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06/20/2018 - 4:55pm This kid looks like a great…

This kid looks like a great get and I wish him well.  But did anyone else think that in that medals pic he looks like a cut-up Gary Coleman?

02/27/2018 - 3:02pm A targeted sit-down strike at the Final Four...

Would incur the wrath of casual sports fans everywhere.  Players would be tarnished as whiny beggars who should be happy with progress toward a college degree.  Imagine Colin Kaepernick and the Nathional Ahthem kneel-down, 10x.  

I agree with the player's position, but we need more shift in public consensus before that kind of a move.

08/10/2017 - 7:59pm Remember, Harbaugh

We have to remember that despite Speight's issues last year, as a returning starter he and the team are in a good place under Harbaugh.  Since his days at Stanford, Harbaugh has taken four QBs into a second year under his wing - Tavita Pritchard and Andrew Luck at Stanford, and Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick with the Niners.  I took a look at QB ratings changes from year 1 to year 2 for each QB (I used the NCAA QB rating formula for consistency), and there's a demonstrated improvement for 3.  Only Kaepernick regressed.  Here's the numbers:

QB                 Year 1     Year 2

Pritchard        97.44     114.68

Luck              143.46    170.24

Smith             131.31    152.21

Kaepernick    144.66     135.79

So Pritchard went from terrible to below average, Luck from pretty good to stratospheric, Smith from average to pretty good, and Kaepernick regressed slightly but maintained an average level.  Luck topped out with a 19% y-o-y jump, followed by Pritchard at 18%.  Smith went up 16% in year 2 while Kaepernick dropped -6.1%.  It averages out to a 11.5% improvement for each of the QBs in year 2.  

I tend to think system familiarity on Speight's part, and the coaches' own familiarity with Speight, means a similar improvement can be in store for Speight this season, meaning a QB rating around 155 could be his target.  If he hits that, through any combination of better accuracy or reduced INTs or completed deep balls, we'll see his issues with higher ranked defenses start to go away.  

And, another way of looking at this is that if Peters is going to be the guy to play this year, that 155+ QB rating should be the target for him as well.  

04/17/2017 - 8:26pm So much angst for an easy solution.

Speight vs. Peters?  Speight, without question.

Speight is a returning starter and better now. Better is the sense of his understanding of opponents, game preparation, steadiness, leadership.  He will not "wow" people with his talent, and he will make some mistakes we wish he wouldn't. 

Peters has the "wow" talent.  But he is still a redshirt freshman.  Whatever we gain from seeing him throw 30-yard zingers on a rope, we lose the experience that a young offense needs.  If Peters starts this season, he will make freshman mistakes.  He will be better at the end of the season than at the beginning, but there will be mistakes.

It's simple.  Take advantage of experience.  Start Speight.  Give Peters plenty of time at backup.  After the season, let the redshirt junior Speight earn his degree and give him a firm handshake and a pat on the back.  Start the Peters era when he's a redshirt sophomore, with an additional year in the program, actual game experience, and a reduced chance at mistakes related to inexperience.

03/19/2017 - 9:36pm This is all about expectations.

Football had high expectations last season, came close but fell short at the end, when the most was on the line.  A disappointing end to a great season.  Basketball had middling expectations this season and midway through looked as if they wouldn't meet that.  But then they got on a terror over the last 14 games and started to surpass our (midseason revised) expectations.

Expectations-wise and feelings-ball-wise, b-ball's had the better season.

03/19/2017 - 9:35pm This is all about expectations.

Football had high expectations last season, came close but fell short at the end, when the most was on the line.  A disappointing end to a great season.  Basketball had middling expectations this season and midway through looked as if they wouldn't meet that.  But then they got on a terror over the last 14 games and started to surpass our (midseason revised) expectations.

Expectations-wise and feelings-ball-wise, b-ball's had the better season.

01/13/2016 - 8:31pm Fat Lever 2.0

Maybe Derrick Walton is Fat Lever reincarnated. Lever was a 6-3 guard for the Denver Nuggets in the 80s-90s who averaged 6.0 rpg over an 11-year career. He averaged 8.9 rpg over a 4-year stretch from 86-87 to 89-90. And he dished out assists. Weird and amazing.


