Inside the Boxscore - Team 136, Game 1

Submitted by ST3 on September 5th, 2015 at 4:57 PM

     How was your off-season? I could say mine was good, but that's just a qualitative assessment. Here in boxscore land, we rely on numbers to tell a story. Every summer, my company gives out pedometers and encourages its employees to track their steps. At the end of the step-tracking, the health assessments begin. The insurance companies use the health assessments to set the coverage rates they charge my company. I'm sure those two items aren't related at all. I cranked out over 850K steps during the 8 week step-tracking period. I felt so good about that, I kept the pedometer on for another two weeks and went over 1 million steps in 10 weeks. What does all that mean? I don't know, but they are nice round numbers.

     Besides the step tracking, my new year's resolution was to do 10,000 push-ups this year. I'm on pace, having done ~7,000 so far. With all that walking (hey, when you get older, any sort of movement is good,) and the push-ups, I was hoping my health assessment would be improved over last year. I went to get my numbers Friday morning and found out that my blood pressure is still a little high. The numbers are in the "pre-hypertension" range. My glucose reading was still just a little above normal, so I fall in the "pre-diabetic" range. Finally, my BMI is no better than last year, so I'm still pre-obese.

     Like me, the University of Michigan football team has spent the past 8 months trying to improve. They brought in a new coach with a track record of success. They trained like never before, eschewing film study to spend all 4 daily allotted hours on the practice field. They entered a submarine (metaphorical, I suppose, but with Harbaugh who can say for sure) and focused exclusively on football during fall practice. So have they improved? I submit that the numbers will show that the quarterbacking is pre-efficient, the running game is pre-effective, and the defense is pre-dominating.


The Two Jakes
* Jake Rudock was everything I was hoping he would be, except for the three interceptions. He threw X+1 yard passes on third and X. He completed 27 of 43 passes for a 62.8 completion percentage. I'm thrilled to see a number there north of 60%. He passed for 279 yards, good for 6.5 yards per attempt.
* I would define an efficient quarterback as one who completes 60+% of his passes for 7+ YPA, with 0-1 INTs/game. Jake was close to meeting those numbers, except fo the three interception. After one game against a pretty good defense, it says here that he is a pre-efficient passer. All he needs to do is get more comfortable throwing to Grant Perry and hit on a couple long balls at normal elevation under reasonable conditions. I think the ball sailed on him on the long throws due to the elevation, much like baseballs at Coors Field.
* Jake Butt in 2015 >>> Jake Butt in 2014. He appeared fully healthy and a near lock for the Mackey Award. Butt tallied 93 yards on 8 catches, including a ridiculous catch for a TD with 2 Ute defenders draped all over him.

Amazing Amara Darbaugh
* As good as Butt was, Darboh led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 101 yards and a TD. He's realizing how nice it is to have another receiver actually block for you on a bubble screen.
* Nine receivers caught passes from Rudock. He did have his two favorites in Darboh and Butt, but he also distributed 11 completions among 7 other receivers. That will make it hard for opposing defenses to prepare for Michigan. There'll be no more just shutting down Gallon or Funchess. Several guys can hurt you on this offense. I expect to see more contributions from the new guys, Perry, Bunting, and Isaac, as they get more familiar with the offense. I expect to see fewer contributions from A.J. Williams. He just showed no ability to separate from defenders.

* Since Brian inexplicably didn't use "Jackhammer" for his best performer award, I'm going to use it for the running backs. I think jackhammer is a fitting description for these guys because in practice, a jackhammer doesn't really go anywhere. It bangs and bangs and bangs at the concrete until the concrete finally breaks. I expect what you'll see this year is Harbaugh giving Smith, Isaac (and the occasional carry to Kerridge) carry after carry where they bang out 3 yards per, until the fourth quarter when the defense breaks and the Michigan running game starts cranking out 7 yards per carry. The net effect will be around 4.5 ypc, but we'll be able to win games in the fourth quarter by controlling the clock and limiting the opposition's chances. Older fans like myself will smile knowingly as the Harbaughfense cranks out 7 minute drives in the late stages of close games, hopefully finishing with 7 points while salting away another victory.
* De'Veon Smith got the majority of the carries and yards (17 for 47, 2.8 ypc.)
* Derrick Green only gained 1 yard on 2 carries. I was waiting for him to enter the game as a change of pace back. The pace changed alright, it just got slower.

