No, Upon Further Review series is not comprehensive. Most years are absent Ohio State and bowl games (including last year), and 2014 checked out after Indiana. That said, I challenge you to find a greater cache of free data than Brian's masterful charting of Michigan plays going back to the DeBord Throws Rock age.
Every so often I pull all that into a massive Excel file and try to learn things like how spread the offense was, favorite plays, etc. Let's dive in shall we?
What're those pie charts at top? Shows the relative efficiency (by yards per play on standard downs) and the mixes of Michigan's backfield formation choices. For "standard downs" I mean 1st and 2nd downs when the offense wasn't trying to do a clock thing or go a super-long or super-short distance. So no garbage time, no two-minute drills, no goal line, and no going off on Bowling Green and Delaware State. The idea is to show which offense did they get in when they had the full gamut to choose from, and how many yards did it get when the goal presumably was to get as many yards as possible.
Nothing very surprising there. Rodriguez ran his shotgun offense, Borges inherited Denard and Devin and still managed to jam them half-way into an under-center offense in three years. Then Nussmeier ran his zone melange single-back thing. Harbaugh did what Hoke always dreamed of doing, and the offense climbed back to about where Hoke's offense was with a senior (but oft injured) Denard.
[Hit THE JUMP for each year's most charted play, visualized Hennecharts, how many TEs Harbaugh used, how many rushers defenses sent, and LOOOOOTS of charts.]
Favorite plays & Formations
This is going to favor runs because of how Brian charts—sacks get charted as "sacks" and scrambles as scrambles even though that's (usually) not the play call. Passing gets charted as the route that gets thrown to, not the route combination.
|Season||First Play||Second Play||Third Play|
|2008||Zone read stretch (19%)||Zone read dive (7%)||Bubble Screen (7%)|
|2009||Zone read stretch (15%)||Zone read keeper (4%)||Hitch (4%)|
|2010||Inside zone (13%)||QB lead draw (8%)||Zone stretch (7%)|
|2011||Zone read dive (13%)||Power off tackle (9%)||QB power (6%)|
|2012||Inside zone (5%)||Iso (4%)||Inverted veer keeper (3%)|
|2013||Zone stretch (9%)||Power O (7%)||Iso (7%)|
|2014||Inside zone (16%)||Zone stretch (6%)||Scramble (6%)|
|2015||Power O (13%)||Inside zone (7%)||Scramble (4%)|
Rodriguez kept it run-first and Borges couldn't help it so long as he had Denard, but Michigan became somewhat more of a passing offense the last few years.
Yes Bo, Jim has fullbacks. And he used them quite a bit more than in the past. Note that the 2014 numbers above counted Joe Kerridge as a tight end mostly, so, yeah, Jim used more tight ends too. I can break this into their own annual lines. Average receivers in a formation is a good stand-in for "how spread are they."
Yes there were more tight ends than any team since at least Lloyd Carr was coaching,
but the big change from Nussmeier was an average of just two receivers on the field. Rodriguez had a standard three, but even Borges and Nussmeier went 3-wide as often as not. Half of Harbaugh's standard-down I-forms had just one receiver out there, with the other four backfield spots taken up by TEs and backs of all varieties.
Given the play of the guys past Chesson and Darboh, limiting receiver snaps might have been as much about the roster personnel as Harbaugh's personal preferences. When A.J. Williams was on the field most plays to do nothing but help Lewan(!) while Drew Dileo sat on the bench, that was frustrating. A.J. Williams as he was used this year—not to mention Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge—seemed eminently more dangerous to defenses than Grant Perry or the other depth receivers.
(If your eye is really good you'll note 2013 only adds up to about 4.8 guys on the field. That was Hoke pulling a TE for an extra OL all the time.)
Formations: Rather than showing you basically the same line chart again I thought it would be cool to show the efficiency of those formations over the years. Size of the bubble is the % of snaps in that formation, and the Y axis is yards per play:
Those bubbles jive with what we know about the various offensive minds Michigan's had since 2008. Rich Rod was almost totally shotgun; Borges kept trying to run I-forms more often despite quarterbacks more effective in the gun; Nussmeier's offense went single-back for the most part and was mediocre at everything. And then there's Harbaugh, who true to form did better with his Ace (usually with multiple TEs) and I-forms.
