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2011 Michigan Football


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#151 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 30 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

As far as these runs are concerned, a low YPC would be under 7, because they're substituting for a passing game. You can use under 3 as a demonstration of famine, but it's arbitrary. I would set it as whether the play was above or below the average for the down-and-distance. I would also look at standard deviation.


Again, Football Outsiders includes this stuff in their S&P ratings. Their "arbitrary" definition of a successful college play is 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth downs. It also tracks this with respect to "passing downs," which it defines as second down with 8 or more yards to go, and third or fourth downs with 5 or more yards to go. And Michigan last year ranked 12th in the country on passing downs. For comparison, OSU was 51st.


Can you break down the 3-and-outs based on first versus second half? That might be illuminating, as well.


Sure. Denard had a total of four 3-and-outs in the second halves of the 5 Big Ten losses. Of those 12 plays, he passed 6 times, was sacked once, and rushed 4 times (the other play was a Shaw rush).

I'm arguing that this type of reliance on a running quarterback creates an offense that can't move the ball consistently against better opponents.


And I disagree, as every piece of data shows that unless what you mean by "consistently" is never having to punt, we did move the ball consistently against the better teams last year. The problem was the defense could not stop anybody from moving the ball even more consistently against us.

#152 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 30 September 2011 - 11:38 PM

I appreciate you answering the questions without the associated invective. You're making a good case. I think there's a difference between these quarterback runs and what we would think of as a normal running game. I also think there's a big difference between gaining 0 on first down and different distances. Something has to explain why the team completely fell apart in the second halves of games during the second half of the season the last three years.

Yes, the defense was awful. The turnovers certainly contributed. Last year, they were 0-5 when running for less than 200 yards as a team, and 5-2 when holding their opponent under 200 yards rushing. But that's not terribly unusual. I think there's one more piece that would highlight why MSU and OSU were able to limit that offense so much. Those games weren't close at all.

I would be interested in seeing a standard deviation of running plays from the quarterback versus a standard deviation of runs from running backs, but I haven't written any scripts to parse college play-by-play results.

#153 sachmoney


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Posted 01 October 2011 - 12:10 AM

Looks like CS might have been onto something in regards to Denard:

What is it? Denard had a procedure earlier this week for an abscess on said elbow. The bandage is the after-effect. An abscess is an irritating, fairly quick-healing thing that may have affected his accuracy earlier in the year. It won't cause him to miss any time but may be a reason the passing game has been minimized so far. If he suddenly gets a lot more accurate in three weeks that might be why.

I don't know how limited he's going to be, but Minnesota's defense is bad. He should at least have a good day with his legs tomorrow.

#154 sachmoney


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Posted 01 October 2011 - 07:25 PM

I was going to respond sooner, but I didn't want to get in the middle of your two spat. I'm glad you two came to some agreement. There's no reason for personal venom here.

Today we saw what the offense should be doing. As far as passing, we should try and get Denard in quick drops where he can get rid of the ball quickly, rather than sitting in the pocket and getting uneasy. He seems to make the best passes when he goes after quick routes. He gets happy feet the longer he's in the pocket and it seems like his throws sail on him some as a result. I don't know how much that abscess was affecting him, but he looked very sharp today with good zip.

The best part of this game was that Denard only ran it 6 times. I liked what I saw from Fitz today. Smith looked good as well. Those two seem to be the top backs at the moment with all the others good for a few carries as well. As far as the receiving, I've been impressed with what I've seen from Dileo and Gallon. Gallon especially deserves credit for stepping up his game from a guy that couldn't be trusted as a punt returner to a guy making big plays on team that could contend for the Big Ten Championship. It was interesting that Roundtree didn't have any receptions (Odoms neither). I wonder when they're going to be more involved because both can be big weapons. It seems Odoms's primary duty will be on returns.

I'd be hard pressed not to mention the special teams and defense. It's really nice to see Gibbons actually hitting field goals. It probably isn't easy to step up as a freshman and try to hit field goals in front of 100,000 people. It was something the team needed to improve and I'm glad the improvement came from within the squad. The defense was very good. You can tell they're actually enjoying football this year. There's so much energy. This week, I want to single out Craig Roh for having a good performance. He seemingly has upped his play every week. He's really making plays. I'll also like to say that Countess had another strong game. I think the secondary on the whole has stepped up, though I attribute that to 1. experience 2. pass rush. After watching last year's team, I didn't think I'd say I actually enjoy watching this year's defense which features a lot of the same players, but I do. A lot of energy and a lot of passion. Getting back to playing a Michigan style defense.

Next week, we face Northwestern. I watched most of the game, and with Persa, that team looked impressive. There should be a good Michigan presence in attendance next week, so I'm not worried about the crowd. We'll probably ask a lot more of Denard.

#155 sachmoney


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Posted 02 October 2011 - 06:42 PM

Michigan moved up to #11 in the USA Today and #12 in the AP. I feel a lot of this has to do with many of the teams ahead of them losing. I was expecting them to be somewhere around 13-15. It's a pleasant surprise, but means nothing. I don't really care about the ranking. I want to see the Wolverines become bowl eligible next week and march on to the Big Ten Championship game.

A lot of the success comes from the improved defense:

- Michigan is first in Red Zone defense allowing scores on 50% of conversions.
- Michigan is tied for second in PA per game allowing 10.2 points.
- Michigan is ranked 16th in pass defense and 56th in run defense.
- Michigan is ranked 31st in total defense.

They were the 110th best defense in the country last year. I don't expect them to be this good all year, but it's a huge improvement.


#156 sachmoney


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Posted 09 October 2011 - 12:23 PM

Now that we're half way through the season and already bowl eligible, what do you expect from this team as far as record and bowl game?

I've been cautiously optimistic (outwardly cautious, inwardly optimistic) this entire season and set my sights at a realistic 8-9 wins coming into the season. I looked at the schedule and the big four games that concerned me were Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Ohio State. If I were to reevaluate the schedule now, I'd probably take Ohio State down as far as a big challenge (not as a big game, it's the biggest) and replace them with Illinois. Illinois are undefeated and we face them at their house. They've sort of flown under the radar and Nathan Scheelhaase has been one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season. Nebraska will still be tough, but they've shown some holes. If you stop the run and make Martinez throw the ball, you can negate their offense. Their defense can be exploited. I'm more optimistic about that game than I was coming into the season.

