Hump Hypotheses: A More Aggressive Greg Comment Count

Seth September 28th, 2011 at 3:55 AM

kovsacks2.4 Kovacsack
Screen grab / TONY DING

Title note: Since Brian moved this column to Wednesday morning, "Museday" is now "Hump Hypotheses," until that name also becomes stupid. New format, same old Miso soup.

Question: Against SD State we finally got to see Michigan play a full game against a pass-oriented offense. Against this Michigan usually sent four rushers, occasionally more. Last year I seem to remember this being three (out of a base 3-3-5) more often. I wonder if the extra rusher is making MattisonMichigan more effective against the pass this year?

Declaration of biases: Eeeeee Mattison.

Research: Thx Brian for adding rush stats to UFR since ND 2010. Yoink. Since it's not available yet I had to do my own SD State charting. From this I took out anything that looked like an end-of-half/4th quarter prevent, plus all of the runs, big play-action, waggles, and any plays from inside the 10, which make it hard to gauge if there were any late blitzers. I also excised last year's game against Purdue because that was played in a monsoon against Perry the Torn ACLephant.* Then I went about determining if each of those plays was a "Win" for the defense, defined thusly:

  • 1st down: If the offense gained less than 1/2 of the yards for a first down (so 5 yards from 1st and 10) that's a "Win"
  • 2nd down: less than 2/3 of the yards to first down=Win
  • 3rd or 4th down: if the offense does not get the 1st down
  • Turnovers are obviously Wins.

Incompletes go for zero yards—if the pass went to Tacopants, well it's results-based charting. Have at it.


*Michigan spent the whole day rushing three and this worked pretty much 90% of the time.


Hypothesis: We were right to be saying "Michigan sends 3 ARRRGGGHHH!" last year. Sending four this year is helping the defense improve.

Let's test that: In case your eyes haven't  picked this up already, Mattison sends more guys after the passer. He's averaging about 4.5 rushers per pass play, versus GERG's 3.9 among those we count from last year. Here's a tendency chart:Heat

Rushed: 2 3 4 5 6 7
2010 (GERG) 0.4% 41.3% 36.9% 12.3% 7.5% 1.6%
2011 (Mattison) - 6.1% 50.0% 29.8% 12.3% 1.8%

This is not just a difference of a 4-3 defense versus a 3-3-5. Mattison has called a lot of zone blitzes where a DL backs into coverage, and the 3-3-5 is designed to often have one or two guys coming. Michigan's defense in 2011 is more aggressive than it was last year. Using the W/L formula above, let's see how much more effective it is because of that:

GERG in 2010:

Rushed: 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
Win 1 61 43 18 10 3 136
Loss   43 50 13 9 1 116

Contrary to my memory, Robinson's 3-man rushes were kind of effective by this simple win/loss method. Everything else was flipping a coin.


I counted this as sending five; Gordon was covering the RB and
stepped up when he saw his man was in pass pro.

Mattison in 2011:

Rushed: 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
Win - 2 27 20 8 2 59
Loss - 5 30 14 6   55

He's definitely sending more guys. Effectiveness seems to be..wait, down?:

Rushed: 3 4 5 6 7 Total
GERG 58.7% 46.2% 58.1% 52.6% 75.0% 54.0%
Mattison 28.6% 47.4% 58.8% 57.1% 100.0% 51.8%

AAHHHHHHH this isn't right. This can't be right. Well for one Mattison barely ever sends three. He did it once versus SDSU, and that when Michigan was up 28-7 with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. It went for 15 yards. However when I look at the wins and losses when the game is within 8 points it's still way favoring GERG:

Coach Win Loss Total
GERG 100 77 177
Mattison 18 29 47

AHHHHHHH. This is literally not what I expected. Maybe my Wins and Losses thing is just stupid. Let's do this by simple yards per play when Michigan rushes…

Rushed: 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
GERG 5.0 7.7 9.1 6.2 8.3 2.3 8.0
Mattison   11.3 5.2 5.4 5.2 - 5.5

Yards v Rushers

And there you see it. I may have found what's throwing me off here. The Pass/Fail nature of my system was not showing that when GERG's defense failed, it failed BIG. Look what happens to yards per pass when I only count the "Loss" plays:

  Rush 3 Rush 4 Rush 5 Rush 6 Rush 7
GERG 16.5 14.8 16.6 19.3 19.0
Mattison 13.6 10.8 12.7 11.8 -

When the 2010 pass defense failed, it didn't just give up the first down, but often a good chunk afterwards. The 2011 defense is still 50/50 to get the job done on any given passing play, but at least they're living to see the next series more often than not. That means more chances per drive for a turnover.

