When We Went To The Air - A Look At 2012

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on November 28th, 2012 at 9:29 AM

I thought it might be an interesting exercise to evaluate the “behavior” of the passing game this season, if you will, by comparing the individual game numbers to the running average as it would have been at the end of a given game. To see what this would look like, I took a look at five major metrics and then made a sixth chart which simply compares passing touchdowns to interceptions so it is possible to see what the “behavior” was producing.

First, I looked at the NCAA overall QB rating for each game’s passing statistics versus what the cumulative line would show for a rating. In eight games out of twelve, Michigan’s QBs maintained a rating above what the cumulative statistics would have dictated at the end of that game. In a couple cases, it was barely above the cumulative rating – against Purdue (coming off ND), and against Ohio State (because of 2ndhalf).


The charts for yards per attempt and yards per completion do somewhat mimic one another for obvious reasons, and it was my curiosity that led me to make both of these admittedly. That being said, they do not exactly follow each other during the games in which Gardner started. There is a steady decline in YPC from Minnesota to Ohio State, but the YPA is somewhat erratic in comparison.

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Interestingly, the chart for completion percentage follows a somewhat similar track to the one for yards per attempt, although there are some noted differences. It is almost possible to say that the more vertical our passing game was getting, the more successful it tended to be. Without having done the correlation calculations, of course, I don’t know what the strength of that relationship would be.


The chart for passing yards per game is interesting and tells a bit of a story, I think. Discounting Alabama only because one number is its own average, of course, we can see the following. When we were above the current average in a game, we were 5-0, and when our passing yards in a given game were below the average as of that game, we were 3-3.


Here is a quick look at the progess of passing TD and INT totals as the season progressed:




November 28th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

Interesting. In most seasons, Michigan has lived or died by the run. If you outgain them on the ground, you're almost certainly going to win. But this year, the rushing attack (non-Denard) sucked continuously, so the pass offense became the differencemaker.

Ron Utah

November 28th, 2012 at 12:55 PM ^

Our success this season was always going to be predicated on our ability to throw the football effectively.  The reason is simple: the O-line is not yet good enough to open holes for runners consistently.

Denard, unfortunately, didn't take the step forward as a passer that we hoped he would.  In the passing game, we were unable to protect as well as we needed to against top competition.

The bottom line is that without the credible threat of a passing game, we couldn't limit opponents to keeping fewer defenders in the box.  As it turns out, our passing game woes were largely because of two key factors: the O-line couldn't protect and Denard wasn't a very good throwing QB.

Once Devin came in, he had success as a passer, and the offense moved.  We still couldn't run effectively, and Devin was constantly under pressure, even against weaker opponents.

I am truly looking forward to improved O-line play next year and beyond...