Our "New" Offense

Submitted by Ziff72 on March 24th, 2011 at 2:43 PM

We've had a lot of hand wringing as a fan base over the last 2 months as MANBALL has taken over the reigns of the gimmick spread offense.   Much of the worry has been over the utilization of Denard and how he will be used.  I'm not sure of anything , but let's go off the base assumption that Borges and Hoke are good,smart football coaches.   Then let's look at last years offensive results.


Team FBS
Ex Ex
Me Me
.805 1 Auburn 13-0 1 .641 4 .783 10 .593 9 .232 6 .123 76 .026 3
.603 2 Michigan 6-6 55 .398 14 .708 37 .548 16 .197 16 .190 12 .055 14
.561 3 Arkansas 9-3 7 .296 20 .718 32 .531 21 .218 10 .120 78 .030 4
.560 4 Alabama 9-3 3 .537 7 .811 2 .602 8 .243 3 .135 55 .057 15
.551 5 Wisconsin 10-2 12 .591 5 .767 14 .605 7 .172 24 .198 9 .128 50
.517 6 Stanford 11-1 2 .810 2 .794 7 .660 2 .187 19 .215 3 .203 71
.455 7 South Carolina 8-5 16 .252 24 .777 12 .525 23 .177 22 .115 83 .039 7
.434 8 Florida State 9-4 18 .078 44 .687 49 .484 36 .122 67 .130 67 .017 2
.428 9 Navy 8-4 32 .570 6 .788 9 .607 6 .177 21 .221 2 .295 88
.412 10 Nevada 12-1 29 .812 1 .795 6 .656 3 .220 9 .212 5 .337 91
.406 11 Virginia Tech 11-2 5 .396 15 .704 41 .537 19 .178 20 .111 93 .065 18
.399 12 San Diego State 8-4 40 .355 17 .669 66 .516 27 .225 7 .092 105 .208 74
.398 13 Oklahoma 12-2 9 .260 23 .705 40 .517 26 .136 51 .193 11 .068 19
.367 14 TCU 12-0 10 .518 9 .798 4 .620 5 .237 5 .140 48 .363 98
.338 15 Oregon 11-1 4 .512 10 .799 3 .592 10 .224 8 .179 16 .207 73


What initially sticks out is Michigan at #2, but look down a little further to #12 and see SDS( maybe they do know how to utilize talent).  Even if you were a critic of last years offense take a look at that list and look at the records of those teams( I think we'd take most of those).   Of that list of 15 who returns 10 starters(that would be 1...us)   Of that list who returns their QB(6-Mic, Ore, Okl, SC, FSU,SDS?) Of that list who had a 1st year starter running the team?(3-Mic,Ore,Aub)  Can we better than #1?  Can we be #1+?  We're already #2 and #1 is taking a hard dive next year and probably 3,4 and 5 as well.

Our record is an extreme outlier on this chart compared to the other teams.  Our defense and special teams had to try and conspire to hold our offense back last year.  

What's the point of this?   Hoke can try to fire the troops up with MANBALL all he wants, but Borges has run all sorts of offenses and had pretty good success.  We have a lot of experienced talent and transition or no transition we should be looking at an offense that should be similar to last years in terms of look and production.  Borges will run it out of his system and we'll be under center a little bit more, but we're going to be good..real good. 

So to those of you who are worried about the offense just relax and imagine what our record will be like with Mattison shoring up this defense to an even mediocre level.  The offense is going to be great. Get ready for more fireworks in 2011.

Michigan 2011 BT Champs

 Edit-Pretty cool I got this out 15 minutes before Brian stole my thinder on the main board.  Hoke is just playing to the crowd, Denard will be in the gun a lot next year...a lot.



March 24th, 2011 at 3:00 PM ^

To sum up (see what I did there?):  Offense's effectiveness stays roughly the same + MANBALL DEFENSE + "Wait, did our kicker just kick THROUGH the uprights?" = Michigan football is at least 10-2.

