Michigan Museday Updates Googledocs

Submitted by Seth on January 3rd, 2012 at 8:02 AM

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With my office reopening for the first time since pre-Christmas it feels like the world's worst Monday. By 8:30 tonight it'll feel like Saturday. But the new 2012 calendar with the puppy photos says it's Tuesday, so COLUMN!

I thought with the Sugar Bowl tonight maybe it'd be helpful to go back through some of the spreadsheet-y Musedays from earlier this year and update to see if the conclusions maybe shifted through the year's progression. To sum up the updated talking points:

  • Hoke is the best first-year Head Coach in Big Ten history, unless Ara Parseghian is.
  • Mattison is more aggressive in selecting number of pass rushers than his predecessor but you'd be surprised to know he has changed his strategy dramatically over the course of this season
  • Borges learned to shotgun with Denard and Co., then unlearned that, then re-learned that.
  • Our defense is spectacular at stopping short situations.

10/4 – The Gary Moeller Effect

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Premise: Coaches who take over a B1G team with Big Ten experience tend to do better than those who don't. So I compared a number of coaches of good memory against their predecessors, and overall.

Findings: Too much noise except the guys who had experience recruiting the Midwest seemed to have much more success than those who didn't.

Update: Another year made Dantonio and Bielema look better. 2011 Michigan's final SRS of 16.85 (pre-bowl) is about even with the Moeller teams of '93 and '94 (as well as 1999, 2000, and surprisingly 2006). Here's the Top Ten single year-to-year improvements (by Simple Ranking System, which is a measure of expected victory margin over a middling team) by a first-year coach in the Big Ten since 1953:

Rank Coach School Year SRS Previous Coach SRS (Pre) Change
1 Ara Parseghian Northwestern 1956 8.57 Lou Saban -9.95 +18.52
2 Brady Hoke Michigan 2011 16.85 Rich Rodriguez 1.39 +15.46
3 Phil Dickens Indiana 1958 6.13 Bob Hicks -7.86 +13.99
4 John Jardine Wisconsin 1970 9.09 John Coatta -3.8 +12.89
5 Hayden Fry Iowa 1979 7.26 Bob Commings -5.5 +12.76
6 John L. Smith MSU 2003 7.95 Bobby Williams -2.67 +10.62
7 Mark Dantonio MSU 2007 6.69 John L. Smith -3.14 +9.83
8 Earle Bruce Ohio State 1979 21.71 Woody Hayes 12.99 +8.72
9 Joe Tiller Purdue 1997 8.49 Jim Colletto -0.09 +8.58
10 John Pont Northwestern 1973 4.52 Alex Agase -3.5 +8.02

Holy Uber Alleles Batman! Don't read much into this; the worst dropoff among 82 careers charted was Pat Fitzgerald in 2006. The rest of the Hall of Shame: Lou Saban (Northwestern '55), Gerry DiNardo (Indiana 2002), Tim Brewster (Minn 2007), Rich Rod '08, Gary Moeller (Illinois '77), Jerry Burns (Iowa '61), and for all the lolz, Luke Fickell. ALL the Lolz!

Jump for Mattison's aggression tendencies, the I-form vs. Shotgun numbers updated, and which Pink Floyd album best describes Michigan's 3rd and short defense

9/28 – A More Aggressive Greg

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Premise: I just watched the SD State every snap on defense video and hey guys this new DC is like srsly about the pressure!

Findings: In the first four games of 2011 Michigan was in fact rushing a lot more guys on pass plays than all of 2009 and 2010. The hated three-man rush had virtually disappeared. Against expectations, the GERGish passive 3-3-5 was way worse about giving up huge plays.

