Tuesday Time Killers

Submitted by AC1997 on September 27th, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Tuesdays are the longest day of the week in the MGo community since we're still a day away from the glory of UFR, we've already read every recap piece from the previous game, and it is too soon to start reading game previews for the following week.  So I thought I'd offer up two topics for consumption:

(1)  The past two seasons most of us around here have defended the Rodriguez offense based on how it performed statistically, rather than in the win/loss column.  We pointed to yards, yards per attempt, etc. to show what this offense could be and cited random turnovers or red-zone performance as the only reason they weren't dominant.  But now the tables have turned.....

What do we think of our defense that is getting results but still struggling by any statistical measure?  Do we cite the results-based stats and cling to the hope that they are real while downplaying yardage stats?  Do we dig deeper to find underlying performance indicators that give us hope for the rest of the season?   Are take-aways and lousy QB play by our opponents a function of skill or luck?   I'd like to hear your thoughts.

(2)  And in something purely for entertainment purposes only....We have all grown to love the "Fred Jackson Hype Machine" with how he heaps praise on any running back who puts on a Michigan jersey.  But what would he say if he had the opportunity to coach his namesake - the Buffalo Bills' Fred Jackson?  Perhaps something like "that guy is Walter Payton with a better name". 


Blue in Yarmouth

September 27th, 2011 at 10:32 AM ^

I don't know the statistics, but I wouldn't say we are struggling on defense in every statistical measure. If you look at the position the offense has put this defense in time and time again I would say the lack ok scoring is huge. This defense is approaching average in my opinion, which is better than I thought possible after the last few years. 

The big problem this year is the offense. We need our OC to find a way to have Denard pass the ball. It is my lingering hope that he was trying to get Denard to prove himself to be a good downfield passer during the OOC schedule, and if he couldn't, implement a more short to mid range passing attack in the B1G schedule. 

Denard has proven before that he can make those shorter throws accurately and this team is going to need a passing game in the B1G if they want to win games. I hope we see this starting this weekend. Well, maybe not even this weekend, but once we hit some of the better competition.

One last thing I will say is that for no reason at all I find myself having complete faith that Borges will figure something out that will work in the B1G. Maybe it is because of the success we have seen Mattison have early on....I'm not sure, but it is a nice feeling given the last few years.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

yea i don't get it either.. how are we struggling so badly by way of statistical measure?


We are giving up 11 pts per game ish and fewer yards, even though it is only 4 games in.  Still a lot better than we did against Non-conference people than last year.  


We have forced 13 turnovers?  Last time i  checked Cinci lead the nation with like 16, so we have to be up there as well


September 27th, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

4-0 with new systems on both sides of the ball.  Lots of experienced players on the field.  I have no reason to complain, micromanage, or second-guess.  I am going to enjoy it for as long as the number in the "L" column remains "0."

Teams that are 0-4 are "struggling."  Undefeated teams are doing just fine.  


September 27th, 2011 at 10:44 AM ^

All the team cares about is winning B1G championships...so the OOC schedule is just a way to prepare for the real season (as opposed as a way to get to 6 wins and bowl eligible)

I just don't get the feeling Hoke is a 'sabermetrics guy'


September 27th, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

"What do we think of our defense that is getting results but still struggling by any statistical measure?"


This is the only defensive stat I care about:



POINTS AGAINST:  12.8 per game



September 27th, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

The OP is right. Everyone last year was citing the "prolific" offense and the yardage pickup, however, if you look at the offense vs. teams of substance on last years schedule, you will see that the results were not good. That being said, I will take results over stats any day no matter if it's on defense or offense.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:39 AM ^

It has nothing to do with "RR". It has everything to do with the original post. I'm merely illustrating my point. I think WE were too obsessed with stats when we weren't looking at the team holistically. Nothing more, nothing less.

My point is that claiming to have a great offense while winning 7 games is kind of comical, while this year quite a few are complaining about the offense when it appears as though we will win a few more than that. However, I will wait and see.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:21 AM ^

OSU shut us down but we went for it twice on 4th down in field goal range because we had no kicker.

The offensive system is not to blame for Denard throwing 3 picks, two of them  in the end zone against Michigan State.

Mississippi State had a hell of a defense and we missed a field goal.

We did very well against those three teams on offense. They had great defenses. Even great offenses will struggle against great defenses.



September 27th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

Can you please go back and read every post and every comment between MSU and Hoke's hiring and then come back with your new insights?