Last bit, just to see if this is changing running stats:

  Rush YPC Rush YPG Rush TDs/Game Pass TDs/game
2010 (All of it) 4.4 188.9 2.6 1.6
2011 (4 games) 4.7 156.0 0.5 1.0

Er. My expectation here was that Rushing YPC would be way down due to an extra rusher being around when a running play is called, but they're actually up a good bit. However the TDs given up are way way down. That combined with not once have we seen a freshman corner vacate his zone in dime, and this defense looks like it's already at mediocre and learning things that might make them good.


Holding this to 15 yards maybe should be a win.

Draw a Conclusion: Mattison hasn't even faced the best teams on his schedule yet so I can't claim anything is better or fixed. What I can say is the theory that the huge flip in turnover margin this year and/or improved defensive back play is probably having a bigger effect on Michigan's apparent defensive improvement than line scheme/aggressiveness. The data are way too close and inconclusive to draw anything for certain, and four games is not enough to assess, especially considering it's the first four games with this defense. But it is kind of interesting to see that rushing the extra guy seems to be doing a better job of keeping down the big plays than having eight men in coverage. That was really unexpected, though again it probably has a lot more to do with the efficacy of the specific defensive backs in coverage more than scheme.


Bonus: here's how they do on each down:

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th
GERG 50.57% 56.47% 57.53% 28.57%
Mattison 48.98% 48.65% 57.69% 100.00%




September 28th, 2011 at 9:52 AM ^

The big differences this year seem to be, and the numbers above bear this out, that not only have we largely abandoned the three man rush, but the linebackers and secondary are generally avoiding huge, scheme killing busts (and if you think about it, 3 man rush plus mistakes in the back are a terrible, awful, no good combination of no pressure and wide open receivers).

Even when passes are completed this year, players are around the ball and prepared to tackle, avoiding the huge catch and runs that plagued us last year. 



Mark Smith>>>>Adam Braithwaite

Curt Mallory>>>>>>Tony Gibson

The real test of this hypothesis, though, will come at Northwestern and at MSU, which will be the two most talented passing offenses that we face all year.




September 28th, 2011 at 10:10 AM ^


Really? More talented than Notre Dame? SDSU?

According to NCAA statistics, Northwestern's passing offense is worse than Michigan's, and is only better than Nebraska and Ohio State in the B1G. Now, if you think Dan Persa's return makes them better than Notre Dame, I can't help you. They're a decent passing attack, but I don't see how they're better than Western, Notre Dame or SDSU, especially when statistics are brought into the argument.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:28 AM ^

Whoops, I meant from here on out. ND obviously has a better passing game than NU (though Persa's better than Rees). Persa plus returning receivers makes NU better than SDSU, and he's simply better than Carder. Seriously, look at Persa's stats last year...

73.5% completion, 8.55 YPA, 15/4 TD/INT, 250+ ypg, and there's almost no statistical difference between non-conf and Big 10 play. The only game he really struggled was against MSU.

Now, if he can't go, Kolter is a bad passer and the game gets considerably easier, but a healthy Persa, at least, is up there with Cousins and Wilson as the best passing QBs in the Big 10.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:32 AM ^

Despite all that relevant, useful information (and I thank you for bringing the stats), Northwestern was barely a top 50 passing team in 2010.

I severely question whether Persa can walk back into the team and pick up that passing acumen. I also severely question whether Persa will show the same scrambling ability as he did pre-injury, which might result in curtailing his efficiency as a passer, and might also make him a sitting duck for Mattison blitz nirvana.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

Yeah, I think those are completely valid questions. He's never played with the limitation he'll presumably be playing under post-achilles. And he ran for 50ish yards per game last year, so that was obviously a huge part of his game, and running the qb a big part of NU's offense. 

Edit: And for what it's worth, Persa's statistics, extended out over the entire year last year, would have had NU around 30th in the nation in ypg and 15th in ypa, and 2nd in the Big 10 in both categories. Building a Heisman campaign for him was ridiculous, but he's really a very good qb.  