Update: There was a subtle shift as the year progressed in Mattison's rush tendencies. Show? Show:

Opponent Rush 3 Rush 4 Rush 5 Rush 6 Rush 7
Western Michigan 3.1% 43.8% 28.1% 18.8% 6.3%
Notre Dame 12.5% 37.5% 40.0% 7.5% 2.5%
Eastern Michigan -- 88.9% 11.1% -- --
San Diego State 3.8% 59.6% 21.2% 13.5% 1.9%
Minnesota -- 41.2% 47.1% 11.8% --
Northwestern 9.7% 64.5% 22.6% 3.2% --
Michigan State 5.0% 55.0% 20.0% 20.0% --
Purdue 4.5% 72.7% 22.7% -- --
Iowa -- 81.0% 14.3% 4.8% --
Illinois 2.3% 77.3% 11.4% 6.8% 2.3%
Nebraska 6.3% 87.5% 6.3% -- --
Ohio State -- 80.0% 13.3% 6.7% --
TOTAL: 4.5% 63.2% 22.2% 8.7% 1.5%

Earlier this year it was the Greg Mattison Variety Hour, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson's Sanity Wipes for Quarterbacks™. Contrast with the last four games of almost Ferentzian four-man-rush consistency. I think this was the backs and backers learning how to blitz from different formations earlier this year, and then learning how to disguise those blitzes later. Once the players could master the scheme, the Okie Package basically replaced the 40 percent chance of raining linebacker, with pressure generated by disguising which four.

I don't need numbers to tell you the defense had its best games against Illinois and Nebraska. Then we were Posey'd.

9/14 – Uncomfortable Under Center and 11/8 Won't Be That Guy

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Premise: Wow that Under the Lights Game was sweeeeeet and let's be honest the TOUCHDOWNS were scored under center but holy pants it looked like running from under center is a bad idea.

Findings: This chart is after two games (through ND):

I-Form 12.0 2.3 7.6
Shotgun 14.6 7.5 10.2
Total 13.5 6.1 9.3

(the one sack was from the shotgun, and counted as passing yards)

Update: Here we are after 12 games (through the Kent State of Ohio University):

Formation Pass YPA Run YPA Total YPA
I-Form 8.1 3.9 5.1
Shotgun 8.1 6.7 7.2
Ace 10.6 7.4 9.1
Denard Jet 4.0 3.3 3.4
Fritz 9.4 7.3 8.6
Total 8.3 6.1 6.9

Those last three games were against three of the better defenses Michigan played. The biggest difference is that Michigan didn't pass nearly as much anymore from the I-formation; I have a lot of 3rd quarter time killing in there. The story didn't change much but again, let me show you tendency shifting. This is what Michigan did on 1st and 2nd down in the 1st through 3rd quarters with less than an 18-point score differential:

Opponent I-Form Shotgun Ace Denard Jet Fritz Pro
Western Michigan 30.8% 61.5% 7.7% -- -- --
Notre Dame 37.5% 62.5% -- -- -- --
Eastern Michigan 14.7% 76.5% 8.8% -- -- --
San Diego State 16.0% 80.0% 4.0% -- -- --
Minnesota 5.3% 63.2% 10.5% -- 21.1% --
Northwestern 13.7% 70.6% 7.8% 7.8% -- --
Michigan State 10.8% 89.2% -- -- -- --
Purdue 27.9% 39.5% 18.6% 4.7% 9.3% --
Iowa 33.3% 33.3% 25.0% 8.3% -- --
Illinois 15.0% 77.5% 7.5% -- -- --
Nebraska 12.8% 76.6% 6.4% -- -- 4.3%
Ohio State -- 82.9% 8.6% 5.7% -- 2.9%
TOTAL 17.7% 67.9% 9.1% 2.6% 1.9% 0.7%

You of course remember the fifth of November, the I-Form treason and plot. It seems that plot was only emboldened by the Toussaint Revolution of Purdue, then abandoned soon after Borges was discovered trying to run ISOs against the basement walls of Parliament. This lesson needed to be learned twice, but it was learned. Michigan barely ran from the I-Form again unless it was a short situation, or we were burning clock.

11/15 – The Wall


Premise: Michigan's defense is uncannily strong at 3rd and 1 situations, and Seth is uncannily versed in Floyd lyrics.

Findings: Yep, pretty uncanny.

This isn't a competition thing either. When I excise MAC and FCS opponents from all years it's far more pronounced:

  • 2009: 10 for 13 (76.92%)
  • 2010: 15 for 19 (78.95%)
  • 2011: 6 for 19 (31.58%)

Notre Dame (0 for 3), Michigan State (0 for 1), and Iowa (0 for 3) have extant pound-it tailbacks and went a combined zero first downs in 7 attempts. Thanks to the above-mentioned Letterman-collaring 4th quarter TD drive, the Illinois game actually made Michigan look worse than they've been since conference play started.