And that brings us to State. I think this is the biggest test going forward. It's away in a hostile environment. We haven't beaten them in a few years. They're a talented squad with a senior quarterback, who I actually have a lot of respect for. It's going to be an intense game. With that said, they've definitely shown some weaknesses, particularly in the offensive line. If we beat State, sky is the limit for this season. I'd go from expecting 9-10 wins to believing that this team can win 11 games and may be even run the table. I'm still cautious about wanting too much though.

As far as a bowl game, I expected us to be around the 4th Big Ten Bowl, which was higher than some who had us something like sixth. The national media has definitely shown us love and has moved us up and it seems like if we continue to play like this, we're destined for the 2nd Big Ten Bowl spot, which could very likely be the Rose Bowl (if the BTC is in the national championship). While I've been thinking more about a Capital One Bowl type appearance, I can't say I haven't sniffed for the Roses. I'd love to see us in Pasadena, but us getting there isn't going to dictate whether I believe this is a successful season or not.

While it's too early to judge this season, I believe what all of us want was the program to take a step back towards winning the Big Ten, with more consistent appearances in BCS games (I know Michigan hasn't made many BCS bowl appearances in the BCS era, but I mean to be in those high profile bowls) with occasional National Championship appearances. I think you can make that evaluation at the end of the season. For the current team, you can definitely see that there are some notable improvements, which is very encouraging.

#157 bowiac


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Posted 09 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

Sagarin point spreads for the remaining games:

Michigan -2 @ Michigan State
Purdue +25 @ Michigan
Michigan -9 @ Iowa
Michigan -6 @ Illinois
Nebraska +9 @ Michigan
Ohio State + 10 @ Michigan

Converting these point spreads to odds of victory, you get 55%, 100%, 78%, 71%, 78%, 79%. That's a 17% chance of going 12-0, and a mean win expectation almost exactly between 10 and 11. (Also something like a 5% chance of going 13-0, assuming Wisky is the opponent).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyways, as someone who was definitely on the "this is gonna be a bad year" bandwagon, I'm here to happily eat crow. Granted the Big 10 stinking has helped, but in an objective sense, this team is better, and better coached than I ever imagined they would be. Every aspect of the coaching staff and the team has been better than I expected (well, other than special teams).

In particular, even last year the team struggled with converting 3rd and 10 type yardages (one of the worst teams in the country in pure passing downs if I recall) . Either because Denard is getting better on his own, or because of all the work they did with him as a pocket passer, but that sort of situation is no longer hopeless. It's now a "fully functional" offense. Probably not better than last year's overall (because of Denard's increase in picks, and fewer runs by Denard), but it's now rendered less totally incompetent in certain situations. Just makes it more enjoyable to watch at least.

Borges deserves credit for not trying to making a round peg fit into a square hole. Maybe just making it try to fit into an oval hole. He had a lot to work with, but not screwing it up is an achievement in itself. He tried the Denard under center thing, and gradually scaled it back as it proved ineffective. I'm not yet sure what the point of the full house formation with Gardner is, but whatever. This is probably on Hoke, but I would like to see Gardner brought into the game earlier in blowout situations.

The defense is obviously a revelation. Probably to have been expected given the youth on the team, and just plain better luck, but it's still good to see that it's happened.

Special teams is still a bit of nightmare honestly. I would never try an important field goal with this team yet, and we've had two or three kickoffs out of bounds already. It's not looking great there, and I'm a little confused as to why.

Finally, major points to Hoke for being aggressive on when to go for it on 4th down. Maybe my favorite sequence of the Northwestern game was when Hoke got caught running a fake punt, and then just sent the offense out on the field, both basically admitting he was gonna go for it, and still going through with it.

I'm calling 10 wins right now, with losses to Illinois and Ohio State sadly, but I'm once again happy to be proven wrong there.

#158 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 09 October 2011 - 04:41 PM

In particular, even last year the team struggled with converting 3rd and 10 type yardages (one of the worst teams in the country in pure passing downs if I recall) . Either because Denard is getting better on his own, or because of all the work they did with him as a pocket passer, but that sort of situation is no longer hopeless.


We converted 3 in a row yesterday after missing on the first, but you'll recall they actually noted on the broadcast that we were 1 for 16 on the season prior to that in 3rd and 8 or more. And according to football outsiders, we were 13th in the country last year in offensive efficiency on passing downs (2nd and 8+ and 3rd and 5+).

Edited by WayBackVazquez, 09 October 2011 - 04:42 PM.


#159 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:43 PM

I'm quite happy with the start they've had, but keep in mind that computer ratings are more accurate as the season progresses, and Michigan received a huge boost from its victory over Notre Dame. MSU is -3 in early Vegas betting, which seems more realistic.

#160 sachmoney


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Posted 10 October 2011 - 04:00 PM

I don't think there's anyway you can be disappointed with the start they've had. In the last two years, they had some nice starts, but there were clear vulnerabilities to the team which were exposed by the Big Ten schedule. This team barely beat UMass last year. Should we have expected things to be different? Not really, because they gave us no reason to be more optimistic. That defense was just that bad.

And that's why this season, we're more optimistic. The defense is much better and the in game coaching, so far as making adjustments, has been much better as well. We've given up points to Notre Dame and Northwestern, but they've made the necessary adjustments to stop them from scoring more points and winning the game. That's the hope right there. That's why all of us are setting our sights on more wins than we did coming into the season.

To evaluate the program, I think you have to look at expectations of the new coach coming in. It wasn't pretty. A lot of people doubted him. I just re-read the 2010 thread and I had flashbacks of how much doubt there was when he was initially hired. It was understandable given that Coach Hoke was 47-50 coming into the season and didn't have a huge profile. I think you have to look at it from three fronts, recruiting, on the field, and players going to the NFL. I'll touch up on recruiting and producing NFL players.