10/07/2015 - 11:16am Love this, but here's an idea

I absolutely love your approach here, and I think it really captures what a team has accomplished over general perceptions or wild-ass guesses on team strength. But I have an idea for your methodology that might help.

Your good/solid/not good F+ rankings is a great start to breaking up teams in various categories. But I'd say a win over the #4 team, for example, is vastly better than a win over the #22 team, and this methodology ranks them the same. Even worse, I'd say a win over the #36 team is way better than beating #63, and your system also ranks those as equivalent.

I'd suggest a hierarchy that looks more like a bell curve distribution, with a small group of dreg teams on one end, a small group of elite teams on the other, and a mass of middling teams in between. It would mean a lot more work for you, but I think the results would be more accurate. For example, it might answer the debate above over Minny and Sparty being tied.

Here's the distribution I'd propose:

F+ Rank       # of Teams     Team Type

121-128        8                       Horrible

109-120       12                     Bad

85-108         24                     Poor

45-84           40                     Mediocre

21-44           24                     Solid

9-20             12                     Great

1-8               8                       Elite

Any wins over non-FBS teams could be taken out of the equation.  Northwestern looks good now, but they should be dinged for beating Eastern Illinois.

I know moving from a three-tiered to seven-tiered breakdown might mean a major headache, but it would be clearer and more accurate.  I might give it a shot myself.

06/20/2015 - 11:02am Another take on JH recruiting strategy

I think, and I admit it's a hunch, that Harbaugh generally is pleased with our talent on campus right now, some positions (like QB) notwithstanding. I think he believes we have the talent to succeed immediately. But I think he believes the program has suffered from a sense of entitlement and lack of urgency that's capped our potential.

So he's adopted a 2016 recruiting strategy of finding hungry winners irrespective of rating. The message to the current roster is "get ready to work" - lose the entitlement, get some urgency and compete. Harbaugh's gonna push the players from the top down, but he needs hungry players pushing from the bottom up too. They reinforce the message. He's also trusting that his eye for talent and player development will pair with the 2016 recruits' passion and that at a minimum we will have very solid depth right away.

I'd look for us to really target the 4 and 5 stars in '17 and '18, especially if we have some real on-field success in '15 and '16.

05/05/2015 - 4:32pm In the end, we win.

If Rudock's performance is on him and you believe we have better coaches, we win. If it's on the Iowa staff for a crappy game plan, and you believe we have better coaches, we win.


01/15/2015 - 5:34pm Performance bears out Brian's grades...

Grades for the Hoke staff suggested a mediocre offense and a good defense on the strength of Mattison's swag.  And that's pretty much what we were.  These grades for the new staff suggest excellence on both sides of the ball, particularly IN THE TRENCHES.  


Watch out - big leap coming.

01/15/2015 - 5:02pm Coach GPAs using Brian's grading system...

The previous coaching staff graded out at a 2.30 gpa using Brian's grades, with only one (Mattison) getting an A.  The Harbaugh staff grades out at a 3.49 gpa with four A's (Wheatley, Durkin, Mattison and Baxter) and two A-minuses (Drevno, Jackson)

I hope Brian's not inflating grades, because that's a pretty big jump that should show dividends on the field immediately.

12/29/2014 - 1:22pm WEEEEEEEEE!!!!

I've gone from stoked to reserved to stoked again, after reading this.  Harbaugh rules.

Just my hunch, but I don't think Harbaugh will be as MANBALL at M as he was at Stanford. That became clear to me as I was reading this profile.  When Brian said this:

Harbaugh's Stanford offenses were echoes of the 1960s and 1970s, when men were men and heads were ground flat by repeated impact. They were an outlier in the exact opposite way the spread was an outlier when it first arrived on the scene.

It reminded me of Navy or Georgia Tech, whose wishbone game makes up for talent disadvantages.  Harbaugh (I'm guessing) adopted MANBALL because Stanford's academic standards restricts the recruiting pool.  