Even without getting into one side or the other, this has been brought up 40,000 times and the facts haven't changed.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:09 AM ^

RR was obsessed with his 'system' 

He wanted to put up crazy stats and have the talking heads go on and on about his offense

Hoke doesn't care as much about system as he does with winning...he loves manball, but the offensive lineman said they ran pretty much zone blocking all day against SDSU ( a game they won )

there are things Hoke has to do... graduate kids and keep them out of trouble, but the only way to judge him is by wins and losses, its tough, but this is Michigan


September 27th, 2011 at 11:24 AM ^

Rodriguez didn't want stats. He wanted wins. He thought his offense would score the most points so he focused on that. His problem was delegating defensive authority to a coach who wasn't very good and allowing his friends to undermine two defensive coordinators. That combined with horrible attrition and a poor roster to start with led to the worst defense in UM history and him getting fired.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:58 AM ^

Can you site the evidence that brought you to this conclusion?

I get the idea that he may have focused on offense to save his job because he didn't have the personnel/a competent coordinator to field a good D, but where the hell do offensive stats (particularly, advanced metrics) come into play here? When did Rodriguez ever point to Sagarin Ratings as a sign that "it's not all that bad"?

Not trying to defend RR or anything, but seriously asinine arguments like this have no place on this board.


September 27th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^



basically talks about how the new coaches are doing everything he did with denard

on denard:

“When he’s in the shotgun surveying the field, whether he’s running or throwing it, he’s one of the best weapons in college football,” 


to restate more accurately: the offensive output would save his job not the wins/losses


September 27th, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

from:  asking RR, months after he's been fired, about Denard's talent

to:  claiming that the answer is RR's defense of his job. 


Hell, later on in the same piece he talks specifically about his time at UM, and he doesn't make ANY claims about why he should still be the coach here or why the offense was good enough for him to have a beef about being fired.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:09 AM ^

I think a good way to judge if a coach has good potential is to see if he wins or makes games that they shouldn't win close. Over acheiving coaches usually make good ones in the end. Of course, this is my own made up statistic.

Let's see how they play against the likes of MSU, OSU and Nebraska.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:11 AM ^

Let me chime in with my thoughts on D to clear up one thing - by no means do I think our D is struggling on the field, only in the yardage stats showing that we're relying on turnovers, which are probably unsustainable - which Brian points out on a daily basis.

Frankly, I love how our D is playing so far this year.  There are no random position switches going on, the people getting the results are getting the PT, they've done some great things at critical times, they're preventing big plays, and I love the scheme.  If you're going to struggle at times, better to do it being aggressive! 

What is interesting is that the defense is actually behind the 4-game pace for most stats (sacks, INT, PBU) from last year except for forced fumbles.  And yet the PPG numbers are far better and the competition is probably about the same.  Even if the fumble numbers are going to come back to reality, I am optimistic that there is more room for this D to improve as the season goes on than in the past two years.  Players are still figuring out their roles, there are more exotic blitz options still to be learned, we have a little more depth at positions like LB and CB than we've had before, and the D seems to be far more fundamentally sound so far. 

I'm excited to see this D play each week (so far) and when was the last time we could say that?  And even if they regress in B10 play there's hope that the offense will improve to balance that out. 

The point of the post was that we're all excited by the D to date even if the stats show it might be built on a shaky foundation - exactly the opposite situation from last year's offense.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

This defense just seems more passionate, generally-speaking, to me.  Not that the players were not passionate in the past, definitely not saying that.  It just seems to the viewer that the kids are having fun playing under Mattison.  And I don't fear defensive series the same as I have in the past.  That's a very good feeling - it makes watching the games much more enjoyable, and that's what its really about for all of us fans, right?


Blue in Yarmouth

September 27th, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

but I don't have time to look them up a lot so what I am going to say is really based on little more than feel. Without looking at the stats it just seems like this defense is better than the past few. They are making tackles, getting pressure on the QB (although not many sacks admittedly), they are covering people, they are forcing turnovers, they aren't giving up the big plays and finally, they are actually getting teams off the field. We have had quite a few three and outs and received a lot of punts thus far. Last year it seemed like we just couldn't get the other teams offense off the field, even if it was 3 and 20. 

Without lookig at the stats I just think this defense is better and have faith in them as a unit going forward. The biggest reason for that is the fact that they are getting better as the season goes on, and we haven't seen that for a while. I think Mattison has done one hell of a job!


September 27th, 2011 at 11:22 AM ^

Only the bottom line matters, and we're 4-0. The statistics are important, but mostly in blogs, bars, and fantasy leagues. Luck and the human factor are important factors in every sport, and we can never analyze or replay that away. Ask Toledo, and thousands of other teams " jobbed" by bad refs or luck.

Shit happens. I'd rather be the worst unbeaten team than the best winless team.

My sample size is small. In Boston Michigan rarely gets televised except on BTN, and life sometimes keeps me away from the couch. I get to one game a year. Last year it was the Illinois game.

But this defense looks better than they have for quite awhile. They seem less confused than last year. More players seem to know where they're supposed to be, and what to do when they get there. The scheme fits the players better, or they fit it better. Whatever, it's working.