Recruiting/Keeping players:
I was one of the first on this site to defend the Hoke hiring, but I did express my concern when we started losing commits at the beginning. I don't think that anyone can say that Hoke and the coaching staff, who also deserve a lot of credit, have disappointed us. They closed the last class strong, and though they have had some guys leave, they have at least had one solid player (future star?) in Blake Countess. Freshmen don't normally make an impact right away, so it's a wait and see with the rest of the class. Some of the others have played, like Rawls, Beyer, and Morgan, but they haven't adapted as quickly as Countess.

Furthermore, Hoke did a good job of keeping players. The first concern was keeping Denard, and Hoke did that. I don't know how much of a chance there was that Denard was going to leave in the first place, given what he's said, but it was a concern to all of us. He had a couple players leave, but they weren't key players/contributers (unless you really liked Vinopal). We don't know exactly how much work he had to do on some of the younger players who may have wavered. Fact is that there wasn't an outflow of veteran talent. He got the guys to buy into the system and the program.

Going forward, the current commits look awesome. What was more important than anything was to reestablish the core recruiting for the program. By making in roads in Michigan and Ohio, Hoke has recaptured players that may have erred to different schools, including rivals. He has been able to capitalize on the uncertainty down south and he's also taken away the advantage that Michigan State has had in state. I know recruiting may not have a direct correlation with the play on the field, but by depriving both of these rival schools of some of this talent, those teams should be weakened comparatively as a result and Michigan should be better off.

As for the individual players, Hoke seems to have really addressed the positions of need. We're losing a lot of linemen in the next couple years on both sides of the ball, so it was important to get new blood coming in. In addition, Hoke's preaches toughness, so he needed to get in the type of players that fit into his system. He has done that on both sides of the ball. We've also seen him bring in a lot of other defensive players. While the guys that have been here are doing a good job now, it is important to get guys that fit better into the system coming in. He's done that by bringing in aggressive linebackers and ballhawking defensive backs. These players haven't even enrolled at the University, but I can't say I haven't tried to imagine what our defense is going to look like in a few years.

Furthermore, Hoke has done a great job of looking forward. Once he got the players into the 2012 class, he looked at the 2013 class and made important inroads there. He's got the commitment of one of the top quarterbacks in Shane Morris. I can't understate how excited I am about his commitment. He also reeled in Dymonte Thomas who is one of the most talented safeties. That's not including the impressions he's made on some of the other top recruits in the 2013 class. I like that Hoke's looking to the future. It shows us as fans or alumni or students that there will be continuity and a sustained level of expectation.

NFL Players:
The one player we knew that was going to the NFL prior to this season was Mike Martin. He has been the one bright spot in one of the worst defenses. You could probably have made the case for David Molk to as a mid to later round pick. Other than that, a lot of these guys might have been undrafted pick ups. With the improvement of the defense this year, I think it's foreseeable to see a guy like Ryan van Bergen working his way into the draft. Furthermore, you have guys like Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan playing up to their potential. The future seems a lot brighter as far as producing NFL caliber players. That's fantastic because besides Brandon Graham and Zoltan Mesko, there really haven't been many recent players going to the NFL. It's important to have a presence, not only Saturdays, but also on Sundays. It looks like there'll be some new Michigan players in the NFL.

Conclusion:
A lot of the negative perceptions that were attached to the program have been lifted and Hoke seems to have brought some of that Michigan arrogance/swagger back. There's a lot of reason for excitement. For Hoke, the remaining test is how his teams perform down the stretch and in rivalry games. Rich Rodriguez had a 6-18 record against the Big Ten, with 3 of those wins coming last season and the only ranked win over a #9/8 Wisconsin team (that was a miracle). Additionally, he was 2-7 in rivalry games against Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State. That just didn't cut it. Hoke has already beaten Notre Dame, but the true tests will be Michigan State and Ohio State. He has a big chance to prove himself in the eyes of many alumni by beating State this Saturday. There's still a lot of things that Hoke has to prove to us, but I think a lot of us like the direction we're head, especially CS who hated Rich Rod.

Bring the Paul Bunyan Trophy home, Brady.

#161 bowiac


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Posted 10 October 2011 - 10:53 PM

We converted 3 in a row yesterday after missing on the first, but you'll recall they actually noted on the broadcast that we were 1 for 16 on the season prior to that in 3rd and 8 or more. And according to football outsiders, we were 13th in the country last year in offensive efficiency on passing downs (2nd and 8+ and 3rd and 5+).

2nd and 8 was simply not a passing down for Michigan last year. I think that's where the discrepancy comes from. Michigan averaged 5.6 yards per run last year - 2nd and 8 is still a situation where the defense needs to be respecting the threat to run the ball. If you narrow the range a bit to 2nd and 10+ or 3rd and 7+, as was done in this post at Burgeoning Wolverine Star, the numbers were pretty bleak last year. Denard's completion percentage in obvious passing downs was 44%, with 5.7 YPA. This was down from season numbers of 63% for 8.8YPA. That's a huge and drastic difference.

You don't need to agree with his definition instead of FO's definition. I tend to suspect that his is more helpful in assessing the 2010 Michigan offense, but reasonable minds can differ, so I won't belabor the point.

I am a bit surprised the numbers were that bad this year however before Northwestern. Shows what good observational evidence is.

#162 bowiac


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Posted 10 October 2011 - 11:04 PM

Hoke has already beaten Notre Dame, but the true tests will be Michigan State and Ohio State. He has a big chance to prove himself in the eyes of many alumni by beating State this Saturday. There's still a lot of things that Hoke has to prove to us, but I think a lot of us like the direction we're head, especially CS who hated Rich Rod.

Notre Dame is a (much) better team than Michigan State is. I know they stumbled out of the gate, but statistically, head to head, and observationally, Notre Dame is a better team than MSU. FWIW, the computers agreed that Michigan should be a home underdog to Notre Dame. They say the line should be Michigan -2 @ MSU however.

The other thing I'm wondering is if Hemingway has eeked his way into draftable status with the year he's having. I know the underthrown jumpballs haven't pretty, but that only makes it more impressive that he's come down with them. He seems to be an interesting prospect all of a sudden.