I'm putting my money on a spread/pro-style hybrid like SF was running.  He adopted that style in the NFL because talent is more equal across the board and that gave him more of a (pardon the phrase) schematic advantage.  At M Harbaugh will be able to recruit at an elite level and won't need to go that route.  


12/27/2014 - 10:49pm All the Harbaugh coaching staff speculation...

Is on the defensive side.  Anyone have word on the offense? I think this really matters. D under Harbaugh (college and pro) has been good to very good, but O (except wtih Luck) has been effective if not prolific.  O coaching will matter.

01/09/2014 - 9:37pm I'm not ready yet

to put a number on 2014 wins and losses, but I do think you raise the right point about player development.  Nussmeier is walking into a pretty good situation. We have a heap of maturing offensive players anxious to improve, and a new OC coming from a program that puts a strong emphasis on teaching techniquie and execution.  Combine that with better offensive structure and coherence, and we could see a vastly improved offense in 2014.  Not dynamic like the Denard days, but efficient.

Next year's formula:

offensive maturity + better technique and execution + better offensive structure and coherence = way better offense in 2014.

Only one of those things was sure to happen next year with Borges returning.

06/22/2013 - 5:42pm Agreed on NYC

Population for NY was missing from the tables here, since Rutgers is not in NY.  But bringing in Rutgers is the B1G attempt to bring in the whole NYC metro area, not just NJ.

Speaking of metro areas, I think that's how we should view competition with the SEC, not by state population.  I have data on the 51 metro areas with more than 1 million people in the US.  If you include NYC, the B1G footprint has 13 metro areas totalling 63 million people; the SEC footprint has 14 metros totalling 45 million.  

Even with the demographic challenges, that's advantage B1G.  The conference will be well-positioned to become viewed as the nation's college athletic conference, viewed by more than any other, and building a national profile that will help it overcome the demographic challenges.

11/02/2011 - 5:53pm Time to call this

Time to call this multi-faceted offense what it is -- the SmorgasBorges Offense.

10/21/2011 - 1:42pm Maybe a little OT...

But please stick with me here.  Kudos to John Bacon for writing this book and exploring/exposing the details of Michigan's last three years under RR.  I've read some excerpts and I definitely look forward to reading the whole thing.  Count me among those who was a huge RR supporter who reluctantly realized he would never be able to succeed and ultimately had to go, due to his own flaws as well as those of the program and the Michigan Family.

But there is a bigger cultural picture to look at here, too.  From the very beginning I saw RR's hire as a grand litmus test not simply for U-M football, but for the state of Michigan and the Midwest's approach to progress, innovation, and the kind of change needed to revitalize a stagnant region.  Everyone knows RR represented a radical departure from the U-M norm, but everyone also seems to forget about the slight but steady decline that was hurting the program for years prior to his hire; we wanted to restore the glory.  But all the institutional forces that had so much invested in the traditions of the program never embraced the change and gnawed away at RR's ability to succeed.  Yes, we wanted success, but we wanted success that validated our old vision instead of being the result of a new one.  And without getting way OT, parallels abound for the state and for the Midwest. 

That is in part why I wanted so badly for RR to succeed.  If U-M could embrace change in its football program, maybe the state could embrace the change needed to revitalize itself.  Now we have a book that will tell you how big a mistake that kind of thinking was.

Today, under Brady Hoke I firmly believe U-M is on the right path to reach excellence again.  And maybe Hoke's approach of melding traditions with new practices is the template for revitalizing the state, too.

If this doesn't fit here, please forgive me.

12/02/2010 - 1:11pm Geez!

I try to bring a little reason into the discussion without offering any opinion, and a narrow interpretation of the "rules" earns me a negging.

I sincerely apologize.  There was no intent to incite or inflame, only inform.

12/02/2010 - 11:15am Logic says Rich Rod is staying

It's time for all evaluation and speculation on Rich Rod's status to end.  Leaving my own personal opinion out of the mix, anyone who thinks this process through has to come to the conclusion that he's staying.