OK, I'm done with this very dead horse.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:15 AM ^

I think ND is, overall, the most talented pass offense we'll face this year.  Their OL makes it difficult to get pressure, they have NFL talent in Floyd, good-not-great (yet) talent in Jones and their TE (Eifert?), and Rees can deliver the ball (to Floyd, so opposing defenses better hope they have a "Floyd" at DB ;)).

sports fan

September 28th, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

I think many of us expected to see leaps of improvement with  the change in  defensive coordinators.  I think what we are getting is more Creep than Leap. We  are creeping up on  better technique, better scheme understanding, more intensity, being in the right place, etc.  You  hear this in both coordinator's post game conferences.  You see this in Roh's play (just as one example discussed at length in thisblog.)  I'll take creep, as long as it is in the right direction.   I don't think it will always show up in detaailed statistics.  But it seems to be showing up enough that we can "feel" it.  And it shows up in net points allowed, one of the statistics that actually counts.  Hopefully, we will see it on the offensive side of the ball also.  I think we will.


September 28th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

You may have included this under "Curt Mallory", but I think we should credit the players also:

Troy Woolfolk >> James Rogers

Jordan Kovacs 2011 > Jordan Kovacs 2010

JT Floyd 2011 >> JT Floyd 2010

Courtney Avery 2011 > Courtney Avery 2010

Thomas Gordon >>> revolving door

Blue in Seattle

September 28th, 2011 at 11:57 AM ^

Well to an extent.  GERG was probably an average DC with a good amount of experience that did NOT extend to teaching or using a 3-3-5 scheme, which was what the talent was being recruited for (supposedly) and what Rich Rodriguez and his friends on the defensive staff through they could do, or should do.

What I've noticed about this defense, and especially in the first two games, is that the Corner Backs have improved their technique immensely.  This has lead to trusting them to at least be adequate in man coverage, which then allows the use of more pass rushers/blitzers.  I still remember the Mattison comment that leaked through about the players not even knowing how to analyze and watch video to see what they did wrong.  Teaching the technique first was a critical foundation to get laid, such that you could even have the trust to call blitzes.

It will be very interesting to see if the DL and LB corps can improve as the season progresses, because while the DB's are legendary, they are at least usually in the correct position and can make a tackle.  Which is reflected in that yardage difference chart.  I've always heard that CB is an easy position to learn (realtively) and by the end of last year it didn't look like any DB's were progressing.  Once those guys hit the next notch, and the QB consistently has to check down to 2nd and 3rd reads, that's when the increase in Roh, Martin, Ryan, RVB sacks will happen.  For WMU it only happened when Mattison brought the house on a blitz.  SDSU it started to happen with 4-5 rushers.  So GERG wasn't so off in his play calling, because he wasn't capable of managing his position coaches properly in teaching anyone how to do their individual jobs.  The difference in Mattison is that he not only knows what his players can do, he openly admits it when he calls something that he knew they weren't ready for.  i.e. ND final TD.



September 28th, 2011 at 9:53 AM ^

Another possible explanation for the reduction in big plays is that the extra man rushing has been getting more pressure on opposing QB's, so they don't have 20 minutes to wait for a receiver to get open, ergo reducing the amount of big plays

panthera leo fututio

September 28th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

The facilitation of bias aside, the main problem with 3D charts is that there are always much better options for clearly displaying data.  At best, making a chart 3D just adds a bunch of data-less ink (or pixels).  But almost always doing so makes accurate comparisons across variables difficult, if not impossible.  Take the Yards vs. Rushers chart above; without consulting the tabular data, it would be extremely difficult to say whether Greg or GERG gave up more yards on 3-man rushes.  3D also skews proportional judgements by making area into volume, and it will often completely obscure data points when there are more than two dimensions of data on display.  Semi-transparent overlays, side-by-side stacking, and small multiples (among other techniques) are all much, much better ways of displaying complicated data sets clearly.

panthera leo fututio

September 28th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

No worries, man.  I've definitely been in similar situations, and the design of graphics is really secondary to the actual material, which you did an awesome job of compiling here.  The whole 3D thing has just been a pet peeve of mine for a while, amplified by going to one of Tufte's day courses last month (which are awesome, btw, if you can get someone to pay for it).


September 28th, 2011 at 10:03 AM ^

it will forever be burned in my retinas the image of indianas ben chappel carve us up for 500 yds....playing 25 yds off the ball every down in prevent defense and having no pass rush. the next week osu held him to about 100 yds and made him look like a...well...a nice little indiana sub.

again...we are only 4 games in...but i like the trends this yr so far compared to the last several

Sextus Empiricus

September 28th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

Side note - Darius Willis who burned us in 2009 on the ground applied for  a medical hardship.  That is too bad for CFB and the B1G.

No more big plays...thank you Greg...bon voyage Gerg...good luck Darius.  

