Michigan 2012 vs. Michigan 2011

Submitted by Dailysportseditor on October 10th, 2012 at 10:02 PM
As we approach the end of the first half of the 2012 season, it is possible to engage in a serious analysis of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the 2011 and 2012 team performances. I believe a case can be made that the current team is actually stronger than last year's Sugar Bowl winner. This year the team has suffered many more injuries & suspensions, and also faced a tougher schedule. The key advantage last year's team has is in the area of turnover margin (25th nationally). The 2012 team is tied for 97th in TO margin, close to the dismal 2008-2010 years of 100+ place each year. My guess is that the TO margin problem this year has been an aberration and that the 2012 team will end up being regarded as equal to or better than the 2011 team.



October 11th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

If this is such a bad post, then what is mgoblog even for? Keep in mind you're on the message board of a sports blog. Literally the entire point is to talk about sports. The snowflake rule was created to discourage "this is what I think about the Purdue game" threads that could just go as comments in the game threads, not to attack any thread that you don't like for whatever reason. Don't misuse it.

death by trident

October 11th, 2012 at 9:40 AM ^



[ED:BISB - Okay, this thread did it. I am unilaterally implementing a new rule. Well, I guess the rule isn't NEW so much as it just hasn't been enforced. Either way, it's a thing now, and it's called the Snowflake Rule. The Snowflake Rule is simple: threads that just repeat the same stuff everyone else is thinking are not thread-worthy. Here are some ways to know if you are in violation of the Snowflake Rule:

  • Your thread title begins with the words "My thoughts on," "My opinion regarding," or "What I think about"
  • You cover a topic that has been covered multiple times on the board or on the front page
  • The evidence supporting your post's hypothesis is entirely (a) opinion and/or (b) empty, high-level, tautological statements like "Denard is fast"
  • Your conclusion is something either obvious or completely opinion-based, like "we will be better if the blockers block people" or "Kalis should play because I think he'd be better." Or, as a totally hypothetical example, "Denard should run because Denard is fast at running."

Bottom line: posting a unique take on things is perfectly acceptable. If you want to post about a proposed defensive alignment or scheme that will allow the line to get better penetration? Knock yourself out. Want to demonstrate why Denard should run more by providing an analysis of past running QBs or of Michigan's success based on various run/pass ratios? We'd like to read it. But posting your take on a common question will get your thread pulled like something from a Weezer song.]

This is borderline even in the most defensible case. I do think this could be a great topic, and have some good discussion, but it didn't start out that way. It was the presentation that merited the "snowflake" label.


October 11th, 2012 at 1:13 PM ^

I think some people seriously need to stop being so anal about all these rules.  I don't see any other threads on the front page comparing the 2011 to 2012 teams.  People seem to be missing the point of having a message board.  We should want to encourage discussion, not stifle it.  More participation is a good thing.


Nick Sparks

October 11th, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

You're absolutely right. The point of this board is so that we can talk about sports, particularly Michigan sports.

The snowflake rule was created to discourage multiple posts on the exact same topic since individuals have a tendancy to over-value their own opinion and think it deserves to be distinguished from everyone elses'.

OP is probably getting downvoted by people who have seen this exact same thing discussed in multiple threads and doesn't believe OP is adding anything new or dynamic to the topic.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:10 PM ^

I think the biggest change of strength was the 2011 Defensive Line vs the 2012 Defense. While the 2011 defensive line was definitely stronger, I believe the defense as a whole on an average basis has improved in 2012.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:12 PM ^

the jury is still out on this one. if we run the table from here than i would definitely give the 2012 team the nod. even if we have one more loss i would so long as it was a competitive loss that isn't the debacle that was iowa last year.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:49 PM ^

A lot of snowflakes like this could really be diaries with more work.  You could go through the stats of the 2011 team through the same number of games last season.  Compare top performers of last year vs this year. Unit vs unit production and see where there is more or less statistical production from last year to this year.  That's the kind of thing people coud really have a discussion about.  You really just gave your opinion with nothing to build off of.

I think that on offense our receivers/tight ends are more athletic with Funchess and Gardner but less experienced. And therefore more prone to mistakes or a tendency to disappear (i.e. lack of targets or receptions) during a game due to lack of separation.  Our line is bigger and more suited to the Borges offense but also less experienced.  Denard and the RBs are pretty much the same.  If the receivers go with athleticism rather than inexperience and Denard does his thing then this offense is better than last year.  That is with regards to potential rather than actual on field performance though.

On defense, our D-line is the new unit and I think that they are also more suited to the Mattison system.  Due to the size and athleticism of Campbell and Washington I think they are a better fit against the run because they can effectively occupy the O-line and allow linebackers to flow to the ball.  Their inexperience with regards to technique hurts with pass rush though, sometimes also against the run.  Mike Martin could just go all beast mode on fools. The loss of Countess hurts but the rest of the defense are the same guys with more experience.  Overall, I feel when the D-line does what they are supposed to this years defense is better than last. The pass rush is worse but I think good coverage helps cover up those warts to some degree.

