No longer believing in the decimated defense theory.
*This is my first diary and is not in any way meant to disparage the excellent work done by Misopogon and others on this board. It's more of a way to examine my own sanity and perceptions while doing anything but work on a Monday morning. It's also not proofread for the Grammar Nazis.
We all have believed that our defensive woes can be blamed on an empty cupboard in varying degrees. Some entirely Lloyd leaving nothing and others just considered that a small factor for what has become an awful defense. I was in the camp that said Michigan just doesn't have the players and it is a function of depth or lack of it. That all changed this past weekend when I saw first hand how bad this defense is playing.
Saturday night I had officially fallen off the RR bus and no longer believed in him as a head coach. Instead I now thought of him as a great offensive coordinator, but completely out of his league as a head coach in the Big Ten. To me he was the college equivalent of Norv Turner or the Run & Shoot.
Yesterday, while still fuming, I thought about ways I could identify if this was my raw emotions or if there is some statistical basis for my change of heart. As a fan of Peter Drucker I have always thought that one must be able to document any outcomes so I set about looking at the recent history of the Michigan Wolverine defense. What statistics would be relavant to show that I am either being a completely irrational fan or thinking logically.
I settled on 5 defensive statistics that are readily available in a boxscore that I don't think would be affected by a quick scoring offense such as ours. They are: 3rd down efficiency, Pass Completion Percentage, Yards/Completion, Yards/Rush, and turnovers. After settling on them I pulled stats from 2008 to present. What I found tells me that this defense right now is WORSE than last year's unit with those statistics. In some ways it is even worse than the “decimated defense” of 2008. Right now the stats are even weighted more to the cupcake portion of our schedule and we haven't even gotten to Wisconsin or Ohio State.
And now the stats...
3rd down efficiency tells us how often, if ever we are able to get our opponent to punt, try for a field goal, or go for it on 4th down. Essentially this is the “win” down. Win and the offense gets on the field for Denard and Co. to work their magic.
Two years ago on 3rd down our opponents only converted a bit over 1/3 of their opportunities (39%) this year that is up to a 44% rate and I strongly suspect after we finish the Big Ten schedule it will be almost 50%.
Some aspect of this defense would have to improve, right? I mean Lloyd left RR an empty cupboard and he's had time to bring in his recruits and a coordinator that fits his scheme. How are they gashing this defense? Is it run or is it pass?
Looks the correct answer to that question is...both. The Chappell-bombing wasn't a fluke. We've only held one opponent under 60% completion percentage all year and that was the Medivac unit known as Notre Dame.
It is in the above 3 graphs that we see the only improvement over last year's bad defense. We're back to allowing under 4 yards per carry for our opponents. Still higher than the "decimated defense" that Lloyd left which allowed a whopping 3.5 yards per carry (sarcasm).
If all else fails, get the ball more than your opponent. Cause some turnovers and Denard can score us points. That's what I understand GERG teaches instead of tackling.
Well, that's not working out so good either.
Now that I have actually looked at the numbers since RR arrived in Ann Arbor, I can be confident that I'm not being a complete Emo in thinking this just isn't working. I wasn't excited by the hiring of GERG and have been on record with that even before his first game.
Am I calling for RR to be fired...no. But I'm also not defending him anymore. We've become the college equivalent of a Norv Turner coached football team. I have complete faith that Dave Brandon will do the right thing to restore this program, whether it includes RR or not remains to be seen.