Update: That was only two (three when you count Illinois UFR wasn't written yet) games ago. Stuff is the same in a relative way, but we're older; shorter of breath and one day closer to death. There were two more attempts made this year on Michigan's 3rd and Stout Defense. Nebraska did it and got it on a 3rd and 1 from Michigan's 10 yard line with the score already 31-10 near the end of the 3rd quarter:

M10 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Down G pitch Kovacs 2
Seems to want to go inside since the FB does, taking out Morgan. Burkhead doesn't like that pile at the LOS and bounces outside since Beyer(-1) gives up the edge. He gets in the backfield but he does not maintain outside leverage. Bounce available and taken; Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) again shoots down to the LOS at great speed to tackle, but he can't prevent the first.

However Ohio State had no such luck:

M2 3 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A Waggle sack Black -2
No sale! How many times do you see this become easy. Lots of times. Here Kovacs(+1, cover +1) and Morgan(+1, cover +1) flow out onto the receiving options and Miller decides to pull down. Gordon(+0.5) is out on the edge containing, forcing a cutback into Demens(+0.5) and Black(+1), who was unblocked on the edge and supposed to run himself out of the play or get chopped; he kept his feet and flowed from behind, making first contact and removing the chance of some Braxton Miller bull turning this into a TD. RPS +2. Michigan had this murdered dead, with five guys in the area by the time Miller got tackled.

This ended up being the play of the game, as Ohio State had to settle for a field goal instead of taking a 31-30 lead in the 4th quarter.



January 3rd, 2012 at 8:48 AM ^

"With my office reopening for the first time since pre-Christmas it feels like the world's worst Monday."


I just got off leave since the 22ed and I have already informed my bosses of my impending car troubles I'll be having tomorrow. I should be fully working(on this site) on Thursday "taking it easy for the rest of you sinners."


Also for your pleasure:




Drew Sharp

January 3rd, 2012 at 9:34 AM ^

It's interesting to see that Borges had a learning curve. It's always nice to see the stats back up what we believe to be true. Thank you for showing us the stats. We appreciate the work you do. It is clear now that the Iowa game was an anomaly that we wish had just not happened. Given the entire body of work this season we are left to assume that Borges saw something on film that said I-form was the way to beat them. I would have thought however that by half-time he would have switched it up. However, we had been slow to start in many other games, so perhaps he just figured a few adjustments would get the ball rolling.


January 3rd, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

in the original study it looked like Rodriguez inexplicably went I-form (with the same results) against Iowa as well.

My best guess at the time was because Iowa is so good at running their vanilla defense, let's run an offense that was built to beat vanilla 4-3 defense. You shut down I-form running by either getting to where the tackle needs to be before the tackle does, and/or standing up to doubles by the guards, and walking down a safety. That's the whole idea of I-form -- it's a running formation that can hit you any place between the tackles with a running start and thus force you to put an 8th man in the box, thus opening up passing.

The thing is the 2011 and 2010 and 2009 Michigan teams are all capable of running against vanilla from the shotgun. 


January 3rd, 2012 at 10:36 AM ^

"Holy Uber Alleles Batman!"

Either you are celebrating the awesomeness of Hoke's genome or you have been betrayed by some form computer chicanery (spell check or autocomplete.)

Blue in Seattle

January 3rd, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

I wonder, who was the last Michigan Coach to bring in two Heismen Trophy winners? Oh wait no one! Michigan only has three Heismen Trophy winners!

Too bad Moeller had an AD who kept scheduling top level teams instead of three cupcakes a year, plus the unreasonable expectations of Michigan fans. Not saying Moeller didn't make a mistake. But I am saying that Michigan isn't that much different than Ohio when comparing the zeal of the fan base.

Blue in Seattle

January 3rd, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

I wonder, who was the last Michigan Coach to bring in two Heismen Trophy winners? Oh wait no one! Michigan only has three Heismen Trophy winners!

Too bad Moeller had an AD who kept scheduling top level teams instead of three cupcakes a year, plus the unreasonable expectations of Michigan fans. Not saying Moeller didn't make a mistake. But I am saying that Michigan isn't that much different than Ohio when comparing the zeal of the fan base.