What people said about this being a better team with a worse record seems pretty accurate.  However, if the team plays to its potential I think they can definitely run the table.


October 11th, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

and yet there are ~25 relevant responses. it's kind of sad that, just reading the OP, any regular here could easily predict that some dick would post a snowflake pic, and that it would lead to discussion anyway.

anyway, i've always thought 2012 was likely to be better. there were only two really worrying position groups going into the season (DT, WR). i have no idea why anybody was worried about LB, except that we were probably only going to have a merely serviceable WLB. compare that to going into 2011, when there were issues at CB, RB, a safety spot, and probably more that i'm forgetting. the main differences in perception, i think, were that the outgoing senior class had great stories, which distracted people from the holes, and expectations were a lot lower. at this point in the season, given the mathlete's most recent post, i'm thinking we'll have only 3 regular season losses to top 15 teams and a win in the B1G title game. if we somehow pull off a rose bowl victory after all that, this discussion will look silly in retrospect.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:33 PM ^

Well, one thing a lot of people said prior to this season is that there is a good chance that the team this year would be better, but with a worse record.

It's useful to remember that Michigan was a dodgy work in progress at this point last year, too.

It will be a lot easier to tell after the State game.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

The strength of Brady Hoke has been improving from day one.  Last year's team didn't really come together until about the Illinois game.  Before that, the defense was generally average (see: Western Michigan and Notre Dame games), and the offense was finding its footing.  This year it's been much the same story, except the improvement has been coming quicker.  Team 133 is way further ahead now than Team 132 was at the same point in the year.

All this to say: let's compare the teams at the end of the year.  Interesting things happen once you leave September and early October.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:41 PM ^

Along the same lines of thinking of the OP I've been pondering what was Bo's best team.  For my money I'd go with the 1977 squad but a case could be made for any of the teams from 72-74, 85 and even the 88 squad (especially when you look at how they lost their first two games in heartbreaking fashion and then steamrolled everything in their path after that)

FWIW I think this year's team is probably a bit better but will probably end up with a worse record when all is said and done.


October 10th, 2012 at 10:53 PM ^

You're right.  Same M.O. (almost) as the 88 team.  Lose 2 of the first 3 and then roll.  My junior year and I can still see George Rogers running the ball untackled for South Carolina.

Ironically enough the center on that team, George Lilja, is a friend and used to be a neighbor of mine here in the Cleveland area.

5th and Long

October 11th, 2012 at 1:48 AM ^

I was at that Miami game with the stadium singing Gary Glitter only to see them torch us.  Possibly worse of a hearbreak than the Cordell Stewart - Colorado game.


Bo had a pretty good coaching staff that year, too.

Tirrel Burton, Cam Cameron, Lloyd Carr, Jerry Hanlon, Bill Harris, Jim Herrmann, Les Miles, Gary Moeller, Bobby Morrison, Tom Reed


October 11th, 2012 at 6:05 AM ^

I think Bo's best chances for glory were in the early '70s. An insane amount of those guys were drafted by the NFL and they lost only a handful of games over a few years.

By the late '70s / early '80s UMich was in the long phase in which it was a very good but rarely (as in '97) great team.

Buck Killer

October 11th, 2012 at 1:21 AM ^

So it is luck? Or just when we aren't favorable. I thought we created them, but this year it is causing us to lose. I say this team is much better, and ND was lucky. Yes we were lucky last year.


October 11th, 2012 at 2:55 AM ^

of nature against each other, like matter vs. anti-matter, will be a tragedy, not only for the teams involved, but for our planet. All nations must band together, to ensure that such a conflageration never takes place.


October 11th, 2012 at 7:08 AM ^

So far I'd say the team last year was better. They had a much better offensive an defensive line, less denard interceptions and this point, and better wide receivers/tight ends. Fitz also had a better year last year than so far this year. Also I think Hemingway single handedly saved about 5/6 interceptions for Denard and theres no one that can do that this year.


October 11th, 2012 at 8:54 AM ^

Aside from that, I see this year's defense creeping into the game changing range, whereas last year it was Just gloriously miraculously competent.

Statistically, I am sure last year's offense was better, merely because we didn't play Alabama, and ND's defense was not yet a game changer at that point. I don't think Denard is magically a worse passer now. He just had a bad game.


