Statistics on big play prevention on Defense

Submitted by Indonacious on September 18th, 2018 at 9:55 AM

I found this to be interesting. I have always thought of our defense more in category of defenses that could risk giving up big plays based on our scheme.

https://twitter.com/SolidVerbal/status/1042041623562121216?s=20

1. Michigan… 14.4% 2. Northern Illinois 3. Minnesota 4. Vanderbilt 5. USC 6. Penn State 7. Indiana 8. Central Michigan 9. Ohio State 10. Alabama.

Obviously, this is a relatively small sample size that is influenced by opponents but thought it was interesting. 

 

 

Comments

ijohnb

September 18th, 2018 at 9:58 AM ^

To be honest it feels like we give up a lot of big plays.  I feel like our defense could best be described as "break but don't bend" so this statistic surprises me a little bit.  Maybe I am not seeing things clearly.

FreddieMercuryHayes

September 18th, 2018 at 10:16 AM ^

I mean, that's the thing about sports.  A lot of opinions are based on 'feel' and not actual facts or stats.  Of course stats don't tell the whole picture, but if you're trying to have evidenced based opinions, they are crucial.  Now, I don't have stats for this, but it would be interesting to see how the UM defense stacks up in 20+, 40+ yard plays given.  It could be that UM's D is elite on a play to play basis, but when it does break, it breaks really big.

I hope someone does have those stats.  And I also would like to see TFL and sacks numbers compared to the last two years.  I feel (see no stats to back this up yet), that part of the problem is the D is not getting as many chaos plays, such as TFLs, sacks, TOs.  Like Ohio States Ds in the past years I believe gave up more yards often, but were really good at getting sacks and forcing TOs which made their defense elite in the advanced stats.  

bronxblue

September 18th, 2018 at 12:37 PM ^

In 3 games, Michigan has given up 2 plays longer than 40 yards.  Move it back to 30 yards and we're at 4.

What I've noticed around here is that people assumed this defense would be better than Michigan has ever had, and when that's your barometer every transgression looks bad.  It's like last week when someone complained that Michigan was terrible on 3rd-down defense, despite being a top-5 unit in that department every year under Brown.

Winning Curesall

September 18th, 2018 at 6:17 PM ^

I agree it does seem like we give up big plays with our defensive scheme.

However, there were A LOT of years we played a loose zone prevent defense and we let anyone's 2-minute offense carve us up to our 10 yard line. This happened over and over for years. My dad and I shredded our vocal cords yelling at the TV.

So I'm still okay with the man to man because it still feels new.

 

mitchewr

September 18th, 2018 at 10:11 AM ^

Do stats exist for the previous two years? That might give us a more complete picture of just where exactly Don Brown's defense stacks up against the rest of the country in terms of giving up / preventing big plays.

mitchewr

September 19th, 2018 at 9:20 AM ^

2017 - 41st in the country (Don Brown)

2016 - 42nd in the country (Don Brown)

2015 - 3rd in the country (DJ Durkin)

 

So overall, not very amazing. Assuming 2018 follows suit by the end of the season, I don't think it would be crazy to hope for some slight schematic tweaks to the defense to try and address this?

jimmyjoeharbaugh

September 18th, 2018 at 10:14 AM ^

i'm confused, is this tweet saying michigan is currently the best in the country at preventing 10+ yard plays?  14.4% - is that the number 10+ yard plays as a percentage of total plays vs. michigan?

jimmyjoeharbaugh

September 18th, 2018 at 10:43 AM ^

yes, just found this.  

https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/opponent-third-down-conversion-pct Michigan at 46, not terrible, not great, our rivals both above and below us, sample sizes still small

Michigan toward the top at 3.9 yards per play against us on D.  https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/opponent-yards-per-play

Unfotrunately 117 out of 130 in penalty yards per game https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/penalty-yards-per-game

EGD

September 18th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

Despite all the other bad things that happened against ND, what stand out to me are the roughing penalty on Winovich and the botched FG--which isn't a penalty but goes into that same category of stupid, poorly-timed mistakes.  Those two events basically put four ND points on the board and took three M points off.  Who knows how that game might have gone otherwise.