The shotgun performance was a bit surprising. True this doesn't include Rudock's magnificent performance against Florida, but it's also missing Ohio State.
As for that 2011 "Ace" outlier, that's all that Denard Jet stuff, including a 59-yard Touissant run against Purdue that I'm sure you remember, a 40-yard TE wheel to Koger v. Illinois that I'm sure you don't, and a lot of throwback screens.
I can cap gains at 20 and losses at 5 and run the numbers again but it won't change conclusions except…
…to make you even more angrier about the I-form and tackle-over crap they ran with a fourth-year Devin Gardner.
Quarterbacks: Do they matter?
This chart says "uh huh." For this I re-added those long situations since that's kind of the QB's job. I'm not just showing passing plays here—this is how well the offense moved when these guys were taking the snap:
It also says Michigan's coaches made the right calls with their starters, for the most part. Denard is still the gold standard, but the season we got out of Rudock (not including Ohio State and the bowl game, which probably would help him in total) is up there around that of a senior Denard and third-year Gardner in 2012. Starting Morris continues to not make sense except in a "getting the people involved with that decision fired was the best thing for Michigan" sense.
Why don't you show the…
The chart by year. Hover over the headers if you need an explanation. ddd
|Threet 2008||16||95 (4)||7||47||21||24||11||11||52%|
|Sheridan 2008||5||56 (2)||6||18 (1)||14||6||1||62%|
|Forcier 2009||7||76 (4)||7||17||6||15||2||13||67%|
|Robinson 2010||7||73 (3)||5||20 (1)||3||3||8 (1)||5||1||70%|
|Forcier 2010||1||21 (1)||1||3||6||2||1||3||69%|
|Robinson 2011||22||104 (18)||15 (1)||49 (1)||24||11||6 (1)||19||15 (1)||61%|
|Gardner 2011||7 (1)||4||1||2||3||67%|
|Robinson 2012||22||71 (11)||11 (1)||20 (1)||10||4||12||11||6||68%|
|Gardner 2012||17||55 (11)||10||16 (2)||12||9 (1)||2||11||16||69%|
|Bellomy 2012||2||5 (1)||2||6||1||1||4||1||50%|
|Gardner 2013||39||133 (26)||17 (1)||37 (1)||25 (1)||23||6 (1)||43||32||69%|
|Gardner 2014||16||86 (27)||11 (3)||24 (1)||15 (2)||15||4 (1)||13||19||68%|
|Morris 2014||1||11 (2)||10||2||3||1||1||45%|
|Rudock 2015||30||143 (41)||22 (1)||31 (2)||27||25||12||26||18||67%|
I found it odd that Gardner was more or less the same quarterback over his whole career. I guess we lost some of his worst parts of 2014 to Henri the Otter of Ennui. Rudock was about in that same distribution as Denard and Devin: 57% accurate, willing to scramble, prone to mistakes from system unfamiliarity (I'd really like to see how his Florida game charts).
I tried myriad ways of visualizing this and struck on donut charts (screens excised):
Rudock also faced Gardner-level pressure apparently.
The charting also showed significant upticks in pass rushers the offensive line had to deal with on passing plays as the offense went away from using the QB's legs. In fact since Michigan went mostly pro-style as of 2013 the OL has to fend off more pass rushers than they used to on 3rd and 10 when Denard was a sophomore.
note: passing downs include 2-minute drill plays.
Protection has been, well, up and down:
Denard was apparently Michigan's best pass blocker, i.e. the threat of him escaping kept DEs spying on the edge rather than attempting to close in for sacks. It's hard to prove anything but I think coaching has a lot to do with the above. Rodriguez was scheming to prevent pass rushing and once his offense matured it was excellent at it. Hoke maybe invited more attacking in '11 and '12 but still, you can only rush Denard with so many guys before you're asking to let him escape the pocket.
The 2013 team was legendarily bad at this. As for the high mark last year, it does leave out 7 sacks that were never charted versus Maryland and Ohio State at the end of the year, but Nussmeier's offense, schematically, was supposed to help with that. There's certainly room for improvement next year.