And that's not accounting for more unpredictibility in offense (I'm sure we'll run both pro-style and spread elements, the former more than the latter) and the sheer number of returning players on both sides of the ball.  The next two years could very well be incredible years for the program.


March 24th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

Looking at the fact that we had the #2 offense last year with our record is pretty depressing.  With that output, you'd thought we were in the championship game playing against Auburn...

Now I haz tearz!


March 24th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

But short-term, with any transition in scheme come some big bumps.  We have good personnel on offense, but this won't quite be "last year's offense + a competant D = ..."


March 24th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

I tend to agree with you.  We have a chance to be a very good offense, but just because you've learned the new plays does not mean you execute them with mastery.  Memorizing plays and scheming can only go so far.  The rest is learning the execution, which just takes time.


March 24th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

know nothing about football, and have obviously no experience with the game other than drunken viewing.  They like to tout the spread as the end all be all and point to our numbers last year as proof.  Unfortunately, record is all that matters and we were of course, bad in that department.  We couldn't finish against even bad teams, and we turned the ball over and stalled way too often against good teams.  

Surprisingly to all the guys who joke about "man ball" (drunken viewer guys), the bigger and  tougher team usually DOES win the game (.... OSU, Wisconsin, Iowa).  It IS important to be big, physical and tough in this game and we clearly haven't been lately.  This is evidenced by our inability to finish and get it done against any team who does not fall in the "JV" category.

This staff is respected by many in coaching circles and will bring this program back to what has made it great in the past.  Well posted Ziff.


March 24th, 2011 at 3:40 PM ^

I love the guys that come on here and act like they know more about others that "know nothing about football", thereby coming off worse that those that "know nothing about football."  Your bad-mouthing of people you do not agree with does not make your personal opinion any better than those that you bad-mouth.  In other words, the condescending tone of your post makes you look like more of an a-- than those that "know nothing about football."


March 24th, 2011 at 7:01 PM ^

How did Wisconsin do in the Rose Bowl? How did Iowa do against Arizona? Let's be honest, Iowa got lucky against Mizzou with that pick 6. They pretty much had that game won and a mental error by Gabbert lost it for them. All 3 of those teams (TCU, Arizona, Mizzou) run a spread, there pal. Don't go belittling people in a blog. You're not doing yourself any favors, especially when there's a vast majority of people on here that know significantly more about the game of football than you.


March 24th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

How many points per game did Michigan score against ranked opponents?  Total offense numbers are useless tools unless the goal of hte game was simply to move the ball between the 20s.  The RR apologists seem to embrace that beautiful offense which broke down in the red zone against quality of competition, but I for one would take half the yardage and double the effectiveness. 


March 24th, 2011 at 4:59 PM ^

Thank you. Who cares how many points M scored against Central Bowling State. What matters is how you stack up against top competition. M's offense wasn't so hot against good competition, except during the first two drives (before the D adjusted) and after M had fallen way behind (and the opposition relaxed). It's indisputable.


March 24th, 2011 at 9:48 PM ^

OFEI: Offensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's offense.


In addition, OFEI only takes into account FBS games so anything that happened in the UMass or Central Bowling State games is irrelevant.


March 24th, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

Iowa had the 8th best defense in the nation. Wisky was in the 20s. Illinois was upper 30s or lower 40s. Hell, Penn State didn't have that bad of a defense. I guess since 3 of those teams didn't end up ranked we don't get to count them though. Oh well. Whatever suits your argument best is the only thing that matters.

You would take half the yardage but double the effectiveness. I would take the exact same offense coupled with a competent defense. I bet my way would have resulted in more wins. You know why? We scored enough points to win games against all the teams I mentioned earlier with w competent defense. That gets us 3 more wins. I can only come up with 1 game, MSU (the 1st), where scoring more points would have gotten us a W. Just my opinion, but if you thought our offense was the problem last year, you are sorely mistaken. It is funny that in a post showing our offense to be 2nd best in the country, you decided the offense wasn't good enough.


