REPAIR NOTICE: I originally posted this article earlier this morning but accidentally had some bad data from a dreaded bad sort on Excel. Things should be better now, and the conclusions were affected less than I thought they would be. Biggest change is Ohio State was credited with a few that belonged to Oregon State (an avoidable vlookup error), and the old home-road stats were all screwed up. They are fixed below.
I've been slowly building and picking through an all-plays database built from NCAA.org's play-by-play data. The easiest thing to pull out so far has been penalties, so let's play with those.
The benefit of the all-plays is you can tell the difference between penalties, since a personal foul says a different thing about a team and does a different thing to them than, say, a delay of game to set up a punt. I broke the various penalties up into "Violent" and "Non-Violent" behaviors.
- Acts of violence: Clipping, crackbacks, facemasks, illegal blocks, illegal use of hands, kick catch interference, pass interference (?), roughing the kicker (15), roughing the passer, tripping, and unnecessary roughness.
- Non-violent behaviors: Delay of game, encroachment, false starts, holding, ineligible receiver downfield, intentional grounding, kickoff out of bounds, offsides, running into the kicker (5), sideline interference, substitution infraction, too many men, unsportsmanlike conduct, and illegal fair catch, formation, forward pass, motion, participation, shifting, and touching.
- Michigan last year was remarkably good at avoiding the latter type (in yellow in the chart below), leading the study at 2.3 non-violent infractions per game:
That's the Big Ten and the other 2013 opponents. I don't know if I want to count PI since its application can get downright chintzy, so that's broken out. Either way Ohio State managed to lead the conference in infractions per game, and was second in the study only to Terry Bowden's one-win (Morgan State) first season at Akron. Reason why this is? Online poll says:
Fact: 4.5% of people who take any online fan poll are Buckeyes
Yea, and Urban did steal "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness," previously committed to MSU. I was surprised that Michigan State appeared to have their pugilistic streak in relative check, i.e. they were only among the leaders, not far ahead as I supposed from watching them. It takes a while to gather all the data but minus the regular season Wisconsin game (data wasn't available) their 2011 penalty numbers were high but their personal foul quotient wasn't: 31 violent (11 of those pass interference) to 60 non-violent. Wanna guess where a disproportionate of those came from? Offsides. #JerelWorthyJumpsEarly.
Michigan vs. Average
We're dealing with smallish sample sizes so conclusions are shaky. That said there are things to see when you look at which penalties Michigan was getting called against them versus a typical team on their schedule.
Non-violent things per season:
|Illegal Offensive Stuff||6.0||-||4||5||5|
|Delay of Game||4.3||-||2||3||1||4|
|Special Teams Derps||0.5||-||2||1||-||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's veteran offensive line was good for something last year: remarkably few false starts and none of those illegal formation/procedure things that plagued us in various offensive transitions. That's a feather in Al Borges's cap: the offense had their fundamentals down about as well as you can ask. Pre-snap penalty-avoidance may be correlated with offensive line experience, though I haven't proven this. Further study: is it experienced OL or just experienced tackles? Inquiring 2013 offensive lines want to know.
Violent crimes per season:
|Various Illegal Blocks||5.8||8||7||4||6||-|
|Roughing the Passer||1.3||3||2||1||-||3|
|Kick Catching Interference||0.6||2||-||1||2||-|
|Roughing the Kicker||0.3||-||-||-||2||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's ability to avoid the peaceful infractions meant the Wolverines were the most pugilistic in the study by percentage of penalties that were violent. Cue the Urban Meyer chart:
Forgot to add the 15 yards for logo infraction
Really the Wolverines were average, the only thing standing out being chopblocks. There were a few of these called against Michigan last year that I thought were horsecrap (Mealer's v. UMass and Gallon's vs. Minnesota), and here's one that was legit (on Gordon):
If you don't spot it in 10 watches, watch it 10 more times.
I'm declaring Michigan a very average team at this.
Home Field Advantage?
There was one for Michigan, not the other guys. Michigan was relatively clean at home and in limited samples got kinda duked in the neutral games (Brian gave the refs a composite –5 for the Alabama game alone, which is about the difference between a typical day of Obi Ezeh as a senior versus Kenny Demens as a senior). Overall I noticed very little difference in any type of penalty with regards to how it was assessed against home versus road teams. False starts are a little more common for road teams (like one every 10 games) but that's about it. Things broke out a bit more among the small samples of a single team's season:
PENALTIES PER GAME
|Team||Pen/G||Home||Away||Neutral||Home Field Adv.|
Either they let the Wolverines get away with murder at home, we turn into Michigan State on the road, or those calls just went against us more often than they should have.