As long as this defense gives up fewer points than Denard can score, I am happy. Concerned, maybe, but happy.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:22 AM ^

I'm exponentially more confident in our defense this year, yet I still have concerns about the Inside Backers and the Ends.  I also hate seeing CBs lined up 8 yards off the LOS.  But what do I know?  Results are what matters and so far we've held 3 teams to 10 or less points.



September 27th, 2011 at 11:31 AM ^

The biggest improvements that I think are directly related to Mattison are fumbles forced, red zone defense and the fact we've only given up one TD over 30 yards.

The points per game are going to go up as the competition improves, but I think the defense will perform much better compared to last  year because of Mattison, but also because we returned the majority of our D and the new guys are playing well.


September 27th, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

Fred Jackson is like Marshall Faulk but more versatile and Chris Johnson with speed.  He's like Walter Payton with a better college pedigree and Marv Levy but more intelligent.

I'm trying really hard to change the tone of this thread.  I knew that Fred Jackson the younger went to DIII Coe College.  I found out that another famous Coe alum is Marv Levy, who was a Rhodes Scholar before coaching the Bills in their semi-glory days.  Does anyone know if Fred Jackson the elder was at Jackson State the same time as Payton?

For the rest of you re-hashing the stat/results argument . . .

Promote RichRod

September 27th, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

shitty teams and getting some lucky bounces along the way.  We still know nothing about this defense.  It's as simple as that.

Last year we played a pretty good UConn team (i.e. better than at least 3 of our opponents thus far this year) and our defense looked vastly improved.  In reality, UConn just played a pretty shitty game.  On the other extreme we had shitty teams that basically played error-free football, like Indiana and UMass.  They exposed our defense and showed how shitty it really was.  In between the two extremes was the BGSU game - a shitty team that played as expected - poorly.  Our defense looked good that game but it was really just the quality of the opponent.  ND was the same ND - good offense but screwing up when it counted.  Most of these things did not become clear until we got a few games into the B10 schedule.

Fast forward to this year.  The shitty teams played as expected - shitty (WMU, EMU, SDSU).  When they played error free our defense looked lost and exposed (first drives for WMU, EMU).  If they could have kept that up all game it could have been scary.  SDSU just played like shit (compare to UConn).  They didn't have a chance and made our defense look good.  The one team worth a damn (ND) was able to pretty much move the ball and score at will absent stupid and unforced turnovers.

The question is - can we attribute our nonconference teams' shitty play so far to an improved defense?  Was it our ability to make adjustments or did the other teams simply run out of gas and start failing to execute?  Related - is the improvement more than we could have reasonably expected with any run of the mill DC merely because our young defense simply gained some experience? 

My vote is that we have no idea yet until we play some proven quantities.  Magic 8 ball says ask again later.  I will be ready to make a determination after the MSU game.  I feel like that's the first real game where we know what we will be up against and it will be an execution battle. 

Indiana Blue

September 27th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

then well, I belive it is safe to assume that you know nothing about defense, in general.

Essentially the same personnel as 2010 and you don't see a difference?  We probably have more 3rd down stops in big moments so far this year than all of 2010, and have given up only 1 play of more than 30 yards this year (last year we gave up something like 31).  Look at UMass vs. EMU or SDSU ... and still no difference?

Go Blue!

Promote RichRod

September 27th, 2011 at 2:22 PM ^

My post boils down to this: we don't have enough information to say whether the defense has improved more than you would expect a young defense returning almost everyone to improve.  What an outlandish concept.

If you can't see that our opponents are constantly missing WIDE open receivers (like UConn last year, hence their 10 points against a shitty defense) and turning the ball over in ways that cannot be attrubuted to defensive skill, you are hopeless.  What happens when an opponent plays well?  I don't know because none of our opponents have put together 4 quarters against us.  When they do I'll be able to assess our improvement.


September 27th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

The only thing I'm really worried about is the passing game. I know one reason the pass yards are so low is that we didn't really need to pass in two of the four games. I want to see Denard put up some passing numbers against Minnesota regardless of whether we actually need to pass or not. We all know he can, I just want to see it.

Also, the defense hasn't been bad so far, but I think they will improve throughout the season. There's plenty to be excited about there. Most of all, tackling technique. I'm not really good at judging things that teams do right and wrong, and even I notice a lot better tackling this year. The D also looks like they know what they're doing out there and they work together nicely. Also, I think Mattison has made some good adjustments during the games we've seen so far.

One thing that I seemed to get from the RR teams (and I don't mean to start anything, really) is that I couldn't really see much growth throughout the season. The team that you saw in the first game was pretty similar to the team you saw at the end (once again I'm not the greatest judge of football related things). I really hope and believe we will see some improvement throughout the year, especially in the next two weeks so we are confident going into the MSU game. I want to see growth in the RB's, the passing game, and I want to see some three and outs, especially in the early drives of the game. 

If you reply with an RR bashing statement I am going to internet-kick you in the nuts, and if I came off that way I apologize, I tried to phrase it as carefully as possible.