#163 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 10 October 2011 - 11:08 PM

2nd and 8 was simply not a passing down for Michigan last year. I think that's where the discrepancy comes from. Michigan averaged 5.6 yards per run last year - 2nd and 8 is still a situation where the defense needs to be respecting the threat to run the ball. If you narrow the range a bit to 2nd and 10+ or 3rd and 7+, as was done in this post at Burgeoning Wolverine Star, the numbers were pretty bleak last year. Denard's completion percentage in obvious passing downs was 44%, with 5.7 YPA. This was down from season numbers of 63% for 8.8YPA. That's a huge and drastic difference.

You don't need to agree with his definition instead of FO's definition. I tend to suspect that his is more helpful in assessing the 2010 Michigan offense, but reasonable minds can differ, so I won't belabor the point.

I am a bit surprised the numbers were that bad this year however before Northwestern. Shows what good observational evidence is.


You certainly can take or leave FO's definition of a "passing down." I was only using that as a quickly available substitute for "3rd and long'" which was what you had said we had a problem with last year. I don't know what typical numbers are in the situation that we had been 1 for 16 in are. But last year, in that situation (3rd and 8 or more), we were 14 for 67, or 21%. be that good, bad or average, there doesn't appear to be much of a change this season.

#164 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 10 October 2011 - 11:14 PM

Notre Dame is a (much) better team than Michigan State is. I know they stumbled out of the gate, but statistically, head to head, and observationally, Notre Dame is a better team than MSU. FWIW, the computers agreed that Michigan should be a home underdog to Notre Dame. They say the line should be Michigan -2 @ MSU


I'm not trying to call you out, but I've seen you discuss these computers (sagarin?) in multiple threads, and I'm wondering if you have any reason to believe they are somehow more accurate than the Vegas lines. That is to say, do you have evidence that they are better at predicting the outcomes of games than the oddsmakers or the human poll voters? Other than objectivity and consistency (although even that is not absolute, as there needs to be some subjectivity to create the initial rankings or SOS) why should I care what these computers say? They were after all, programmed by someone with biases.

#165 sachmoney


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Posted 11 October 2011 - 01:20 AM

The other thing I'm wondering is if Hemingway has eeked his way into draftable status with the year he's having. I know the underthrown jumpballs haven't pretty, but that only makes it more impressive that he's come down with them. He seems to be an interesting prospect all of a sudden.

(I'm not addressing the statistical spread thing because I think WBV addressed it well)

I'm glad you mentioned Hemmingway. I definitely think he's helped his stock. In fact, it was one of the mental notes I made during the game Saturday, but forgot about. His big issue was staying healthy. He wasn't healthy, so he couldn't developed a rapport with the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks weren't passing to him as a result. There wasn't that level of trust. This season (may be a little bit last season, that Indiana catch was huge), he's been healthy and he's become the go to receiver. I think he has some ridiculous statistic for catches over 20 yards. It seems sometimes that Denard overtargets Hemmingway, but Hemmingway still makes the plays. I don't know how well he runs routes, but the guy can definitely go up and make plays. I don't know how that translates to the pros, but if he works on his route running, it is possible that he could stick with a team.

Right now, he's clearly the number one receiver on the team. Denard looks for him more than any other receiver on plays with deep routes. I hope that continues and he continues to showcase his talents.

I'm not trying to call you out, but I've seen you discuss these computers (sagarin?) in multiple threads, and I'm wondering if you have any reason to believe they are somehow more accurate than the Vegas lines. That is to say, do you have evidence that they are better at predicting the outcomes of games than the oddsmakers or the human poll voters? Other than objectivity and consistency (although even that is not absolute, as there needs to be some subjectivity to create the initial rankings or SOS) why should I care what these computers say? They were after all, programmed by someone with biases.

In addition, is there somewhere that these lines are listed? Is there also an explanation as to how these lines are made? Thanks.

#166 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 11 October 2011 - 02:57 PM

In addition, is there somewhere that these lines are listed? Is there also an explanation as to how these lines are made? Thanks.


http://masseyratings.../cf/compare.htm

That's most of the computer rankings listed. Follow the links and some of them are explained in detail, some aren't.

Right now, Michigan is rated eighth, on average, by the computers.

#167 bowiac


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Posted 11 October 2011 - 11:24 PM

I'm not trying to call you out, but I've seen you discuss these computers (sagarin?) in multiple threads, and I'm wondering if you have any reason to believe they are somehow more accurate than the Vegas lines. That is to say, do you have evidence that they are better at predicting the outcomes of games than the oddsmakers or the human poll voters? Other than objectivity and consistency (although even that is not absolute, as there needs to be some subjectivity to create the initial rankings or SOS) why should I care what these computers say? They were after all, programmed by someone with biases.

A couple of things. I think I've been pretty careful to not say that they are more accurate that Vegas lines. (I don't think they are more accurate than Vegas lines for that matter). Anyways, I've played around with some datasets on Sagarin using the historic lines available on the Sunshine Forecasting site, and for the last 2 seasons (I couldn't go back further than that with Sagarin), and what I've found is that the Sagarin line is almost within 3 or so points of the closing Vegas line. It gets a bit worse for lines upwards of two touchdowns, and is thus better at the NFL than the NCAA however.

Anyways, it's interesting to me in that you can pretty accurately predict the Vegas line on so many games (it's like 96% within 3 points if I recall for weeks 3-14 of the NFL season). My interest lies not in using Sagarin to beat Vegas (I really don't think it'll work - if anything going the other direction may be a good idea), but in using Sagarin to identify games where Vegas thinks there's something "funny" going on. Usually when the line is off, you can find some factor pushing in that direction (like an injury, coaching change, etc...) What's more interesting to me is when you can't find that factor. Vegas had Michigan favored by 7, when Sagarin said it should be 17. Persa was some of that, but that's still an awfully big variance. With Michigan State, I can't find any reason for the variance at all, other than Michigan's terrible record recently against the spread against the Big Ten the last three years. I'm sure they've got a reason - I want to figure out what that reason is.

Sagarin isn't a way of picking teams against the spread. It's a way of predicting the spread. To put in even simpler terms, when I see Sagarin say a line should be 3, and it ends up as being 3, I feel I have most of the info, and then I can decide if I want to bet the game. When I see Sagarin say it should be -2 and it's actually +3, I have to wonder what's going on before I can even think of making a bet. Does that help explain why I think it's interesting? I'm really not trying to suggest his lines are "correct" - it's where they're incorrect that I'm most interested in fact.

