Unverified Voracity Quantifies Special Teams

Submitted by Brian on November 9th, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Profiling, again. The Daily continues its streak of crushing everyone out there with Michigan football profiles, this time hitting up Deerfield Beach for the Denard Robinson story. Cue adorable child who doesn't like you stealing her soul:


Also let's not forget that making Shoelace, Denard Robinson, for uh, shirt, you know, within the NCAA—that isn't legal.

The story itself is another epic five-pager. Sounds like he was a natural:

“He loved to run that ball,” Huggins says, looking over his old stomping grounds at Westside Park. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, call quarterback sneak!’ I’d tell him no, to hand it off, and so he’d fake the handoff and keep it and run for a ton of yards.”

Zone read from the start. This is a read the whole thing situation.

From "it won't work in the Big Ten" to this. Illinois blog Hail to the Orange (wait… what?) on Saturday:

The difference is, and the major problem on Saturday, was that with Michigan when we bit, we paid dearly, every time. It seemed as though just one missed tackle, one bad angle and the punishment was a touchdown. We were running a contain game most of the day against Denard, and we paid because there was relatively little pressure against him, giving his receivers too much time to get open, and when combined with a play action always were open. The result: 305 PASSING yards from the Nard dog.

There were of course some bright spots. We have continued the trend of taking the ball away from the other team and not giving it back. (Five TO's recovered, to one lost.) Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win.

We will not see another team this offensively talented this season (pending a bowl bid) generally we can improve our decision making in the secondary enough to not give up constant 75 yard bombs, at least I hope not.

Here's the crazy thing: that first bit on "paid dearly, every time" isn't even true. You know that interception Denard zinged over Webb's head? That's either a touchdown or Webb gets run down from behind as Michigan switched up the QB Lead Oh Noes from the slot receiver to the TE. The safety who intercepted the ball was headed for Roundtree and dead meat until the ball went ZING. I've got two separate RPS+3 plays that end in disaster for Michigan already. If anything, Michigan's immolation of the Illinois defense is even more impressive on review because it could have been considerably worse if Denard makes a few better throws. I think we've established that Denard's not going to make great throws all the time, but man… in the UFR Michigan's going to have a huge RPS number.

The whole thing's driven Vic Koennig to despondency:

"They get you in a run, run, run mode then they drop back and hit a pass on you. They had us running around and not doing anything well."

Srs, his postgame presser is like watching a dog get kicked. Meanwhile on the Michigan sideline, Illinois has just scored to go up 45-38 aaaaand…


Fair? No. Accurate? Yes. User Tom Pickle with the win.

Sorry about nearly killing you. That guy who got plowed on the sideline during Tate's double personal foul keeper in overtime was actually Channel 7's Don Shane. The two shared a heartwarming moment afterwards:

He's got the flags to prove it, Don.

More advanced metricing. Michigan's moved up to #3 nationally in FO's S&P ratings… on offense. They're just behind Auburn and Boise State, #1 on "standard downs" and #6 on pass downs. Ohio State(!) is a surprising #5, and then the next Big Ten team is #17 Wisconsin. Michigan is #98 on defense. Woo.

I also asked Brian Fremeau for Michigan's kickoff numbers to see if that aspect of the game is actually hurting them much. I asked him last week and never got around to posting them, so these are a little out of date. In an effort to reduce confusion I'm going to flip signs so negative is always bad and positive is good. The units here are in average points away from expectation.

Kickoffs: –0.054 (79th)
Kick Return: –0.099 (95th)

Punts: +0.101 (13th)
Punt return: –0.023 (77th)

What this means is for every ten Michigan punts Michigan has saved a point in expected field position; for every ten kick returns they've lost a point in expected field position. So.

  • Points on kickoffs (58): -3.1
  • Points on kick returns (56): -5.5
  • Points on punts (30): +3.0
  • Points on punt returns(40): –0.9

Grand total: around –6.5 pending how Michigan's performance against Illinois changes the numbers (I'm guessing it doesn't change much since Michigan gave up some good returns but also busted the long one before the half).

Meanwhile, Michigan's no longer national-worst kickers (up to 117!) are –1.0 per FGA. They've attempted 11, so the field goal situation is almost twice as damaging as the rest of it. All told Michigan's losing about two points a game on special teams, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that flipping that stat would take Michigan's scoring margin from +5 to +9.