October 11th, 2012 at 9:12 AM ^

If turnover margin is going to be used, then it is fair to point out that the aberration this year is actually a single game. This year, our turnover margin to date is -0.8, but only -0.3 in the last three games. Consider that we have, after five games, 4 fumbles recovered, 2 fumbles lost and have intercepted 4 passes while throwing 10 of them (8 turnovers gained to 12 committed). Subtracting out the aberration, which is likely ND, those statistics become 4 fumbles recovered, 1 fumble lost, 2 interceptions for gain with five intcereptions thrown, which I believe comes out to a turnover margin of zero (4 recoveries, 2 INTs to 1 fumble lost, 5 INTs thrown, or 6 and 6). Nevertheless, I think that particular statistic is definitely on the mend right now.

For comparison, our turnover margin after five games last year was +1.0.


October 11th, 2012 at 10:44 AM ^

Someone didn't get the memo that the only acceptable threads are on the length of players' hair, people affiliated with the Michigan sporting world dying, or pressers in which platitudes are repeated ad nauseam.


October 11th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

It is hard to compare, but then, that's what the internet is for, isn't it?

There are plusses and minuses on both teams.

2011 Plusses:

  • Center . . . how can you really replace Molk?
  • DL . . . Martin was a beast, and wth Van Bergen, Heininger, and Roh, you had a pretty good, pretty complete DL.
  • WR . . . Hard to replace someone like Hemingway, and Martavious was pretty good as well.
  • Easier schedule.
  • Turnover margin. That was something to behold.

2011 Minuses

  • Experience under Brady and position coaches. Hard to do a ton in year one.
  • Particularly, Denard was in year one with Borges, and wasn't doing much with passing other than jump balls.

2012 Plusses:

  • Experience. With a full year and a half, two Springs, two Fall practices, terminology, stability of coaching, the entire team benefits.
  • Denard is better at passing. Go ahead, argue with me if you want. But I do not see nearly the jump balls we had in 2011. Denard may never be a "great" passer. But he has improved significantly. I put his failings in several places, listed largely in order of importance:  1) The time for the OL to gel. 2) Time for the WR corps to run crisper routes (Gardner in particular,) for Funchess to get the hang of things, for Roundtree to get completely healthy, 3) Alabama's sick secondary; 4) ND's T'eo - a great, disruptive LB. 5) Borges' playcalling. I really don't think it has been that bad, but I think he was a bit too optimistic vs. ND, a game that could have been called differently and given us the win.

2012 Better than expected:

  • WR Corps. Devin Gardner is obviously going to be a great receiver, and Funchess an incredible Tight End. Gallon is already there, and just needs the ball in his hands. Dileo, Robinson, and Darboh all have potential to be a tremendous supplement to the other three.
  • OL. They are turning into a strength, and also giving time for our freshmen to redshirt and gain experience.
  • DL. BWC, Washington, Pipkins, and Roh are doing a fine job.
  • Secondary. I was worried with the loss of Countess, but Taylor and Avery are doing just fine.

2012 Minuses.

  • Mealer vs. Molk. I actually think Mealer has done a very good job, but you don't replace someone like Molk and stay at the same level.
  • Schedule. All the road games, and Alabama, ND, Ohio, all being much better.
  • Turnovers. Season isn't over, and I agree with Mattison or Hoke that if we get all our positive turnovers in the conference, that'd be a fair trade.

I'd really like someone to run the numbers, but from my perspective, 2012 is just a better "TEAM," even though there are several individual "players" on the team who were better last year (Molk, Martin, Van Bergen, Hemingway.) We had to expect a regression to the mean with turnovers, and we've always known the 2012 schedule was brutal.

We won't know til the games are played, but I wouldn't be surprised for us to win out through Thanksgiving, and for Ohio to be a tossup with a reasonable chance we win. If we win out the regular season and have an identical won-loss record to 2011, that would be a clear demonstration (in my mind) that 2012 was a better team than 2011.


death by trident

October 11th, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

Here's the OFEI and DFEI ratings and national rankings last year and this year -


2011 Michigan 0.472 9
2012 Michigan 0.201 40

The 2011 Michigan offense was better by the end of the season than 2012 Michigan is through 5 games, and we don't know how Michigan will end the year, but there is room for improvement offensively.  The same could be said for the defense.


2011 Michigan -0.414 16
2012 Michigan -0.255 33

This all comes with the huge disclaimer that is our schedule.  5 home games in 2011 versus these defensive teams.  


Team DFEI Rk
Western Michigan 0.336 95
Notre Dame -0.407 18
Eastern Michigan 0.233 82
San Diego State 0.053 66
Minnesota 0.442 106
AVERAGE 0.131 73.4

3 road games and 2 home games in 2012 versus these opponents.


Team DFEI Rk
Alabama -1.009 1
Air Force 0.449 107
Umass 0.863 122
Notre Dame -0.756 5
Purdue -0.092 52
AVERAGE -0.109 57.4

The numbers speak to what we figured before the season; this would be a difficult schedule early on.  On paper right now, 2011 Michigan is better than 2012 Michigan through 5 games.  The question is - will that be true after the season is over for 2012 Michigan?