#168 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 12 October 2011 - 01:31 PM

Fair enough. I would be very curious to see what the results are against composite Vegas lines, though. That is, if Sagarin has Michigan -17 and Vegas has Michigan -7, you would take Michigan. If Sagarin has Michigan -5, you take Northwestern. I get what you're saying about the computers not factoring in injuries, suspensions, coaches leaving etc.

I still don't think I've seen the link for these lines, have I?

#169 bowiac


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Posted 12 October 2011 - 02:46 PM

The lines you can figure out by hand from his site. Take the predictor differential, apply the home field spread (he uses 3.08 - I just use 3 usually, or 2.5 for the NFL), and you've got you predicted point spread.

I looked into making picks by following Sagarin. The results were not particularly helpful - he was almost exactly 50/50. Slightly below if I recall, but not by enough to make going against Sagarin a profitable strategy after the vig either. The problem of course is that theoretically throwing darts should produce something like a 50/50 split as well. It's hard to come up with a strategy that would do much worse than 50/50, because if you did, then just going the opposite of that strategy would be too profitable (which Vegas is trying to avoid). If I create the bowiac predictor, and it just says "the line in every game should be the home team by 50" (obviously wrong), then I'll just end up picking all the home teams every week. But even that insane bowiac predictor would be close to 50/50 vs. the spread. That's the whole idea of the spread in some ways.

I think I could do some interesting work looking at cases where I can identify why Sagarin disagrees with the spread (Persa being out for instance) vs. cases where I can't (this week vs. Michigan State), but that's a coding nightmare. I would need to know who played and didn't in each individual week, which is obviously insanely difficult. And it would need to be across every team, because the teams are so linked. Maybe the reason Michigan isn't favored by 2 this week isn't because of anything about Michigan or Michigan State, but rather than Vegas knows more about the Ohio State QB situation during the Michigan State game, and so has a better opponent adjustment than Sagarin does for that game.

I wish following or fading the Sagarin lines were a profitable strategy - it just seems to not be the case.

#170 sachmoney


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Posted 12 October 2011 - 05:25 PM

Might some of the discrepancy be attributable to the fact that State has beaten Michigan the last three years? Even with the improvement that we've had this season, that's going to be in the minds of those interested in betting this game. Vegas isn't in it to create statistically accurate lines. They're in it to create lines that will help them make the most money.

#171 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 12 October 2011 - 11:31 PM

Might some of the discrepancy be attributable to the fact that State has beaten Michigan the last three years? Even with the improvement that we've had this season, that's going to be in the minds of those interested in betting this game. Vegas isn't in it to create statistically accurate lines. They're in it to create lines that will help them make the most money.


That would be offset by the people betting brand Michigan.

Computer rankings have their limitations. You can't adjust them for a matchup or an injury, and it's very difficult to adjust for widely variant schedules.

Also, the computer rankings used in the BCS are not allowed, by rule, to factor in the scores of games. That's why Sagarin has different numbers in the rankings he presents. He shows both an ELO_Chess rating, which he calls "politically correct" and sends to the BCS. He also has a Predictor, which is based on scores and he considers more accurate.

#172 WayBackVazquez


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:10 AM

A day in Denard's life. I used to hit that Wendy's quite a bit, too. I thought it was only the blazing speed we had in common.

#173 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 02:26 PM

Weather in East Lansing tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with a high near 56. Windy, with a west wind between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph.

I have a bad feeling about this game. Wind aids a good defense. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan is held to single digits.

#174 tims4wins


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 03:21 PM

Weather in East Lansing tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with a high near 56. Windy, with a west wind between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph.

I have a bad feeling about this game. Wind aids a good defense. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan is held to single digits.

Wind also makes it harder to throw, and Michigan is comparatively worse in the passing game than State.

Go Blue.

Edit: Michigan averages 203 passing and 257 rushing. MSU averages 277 passing and 129 rushing. So if it's a running game, advantage Michigan.

Edited by tims4wins, 14 October 2011 - 03:30 PM.


#175 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 03:33 PM

Wind also makes it harder to throw, and Michigan is comparatively worse in the passing game than State.


It does. But you still have to throw. With Robinson, every throw will be an adventure. Cousins has an NFL arm and a lot more experience. He will be out there today (the wind storm is underway) testing it.

#176 Rustjive

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 03:50 PM

That would be offset by the people betting brand Michigan.

Computer rankings have their limitations. You can't adjust them for a matchup or an injury, and it's very difficult to adjust for widely variant schedules.

Also, the computer rankings used in the BCS are not allowed, by rule, to factor in the scores of games. That's why Sagarin has different numbers in the rankings he presents. He shows both an ELO_Chess rating, which he calls "politically correct" and sends to the BCS. He also has a Predictor, which is based on scores and he considers more accurate.

Neither are accurate, nor should they ever be used. The 3 points that Bowiac refers to as the difference between Sagarin prediction and Vegas lines are huge - the difference between a coinflip and 58/42. Granted, 3 points in CFB is less than in the NFL, and less again when between 2 BCS conference teams, but since no one in their right mind would offer a bet giving 3 points in both directions for normal odds, likewise no one should factor in Sagarin into their wagering. Given how simplistic the methodology is, I think that's the correct conclusion.

For what it's worth, the line has moved in the direction of MSU, onto the 3, which is pretty telling.

#177 sachmoney


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 08:16 PM

It does. But you still have to throw. With Robinson, every throw will be an adventure. Cousins has an NFL arm and a lot more experience. He will be out there today (the wind storm is underway) testing it.

I agree if he gets caught up throwing the longer passes. That's where he struggles and that's when his balls tend to sail. If Michigan comes in with a game plan of throwing those short quick routes, I think he can do alright. I anticipate that it's going to be a run heavy game though, and I expect to see a good amount of the triple option and misdirection that we saw against Minnesota, except on steroids.

I'm going to be a wreck during this game.

#178 bowiac


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Posted 14 October 2011 - 08:27 PM

Neither are accurate, nor should they ever be used. The 3 points that Bowiac refers to as the difference between Sagarin prediction and Vegas lines are huge - the difference between a coinflip and 58/42. Granted, 3 points in CFB is less than in the NFL, and less again when between 2 BCS conference teams, but since no one in their right mind would offer a bet giving 3 points in both directions for normal odds, likewise no one should factor in Sagarin into their wagering.