What a difference...we still take our lumps in the B1G but at least they will be RPS losses (on D at least) instead of failure to show up.

It doesn't matter who calls it...I'm happy not to have this happen so far this year - on the ground or in the air...keep it up D!!! Go Blue!


September 28th, 2011 at 10:19 AM ^

I know we all want Mattison to be a magician and transform our defense into a world beater instantly, but these stats show that might not be whats happening. The reasons opponents are scoring on us less are turnovers and avoiding big plays, which has a lot to do with improved performances by Woolfolk, Kovacs, T Gordon and Floyd/Avery. If we can keep up this pace (which would be very difficult) I think we end up with a top 50 scoring defense.

More realistically though, we stop getting some of the breaks and our defense ends up int he 70s like most predicted at the beginning of the year. That will still be significant improvement, but I expect some people to start bitching that Mattison isn't perfect like some hope.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

The reasons opponents are scoring on us less are turnovers and avoiding big plays, which has a lot to do with improved performances by Woolfolk, Kovacs, T Gordon and Floyd/Avery.

I agree that the players have improved, but I think I lot of the credit still goes to Mattison. If not schematically, at least for the message that has been preached from day one about being aggressive to the football, using great technique, etc.

I love the players on this defense and I look forward to watching them play each week (which is in itself night and day from last year), and I don't want to discredit their hardwork, but I do think Mattison has had a significant effect on their increased performance as well.

To clarify, I don't disagree with you, just wanted to make sure Mattison got credit too!


September 28th, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

Boil it down however you want, but scoring defense is where it is at and how well you do there is what really counts.

Right now, we are 13th in scoring defense (avg 13.67 per game) with a Sagarin schedule toughness rank of 63 (out of 247 rated teams).  Last year, we finished 108th in scoring defense and had given up 82 points in our first 4 games (avg 20.5 per game).

Let's see how that comparison moves as we continue to play this season, but I like the trend and don't care whether the difference is better coaching, more talent, more experience, Woolfolk returning, Mattison rushing more people, whatever.  It is working so far.....



September 28th, 2011 at 12:20 PM ^

Yes, I agree with burtcomma. It is about the scoring when you are on defense. I care about better coaching, more experienced players, improved talent, better playcalling because they all help. The defense is improving based on fewer big plays and fewer points allowed. I like the analysis and I think it will interesting to see how it compares to last season as we start to play BIG 10 teams. I see more passion on defense and better overall play. 

The games against MSU, Illinois, Iowa, NU, Nebraska and Ohio will be more fun to watch to see how consistent the defense performs.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:19 AM ^

I noted that we seem to be getting a lot more holding penalities called in favor of our defense (i.e.  on the other team's offense) this year and also that while we may not be getting sacks we are getting presure on the QB.  If we have the data, wonder what YPA (yards per attempt) would look like with the penalty yards subtracted out for holding calls?

Defense is always about the whole and how all the parts come together.  The line puts pressure on the QB so the defensive backs don't have to cover as long and the safeties have more experience compared to last year and take proper angles and make tackles instead of giving up big plays.



September 28th, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

Would just using the first 4 games from last year to compare to the first 4 games of this year make any difference? That would throw out Illinois, Ohio, and MSU (and the other MSU). That would be a little more of an apples-to-apples comparison.

Looking at the NCAA stats, through week 4 last year we were the #64 scoring defense, and #93 total defense. This year we are #71 total defense and #13(!) scoring defense.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

One thing I noticed this year compared to last is the difference in touchdowns allowed outside of the red zone, and the other comments are getting to the same point. We're not allowing those big plays in the passing game this year by having guys around the ball and better tackling.

Through 4 games in 2011:

1 passing touchdown for over 20+ yards

  • ND - Riddick 29 yd TD from Rees

Through 4 games in 2010:

3 passing touchdowns for over 20+ yards

  • ND - Jones 53 yd TD from Crist
  • ND - Rudolph 95 yd TD from Crist
  • BGSU - Pronty 71 yd TD from Pankratz

I would argue that the 2011 schedule has much better passing teams than the 2010 schedule did through 4 games, and yet we have yielded less TD passes for over 20+. 

It seems to me that our tackling, having players around the ball at all times is helping reduce the number of big pass plays, in addition to not allowing the QB to have all day to get a deep ball.

The real test is yet to come, but this is encouraging to me.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

You might further break down the results of "win" plays as well, to see if there is any seperation there.  For example, you're calling a 5 yard gain on 1st and 10 a win for the defense (which in itself is debatable IMO).  Clearly, though, it's not as much of a win as a 7-yard loss on a sack, for example.


