RR setting Michigan & Big Ten total offense records

Submitted by Communist Football on November 4th, 2010 at 4:30 PM


As you know, I diarize weekly on the subject of Denard Robinson's record-setting season. At the suggestion of Comrade Raoul, I thought I would add some research on some of the team offense records that this year's Wolverines are chasing, especially given that some of our fellow MGoProletarians are arguing that Michigan's offense is "inconsistent."

Did you know that Michigan is averaging 518.4 yards per game in total offense, higher than any other team in Big Ten history? (Second place belongs to Penn State's 1994 team, which averaged 512.7 yards per game.) This year's team is on pace to demolish the old Michigan total offense record of 466.9, set in 1992, when Gary Moeller roamed the sidelines, barking orders to Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and Tyrone Wheatley.

Big Ten All-Time Leaders Year YPG (Total Offense)
1. MICH 2010 518.4
2. Penn State 1994 512.7
3. Northwestern 2005 500.3
4. Ohio State 1998 497.6
5. Michigan State 2005 497.3
6. Minnesota 2005 494.8
7. Minnesota 2003 494.6
8. Ohio State 1974 493.2
9. Ohio State 1996 490.4
10. Michigan State 1978 481.3
11. Ohio State 1995 478.6
Michigan All-Time Leaders (QB/WR/RB) Year YPG (Total Offense)
1. Robinson / Roundtree / Smith 2010 518.4
2. Grbac / Howard / Wheatley 1992 466.9
3. Navarre / Edwards / Perry 2003 446.7
4. Henson / Terrell / Thomas 2000 446.1
5. Grbac / Howard / Vaughn 1990 432.5

Here are some other impressive stats:

  • Michigan is averaging 7.4 yards per play, which is most all-time in Michigan history (the existing record is 6.4 yards, in 1992 and 1947).
  • Michigan is averaging 35.1 points per game, good for 10th all-time in Michigan history, and the fourth-highest Michigan total in 63 years.
  • Michigan is averaging 275.5 rushing yards per game, 6th all-time in Big Ten history and 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The Big Ten record is 349.9 in 1974 by Ohio State; the Michigan record is 345.3 in 1976.)
  • Michigan is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, higher than any other Michigan team in history (the current record is 5.9 per carry in 1976).
  • Michigan is averaging 246.1 passing yards per game, 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The record is 270.8 in 2003.)
  • Michigan is averaging 23.1 first downs per game, second-highest in Michigan history. (The record is 23.9 in 2003.)

None of this is to excuse the performance on the defensive side of the ball -- but merely to remind people that our offense as a unit is one of the best Michigan has ever fielded.

As noted above, this year's team is averaging 35.1 points per game, one of Michigan's best in recent memory. But the Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" teams averaged 50.5, 58.5, 47.1, 56.7, and 38.1 points per game from 1901 to 1905. Fritz Crisler's 1947 national championship team of Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, nicknamed the "Mad Magicians," averaged 39.4.

Dynamic offenses have been few and far between in the postwar era. The 1976 Bo Schembechler team, led by Rick Leach and Rob Lytle, scored 36.0 points per game, and owns the rushing season record with 345.3 yards per game. The aforementioned 1992 team averaged 35.9 points; and the 2003 team averaged 35.4.

The difference between the Rodriguez offense and the previous two is that for Carr and Moeller, an all-time offense came around once or twice a decade, when there was a unique confluence of talent at every position. If Rodriguez is allowed to stay on, there is every reason to believe that this offense will get even better next year and the year after.

By all means, fix the defense, using whatever means necessary. But let's not send our offense back into the Dust Age. The Hegelian dialectic tells us that only Spread and Shred can lead us to a workers' paradise.


Communist Football

November 4th, 2010 at 7:50 PM ^

If M is outperforming these teams over 12 games, but these teams are outperforming M over 8 B10 games, then M is outperforming them by even more over the 4 NC games.

Your argument would make more sense if the actual *teams* NW and Minny played in their nonconference schedule were stronger than Michigan's nonconference schedule.  But they're not. Hence, your segregation of the data doesn't tell us anything.