I think this is mistaken. Obviously three points is a huge deal. That's sorta the whole idea though. Lets say Sagarin just perfectly replicated the Vegas spread and was within 0 points every time. Then it would be completely useless for gambling.

I don't know if Sagarin contains useful information for betting CFB lines or not, but that it's 3 points off of the Vegas line is not an indictment of it in that regard. If it's three points more accurate than Vegas, then that's great. Here's the cool thing tho - If it's three points worse than Vegas, then that's also good. Then you can make money by just betting against Sagarin every week. The three points are not the problem. Either way it's the systemic deviation from the Vegas lines that contains the potential for conveying useful information. If it had no deviation then there would be no chance of it being useful at all.

#179 tims4wins


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Posted 15 October 2011 - 09:16 AM

GO BLUE

That is all.

#180 Dgilpin

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 02:33 PM

Can we finally put to rest the idea that Denard can be this teams full time QB, today was one of the worst examples of passing I have ever seen. It's time to stop preserving Denard, they need to just run him, if he can handle the load than so be it. Because him running the ball is the only way he is helping this team.

#181 sachmoney


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Posted 15 October 2011 - 03:39 PM

I just thought the play calling was horrendous. Too much pass with Devin and too much run with Denard. They snuffed everything out, until it was an obvious situation. The fourth and inches call to pass the ball was just stupid. Too much trickeration. I thought, in particular, the offensive line struggled. The pass and run blocking was poor. One of the key plays to me was when Devin missed the wide open receiver in the middle of the field and instead aired it out down the sideline. There were a lot of plays where Michigan did not sustain the momentum. We were more disciplined (penalties). We forced more turnovers. However, we executed poorly. I've been tempering my expectations for this game all season, so I can't say this hurt much as it should have. It hurt bad though.

#182 bowiac


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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:00 PM

I didn't particularly like the playcalling, but I'm not gonna complain too much there - execution is the difference between a good playcall and a bad one in most cases.

What I will complain about, and what makes very pessimistic going forward was were the punts from the MSU 36, 43, 37, 42, 46 and 32. Now many of those were not good yards to go situations, but if you recognize that you're in 4 down territory, you can run a corresponding play on 3rd down to avoid a long 4th down conversion in the first place. The 3rd downs which got them into those punts went incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, sack on a pass attempt, and sack on a pass attempt.

After showing so much promise in the Northwestern game, Hoke showed the true meaning of Manball today I fear.

#183 sachmoney


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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:46 PM

I didn't particularly like the playcalling, but I'm not gonna complain too much there - execution is the difference between a good playcall and a bad one in most cases.

What I will complain about, and what makes very pessimistic going forward was were the punts from the MSU 36, 43, 37, 42, 46 and 32. Now many of those were not good yards to go situations, but if you recognize that you're in 4 down territory, you can run a corresponding play on 3rd down to avoid a long 4th down conversion in the first place. The 3rd downs which got them into those punts went incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass, sack on a pass attempt, and sack on a pass attempt.

That's on the coaching for not putting them in a position to have get the points/yards. I feel like they were overaggressive at times when they didn't have to be. The field goal fake worked really well, but after that, they were too intent on getting the 7 when they could get the 3. I know our field goal kicking sucks, but we were put in a lot of positions where we had to punt rather than kicking the FG or going for it. The play calling was poor. In particular, they tried to go for some big plays when yardage was paramount. They needed to focus on building drives but continued to go for big plays which either lead to incompletions or tackles for losses/sacks for Michigan State. I thought, overall, we were too predictable.

Defensively, there was just an overall lack of contain. State ran outside the tackles a lot and it seemed they could easily beat the cornerback on the outside and get around the corner. It was the same with the Keyshawn Martin plays on the outside as well. Overall, there seemed to be a lack of toughness. We were pushed around. I mean, how much improvement in the physicality do you expect over one year? I thought the defense played okay. They were a lot worse last year.

I'm just disappointed for the seniors.



#184 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 15 October 2011 - 05:14 PM

I am, too. But that was a better team that clearly won the battle at the line of scrimmage. Three years of recruiting littler guys has taken a toll.

Denard can't throw the ball in the wind, and he can't throw against good pass defenders. He can dominate weak teams, but he can't compete in the Big Ten. You're only going to go as far as your quarterback can take you. Great kid, not a quarterback.

#185 Zososoxfan

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 01:58 PM

So long #11, but I think this team is still a legit top 25 team.

Play calling was weak - where were the screens, counters, and draws in the 2nd half to deal with the aggressive rush?? Speaking of which, several outlets are reporting that the MSU players were anticipating the snap count the entire second half and what I saw reinforces that. Huge lapse on the coaches and players for not figuring that out.

But, I think people need to step off the ledge a bit here. Some are reverting back the "D-Rob can't be the QB" refrain, and while I get your general sentiment, if you think Devin or Morris next year is a better option, you're flat out nuts. With a good D and some better non-Denard running, D-Rob can be an effective QB on a good team.

That being said, there are a lot of big issues, Denard and otherwise. The point I'm trying to make is that they can be overcome and this team can still have a successful season (provided your definition doesn't include a NC).

D-Rob really needs to work on his fundamentals. As soon as I see him try to throw on the run, off his back foot, or with awkward mechanics, I brace for an INT. I'm sure the coaches have stressed this to him, but at this point it's on him to be conscious of his motion and mechanics.

I love Troy Woolfork, but the dude needs to get healthy or sit out. He's been getting burned, taking bad angles, and not wrapping up since week 2. Blake Countess deserves the spot opposite Floyd (who BTW, is having a great season, IMHO).

The D-line really needs to be more consistent - really bad showing. I don't get how Martin was so effective last year in a joke system, but now that he's a DT in a traditional 4-man front, he gets controlled. Also, Will Campbell needs to get more PT - he's a space-eating DT that doesn't get pushed around as often as the others, and that's what this line needs - an anchor. Also, paging RVB and Roh, the B10 season has started and you're wanted on the field ASAP.

