I’ll begin with a confession and a qualification. I am admittedly a “youther” in that I think it’s legitimate to evaluate UM’s performance within the context of game-experience, program experience, eligibility, etc. That doesn’t get the coaches (in any regime) or players “off the hook” but it does provide context. In my world view this is a factor in determining past performance and future expectations.
My world view (as informed by MGoBlog) also holds that stars matter to set expectations of player performance up and down the roster in general. Thus Roster Make-up (“RM”) combines eligibility, game experience, and recruit ranking to provide a prism through which I view a team’s performance. It should be noted, I do not think there is an acceptable context for 3-win seasons, 27 for 27 or minus-48 vs. Sparty.
I thought I’d compare the MSU, OH, ND and UM 2-deeps. The qualification is that depth charts are often not worth the paper they’re printed on, and this snap shot will change over the course of the season. In general, I think the analysis is still relevant.
Hopefully, the Mathlete, his legion of fans (of which I’m one) and the other phenomenal statisticians/mathemagicians aren’t too disappointed in this clumsy and simple view…but a method should mirror its maker, yes?
The two-deeps are taken from a variety of sources and generally align with the most recent version I could find. UM’s does not fall in line with the App St. chart regarding Glasgow and Kalis. I used the 11W 2-deep from today, and Rivals for MSU and ND (both updated the 26th).
Regarding the rankings, I looked at the four main ranking sites and came up with these groups:
- 5*: Any site giving 5* rating (e.g. Peppers, Shane, Green)
- u4: (Unanimous) 4* from all 4 sites (e.g. Beyer, Cole, Countess)
- c4: (Consensus) 4* from a majority of the sites (e.g. Funchess)
- 4*: (Low) 4* 1 or 2 sites rated as a 4* (e.g. Taylor)
- h3: (high) 3* as a 5.7 and/or 88+ and/or 78+ (e.g. Braden)
- 3*: Any site giving 3* rating (e.g. Henry, JMFR)
- 2*: walk-on or actual 2* rating (e.g. Glasgows)
Note: UM’s “games played” numbers are based on player participation reports so UM’s numbers reflect positional experience. The other teams are derived from player bios and those do not often adequately separate special teams play vs. positional play unless it is “games started.” UM’s games played will seenm lower by comparison.
Michigan (1st string: 201 Gms Started/394 Gms Played…1st+2nd: 259 GS/600 GP)
Michigan’s 2-deep looks as one would expect (especially if one is an avid follower on this site). The roster is full of flaming redshirts (57%) is anchored by Hoke’s 2012 class (43%), and has a lot of highly rated guys (aka “talented”). As can be seen later, relative to UM’s rivals there’s a good balance of game experience, age (trending youthfully), and talent. I’m glad to note only 2 starters are 1st or 2nd year guys, and yes, this may move to 4 with Peppers and Lewis, but is still better than years’ past. This roster is trending the right way, looks better in 2015, and makes me feel cautiously optimistic.
Notre Dame (1st string: 141 GS/449 GP…1st+2nd: 171 GS/586 GP)
The suspensions (should they last) created a problem for ND. The 2-deep got much younger and much less experienced. With Russell, Williams, Daniels and Moore Kelly loses 38 GS. The good news for the Irish is that the 2-deep is still pretty highly rated (slightly higher than UM’s). ND burns more redshirts than UM, and by the looks of it will be doing so again this year. ND has a dearth of 4th/5th years similar to UM’s. By contrast, they make up for it with true sophs and not so much by Kelly’s 2012 class. That 18th ranked class was smallish (18) and lost top-2 Kiel and Neal to attrition and is without Russell (for now). Kelly is going to rely on the most 1st/2nd year guys of any of the rivals (by far). Talented, but young and inexperienced is this group’s hallmark.