JD_UofM_90

September 18th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

From this site, the last 3 years for the opponent 3rd down conversion % stat, we ranked, 3rd, 1st and 1st in this category.  Sample size is small, but we are definitely not executing at the same elite level this year, as we have the last couple of years.

SMU also converted quite a few length 3rd downs during the game:

3rd & 11

3rd & 9

3rd & 10

3rd & 7

3rd & 16

joeyb

September 18th, 2018 at 11:15 AM ^

I'd rather see a ranking of percentage of yards allowed that come from big plays. I feel like when we allow a big play, it's a BIG play. Other teams playing "bend, don't break" are going to allow a lot more 10-20 yard plays, but their overall yardage allowed on those plays is going to be much lower.

FreddieMercuryHayes

September 18th, 2018 at 11:34 AM ^

Looking through the stats on the Team Rankings, I think a certain picture emerges.  The UM defense is elite on a down to down basis, doesn't give up many chunk plays, and as a whole doesn't allow a lot of yardage.  But this year's defense so far is giving up more points per play (in the 20s now as opposed to #2 in the nation in 2016), and the biggest thing is third down.  The last two years UM has been #1 in defensive third down conversion percentage.  This year, number 46.  To go along with that, UM is now #57 in sack percentage, as opposed to #1 the last two years.  I think this goes along with the 'feel' of the defense; it's great, but is giving up third downs by not pressuring the QB as we expected from the past two years.  

The question is, why?  I think the number 1 reason is lack of interior push and pass rush.  Losing Hurst probably affected this metric hugely.  Also, I'm not sure about the LBs.  They aren't racking up the sacks as much as previous years as well.  Are they not as effective on blitzes?  Is UM blitzing less and asking more coverage?

Also, the penalties are killing UM.  And the dropping of INTs.  How many drives would have been stopped early so far this year if the defense made the INT instead of dropping it or the opponent got a first down because of a penalty (sometimes legit, sometimes not).

ScooterTooter

September 18th, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

Your last paragraph is the whole Notre Dame game. 

Notre Dame 1st TD: Could have been an interception the 2nd play of the drive.

Notre Dame 2nd TD: Could have been an interception on the TD.

Notre Dame 3rd TD: Penalty gives them 1st and goal after a 3rd down stop.

Notre Dame FG: 3rd and 18 conversion (which applies more to the thread as a whole). 

 

bronxblue

September 18th, 2018 at 12:42 PM ^

Thus far this year Michigan has given up 2 plays of over 40 yards and 4 over 30 yards.  They gave up that long pass to Proche and the other against ND.  That's been it.  We remember the mistakes, but this is a really good defense that people get annoyed with around here because we are generally emotionally unable to handle football rationally when it involves our team.

ScooterTooter

September 18th, 2018 at 12:53 PM ^

I think the problem is that you say really good, but....

Do really good defenses go down 21-3 by giving up touchdowns on three of the first four drives of the season? Do they give up 3rd and 18s? 

Do they allow a bad SMU team to drive the ball with some consistency the last three quarters of the game? 

Its possible that maybe they do. Maybe this defense is really great and the games thus far have been somewhat flukish. I personally lean toward this myself. But I also worry about facing better teams and Don Brown not adjusting, whether its being too aggressive on third and long or playing safeties who can't cover on high-level receivers. 

bronxblue

September 18th, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

Michigan was up 28-7 the first time SMU had a drive longer than 39 yards.  SMU had two scoring drives, helped immensely by terrible officiating, but that was it for them.  And that was really only the third quarter.

As for the Notre Dame game, Michigan had basically 1 bad quarter defensively.  That happens to even the best defenses; Iowa has the #1 defense per S&P and gave up 2 straight long TD drives (in a game that was well decided by then) to UNI.  Stanford, the #4 team in the country, gave up 300 yards to UC Davis and 330 yards to USC, the #87 offense in the country (worse than Western and basically the same as SMU).  And all three teams have about the same 3rd-down defense (~33%).

