Dear Diary Does the Michigan Drill

Submitted by Seth on August 22nd, 2014 at 10:30 AM

The highlight of the pre-season, right here:

At the link LSA Superstar broke down every rep from the above, though the times seem off. I don't know why De'Veon Smith wasn't in them at all. There's one where Ross is going against Samuelson with Ty Isaac the RB, and…

REP 15 @ 1:43

O: D. Samuelson (OL)
D: J. Ross III (LB)
T: T. Isaac (RB)

Ross pops into Samuelson, who is slow to react.  Ross is in control but HOLY SHIT Isaac squares and totally buries Ross with a shoulder shiver.  Isaac is running with extreme power here - Ross didn't have a chance.

That happens at 1:16 actually. Takeaways from a single drill that the offense is supposed to win: Samuelson is still a ways away from figuring (that's totally expected), Ross is what he is (smart, great at anticipating, still smallish), and whoa Ty Isaac; I'm not 100% sure the outcome would have been different if you replaced Ross with Pipkins there.

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Guessing we'll be doing a lot of RB rating this season as Michigan tries to settle on which of the four backs is more effective. [Fuller]

FYI yes it's Isaac; Smith wears #4 and for some reason that could be "don't injure the starter" he doesn't appear in the drill. By the way his nickname is "Honey Badger" now.

Speaking of rating rushers. Hero of the diaries MCalibur graced us with 2,800 words to create a metric for rating rushers—RBs/QBs/FBs/etc.—by mixing the touchdown rate and fumble rate with adjusted yards per attempt. I was particularly impressed by how he elegantly challenged the longstanding arbitrary assumption that 20 yards was a "big" play by showing the standard deviation on runs is 7.5 and the average run is about 4 yards, so a "big" play can be defined as one that goes beyond the standard deviation, i.e. 12 yards or more should be the standard for a  breakaway run.

The result is something like a passer rating for RBs, and a chart with the contributing factors broken out. Unfortunately scheme and opponent and skill around the player etc. have a major influence: Toussaint's 68% went-forward rate is probably 15% his fault. Ameer Abdullah's fumble rate and low TD rate appeared to damage him, but how much of that is on Nebraska being so bend-don't-break and then trying to Abdullah their way across the 50 yard line before letting Tommy pass?

So it's not ready to enter the pantheon of stats yet, but it's still a remarkable example of what people will accomplish when you give them free stats to work with.

Speaking of tons of fascinating and useful data, for free… MCalibur mentioned cfbstats as his resource but I'm guessing he downloaded his data awhile ago, since going there now just sends you to data hoarding company Marty now works for.

The good news is last time I mentioned that in this space a reader offered to help us scrub NCAA data and reproduce that, and Mathlete jumped on the project, and there's now a very long email chain that I'm CC'ed on but has gotten way beyond my comprehension that should sometime in the coming months result in a comprehensive stats page on this site, with all of our base data available to download for free. Finally there will be a place you can go on the internet to get free, sane football stats (other than FO) that treat sacks as passing plays and tempo as something that exists. It also converts "ATH"s to positions, and will classify an Arizona "SB" as a running back and a Northwestern "SB" as a tight end. That place will be here. #ilovemyreaders!

There's a thread on the board about other changes that are coming to the site this season, what you'd like to see.

Etc. Ace is tracking the blowout tour of Italy. Lanyard Program is cutting back on the programs. Get your off-topic topics out of your system by tomorrow. Remember the Hindenberg and the other thing like it wallpaper. A more elegant wallpaper.

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pinterest. artfire.

Incomplete list of reasons why people have missed the game (or even The Game):

  • Delivering their first kid
  • Weddings (co-sign Ramzy from 11W's crusade against fall weddings, especially Labor Day weekend. I missed UConn for one, and to sneak into the bar to ruin my night for the Bama game)
  • Religious holidays (I never should have gone to Akron on Rosh Hashanah. I realize that now.)
  • Serving in Afghanistan during The Horror (Could you please stop firing at me for like, one day, Taliban? I'm kind of sensitive right now.)
  • Driving back from Michigania. There's a reason it's a ghost town on the last day of the last weekend, man.
  • Bar Mitzvah in Mexico City.
  • Couples shower (your own). Oy.
  • Supernatural convention. Who? Who do you think?