Once Dave Brandon said that he would evaluate the coaching situation after the bowl game, he was making the implied admission that at a minimum RR was staying through 2011.  If U-M were making a change at head coach, RR would've been fired already.  Just like Randy Shannon at Miami.

There's no benefit in keeping RR until the bowl game, only to axe him afterwards.  There's only downside to that -- scrambling to get a coach and assistants in ASAP, recruits scrambling to find new schools.  If RR was going, Brandon would've let him go very shortly after The Game, begun whatever "official" coaching search he was going to start, gotten his under-the-table agreement that Harbaugh was coming in, and would be planning the press conference immediately following whatever New Year's Day bowl Stanford goes to. 

We can continue to spew our thoughts pro and con on RR, but logic tells me the decision has already been made.

11/30/2010 - 10:34am Is it me?

I live outside of Michigan but proudly maintain my Michigan Fan Card(tm).  Not sure if it's me or not, but I sense that the Fire Rich Rod sentiment is strongest in the state of Michigan, and less so with the Michigan Diaspora.  Is this true?

If it is, my guess is that the local media has been effective in its characterizations of the Rich Rod regime, and Sparty's success under Dantonio has become really grating.  I don't have any exposure to either.

11/30/2010 - 10:25am I totally agree.

When looking at the job Rich Rod has had to do so far at U-M, why don't people look at what could've been the alternative beginning in 2008?  And I don't mean the Les Miles alternative, I mean the Lloyd Carr Coaching Tree alternative.

From my perspective U-M has been on a slow decline since 2001, and that decline accelerated in 2005, the 2006 season notwithstanding.  If U-M had hired a coach steeped in the traditions of the previous era, I'd be willing to bet we would've had an overall record eerily similar to what we've had since '08 -- and without a hint or glimmer of hope for progress over the next half decade.

Do people simply forget the frustration of 2004-2007?  Sure, Lloyd's teams won more games during that period than Rich Rod has, but those teams hit their ceiling and that ceiling was ever so steadily pushing downward.  This year's team was nowhere close to its ceiling, has been able to get back into the bowl mix and is set up for huge success in 2011 and beyond.

I choose hope, not overreaction.

10/21/2010 - 1:24pm Is that really true?

This is an honest-to-goodness question.  When you put inexperienced and unprepared young players out on the field before they're ready, does it stunt their future growth?  Does a DB who gets torched because he doesn't know which way is up actually recover to be competent or even good, or is he scarred for life because of the experience?

I have thoughts about players like a young Rick Ankiel not being able to keep his pitches even remotely near home plate, and how he had to remake his entire baseball career from scratch. 

I honestly wonder if whether throwing freshman DBs to the wolves hurts their ability to develop to their full potential.  If not, then I would agree that they'll be fine.  If so, then our secondary is in for even more trouble in ensuing years.

It sounds like a MgoBlog research project -- what relevance does poor freshman year performance have on future individual development?

10/05/2010 - 1:48pm Chappelbombings will occur...

But it doesn't mean our season is lost by any stretch, as long as the offense keeps Denarding.

I did a stats check of BCS conference teams over the last five years that gave up 400+ ypg in total defense.  There were 56 teams since 2005 that fit the bill.  Of those, 19 finished .500 or better.  Furthermore, 9 finished with 8 or more wins:

2009 Arkansas (8-5)

2009 Stanford (8-5)

2008 Oklahoma State (9-4)

2008 Missouri (10-4)

2007 Tennessee (10-4)

2006 Purdue (8-6)

2005 Wisconsin (10-3)

2005 UCLA (10-2)

What distinguished those teams? A high-powered offense, of course.  Seven of the nine had offenses ranked in the top third nationally (2007 Tennessee and 2005 Wisconsin missed the cut).  Two of the nine had unstoppable spread offenses that ranked in the top ten nationally: in 2008 Okie State's offense was #6, and Mizzou's was #8.  That year both teams ate up more than 480+ ypg, and surrendered more than 405+ ypg. 

