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Date Title Body
10/19/2010 - 2:30pm Maybe the angry people watch a lot of high school football.

It's played with more precision and discipline than what Michigan is slapping together.  For example, high school kids usually do not walk off the field before the whistle blows.  That sort of thing.

10/17/2010 - 10:00am I like Rodriguez. We need to give him 4-5 more years, please.

Anyone who disagrees is a HATER.  Rodriguez is 4-15 AL (after Lloyd, who, obviously, was a total loser) against the Big Ten, which doesn't matter because it is someone else's fault.  I mean, contrast this with Danny Hope.  Hope has the benefit of inheriting a richly talented program with a legendary local talent pool and he has had the good fortune of losing his top 2 quarterbacks, top running back, and top receiver.  Of course he is doing better than we are; he's got more to work with.  Of course Hope is only 6-4 v. the Big Ten, with a win over Ohio State.  Hope doesn't even have the sense to blame the past for his present.  Thank goodness Hope is not coaching Michigan or we would be two steps from oblivion.

Reasons to be cheerful:

Coach Rodriguez has created a new betting convention: The QB Fracture, or, In Which Quarter Will the QB Leave Because of Injury Because the Game is Tackle Football, Not Flag Football?   Everybody knows that running QBs aren't hurt as often as old-school (Lloyd-ball) QBs, and it's just a statistical anomaly that in two games against an archaic Iowa program, coached by a clown who represents the past, the QB has been knocked out of the game.  I'm sure it will go much better against Wisconsin and OSU.  Those guys are a bunch of pussies and we'll run circles around them with our 175-lb smurf QBs, especially if the weather is bad and a couple of our O-Linemen are hurt.

He's created enormous fascination with statistical excess, as his teams run wild before a) hitting the red zone; b) throwing the ball to the wrong team (in the numbers, incidentally); c) playing an FBS school not named "Indiana".  Everyone knows that it's yards between the 20's, not scoring points, that matter.  

His teams run a gazillion plays (42% more than Iowa) and it's fun because it's the number of plays, not points on the board, that matter: you just never know when the next strange screw-up will turn the ball over because a good offense doesn't have to worry about efficiency, protecting the ball, in-game adjustments.  Managing turnovers: that's Lloyd-ball, that's neanderthal football (we'll have fun with Wisconsin and OSU, fellas, when our QBs are scotch-taped together and both of those teams are playing tackle football for polls and bowls, and the wind, rain and snow are blowing, because this system is the future and they are the past!).  

His teams are proudly unconcerned with offensive efficiency: despite being the clear, dominant team on offense between the 20's, they pass for 65% of the opponents YPA, and that just shows you: his teams can pass a lot to no effect!  It's so exciting!  And Iowa's loser QB system. Why, Stanzi couldn't even ride the pine at Michigan.  We didn't even recruit him, thank you lord.  Heck he entered the game third in NCAA pass efficiency -- and raised his score to 180+.  What a joke: he only threw for 248, zero picks, and a 198+ efficiency rating.  Who cares if you don't have 400 yards?  Winning is so boring!

Special teams don't matter at all, to him, and so what! that we look like a winless high school team trying to kick off, cover a blocked field goal (hey, why coach special teams, we don't coach defense do we?), or cover the kickoffs that do manage to stay in-bounds.  Who grows up hoping to play special teams for the winningest team in college football history?  Nobody!  It's irrelevant!  We need more such special teams innovation in the Big Ten.

Defense is an especially interesting subject in respect of Coach Rodriguez, because he's shown that such old-school, hidebound concepts as backside contain, tackling with one's legs and *both* arms, while staying square and maintaining leverage, are irrelevant.  Everybody knows that it's the number of stars on a recruit's ass that determines future game success, and that's why Iowa's third-string unrecruited MIKE had 13 tackles, one pass breakup and one pick to end the game.  (He just got lucky, and it isn't that he is coached to play assignment football against a wildly erratic team that's fast fast fast in timed 40's in gym shorts -- and that's why, in five years and a grand total of two starts, he has one B10 DPOTW, and maybe another one now.)   That's why a team with one RB, who was a fourth-string strong safety 18 months ago,and a 5'9" rookie making his first start at fullback because the starter was hurt and the second string guy (who was a walk-on) quit, ran on third and 14 -- and got 15.  