To the guy who missed a Pearl Jam concert to see Michigan-Syracuse in '98, I'm sure that felt horrible at the time but let's be honest: if somebody asked you now if you'd rather see Eddie Vedder or Tom Brady vs. Donovan McNabb in college, which would you choose?


1. We did talk about him a lot when we talked about the move to the over.

2. We see him a lot less because Michigan is playing mostly spread teams and Peppers is the nickel, which replaces the SAM.

3. He apparently won his position battle with RJS except Jenkins-Stone will handle more run-heavy outfits.

ETC. Way too specific predictions are fun. The gypsy trying to ruin my Draftageddon team forgot MSU doesn't sit starters for DUIs. There was a guy on NDNation who was falsely accused of cheating by his ND professor, then tried to convince the prof he hadn't cheated by repeatedly pointing out that the professor wasn't in the Big Ten anymore and be offended that he was called "Joe" instead of "Joseph," and therefore he doubts the school will deal fairly with some players I'm sure the school wants just as badly as they wanted this guy. All HTTV just-books should have arrived unless you just gave me your address or haven't (and your inbox is full of requests for that) or you're international. Signed books and t-shirts have shipped so expect early next week, or middle next week for non-Midwest.

Your Moment of Zen:



August 22nd, 2014 at 10:46 AM ^

His times are from the full-length Day 21 Countdown to Kickoff video which had 26 seconds of Karsch time at the beginning.  Just subtract 26 seconds from everything for the youtube video times.


August 22nd, 2014 at 11:13 AM ^

Wow.  Bolden, Pipkins, and Henry looked awesome in that drill.  I am starting to feel really good about our D this year.  Lots of playmakers and depth at many positions.


August 22nd, 2014 at 11:14 AM ^

Have I missed the announcement or is the NCAA completely lame for not deciding on Isaac's hardship waiver yet?  How hard can it be to decide?  

steve sharik

August 22nd, 2014 at 11:30 AM ^

...for LBs and DBs, but not for a DL that plays in a 40 front and always plays a shade of an OL.  This is b/c the drill for DL puts him head-up and use a 2-gap technique, something they don't practice a lot and rarely (if ever) use.  

Of course, I'm sitting in the "customer lounge" at a Pep Boys waiting for them to finish working on my SUV while the guys who chose the drill are being paid millions of dollars to make these decisions and work in buildings a lot nicer than this Pep Boys.  Game, set, and match to Mr. Hoke.


August 22nd, 2014 at 11:35 AM ^

4 + 2 * 7.5 = (wait for it) 19 yards

Assuming a normal distribution:

A one standard deviation "big play" happens about 1 / (1 - .5 - (.68 / 2) ) or a little less than once every six plays.

A two standard deviation "big play" happens about 1 / (1 - .5 - (.95 / 2) ) or about once every forty plays.

Is a "big play" something that happens once in a typical touchdown drive or once a game?  (Except when Al Borges is the OC.)



August 22nd, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

In MCalibur's methodology, it happens a little less than once per six plays.  I'm not sure whether you are arguing that his semi-arbitrary cutoff is wrong, or that there should be another category for the outside-2SD runs.

I am fine with the semi-arbitrary cutoff he selected, since that provides more differentiation between players who routinely get few runs of more than 12 yards, and those that get more than few runs of 12+ yards.  Placing the only distinction between them at the frequency of 19+ yard plays blurs the difference between any two backs. 


August 22nd, 2014 at 12:19 PM ^

[Edit: @Mutley]

That's the SD for the entire relevant dataset. Not all players are equally capable of generating those. So Percy Harvin and Denard Robinson hoard more than their "fair share." The elite players generate the lions share of them. Bringing it down makes it attainable by most players and helps us distinguish differences between them.

Also it's not every 6 plays, it's every 6 runs. A subtle but important distinction. Michigan did not see one of these every td drive. Furthermore, TD drives are pretty rare themselves.

Finally, if I see a 12 yard run I jump out off my chair and do my best hulk hogan impression. Sure, 20 will do the same thing but if you make it to 20 with out getting tackled you're probably in the end zone.

Is a good question. Curious to hear what others think.


August 22nd, 2014 at 12:24 PM ^

Fantastic short video of The Comeback Kid. To think that at the time Drew Henson was challenging the starting role of a future 3-time Super Bowl champ is quite interesting.


August 22nd, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

Watching the camp video really makes me wish I was young enough to play again. But what better way to get my fix than to live vicariously through this program!