At this point, UM is certainly on pace to equal both those totals; if it comes with similar results that would exceed my pre-season expectations.

BTW, those Okie State and Mizzou teams were senior-laden that lost quite a bit after that 2008 season.  UM is far younger and can expect improvement even if they have similar results.

10/04/2010 - 10:31am Home field is about the only reason I think we win...

because if this game was in East Lansing I see Sparty winning.  However, playing at home will be a big boost.  My prediction is 48-38.

But here's one big caveat -- IU has given the league the template for beating UM, and MSU has the QB who could replicate it.  IU simply kept UM's offense off the field with their passing attack, and I'm afraid MSU and Iowa have talented and experienced QBs who could do what Ben Chappell did.

This is where the O MUST help the D.  UM's quick-strike capability is keeping the D on the field way too long.  RR, Denard & Co. are going to have to practice some ball control strategy to limit MSU's opportunities against our D.  This week I'd rather see 10 play, 80 yard drives than 2 play quick strikes. 

I don't care if some consider TOP an overvalued metric or not, IU had the ball for 42:00 compared to UM's 18:00.  They ran 98 plays to our 45.  If UM holds onto the ball for 2:00 more each quarter, raising TOP to 26:00, that's 8:00 IU DOESN'T have a chance to score against our D.  That alone could've wiped away 2 IU TDs.

09/27/2010 - 1:08pm If this becomes true, do you realize what this means?

If UM and OSU go into The Game at 6-1, they will both be in the Top 10 with at minimum a Rose Bowl berth on the line, and a possible (for OSU, maybe) BCS Tilte game berth.

That would be quite a way to end the last season before next year's expansion, wtih UM and OSU back where they're accustomed to being.  But I'd rather see how UM performs against IU and MSU before being that bold.

09/09/2010 - 3:26pm Despite the run game

Despite the run game dominance we showed against UConn, my favorite quote in the entire UFR is:

"...if Notre Dame leaves primary reads open Robinson will hit them."

That is a million billion zillion light years difference from last year's DR, and can make this offense truly special.

08/03/2010 - 12:11pm Shot off ND's Bow

I think Jim Delany's nine-game conference schedule proposal is aimed squarely at Notre Dame and the Big Ten's future expansion goals.  Think about it -- ND has regular rivalries with UM, MSU and Purdue, and occasionally slips in a Northwestern or tOSU.  UM and maybe MSU keep their ND rivalries after moving to nine league games, but does Purdue?  And what incentive would any other Big Ten team have to play ND in that new environment?

In other words, Delany is saying, "ND, if you can't play us, join us."

Delany is one Macchiavellian mofo.

07/13/2010 - 2:24pm I don't get it, "traditionalists"...

Call me a big supporter of the renovation.  Now we can have modern conveniences and a more comfortable environment.  The life cycle of the Big House has been extended 25-50 years.

To me, the most important component of the renovation?  Pardon me for shouting, but, ahem -- IMPACT ON NOISE!  We all know Michigan Stadium has a reputation for being the home of the quietest 110,000 people you'll ever find, and I've got to think that the new suite towers will give the team the kind of SurroundSound experience that translates to a bigger home field advantage.

Honestly, IMHO the first time a visiting QB (not from tOSU, ND or Little Brother) has to burn all their TOs because they can't call a play, the renovation investment would be worth it.

06/14/2010 - 11:12am Sound reasoning, but...

Penn State and is gonna scream about their travel costs relative to everyone else in the conference.  I wouldn't be surprised if their costs will be 20% more than anyone else's in their division.

However, I think Penn State would accept this if there's an understanding that this is short-term -- meaning, the addition of a couple of Eastern schools ( any two of the 'Cuse, Rutgers, Pitt triumvirate) and ND in the Big 16.

06/08/2010 - 1:18pm I certainly don't have

I certainly don't have numbers to back me up, but anecdotally I could agree.  A super strong rushing attack will have more value in going against their own grain on occasion.  But I'd argue also that WVA in '07 passed just as much as it needed to, relative to the defensive strength of the Big East.  Passing any more would have diminished value.