Last, he ensures that no TV network will ever mic the sideline, because children and women and more children watch these games, and it's not cool to broadcast in high definition a Michigan Man who is out of control screaming F*** at his own players on national TV.  Thank goodness we have a guy like Coach Rodriguez who would never embarrass himself on national TV, and is upholding the fine football traditions of our Harvard of the Mitten State, our Mt. Olympus of 14 percent unemployment, the playground of Yost and Bo and the winningest best all-time greatest football program ever.

Nix on 4-5 years.  We need to give this guy a job for life.  If we don't, we are "pathological Michigan and Rodriguez haters."  Facts, records, the actual way the game is played and public behavior are irrelevant.  Anyone who says they are relevant is a "HATER."  And even if we don't, could we please hire another failed Big East defensive coordinator?  Defense is so Lloyd, so Bo, so beside the point.  It's not like the best tackling club in the world, in the 1980's was Michigan, which often as not beat the shit out of Iowa and Iowa's winningest coach.   It's only a matter of time before other Big Ten schools start playing flag football, too, and the conference coaching ranks are populated with Big East refugees who neither tackle, nor kick, nor cover passes, in year three of the most difficult rebuilding job in human history, nor score the most in these silly exercises called "games".  Anyone who says otherwise is a "HATER."

10/15/2010 - 8:00am This table summarizes Iowa's defensive intention.


It's got everything to do with controlling plays longer than 10 yards, not limiting yards between the 20's.
10/15/2010 - 6:43am I'll just say

that it is Iowa's coaching philosophy that college football players cannot execute consistently and therefore they intentionally (attempt to) force teams to put together 12-15 play drives.  If you consider the simplicity of Iowa's offensive and defensive schemes (probably the simplest in the Big Ten, and in fact little changed in 10 years) this may become intuitive.  

Michigan is a profoundly dangerous offense because they are a big play *run-game* offense which potentially breaks the conventional model Iowa offers, which assumes that 4.35 sprinters with football skills are *not* touching the ball on every play.  Still, it's very plain what Iowa will attempt to do, and that is, again, force Michigan to run 12 consecutive error-free plays in order to score.  If Michigan can do that, they will win.  Against MSU they could not, which Brian's game review makes very clear: they simply had breakdowns that took at least 14 points off the board.  If Iowa doesn't force Michigan to assemble long drives, Michigan will probably win, though the outcome is less certain than it would be against a DI defense, which this is not:  Stanzi and his receivers have shown great flexibility and discipline this year.  (Stanzi's had one pick; the other one was a bounce pass off McNutt's hands.)  Iowa's offense is extremely efficient this year, even though we have only one running back and he is not a big-play burner.  Football Outsiders S&P+ ranking has Iowa's offense ranked higher (#4, nationally) than Iowa's defense (22).  Obviously, Iowa's defense suffers here from the same algorithmic bias that Mathlete is applying.  

Iowa consistently is a top-two deciles red zone defense because the pressure on the offense goes up once the field contracts, and the discipline that you say is lacking because they're playing assignment, not attacking, defense between the 20's rewards the defense.  At the moment Iowa is #1 in the country in red zone defense.  This would seem to better support my statement than yours.

In regard to the other fellow saying I was making stuff up, facts are stubborn things, and we don't get to make them up:

Since 2007, Iowa has given up 27 rush touchdowns in 43 games.  Saying a rush TD is worth an automatic 7, that is 4.4 points per game on the ground.  So that is not made up, is it.  Iowa is the only team in the country to not yield a rush touchdown this year.  So I understand that he doesn't care what the facts are, but those are the facts, and these facts point to the collision tomorrow between a premier defense and the most dangerous runner in college football.   