September 28th, 2011 at 11:05 AM ^

Actually it's "under 5" so really the way I have this the defense would need to keep the offense to 4 yards on a 1st down pass in order to get the W.

I don't have the data for this but it seems to me that offenses get their yards nowadays in chunks rather than steady bits. Teams aim to get to 2nd and short and then take a swing downfield, rather than having a three-down strategy. Back when teams would never put more than 7 in the box, 3rd and 2 was almost a gimme 1st down. Nowadays a defense would rather face 2nd and 6, 3rd and 2 than 2nd and 4, 3rd and 4, if you take my meaning. A defense loves it when they know the O wants to go 1-2 yards and all they gotta do is stop it to get off the field. So that's where I put the edge of a "win" defensive series: 1st and 10, 2nd and 6 or longer, 3rd and 2 or longer, no first down.


September 28th, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

and the rule sets are the same at both levels. FO uses 45% (of yards needed) on first down, 60% on second down, 100% on third or fourth as success points for the offense, and that comes from The Hidden Game of Football.

Of course binary data is easier to collect but less meaningful to examine: as you suggest, we get more information about the "win" and "loss" plays when they are weighted, but then if you don't already have a system for assigning those weights, you either spend a lot of time estimating them or you have arbitrary signposts to explain.

Swayze Howell Sheen

September 28th, 2011 at 10:25 AM ^

I really like the analysis, but methinks it is hard to draw many conclusions. The numbers may really just be showing that the defense under GERG was just plain terrible and gave up lots of yards regardless of how many were rushed. An improved defense gives up fewer yards. 

That said, it is interesting to look at! Nice. Though I agree with the poster who mentioned Tufte - I always assume everyone around here has read him.




September 28th, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

It's very hard to compare numbers in college because the opponents can be so vastly different even from year to year.  

The defense looks better.

Can't much of this "success" be attributed directly to 2 main factors.  

1. Luck

2. Experience/Health

I am on board with Mattison improving the d but you can't dicount the fact that Gordon,Avery, Demens, Woolfolk etc. are much better versions of themselves from last year or in Woolfolks case replacing Rogers who had never played a meaningful snap on d before last year.

Blue Blue Blue

September 28th, 2011 at 10:45 AM ^

is it fair to do full yr GERG stats vs Mattison against just the tomato cans?    I would guess the GERG defense had better stats in the early games, before slamming into Big Ten play?


September 28th, 2011 at 11:14 AM ^

Mostly because the data set is not that great for those games. Brian only started charting "Rush" with ND last year so UConn is out unless I want to find the video and self-UFR that one. I would still be using the first three attempts at a new tracker, and the thing about UFR is it changes with Brian's understanding of the game, and this effect is bigger for newer metrics. Things like that pic above are confusing: on that play Thomas Gordon looks like a delayed blitzer at first but when you watch it a few more times it's pretty clear he is in man coverage on the tailback, and decides to enter the fray when the TB sets up in pass pro. I don't know how much stuff like that was throwing Brian off before he settled into tracking this. Plus more data = better result = better understanding of tendencies. You'll note in this data set that Mattison was way more aggressive against the teams that passed a lot but almost never sent more than 4 against run-a-lot EMU.

Eye of the Tiger

September 28th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

But as much as I hate to say it, as he was terrible, it is a bit unfair to GERG to compare the early season non-conference games of his successor to his whole season, which included the better competition, greater number of injuries and larger number of 3-and-outs for our offense that were staples of conference play last year.  

That said, I bet your findings will stil hold up.  Mattison's defense this year seems to be "bend-bend-STUFF," whereas GERG's defense last year was basically "stuff-stuff-BREAK."  I bet there will be a larger number of plays for positive yardage as a % of total plays for our opponents this year, as opposed to a larger number of yards per play for our opponents last year.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

I'm admittedly not a statistical guy ("I was told there would be no math on this exam").  That said, I think the big difference between this year and last is the passion being displayed on the field.  I'm not meaning to discount the hard data, definitely not.  Its just apparent to me that the players are having actual fun playing the game and I'm not sure that I saw that last year, at least not during B1G play.  In other words, maybe the progressive increase in enjoyment = increase in production?


Blue Durham

September 28th, 2011 at 12:46 PM ^

you have been seeing. 

Essentially, Greg Robinson's defense was a passive defense, with essentially the LBs and DBs trying not to screw up. 