Michigan State (1st string: 237 GS/532 GP…1st+2nd: 267 GS/840 GP)
MSU’s roster also looks as one would expect. What they’ve lost seems to be a recurring topic, but with the most game starts of these 4 teams, Dantonio’s system keeps rolling. His 2-deep loathes burning redshirts (11%), loves 4th/5th year guys (59%), and plays with a chip on its shoulder from not being highly rated (70% below 4*). MSU freshmen lay in the weeds, learn, and win scout team awards (unless they’re Malik McDowell or Brian Allen). 2nd year guys get little love here as well. Basically, talk to the hand until the 3rd year, and even then its mostly just to get seasoning (excepting the 2-3 guys who MSU beat UM/OSU/ND for). Likely this will be the RM throughout Dantonio’s regime. The ratings are trending higher, but Dantonio’s RM will look a lot like this until he retires. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?
Ohio State (1st string: 168 Gms Started/413 Gms Played…1st+2nd: 178 GS/533 GP)
At Ohio State they reload. Even with the loss of Miller, that seems true. Meyer will have significantly more 5* than UM and ND. He’ll field a 2-deep devoid of 3* or 2* guys. Only 3 “high 3s” blemish this constellation of 4 & 5 stars. Though nothing like MSU’s load of 4th/5th year guys, Meyer will field more than UM and ND. They’ll also field more 1st/2nd year guys than UM, but not close to ND’s nursery. Loaded with talent, lacking experience, and led by a decent number of 4/5 year guys, Ohio State looks the way they usually do. Still, this could be a “down” year. That was probably going to mean 1-2 losses with Miller. Without him, I think it may mean 2 – 3.
Who Needs Starz?
Michigan will start three 3* guys (JMFR, Henry, JClark) and the Glasgows are walk-ons. MSU will start 5 3* guys (Calhoun, Waynes, Drummond, Langford and Kieler) with 2 w/o (Gliechart and Conklin). ND only starts one 3* and 1 w/o, and Meyer has no idea what is being discussed in this paragraph. Both Michigan schools have a shot a putting a number of these lower-rated recruits on the all-B1G lists. Unsurprisingly, there are no 1st or 2nd year guys in anyone’s 2-deep from the 3*/2* groups.
Looking at the QBs
Gardner is the best on paper (5th yr, 5*, 21/37 GP/GS, though 16 GS at QB), then Cook (4th yr, h3, 13/17), Golson (4th yr, c4, 11/12), and finally Barrett (2nd yr, u4, 0/0). This should bode well for UM, though three of the four look pretty decent. Barrett’s gonna struggle some, but the question is how much.
It Goes Without Saying the Above Paragraph All Depends on…
It may be wishful thinking, but my starting UM OL is still Cole, Mags, Glasgow, Kalis and Braden. That is worth 28/43 GS/GP and 4 highly rated guys (with Glasgow maybe being the best guy right now). MSU counters with 59/100 but with that “underrated” chip referenced earlier. ND should challenge UM’s DL with “grizzled” vets 50/103 who are very “talented” and older. OH will have 23/82 and such “meh” talent that their 2nd string includes talented DLs who’ve switched over, but have no experience. On paper, UM’s line is about as questionable as OH…maybe a little less, but they’re both close, and both scary. If Kalis isn’t a starter…damn.
I went into this thinking UM was likely to finish with 9-10 wins and would take 1 of 3 vs. these teams. I don’t think that record changes, since this exercise really made me feel better about ND struggling (who I already thought was the most likely W). Still, UM’s RM is balanced and relatively good compared to these rivals. OH is the most “talented” by a decent amount, but less experienced. MSU is doing what they do, and will be tough. ND looks young, talented, inexperienced and vulnerable. UM’s OL is still relatively young and inexperienced, but so is OH’s. In all, if this season doesn’t go well, RM isn’t something that I’ll be factor into the post-mortem.
- UM has the 2nd lowest rated true frosh in Freddy (ND’s Daniel Cage), and the highest (Peppers)
- UM is tied with ND for most c4/u4/5* since the 2012 class with 23.
- In 2015 the 4/5 yr guys from these 2014 2-deeps = MSU 25, UM 22, ND & OH 15
- MSU has burned 7 redshirts. Four are 5/4 stars and three are high 3s
- ND’s only walk-on is starting at LB. Their only 3* is starting at S.
- UM’s D has the most game-starts by a wide margin…and is talented enough to make it count.