It's early in the season, and because we follow Michigan sports we notice when things go wrong and don't notice when those exact same things happen elsewhere.  But I'm not worried about the defense at all, provided the tackles hold up.  There is a metric ton of evidence that Don Brown's defenses play well, and only scattered bits of information that would work against that.  Color me an optimist, but this defense feels like one of the best in the country and I think any concerns about garbage time against SMU is looking for issues.

Clarence Boddicker

September 18th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

lol--if safeties could cover high-level receivers...they'd be cornerbacks instead! SMU had 319 yards of total offense sustained by bullshit penalty calls we all saw. Even great defenses--the very best--will occasionally let slip a 3rd and 18. And yeah, Michigan got rocked on 3 of the first four drives of the season. But then the coaching staff adjusted by going with Mone and Kemp at DT and since they've been far, far better.

Your post was really a perfect illustration of what bronxblue said. Rather than inventing this misery, try to enjoy the wins.

ScooterTooter

September 18th, 2018 at 8:11 PM ^

But we legitimately have the personnel to cover numerous receivers with Hill, Long, Watson and Thomas and we keep getting put into positions where our safeties are being asked to cover more athletic players...which ends up like the Ohio State game last year where a back-up QB just had to wait for his receivers to out-run our safeties before making an easy completion. 

And this doesn't seem to have been fixed. 

I'm not "inventing misery". I even said I think this is probably flukish. However, this is similar to last year where the defense seems to be immune to criticism for some people even when there were plenty of flaws, especially over the last three games. 

B-Nut-GoBlue

September 18th, 2018 at 2:37 PM ^

It's been mentioned but it's the TIMING of the blown plays.  I get that the statistics tell a good chunk of the story and many here are huge into the stats (engineers, etc.).  We rack up these statistics against mostly not very good football teams (though I suppose most teams across the country play more less-good teams than they play great teams) but when it comes to teams with a higher pulse or a less-talented team with a great coach, that's when these breakdowns seem to occur.  Michigan St. and Lewerke or some bullshit constraint plays that they've saved for us we can't squash on the field.  Ohio St., we all know how that goes.  Notre Dame and the breakdowns we witnessed.  A one-man team in SMU, with this Proche cat, tore us a part quite a few times.  Hornibrook killing us on 3rd down numerous times, and kept us from being able to truly keep that game close enough (not having a QB on offense does not help this, nor the above issues).

trustBlue

September 18th, 2018 at 11:07 PM ^

Even the best defenses are capable of a few bad bounces, but the biggest thing that jumps out at me about this year is that the defense seems to be giving up the same kind of plays over and over.

If you are an offensive coordinator, you gotta be feeling pretty good about attacking UM's defense with:

- Slants 

- Long QB runs when UM is in man 

- Isolating UM safeties in coverage, especially on deep throws

- If all else fails, throw it deep and take a 50/50 chance the refs will penalize UM's handsy DBs with a PI call.

Anybody can RPS their way to a decent drive here and there, but that doesnt seem to be what is happening here. When your defense has that many consistent flaws it doesnt matter how good your are at everything else, teams will just attack your weak spots until you fix it, or figure out a way to make them pay for trying.  

 

 

trustBlue

September 18th, 2018 at 11:15 PM ^

Even the best defenses are capable of a few bad bounces, but the biggest thing that jumps out at me about this year is that the defense seems to be giving up the same kind of plays over and over.

If you are an offensive coordinator, you gotta be feeling pretty good about attacking UM's defense with:

- Slants 

- Long QB runs when UM is in man 

- Isolating UM safeties in coverage, especially on deep throws

- If all else fails, throw it deep and take a 50/50 chance the refs will penalize UM's handsy DBs with a PI call.

Anybody can RPS their way to a decent drive here and there, but that doesnt seem to be what is happening here. When your defense has that many consistent flaws it doesnt matter how good your are at everything else, teams will just attack your weak spots until you fix it, or figure out a way to make them pay for trying.