In the more aggressive Mattison defense, it translates into guys trying to make plays.  That is a totally different mind-set; the former lacking confidence, the latter more confident. 

And strangely, the change in approach has led to a defense that appears to have confidence in itself.


September 28th, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

Would be interesting to see the data with more weight given to "stops".  Sure, it's nice to "Win" the battle on first down, but seeing how well (and what downs/rushers) the defenses are getting off the field, you could get a better picture on which D coordinator is truly running a "bend but don't break" defense.


I suspect Mattison may be losing some of these battles, but ultimately getting more "stops" than GERG.  He is bending, but not breaking.  GERG on the other hand was tossing a coin.  Sometimes it "won" and other times it blew up.


September 28th, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

Part of the point of going to a binary W/L system was so that defense could be judged more on stopping power than yards per play. But it doesn't assign values to those plays so it's not really that good of a metric. Take this sequence from the end of last year's ND game:

  • 1st and 10 from ND47: incomplete, WIN
  • 2nd and 10 from ND47: complete for 53 (!) yards and a touchdown. Loss.

Next drive:

  • 1st and 10 from M44: complete for 17(!) yards. 1st and 10 at M27. Loss
  • 1st and 10 from M17: complete for 11(!) yards. 1st and 10 at M6. Loss

Next drive:

  • 1st and 10 from ND22: Interception! Michigan 1st and 10 from ND 34. Win.

Next drive:

  • 2nd and 7 from ND28: Sack for -11 yards. Win.
  • 3rd and 18 from ND17: 13 yards. Win.

In those seven consecutive plays GERG is 4 and 3. The three losses were a 53-yard TD and two plays that took ND from outside field goal range to 1st and 10 at the Michigan 6. That is making the most of your losses. There's also an interception and a sack in there. And a 13-yard gain that counts as a win because it didn't get to the sticks.

In the drive before this GERG's D got two wins on two incompletes, then turned a 3rd and long from punt range into 1st and goal from the 3. This series on my chart looks like 66.7% success, which is good. The next drive looks like 50%, decent, in my chart. That's one incomplete and then a 53-yard touchdown. Next drive is two losses. In those two plays ND went from punt range to Michigan's 6 yard line.

Wins are schizo here: an interception, a bunch of incompletes, a sack, a hold, and 13 yards on 3rd and 18 which is not that great of a win. A lot of those incompletes were actually Joe Montana's son throwing to burritoshorts. The last win is a holding call they drew away from the play which nullified another big ND gainer. On the next play ND threw a 95-yard touchdown to go ahead in a game Michigan had until a short time ago led by two scores. That drive again charts at 50%

Let's use the long drive from SDSU in the 2nd quarter as a comparison:

  • 1st and 10: incomplete, Win.
  • 2nd and 10: complete for 9 yards, Loss
  • 3rd and 6: complete for 7 yards, Loss
  • 2nd and 6: complete for 5 yards, Loss
  • 1st and 10: holding on SDSU -10 yars. Win
  • 2nd and 20: complete for 2 yards. Win.
  • 3rd and 18: incomplete. Win.

Michigan 2011 also won 4/7 there. That gives Mattison and Hoke about the same rating under my system for success as GERG got for the 2nd half against ND in 2010. Yet at the end of this drive SDSU had gotten all of 11 yards out of its 7 passing plays.

What I saw against SDSU was a lot of Mattison's losses being the type that are the bare minimum to be considered losses. One perfect pass across the middle got tipped by an LB and hauled in. Twice there were perfectly placed slants to beat CBs who were right on the ball. One gracious spot gave SDSU a 1st down they didn't get.


September 28th, 2011 at 11:00 AM ^

MSU has a legitimate defense, but their offense for all of its talent is still shaky at times.

The only teams that strike the fear of the flying spaghetti monster in me is Nebraska and Wisconsin, and those two are about to bash each over the head with a shovel this weekend.

Mattison has done some good things, no question. But I'm reserving some judgement until I see this UM defense read and react to the sudden plethora of mobile QBs in this league like Marqueis Gray, Kain Colter/Dan Persa, Nathan Scheelhaase and *zoyks!* Taylor Martinez! 

It's funny how over the last two years so many people were yapping "drr. but you can't win in this league (without manball)....!!!", yet now in 2011 almost every damn team including Wisconsin's dumptruck offense features an elusive speed demon at QB that can kill you.

I think Mattison has a decent track record defending against mobile QBs, but I'll feel much better once that is re-validated against NW and ILL.