Tacos and Peppers
* Bolden and Morgan led the way with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively.
* Ojemudia and Taco each had a sack that cost Utah 3 yards, a mini-sack if you will.
* Wormley led the way with 3 TFLs. Michigan had 9 TFLs total for 21 yards. By comparison, Sack Lake City Utah had no sacks and only 3 TFLs for 3 yards. We've come a long way on the O-Line.

ST3's STSTs (these are my Special Teams Specific Thoughts)
* Many have complained about our less than special teams the past few seasons. During these discussions, you'll often see someone say, special teams are 1/3 of the game. I did a quick check of the last few games last season and found out that ~1/6 of the plays run during a game are special teams plays. In this game, Michigan ran 72 plays and Utah had 70 total offensive plays. There were 26 assorted punts, kickoffs, PATs, and field goal tries. 26/168=0.155. Once again, roughly 1/6 of the total plays were special teams plays.
* Of course, at altitude, it can be argued that the kickoffs were merely ceremonial as only 1 of the 9 kickoffs total was returned.

Baughscore Bits
* Brian's game recap stated, "You have read this column before." Well, I have seen this boxscore before as well. In an otherwise evenly matched game, turnovers swung the game to our opponents.
* First downs were even at 20-20, but Michigan only gained 3 first downs by rushing. I hope that's the low point for the season. It better be.
* Total offense yards was slightly in Michigan's favor, 355-337, with Michigan cranking out 4.9 yards per play to Utah's 4.8.
* Although it didn't seem like it, Michigan was actually better on 3rd down, converting 6 of 16 to Utah's 3 of 13.
* Neither team had a QBH. Try telling that to Jake Rudock.

Hexadecimal Points
* All Hail the Return of Hexadecimal Numbers. With the loss of Legends Jerseys and the re-retiring of retired numbers, we've got a numbers crunch. James Ross III is listed as #1F and Mason Cole is 5C.
* With all the talk of white pants, one thing was overlooked. The first initials of the Glasgows and the Coles were removed. I don't expect Mason to be confused with Brian, and the Glasgows play on opposite sides of the line so that should be OK.

There's a Cat on the Field
* Lineswoman Catherine Conti, to be precise. This was the first time a woman reffed a Pac-12 game. I don't recall if a Michigan game has had a female ref before. Maybe WD can help me out.
* Refs weren't noticed often, which is a good thing.

No real closing thoughts today, except to say that as far as beginnings go, this was a fine one but for the final score.



September 5th, 2015 at 5:44 PM ^

I was very pessimistic immediately after the loss and well into Friday, but after reading this you've infused some optimism into my fandome. The idea that Jake was able to spread the ball around despite his limited time with the playbook and his receivers bodes well. 

The biggest issue for me still remains the RBs. I know Smith showed hints of promise, but until the O-Line can produce the kinds of holes that don't require any "should I run there or here?" thoughts by our backs I'll withold any hopes for improvement there.

Lastly, yes the refs were mostly invisible, but that Utah punt that looked like it went out of bounds inside the 5 yard line was called a touchback by the refs, and it wasn't reviewable. It wasn't against us though, so who really cares?

I look forward to these every week, so keep up the great work.

Tony Soprano

September 7th, 2015 at 9:51 AM ^

I think that pass interference call against Peppers was total BS.  In looking at the replay, he hardly touched the receiver.  In fact, it was the receiver that was grabbing Pepper's helment and pulling it down.  Yeah, I know Peppers didn't turn his head back to the ball, but still he didn't even touch the receiver. Total BS call and it was costly. 