March 24th, 2011 at 5:29 PM ^

because......wait for it.....IT WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH!  The fundamental flaw in your stat based approach is it completely ignores game situations.  All the momentum changing turnovers in the redzone.  All the drives bogging down at the 30 yard line and attempting to convert 4th and 9s.  But you'll take that.....good for you.  I won't. 

Further, the defensive atrouciousness was certainly accentuated by an offense which was "all or nothing".  I wouldn't wish the amount of minutes they were on the field to my worst enemy.  To use a basketball term, how many times did teams go on 21-0, 28-0, 28-7 runs against the Wolverines?  Too often is what my memory says, and those runs take two guilty parties - a defense who is giving up points and an offense that isn't scoring them.

Zone Left

March 24th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

I really don't think the offense was "all or nothing." It consistently moved the ball on everyone and tried to do so in a consistent, repetitive way. Unfortunately, they couldn't stop turning the ball over, but I don't think it was because they were gambling too much. They just couldn't hold onto the ball.


March 24th, 2011 at 7:25 PM ^

By all or nothing I actually meant that it relied more upon big plays than most offenses, and to its credit, there were a ton of 60+ plays although mostly against inferior opponents.  The nothing part of all or nothing referred to critical three and outs when the defense was gassed and we absolutely couldn't afford to have them back on the field.  Yes, turnovers were a huge problem in the red zone specifically, but so were those untimely 3 and outs. 


March 24th, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

You do realize you are criticizing an offense that was starting quarterback in his first year of starting.  To expect him to perform at a high level all the time against defenses full of RS Jr and Srs may be asking a bit much.  The offense would have unquestionably improved returning 10 starters and a qb with a year of starting experience for the first time in 4 years.


March 24th, 2011 at 7:22 PM ^

I don't fault the players one iota for the offense's failures but rather the offense's architect, RR.  I don't think any reduction in turnovers could have been expected this year or any other, due to the fundamental flaws in the system once a field becomes more crowded and a defense is no longer "spread" vertically.  I remember Chad Henne starting as a freshman in a more fundamentally sound full-field offense and doing just fine, as I'm sure Denard will do in a better system. 


March 24th, 2011 at 9:52 PM ^

Before you rip certain statistics you should look into what they are actually designed to demonstrate.

FEI is not a fancy counter of piling up meaningless yards or points against inferior competition.

Also, your subscription fee to the Flat Earth Society is past due.


March 25th, 2011 at 1:30 AM ^

Since you clearly have all the answers you need in FEI, please tell me why, then, Michigan's #2 offense had no success outside of first drives and garbage time against quality defenses (outside of Illinois, I suppose).  Despite what all the stat engineers want us to believe (and it seems like it is working on at least a fragment of the populace), there is no substitute for the "eye test".  And the eye test told anyone who was watching that, after a typically supurb first drive, Michigan's offense broke down and was unable to generate points until garbage time against Wisconsin, Ohio State, MSU, Iowa, PSU, and Mississippi State.  Explain please. 


March 25th, 2011 at 7:03 AM ^

If by "broke down in the red zone'" you mean drive ended in a missed field goal, fumble or interception, then it is a fair characterization, because I would venture (without statistics, of course) that those account for most of the red zone failures. 

Zone Left

March 24th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

I don't think many folks look at the spread as a gimmick anymore. That said, Michigan's offense was pretty obviously not the 2nd best offense in the country last season--regardless of what some advanced metric says. Great offenses score points against great teams, and Michigan didn't do that last season.

If they curtail turnIng the ball over, maybe they become great thus year.


March 24th, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

You guys just don't get it.  Let me try this a differnt way.   Last years offense was not awesome because as you guys point out we did not produce enough points when we needed to.   What the advanced stats are trying to point out is that if you strip away all the variables that happen in a game that are not repeatable and somewhat random(field position, game tempo, turnovers, strength of schedule, special teams) this is what you could expect if you played this team in the future.   So Michigan had the potential to be a great offense last year but things did not go their way(bad defense, turnovers, fg you guys know the rest)

Now fast forward to this year.  Now for most teams you have to make an adjustment because in college football it is rare to return your entire offense.  So you can look at a team like Auburn and reasonably predict they will fall back due to offensive line departures and Cam Newton or look at a team like South Carolina and assume because they return their QB, RB and 4/5 of their offensive line they might do better than expected next year given their ranking.