However, the Big Ten's top D's (OSU, PSU, Iowa, Wis.) are stronger than anything in the Big East, and will likely adjust very quickly to a steady diet of UM run reads.  RR will probably have to get a better run/pass balance than he had at WVA to be similarly successful -- hence the Oregon comparison. 

06/08/2010 - 11:57am Mathlete, as always the the

Mathlete, as always the the analysis is tremendous.  Mostly because I also believe we are this/close to having an elite offense, too.  But I don't think the offense will have the same kind of profile (run/pass distribution, yards per attempt) as WVA in 2007, and that will have an impact on the offense. 

WVA in '07 had a 70/30 run/pass distribution and only gained 159 passing ypg.  That's OK when you have a Pat White, a Steve Slaton, and weak WRs in a weak Big East, but stronger Big Ten defenses and UM's level of talent at WR and slot will likely force a more equitable run/pass distribution.

I see the UM 2010 offense having a profile similar to Oregon, 2007-2009. For those 3 seasons the Ducks averaged 455 ypg, with 255 rushing ypg and 200 passing ypg.  They averaged anywhere from 5.3 to 6.2 yds per rushing attempt, and right around 7 yds per pass attempt.  They did this with a 60/40 run/pass distribution, and they've averaged 38.7 ppg over the last 3 seasons.     And they won 9, 10 and 10 games over that span.  We'd take that, wouldn't we?

Incidentally, the Ducks have had a middling defense during that period as well.  I don't know if that's because they give up lots of yards because the offense plays at such a fast pace (giving opposing offenses more chances), or if they're actually pretty meh.  At any rate, I think that's the profile and the model.

02/20/2009 - 4:58pm Hey!

Did I just start something? Yesterday I made a diary post on this blog about the stats of true freshman QBs, and I see someone else runs the same thing?

I thought only conventional media types robbed from "the bloggers".

02/19/2009 - 6:31pm Not a Knock on Navarre

I liked John Navarre. I think you read something totally different from my intent.

I saw Navarre/Threet parallels -- both were thrust into a starting role prematurely; both had confidence struggles that led to wild swings in productivity. But Navarre grew into the position, and while he was never an All-American candidate, he was better than mediocre. My intent was to say that Threet could have evolved into the adequate and ultimately mildly successful QB that Navarre was.

Tate Forcier's size will be an issue. It was for Drew Brees. It was also for Chris Leak. It was also for Chase Daniels. All were about the same size as Forcier.

Does that mean I expect similar production from Forcier right off the bat? Hell no. But I would hope that Forcier's developed the kind of QB savvy and sixth-sense that would aid in his success.

Moving on, moving forward, whatever. I am not branding Forcier as a savior -- just saying he's probably the best we got.

02/19/2009 - 6:14pm Maybe it's optimistic...

But what's the alternative? Sheridan running the show the entire season? Not. Gonna. Happen. Evenly split QB time between Sheridan and Forcier? Maybe a little more likely, but could lead to factions and chemistry problems on the offense. And if you split time between 3 QBs (Sheridan/Forcier/Robinson), you have a mighty stron recipe for Offense Mutiny.

Someone has to emerge as the frontrunner. And I'm guessing that RichRod determined that either 1) the Threet/Forcier margin heading into spring practice was razor-thin, and he would go with the guy who best fits the offense and with the highest ceiling, or 2) Forcier has already demonstrated that he's the frontrunner. If neither case was true, he would've been doing everything he could to keep Threet around. But he didn't.

02/19/2009 - 5:55pm OK, so I miffed on a big one

When I looked up Sam Bradford's info, I didn't see a redshirt. I goofed on that one. But if anything, it shows how much that one year of incubation can mean for QB production.

As far as weighting the QBs by * rankings, they sorta did that by themselves already. A 4+* QB is very unlikely to head to Duke, or even Kansas St., if they have offers from more prominent schools. And I think the numbers reflect the relative talent that each QB had at their disposal, which inflated (or deflated) their stats.