Belated Free Press denouement. I had football to talk about and didn't get around to this but a few bits and pieces to wrap up the jihad. A national take from Doc Sat:

The tepid infractions that came to light as a result of the Freep's digging are the minimum you'd expect to find at any sprawling program operating under a massive handbook, as the basic cost of employing fallible human beings while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile coach who almost immediately cleaved the fan base down the middle. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan that was forced to roll its eyes and slap itself on the wrist in halfhearted contrition as the "probation" label is applied for the first time in school history.

Chait drops Chaitbombs to the point where the fiancée thinks she should use this

Here's the headline of one report: "RichRod gets win, but still needs more on field" Here's the headline of a second: "UM's violations deemed major, but not serious" And here's a third: "NCAA's verdict: Rodriguez ignored rules; U-M gets more probation"

Those headlines came from ESPN, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. You can probably guess which was which.

…as part of a media framing discussion in future classes she teaches. MVictors has audio from Brandon's appearance on WTKA wherein he said

“We apologized yesterday because we made mistakes.  I’m kinda waiting for somebody from the media to apologize for mistakes they made.  And I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but that would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?”

And of course the guy who asked if Rodriguez would be fired and got a death glare was Drew Sharp. Brandon should have asked "when is the Free Press going to fire you?"

Etc.: Wisconsin's John Clay and starting center Peter Konz are "iffy" for this week's game against Indiana. Sounds like they should be good to go for Michigan but sprains can be weird. This Week In Schadenfreude does not feature Colorado because no Colorado fans care anymore. Anything can happen in dead coach walking situations and fans will just shrug and talk about who the next guy is going to be. Michigan State is 9-1 for the first time in a million years and they still can't sell out their game against Purdue without resorting to two-for-one deals.



November 9th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

that's a really tough call btwn a pick and a scratch.  but the wipe on the face puts me over.  gerg has shiny hair, but poor hygiene.


November 9th, 2010 at 12:09 PM ^

Wow.  That is a man who does not feel very good about life. 

I guess we've just been desensitized to incomprehensibly porous defensive performances. Our scar tissue is deep.  Illinois, it appears, can't look at a 60+ point performance and say, "eh, shit happens."


November 9th, 2010 at 12:10 PM ^

But did anyone else wonder how the hell a college paper has the budget to send a student writer and photographer down from Michigan to South Florida for one story? I'm impressed.



November 9th, 2010 at 12:24 PM ^

I'd imagine they look for the best deals throughout the entire semester and find flights that are $100 round trip. Make it for a day and you don't have to pay for a hotel or check any bags other than maybe the camera. I'd imagine they have a pretty decent budget at such a large school.


November 9th, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing, and then wondered if the writer isn't from Florida, was home for fall break, and went to do the story. Or they could have been visiting friends down there. If you shop smart, airfare isn't much, so The Daily may have been able to pay for it, or the writer paid for it himself. A big story like that looks great if the author wants to work in journalism.


November 9th, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

I can only imagine what a camera might have caught were it to pan to my face at most any time during that game.  I'm certain I wouldn't want a .gif made of it and fused to some internet theme of my competence.

Golden Rule and all that...

Adding: not to be a ninny, of course - if it were Tressel and his hygiene being impugned, I'd be all in.  I'm a homer.


November 9th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

This foolish meme would be more correctly stated as, "it won't work AGAIN in the Big Ten."

While the forward pass was being refined, quarterbacks would routinely run, kick, punt, etc. Turn back the clock and you'll find several Michigan quarterbacks who had success running the ball. For instance: Benny Friedman. He went on to become "the first great passer in professional football," and in 1928 he led the NFL is passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, scoring and extra points (while playing for the Detroit Wolverines). He remains the only player to ever lead the NFL in passing and rushing touchdowns in the same season.

Interestingly enough, Friedman's coach at Michigan was a man from West Virginia who learned football while playing tackle for the Mountaineers. That man's name was Fielding H Yost.