LBs finally had a disaster game. I had high expectations for Demens, but he's really been off this year. Ryan is young and promising, but looked more the former today. WLB is our weakest position on D, IMHO, and Hawthorne didn't do anything to dissuade of me that. I'm more concerned about this group going forward than just about any other.

I didn't watch this game as close as usual, but I didn't see as much of Kovacs. Gordon had a bunch of bad plays in the first half, but also had some nice ones too. Don't think the 'backs' were the primary culprits today.

On offense, it's pretty clear that everything went to shit because our line couldn't stop anything. Denard couldn't bail them out, the running game looked promising early, but then got consistently rocked, and the receivers were middling.

Overall, I'd say I'm just happy that this team can keep games close. The 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter was a legitimate opportunity to make the game interesting. I don't think we'll see many blowouts of UM this year, and we can thank Mattison for that.

This team will benefit immensely from their bye week. Get healthy and take stock of what they've learned from the first half of the season. Purdue should be a W, @Iowa not looking as difficult as previously thought, then gear up for Neb. and CheatersU. Staying with my prediction of 8-4, hoping for 9-3 (hell, why not 10-2). 7-5 at this point would be a disappointment.

#186 Rustjive

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 05:11 PM

I think this is mistaken. Obviously three points is a huge deal. That's sorta the whole idea though. Lets say Sagarin just perfectly replicated the Vegas spread and was within 0 points every time. Then it would be completely useless for gambling.

I don't know if Sagarin contains useful information for betting CFB lines or not, but that it's 3 points off of the Vegas line is not an indictment of it in that regard. If it's three points more accurate than Vegas, then that's great. Here's the cool thing tho - If it's three points worse than Vegas, then that's also good. Then you can make money by just betting against Sagarin every week. The three points are not the problem. Either way it's the systemic deviation from the Vegas lines that contains the potential for conveying useful information. If it had no deviation then there would be no chance of it being useful at all.

Not quite. If Sagarin replicated Vegas lines perfectly every time there would be enormous value in his methods; the way to exploit it in that case would be to take advantage of any and all line differences from the what you know to be the eventual closing line. Here's the issue here: don't consider the Vegas/offshore closing lines to be inaccurate. Instead, consider them to be the efficient market price, which is very close to the truth.

The main takeaway remains, however - don't use Sagarin for anything. Even without checking to see if Sagarin lines systemically undershoot/overshoot closing lines, it should be obvious that there's no value just based off how he arrives at his numbers. It should be obvious that wagering is far more nuanced than adopting an Elo system and factoring in margin of victory, no?

#187 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 16 October 2011 - 07:38 PM

But, I think people need to step off the ledge a bit here. Some are reverting back the "D-Rob can't be the QB" refrain, and while I get your general sentiment, if you think Devin or Morris next year is a better option, you're flat out nuts. With a good D and some better non-Denard running, D-Rob can be an effective QB on a good team.


Didn't say he can't be the quarterback, said he isn't a quarterback. That said, it's worth significant practice time to teach him how to be a quarterback unless there's clearly a better option.

This game was lost in the trenches, though. That will happen in the Big Ten. When Ohio State comes to town, we might be very disappointed to see a game that turns out much like tOSU's 17-7 victory over Illinois yesterday.

#188 bowiac


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Posted 19 October 2011 - 12:56 AM

The main takeaway remains, however - don't use Sagarin for anything. Even without checking to see if Sagarin lines systemically undershoot/overshoot closing lines, it should be obvious that there's no value just based off how he arrives at his numbers. It should be obvious that wagering is far more nuanced than adopting an Elo system and factoring in margin of victory, no?

In a word - no.

There are a number of pretty well established gambling inefficiencies - even simpler ones than Sagarin's system. The home underdog cover percentage was large and obvious for a long time. Underdog and home team covers in primetime games were also disproportionate. (I say all this in the past tense because I don't know if it's still the case). The fact that a strategy is simple doesn't mean it can't be a winner.

I'm not saying Sagarin is a winning strategy (as I've said, I don't think it is) - but the simplicity of the system isn't a killer in and of itself.

Edited by bowiac, 19 October 2011 - 01:09 AM.


#189 redinchicago

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 01:09 PM

Got John Bacon's Three and Out in the mail yesterday. Going to be an interesting read.

#190 LogansDad


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Posted 30 October 2011 - 12:41 AM

I thought the game went well today. It seems like both sides of the ball are continuing to improve, the defense especially. And on offense, Toussaint especially looked really good today. He and Denard both seem to be becoming very patient on their running plays, and I think it is helping a lot.

Michigan St losing to Nebraska is really helpful. Here's hoping Iowa can beat MSU in a couple weeks, and Michigan can navigate through Illinois and Iowa. The Nebraska game could be absolutely huge.

Edited by LogansDad, 30 October 2011 - 12:43 AM.


#191 Zososoxfan

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 02:10 PM

What do people expect to happen on Saturday @Iowa? Other than U of I, this is the easiest game left on the schedule, but @Iowa is usually not an easy game.

I think we'll keep it close, but turnovers by the QBs, inept running game, and a defense giving up just a few too many points leads to a close loss.

#192 Chemistry Schmemistry


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Posted 01 November 2011 - 02:35 PM

It has taken me a few weeks, but I'm finally trusting that the defense is legitimately miles better than the defense the last three seasons (they would have to allow 53 points per game the rest of the way to match RR's best defensive performance, and 68 per game to match last year's).

Iowa can pass the ball, but what's really hard to believe is that Michigan's pass defense has been a strength this year. Otherwise, Iowa looks very mediocre. This is a game Michigan will dominate if it doesn't turn the ball over.

#193 sachmoney


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Posted 01 November 2011 - 06:00 PM

Iowa can pass the ball, but what's really hard to believe is that Michigan's pass defense has been a strength this year. Otherwise, Iowa looks very mediocre. This is a game Michigan will dominate if it doesn't turn the ball over.

