After 8 games, we are tied for #1 pass defense

Submitted by ken725 on October 29th, 2012 at 7:50 PM
Rank Team G Opp Pass Att Opp Comp Opp Comp Pct Opp Pass Yds/Comp Int Opp Int Pct Opp Pass Yds Opp Pass Yds/Att Opp Pass TD Opp Pass Yds/G Opp Pass Conv
1 Alabama 8 225 115 51.11 10.15 14 6.22 1167 5.19 3 145.88 0
- Michigan 8 198 112 56.57 10.42 7 3.54 1167 5.89 5 145.88 1
3 Arizona St. 8 228 118 51.75 10.06 11 4.82 1187 5.21 11 148.38 1
4 LSU 8 251 130 51.79 9.14 13 5.18 1188 4.73 7 148.50 0
5 Vanderbilt 8 215 116 53.95 10.41 4 1.86 1208 5.62 4 151.00 0
6 Florida St. 9 318 158 49.69 8.78 6 1.89 1388 4.36 8 154.22 0
7 Minnesota 8 252 137 54.37 9.34 8 3.17 1279 5.08 8 159.88 0
8 Nebraska 8 238 113 47.48 11.34 6 2.52 1281 5.38 10 160.13 0
9 Fresno St. 9 266 136 51.13 10.76 16 6.02 1463 5.50 12 162.56 0
10 Boise St. 8 243 144 59.26 9.22 11 4.53 1327 5.46 2


I knew our defense was good, but I didn't think we would be tied for the best pass D in the nation.  I think this has to do a lot with Mattison/Mallory and also BIG TENNNNNNN.  I was nervous about our pass D after Countess went out, but Taylor has really stepped up and is a pleasant surprise.

Gibson minus all the points.


I don't know how to format this chart to make it fit.  Sorry for blocking the diary section.



October 29th, 2012 at 7:58 PM ^

The defense has been great this season, including (and maybe especially) against Nebraska.  A lesser defense might have allowed another 30 points after Denard went down.  


October 29th, 2012 at 8:00 PM ^

Big Ten certainly has something to do with it, but Bama's schedule has been potentially even weaker than ours if you take out the extra ten levels of imaginary difficulty granted to all SEC games. Vandy probably impresses me most of those teams.  Pass defense rankings are pretty worthless on their own though obviously.  Does show that we've definitely improved in that area, which is nice.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:44 PM ^

Yeah, but the fact that only one of Alabama's opponents has managed to stay within three touchdowns of them (just barely; Ole Miss lost to them 33-14) is a little scary. They don't seem to have any real flaws. I would be shocked if they don't repeat this year. They remind me of Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream in the NES version of Punch-Out. 


October 29th, 2012 at 8:08 PM ^

Our defense is good, I love Mattison, however.... Consider:

Alabama #73 passing 220 yd/game
Air Force #121 (last?) passing 114 yd/game
UMass #112 passing 169.1 yd/game
Notre Dame #93 passing 193.3 yd/game
Purdue #76 passing 219.6 yd/game
Illinois #104 passing 184.9 yd/game
MSU #66 passing 229.1 yd/game
Nebraska #71 passing 225 yd/game

So, the offenses we have played aren't necessarily great passers...


October 30th, 2012 at 5:46 PM ^

"assuming that our offense held them to half of their normal production"


If we held a team to 0 output we would affect them by 1/8th. Since that pretty clearly didn't happen, at best it would be 1/16th.

If any of them played a defense ranked middle of the pack and we compared vs ours maybe we would see the true difference and be able to apply that back, 1/16th is probably too optimistic, we're probably talking 1/32nd at best, or 3%


October 29th, 2012 at 8:14 PM ^

Yeah, this, unfortunately.  Look at how few attempts we have against us compared to everyone else on the OP's list.  We just haven't played teams who throw much at all.  We're not #1 in effeciency, just in total yards allowed. 

The fact that we've played a number of games in inclement weather doesn't hurt either.


October 30th, 2012 at 10:31 AM ^

But as a counter-example, the best pass offense Alabama has faced is Arkansas, and when they did face them it was a shell of its current self.  Typically the best pass defenses in terms of rankings are because they play mediocre pass offenses.  So yeah, UM may not be #1, but it is always relative.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:08 PM ^

It's been nice to see the guys step up in Countess' stead. Kovacs leadership, some great coaching, and...wait for it...TALENT seem to be going a long way! (unlike opponents' passes...)


October 29th, 2012 at 9:04 PM ^

Yeah, I'll give RR credit for some of it. These guys aren't scrubs. They're current coaching staff is doing a good job with them, so they get credit, too. The D-line is putting good pressure on QBs, so they get credit too.