September 5th, 2015 at 6:02 PM ^

Every time I get my blood pressure checked at these events, the diastolic number is higher than normal. However, I have checked at home regularly, at the numbers are much better. You might want to do that. And lower the sodium intake. 


The third down conversion rate was better for Michigan, but it didn't feel like it. Overall, I am hopefull for this year. Let's see how it turns out.


btw, how do you tally 15K steps per day, 5 mile jog every day? or couple of marathons? 


September 5th, 2015 at 7:24 PM ^

My BP is similar to yours. When I check regularly, it's normal. I blamed the high number Friday morning on the game Thursday night. You are right about the sodium.

Regarding steps, they allow you to convert exercise into steps if you take the pedometer off. So, for example, a minute of softball is worth 98 steps. One minute of competitive badminton (which I play a few times a week) is worth 137 steps. Riding a stationary bike is somewhere around 150-200 depending on how fast you go. If I'm not exercising during the day, I try to walk at lunch and/or after work. It's about 100 steps/minute if you walk at a reasonable pace. The first year we did this, I struggled to get 7-8K steps. The next year was 10K, then 12K, and the past two summers I've hit 15K. But it's done nothing for my waistline/BMI. One of these days I'll start eating properly.


September 10th, 2015 at 10:19 AM ^

What tracker do you use? I use Fitbit Zip, but not happy with it because of a design flaw. The negative terminal in the Zip is flimsy. Hence, the contact between the battery and the terminal is intermittent. After a couple of months use, it fails to make proper contact with the battery. Hence, it loses steps, resets at odd times during the day. It becomes very unpredictable to use. 


September 5th, 2015 at 8:27 PM ^

Thanks for the analysis. For the most part seems to back up my thoughts watching the game (still haven't watched a second time): we played well enough to win except for the interceptions.

If Rudock gets better and the o-line continues its trajectory (the latter I'm confident about, the first one is a toss-up I think), this could be the most enjoyable season since Denard was healthy.


September 6th, 2015 at 7:43 AM ^

Fwiw, BMI is a totally bogus way of measuring obesity. It doesn't take body composition into account. Every single player on a football team would show well into the obese range, for example. It's all about body fat percentage, NOT BMI.

Anywho, thanks for the writeup. Frustrating to lose yet another game because of turnovers, especially when you have a QB whonis supposed to be proficient at limiting turnovers. Let's hope that it's not an indicator for the season and that Rudock and the run offense can settle in the next couple of weeks before we get another fearsome opponent. Fix the turnovers/overthrows at QB, improve on the run game, and the sky's the limit for this team.


September 8th, 2015 at 5:55 PM ^

While his numbers may be slightly inflated, the research agrees with him. For roughly 82% of the population, BMI is just fine.

It should be noted BMI is not a great individual measure of body composition-- there are better ones. However, it was mostly designed as an epidemiological tool for large-scale trends in populations, and for that, it does its job very well. It's simple and inexpensive, too, which is why it's used over other methods (DEXA, BodPod, skin fold, etc.)


September 8th, 2015 at 6:05 PM ^

I just wanted to say that you've already completed the most difficult part of becoming healthier: starting the journey. Just like any habit (kicking or developing), the hardest part is starting in the first place. It takes courage to want to change and do something about it.

Don't get dissuaded by the lack of measurable improvements. Being healthier is a long-term change, and it takes time. That's why we call it a "journey." Instead, pay attention to how you feel. Your body changes before the numbers. Is it easier to walk up stairs? Appreciate that. Do you have more energy during the day? Perfect. 

Just keep it up, and you'll start to see real changes. You already did the hardest part. Now it's just keeping it going. 

For those who want to start, know that it's never too late. There's an old Chinese proverb that "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now."