 That brings me back to Michigan.  Considering where we ranked last year and the amount of returning starters we have combined with an imporvement in defense and fg(you have to reasonably assume it will at least go from historically awful to bad) and give me a slight uptick in turnover margin this offense will be incredible.

That is what people like Brian are looking at when they talk about this offense.  If you can't understand that moving the ball 80yds on OSU only to fumble isn't a good indicator of your POTENTIAL than your not opening up your mind.


March 24th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

If there is a pattern of moving the ball efficiently but not scoring (due primarily to turnovers)which repeated itself against nearly every quality opponent Michigan played, what reasons are there to assume that those turnovers wouldn't keep recurring year in and year out against the better competition?  Based on my observation, they weren't of the fluky type - they were often desperate turnovers caused by an offense overmatched once the field shortened. 

My mind is open, but I saw absolutely nothing in 3 years to believe that particular problem would ever significantly improve. 

Zone Left

March 24th, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^

"...if you strip away all the variables that happen in a game that are not repeatable and somewhat random (field position, game tempo, turnovers, strength of schedule, special teams)..."

I think the whole point of your argument is that Michigan had an awesome offense, but didn't perform as well on the scoreboard because they kept having 80+ yard fields. I understand that, but the 80+ yard fields weren't random. They'll vary each year, but very little of last season's performance was random. The defense was awful, and thus, Michigan had a lot of long fields to navigate each game. The quarterbacks made a lot of bad decisions and threw a lot of picks. The kickers didn't kick well, and thus missed their field goals. Could those change next year? Of course, but to insinuate that offense, defense, or special teams happen in a vacuum is absurd.

I completely understand the premise that past performance predicts future performance, but not taking the whole picture into account doesn't make any sense. If Michigan's defense pitched a shutout every game, the team's offensive performance would likely have changed. For example, they could've gotten crazy short fields all the time and score tons of points, or they could've played very conservative football and relied on the hypothetically amazing defense to win games.

I think looking at stats relative to a single game's performance makes a little more sense. If Michigan scored 35 ppg with 500 yards of offense against everyone, but kept turning the ball over against OSU, then you could argue Michigan's offense had the potential to be awesome that day, but luck (depending on the turnovers) was against them.


March 24th, 2011 at 7:04 PM ^

Answer this for me guys.  

Can you design an offense that theoretically can generate 500yds of offense per game but not score points?

If you look at the yardage numbers and the scoring numbers from last year isn't there a strong correlation?

I'll give you an example

Team A averages 4 yds per play and averages 35pts per game

Team B averages 6yds per play and averages 30pts per game

If both teams returned all 11 starters next year which team would you want to have?

Zone Left

March 24th, 2011 at 7:22 PM ^

Question 1: Yes. It's definitely possible, however improbable.

Question 2: Yes.

Question 3: Depends. With no additional data, obviously Team B. However, wouldn't you also want to know other information? What do they return on defense? How good was their defense? How many games did they win? What were the respective strength of schedules? How well did they perform under pressure? Did the turn the ball over often? How were the kicking games? Was there any coaching staff turnover?

You could go on and on.

Looking at raw numbers will only get you so far. It's cliche to say, but you need to actually watch the games to see who is good and who isn't. Four yards each play may be much better than averaging 6 or even 20 yards per play depending on what reality actually looks like.


March 24th, 2011 at 8:05 PM ^

'll take the team that scores more points over the team that scores fewer points every time.  What makes you think Team B is going to suddenly score more points the next year - they obviously had some flaws which led them to score fewer despite being more "explosive" the previous year.  Turnovers ARE NOT random.  They are products of a system, and the RR spread was a turnover prone system, especially on a short field.