The secondary themselves are generally utilizing all three of those things, so they get the most credit.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

It's interesting that only 20 yards separate the 1st and last team on this list when it comes to average opponent passing yards really. Another representation of the fantastic progress that Greg Mattison has made in really a short span. The other stat that I think deserves mention is pass efficiency defense, and we're 15th nationally, I believe. We allow an average of 5.89 YPA, and there are actually three teams just in the Big Ten that are better in this regard. 

I looked at individuals stats on MGoBlue, and we've accumulated 7 interceptions for 127 yards, 14 pass breakups and 3 recorded QB hurries. Further, the top 5 tacklers on the team are the starting linebackers and both starting safeties, and combined, they have 9.5 TFL for 64 yards. That's sounding like a defense that is difficult to throw against, and it is a wonderful thing. 

Just in the conference, 122 yards separate the best passing defense (ours) and the worst (Ohio State).



October 29th, 2012 at 8:49 PM ^

I think Coach Mallory really deserves a lot of credit here. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention all the guys back there (Especially Kovacs), but Coach has done a fantastic job with these guys.

With that being said, can you imagine how good Michigan's secondary will be in a few years? Look at all the size/length/athleticism they are recruiting... only one word is needed.



October 29th, 2012 at 8:53 PM ^

but I think it's obvious the real strength of the D is the run defense so it seems impressive that we also have the best pass D. How is that? Has no one figured out not to run on us yet?


October 30th, 2012 at 3:38 AM ^

It is out of Coaching for Dummies (as seen in the Waterboy). You run enough to make the other team put 8 in the box then you pass over their heads to the open receivers in the secondary. Some never win the run battle.

Naturally there is the argument of offense wins games while defense wins championships.

Generic MGoBlogger

October 29th, 2012 at 9:00 PM ^

Give credit to the linebackers... These guys have done just about everything right on the season, from getting extreme pressure on the quarterbacks and playing solid zone coverage when needed to.  They are the main reason why our defense has been so successful this season. Great job boys and Go Blue!


October 29th, 2012 at 11:52 PM ^

at what he's been able to do with

1)  hardly any defensive line depth at all that included a converted offensive lineman that has shown little promise, a fifth year senior that has been teetering on the edge of "bust".

2)  outside rush ends that are undersized and under experienced

3)  a linebacking core that was both young, inexperienced and undersized which included a LB who was a 3 star out of HS that now looks like a bonified all-american as a sophomore,

4)  cornerbacks that were either recruited to other positions, or a fill-in freshman who wasn't expected to play because the stud got hurt

5) a nickle that was recruited as a QB

6) a former walk-on safety who is now so adept and sound at his position teams don't even try to attack him


This is what Mattison had to work with and he's done brilliantly to get them to this point.  In 21 games he's turned around the entire attitude and aptitude of one of the worst defenses in Michigan football history.  We are at a point I do not worry about the defense at all.


October 29th, 2012 at 9:41 PM ^

I'm really excited about how good our Defense is and is going to be even better the next couple seasons. Hopefully they can carry us until our incoming recruits gel on the offensive side of the ball.

the unsilent m…

October 29th, 2012 at 10:10 PM ^

if a high schooler on the defensive side of the ball wants to take his game to the next level(s), then this is undoubtedly the place to be.


On the other hand, if a high schooler is offense-minded, he can come in and get all the playing time he wants... tomorrow... right now... please.


October 29th, 2012 at 11:22 PM ^

I decided to run some numbers on this subject to get some bias out due to opponents that each team played.

Here is what I did.

  • Get average yards per game for of all the opponents for all of the teams in the top 10 list
  • Find the percentage difference between the average and the actual for each game for these top 10 teams
  • I did not include any games against FCS teams

Running the numbers, this is what I get as the order out of these 10 teams:

Alabama -34%
Florida St -33%
Arizona St -32%
Minnesota -30%
LSU -30%
Nebraska -24%
Michigan -24%
Boise St -19%
Fresno St -18%
Vanderbilt -16%

So, we are significantly further down the list. However, teams like Arizona St and Minn do well because the other teams find it quite easy to run against them and don't bother passing much. Looking at the overall numbers including rushing and total yardages, we probably have a top 10 defense just behind teams like Alabama, Florida St, and LSU.

If people are interested, I will try to create a diary entry with my spreadsheet.


October 30th, 2012 at 12:54 AM ^

are the Big Ten's best quarterbacks.  Yeah, not pretty, but I'll take it.

This No. 1 passing defense stat probably says more about Michigan's No. 52 ranking in rushing defense (rushing yards, 1,162, 145/gm). 

Perhaps opponents are having good enough success rushing the football vs. Michigan?