Go Blue Beat T…

November 9th, 2010 at 1:00 PM ^

I couldn't agree more. Livid to start my day because that garbage was the first thing I saw. I think it would actually kill them to write one good thing about this team. With all the shit that has been thrown not only at the coaches, but also the players, I think DBrandon should do Rrod--and, more importantly, the team-- a favor and throw his public support behind him, express his admiration for maintaining control and for leading a team that represents UM in a way that speaks to the character of the ideal Michigan Man, (tenacious, relentless, resilient, and a team that plays like a team and supports itself from within, which gives it the ability to withstand the constant childish attacks from the media and play a brand of football that makes the Michigan program one I, as a faithful alumnus, am more than proud to support). In short, "fuck all y'all motha fuckas." These clowns from the freep should lose their press passes. Hail.


November 9th, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

My Free Press boycott was challenged on Sunday at the Detroit Metro Airport.  I stopped at one of the kiosks in the airport before my flight back home to get a newspaper with UM-Illinois highlights.  It was there that I learned that the Detroit News and Free Press put out a joint Sunday paper!?  WTF?  Well, needless to say, I was pissed but kept strong in my boycott.  Why the f- is there a combined Sunday paper??


November 9th, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

I'm originally from Michigan and went to undergrad there back in the mid-90s but haven't read either of the papers on anything near to a regular basis.  So, yes, I did just make the discovery of what apparently been the situation for a long time.  Its still a strange thing, no?  Why not just have one big paper rather than two?

Puget Sound Blue

November 9th, 2010 at 6:57 PM ^

Joint operating agreements were authorized under the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 to allow newspapers in the same market to combine operations and therefore cut costs, the rationale being that JOAs would allow multiple newspapers to survive where circulation was declining.  This was before the age of 24 hour/day TV news and the Internet, so the Act's supporters argued that the Act would preserve editorial diversity and prevent a single large newspaper from controlling the local market.


November 9th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

Saw this article on Sunday and was mightily impressed.  Somewhat off topic, I also saw on the same page that Ann Arbor has banned porch couches, and all I can say is I hope the fines are not retroactive. 

oriental andrew

November 9th, 2010 at 12:51 PM ^

While I do appreciate and got a good laugh out of the MSU subway 2-for-1 deal for the Purdue game (which is SENIOR DAY and would see them go to 10-1, in all likelihood), I do wonder why our own student section seemed so empty at the start of the Illinois game.  Too early for the kids to get to the stadium?  It looked a little sad on TV, quite frankly.  


Then again, 2 consecutive losing seasons and Michigan is still selling out their home games.  For all their on-field success this season, the MSU fans STILL aren't showing up.  


November 9th, 2010 at 2:51 PM ^

I don't think any school is immune to this. The same was true of the Penn State game at 8 pm. A guy next to me pointed out a section that looked reserved (like the band section). It was just a portion of the student section that had not yet filled. Fortunately our students more than do their job come game time.


November 9th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

The use of Gallon to return kicks and punts is contrary to what we have traditionally done and what most major college teams do.  in the past, we have always used starters to return kicks and punts: AC, Desmond, Manningham, Woodson, Breaston, even the A-Train used to return kicks.  I don't like the idea of using a guy who's cold and has had no reps to come in and field kicks.  Put Shaw and Vincent or Stonum back on kickoffs and put someone like Grady out their to return punts.


November 9th, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

While I am distressed at how poorly Gallon has returned kicks to this point and am eager to start the Dileo era (at least for punts) I wonder if playing Gallon there is an attempt to keep him happy so he doesn't transfer. We are loaded at slot receiver and receiver in general so there is little playing time and even fewer balls to go around. I think Gallon is a tremendous talent and I would hate to see him transfer because he is not being used. Anyway, that is my theory for why he is still returning kicks.


November 9th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

It's unbelievable that there has no been disciplinary action at the FreeP against Sharp for what he did.  Michigan really didn't do anything that any other school hasn't done, but they just had to get rid of Rodriguez.  I want to see a smirk on RR's face when he wins a national title and never lets Drew sharp ask a question.


November 9th, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

Same with the FAU deal at Ford Field.  Beyond pulling out their (boring, lifeless) "STATE" sweatshirts and hats for the first time in 25 years, they don't really care.  Not a committed fanbase.  But at 9-1, that is downright humiliating. 

Re. "Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win."  Does he have any comment of the shredding they took at the hands of Tate?