November 5th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

The segregation of the data tells us a lot.  We clearly fed on interior NC opponents as our total offense numbers are lower in conference and we should expect them to keep coming down (probably fair to assume we'll average the same 474 in our remaining 4 games).  That recent Minny and NW teams didn't rack up the same yards against inferior NC opponents doesn't necessarily mean they couldn't have.  It more likely means they had a respectable defense that allowed them to take out the starters and go into cruise control, which we weren't able to do because we don't have a defense that would be successful in the MAC.

It makes sense to segregate the data because comparing big ten results is more meaningful as a control than including NC games that may have varied widely in difficulty.


November 4th, 2010 at 6:37 PM ^

for the largest spread between the yards gained on offense and the yards given up on defense. 

Right now, our yds/game on offense is at 518, and we're giving up 440 yds/game. If you look at the defensive yardage as a negative number, then the spread between the two is 958 yards. I'd be very surprised if there's more than 5 teams in D1A since 1950 that have a greater spread than that.


November 4th, 2010 at 8:23 PM ^

This is an interesting point, Don. I couldn't find such a category in the NCAA record book, but for comparison's sake, the 2000 team holds the U-M record for most net yards gained and allowed for a season at 10,032.

The 2000 offense averaged 446.1 yds/game, while the defense allowed 389.9 yds/game. So, the average U-M game that year featured 836 yards of total offense. This year's squad is ahead of that pace by more than 100 yards!

I'm not sure what to take away from this other than bet the over on the next two games.


November 4th, 2010 at 6:47 PM ^

If the offense can cut down on the mistakes and score more TD's in the redzone then nobody will stop them. The offense is almost as young as the defense and will improve over the next couple of seasons. All we need is to find that go to RB.

The defense will take another year to improve.  Hopefully by 2012 the upperclassmen will be playing much better and the team will compete with NE for the b10 west conference.


November 4th, 2010 at 7:09 PM ^

This is why I'm still hesitant to jump on the "Fire RRod with fire" bandwagon. The offense is just... good. If we had an average defense, this team would be top 15. Unfortunately, we're a decent Big East team right now: explosive offense, Error: 404 defense.


November 4th, 2010 at 8:37 PM ^

This is so nerv wracking. Huge offensive numbers and a majority of people coming back make me want to keep RR if we can just have an average D. I soooooo think this will happen (fingers crossed)

Born Blue

November 4th, 2010 at 10:03 PM ^

New here, thanks for having me. Intrigued by the diary, had a thought, how many of these yardage champs parlayed their prowess into a B10 Championship?  Answer:5.  Only one outright champ, psu - 94; three co-champs, '74 (um & tosu), '78 (m & msu), '96 (tosu & nw); and one three-way tie, '98 (um, tosu, & wisky).  Love the offense, support the team, looking for championships...like everybody else.  Good food for thought though, thanks!

Communist Football

November 5th, 2010 at 8:32 AM ^

I'm a believer in the hypothesis that defense wins championships...unfortunately the Big Ten doesn't keep total defense records, so we can't compare the top 10 defensive teams against the top 10 offensive teams in terms of championships.

The thing is that we shouldn't have to choose: we should be able to field a traditional Michigan defense along with a communist offense. This was everyone's expectation going into the RR era. That it hasn't happened has been why the pitchforks are out.

Born Blue

November 5th, 2010 at 3:42 PM ^

you saw that? I thought I had put my pitchfork outta sight!  At any rate, I've seen this movie before.  I did my graduate work at the University of Florida during the tenure of the Ol' Ball Coach.  Great Offense, defense, which was great when he arrived, and about all they had besides Emmitt to the Left, Right, and up the middle, went south...the result, some horrific blow-out losses in conference and against FSU. The point?  Bob Stoops.  Brought in to stop the FSU's, Tenn's, UGA's and Neb's of the world, result, heisman winner, & NC.  So, just like you and the rest of our fandom, I'm looking forward to the immediate hire of our version of Bob Stoops,...wherever he may be. 

The defensive mantra notwithstanding, you still cannot win championships 0 - 0, ya gotta score, and we can score!  Of course, we gotta defend, but with the right hire..."Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face!"