance is based on the assumption of a normal distribution, which is not likely to be valid, so this is a very crude, approximate figure.

In 2008, Michigan ranked 104th--out 0f 119 teams, yes, I wrote it--with a turnover margin of -.83. I think we can all agree that this is not good and at least one of the reasons Michigan did so poorly last year.

In the first four games of the 2009 season--against opponents from near the bottom of the MAC, Notre Dame, and Indiana--Michigan was able to acheive a turnover margin of +.25. Sweet, a positive turnover margin that represents progress, that's a good thing. Had Michigan continued at that pace, Michigan would be ranked at approximately 52nd.

Sadly, that did not happen and--in spite of such a good start statistically--Michigan now sits at 106th with a turnover margin of -.9. So, yeah, that's regression. And not just a simple regression to the "less perfect" state of last year, but--in several ways--a regression beyond it.

First, the turnover margin is now statistically worse than last year's. Second, last year had inexperienced freshman who were being coached by an unfamiliar coaching staff committing turnovers. This year, we have sophomores who have been in the system for a year with the coaching staff commiting turnovers. Third,the coaches knew it was a problem last year and should have addressed it in the offseason.

So, the bottom line is that this year's team has fewer "excuses" for an unfavorable turnover margin and yet has a worse turnover margin than the 2008 team.

And, no, I do not hate Rich Rodriguez.

Most of our turnovers this season have been at the hands of Forcier and D-Rob, a pair of true frosh playing QB against a level of competition higher than they've ever seen before.

Minor and Brown have one lost fumble apiece. That's it pretty much for our tailbacks, whose fumblitis issues....not to mention, exchange issues with the QB......cropped up in every game in 2008.

We have not fumbled on any KOR. This was weekly last year.

We had zero punt return fumbles through 5.5 games. Then, Matthews fumbled once, Rodriguez suddenly cant settle on anyone back there and we're suddenly back to last year......has anyone asked him in a presser why come no more Matthews back there? This was solved. And, now its an issue again.

If not for the frosh QB's inexperience and frankly expected issues with TOs, we would be very improved in this regard. But, to think we would be much different from a pure numbers standpoint from last year, considering two frosh QBs would take all the snaps, is a whole lot of wishful thinking.

Actually, half the INTs come from DRob or Sheridan. Forcier has twice as many TDs and INTs. This is not exactly a TO stat, but whoa is that a lot better than the production for our starting QBs last year, who had more INTs than TDs when the season ended.

I am frustrated too. But, if not for TO issues from true frosh QBs, I dont think we're having this discussion.

So guess what? Theoretically, then, Tate and Denard are no better than Threet/Sheridan. All were seeing their first games against a level of competition higher than they'd ever seen before, right?

Yet we ran Threet out of town (a common Rodriguez meme), and haven't let Sheridan see the light of day since Western Michigan.

Yet we still continue to play these two new bumbling freshmen. I guess the question is: Should Tate and Denard be run out of town/given the job of permanent play caller? Although Sheridan appears to have that job locked up, Denard can at least tutor under him til he's good enough to take over.