This year, as of October 9, Iowa is #1 in the country in red zone defense, #1 in scoring defense, and #2 in rushing defense, so perhaps my comments have some merit.  Mathlete says that Iowa's only "great" pass defense game came against Iowa State, yet somehow Iowa is only yielding 10.2 points per game.  The Mathlete analysis is not yielding insight.  The speed and joy with which you guys go ad hominem, however, may not make such objective measures relevant.  

Still, you might consider that Iowa's explicit strategy is not to win statistical contests between the 20's, such activity distorting Mathlete's analysis, but rather to win games.  (A contending team with "as close to average" pass defense is a team with a crappy pass defense, because average doesn't win championships.)  That means preventing scores, not preventing teams from throwing underneath Iowa's quarters coverage between the 20's.  Further, inasmuch as this is Iowa's best d-line in 10, and maybe 50, years, the spread between rush and passing yardage allowed is exaggerated.

In review, in any problem one must decide what objective one is solving for, and Iowa does not solve for absolute defensive mastery between the 20's.  Iowa solves for controlling the line of scrimmage, forcing offenses to execute long drives, being one of the best red zone defenses in the country, and allowing teams to run the ball into the end zone approximately .63 times per game.  Iowa averages about 8 rush touchdowns allowed -- per year.  That's why this game is fascinating to contemplate.  Something has to give.

10/14/2010 - 7:43pm On Iowa's crappy defense: a few queries:

a) who cares how many yards a team accumulates if they do not score?

b)  Iowa has given up about 4 pts per game on the ground since 2007.  I did the arithmetic last week, trust me, it's less than 4.5.  Feel good?

The Mathlete's model should reflect effective yards resulting in points, not yards resulting in nothing.  Norm Parker doesn't care how many yards you get, because he's just waiting for the field to contract inside the 20's.

Anyway, that's why they play the game, even on Mt. Olympus d/b/a Ann Arbor, and this effort at sabremetrics for football has a ways to go.

Obviously Iowa is coached by people who can't coach their way out of a wet paper bag*.  So you may be correct.

Denard is so extraordinary that he can win this game by himself.  Or Iowa can implode (cf. Arizona).  But if it's played straight up, it's still tackle football, and I would put more money on the team that doesn't allow points, than the one who can't count the points it does allow.

*You said it, December 2007.

10/14/2010 - 7:30pm GT?

Perhaps because your quant values yards between the 20's more highly than points on the scoreboard.  Iowa doesn't care how many yards you roll up between the 20's, duh. 

Or, the best run offense of the past 30 years is Paul Johnson's -- and they had one first down at halftime, in January.

10/13/2010 - 3:36pm Continuity of performance against

I guess you're saying that there's some measurable continuity of performance (relative to measured other-school performance) between two clubs.

I don't know.  To me the data are all messed and the only way to validate the model is with a backtest against, say, 50 teams over 5 seasons.   To me this is a hypothesis being sustained by a promise.

But thanks for taking my question seriously.

10/13/2010 - 12:38pm ?

I don't understand how these measures are predictive when we are not controlling for opponents.  (Different opponents eliminates any scientific, neutral measure of expected performance.)  

Has anyone done a regression and shown that despite the lack of a common dataset, the resulting models are predictive?

10/11/2010 - 6:26pm FYI.

I'm quoting Chris Brown who is quoting your man and using his pictures.  The title of this study was:  "How do you beat Cover 2 with trips?  Let me count the ways."  Anyway, the problem remains.  

Iowa plays quarters and attempts to lower the pressure on the safeties, while admittedly demanding much more of the SAM (Greenway, Eads, now Nielsen).

10/11/2010 - 6:15pm QED?

I think this would be Michigan, playing Cover 2.