Their runningback, Marcus Coker, is the second leading rusher in the Big Ten and averages 119.6 yards per game. Watching them against Minnesota, I wasn't very impressed with the options that Vandenberg had besides Marvin McNutt. Michigan's defense needs to key in on stopping McNutt, who is the Big Ten's second leading receiver, averaging 107.2 yards per game. Their main problem against Minnesota was that while they racked up yardage, they were stoppable. Minnesota forced Iowa to kick field goals a couple times which the Iowa kicker, Mike Meyer, missed. Minnesota's defense isn't that good, so I'm not that worried about how our defense matches up. Iowa has gotten into a few shootouts this season, but I don't know where all this fire power is coming from. They had plenty of chances to beat Penn State too, but their offense just sputtered. We'll see. I like how our defense looked last week with Countess starting and Woolfolk playing safety. Kovacs is practicing again too.

I'm not really worried about our offense besides the play calling. At times against Purdue, it was way more gimmicky than methodical and logical. I want to see some high percentage play calling that'll build confidence going into the last three games. I don't think some of those plays will fly against Nebraska and Ohio State. They're barely passing against Purdue. It felt like Michigan was taking their foot off the gas pedal at times. I didn't understand why they weren't running plays that they were executing at a high level instead of some of the trick play pizzaz that was completely unnecessary. This game is going to be all about being focused and executing at a high level and eliminating the mistakes.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a must win game. This is the type of game that Michigan dropped under Rodriguez. It's not just about the game being winnable, but also that we need it to sustain momentum and build confidence going to Champaign and playing Nebraska and Ohio State. I expect it to be close, but I expect Michigan to take care of business.

#194 tims4wins


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Posted 02 November 2011 - 09:53 AM

Having watched Iowa a fair amount (my wife is a Hawkeye), I'm not extremely worried about this game. Their offense is pretty good, but their defense simply isn't close to the level it has been for the last few years, which plays into our relative strengths and weaknesses pretty well, IMO.

They've given up 185 points in 8 games (23 per), including games of 44, 27, 31, and 24. Compare this to last year (221 in 13 games, 17 per game) and 2009 (200 in 13 games, 15 per game), and you can see a clear slippage. They simply don't have the same playmakers like Clayborn, Sash, etc.

I think this is a relatively high scoring game, but Michigan wins by two scores. Call it 38-28.

#195 sachmoney


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Posted 02 November 2011 - 11:48 AM

Looking deeper at the numbers, I didn't realize how Iowa has regressed defensively:

2011
23.1 PPG (40th)
402.3 YPG (76th)
238.6 Passing YPG (81st)
163.6 Rushing YPG (69th)
13 sacks (84th)
6 INT (83rd)

2010
16.4 PPG (7th)
317.1 YPG (15th)
213.6 Passing YPG (55th)
31.5 Rushing YPG (8th)
22 sacks (78th)
19 INT (11th)

I think the most noticeable deterioration is the run defense. Iowa had a top ten run defense in the country last season, and this season, it's been much worse (I had no idea they were this bad). They held Ray Graham to 97 yards but gave up 231 rushing yards to Penn State. The loss of Adrian Clayborn was huge. Their rushing defense is exploitable and Michigan happens to have one of the best (8th) rushing attacks in the nation at 253.3 yards per game. Iowa's newfound weakness is Michigan's strength. I think the game plan will be to use that strength and let Denard, Fitz, and whoever else loose. The most important thing will be converting Red Zone opportunities into 7 points instead of 3. I expect Michigan to win that match up because of Denard's ability to make something out of nothing. Borges should give Denard more freedom in this game, than any so far this season. We've seen Denard protected to a point so far this season and it's been to keep him healthy for games like this.

Defensively, our number one red zone defense is what's going to win this game. Like I said, last week, Iowa didn't have problems gaining yardage last week. They gained 446 yards against Minnesota. Minnesota stopped them in the red zone though, resulting in two missed field goals. That was the difference. Michigan's defense is light years better than Minnesota's defense, which is more akin to the GERG defenses we would like to forget. I think Mattison really dials it up this week and we see a big performance out of them.

The more I look at this game, the more I feel like this is going to go in Michigan's favor. I could see them having trouble in the first half like they did against Northwestern, but I think as the game goes on, Michigan is going to come out as the stronger team.

#196 Zososoxfan

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 06:43 PM

Damn, what a tough game to lose.

The call on the Hemmingway TD was wrong - he had possession with his knee down in the endzone, his hand was under the ball, and the ball didn't move. That, my friends, is a TD.

But, UM had its chances to win this game and couldn't do it. Even if they score, they have to put it in for 2 on the PAT and they had 2 more opportunities to at the endzone - Vince Smith dropping one and the other one being a missed PI call (yes, that sucks too).

The first half was an utter shitshow and better play in the 2nd half (especially from the D) wasn't enough to overcome it. The Gardner experience is underwhelming and I thought the announcers did a good job of criticizing it. What is more troubling to me though, is the inability to attack the edges and D-Rob's inability to hit any throws accurately past 20 yards.

The D played alright, but Morgan had a rough day out there and Woolfork spent waaaaaaaaay too much time on the field over Gordon for my liking. Kovacs wasn't flying around as usual either.

I still think this team can win @U of I and hopefully split the last 2 for a solid 9-3 finish.

#197 Dick Pole Upside

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:18 PM

Damn, what a tough game to lose.

The call on the Hemmingway TD was wrong - he had possession with his knee down in the endzone, his hand was under the ball, and the ball didn't move. That, my friends, is a TD.

But, UM had its chances to win this game and couldn't do it. Even if they score, they have to put it in for 2 on the PAT and they had 2 more opportunities to at the endzone - Vince Smith dropping one and the other one being a missed PI call (yes, that sucks too).

The first half was an utter shitshow and better play in the 2nd half (especially from the D) wasn't enough to overcome it. The Gardner experience is underwhelming and I thought the announcers did a good job of criticizing it. What is more troubling to me though, is the inability to attack the edges and D-Rob's inability to hit any throws accurately past 20 yards.

The D played alright, but Morgan had a rough day out there and Woolfork spent waaaaaaaaay too much time on the field over Gordon for my liking. Kovacs wasn't flying around as usual either.

I still think this team can win @U of I and hopefully split the last 2 for a solid 9-3 finish.

I agree. But on the Hemingway non-overturn, I don't think the replays were definitive enough to change the initial call.

Re Gardner: not that he was lighting the world on fire to begin with, but there are about 5 plays that he runs (1. handoff to an in-motion Robinson, 2. off-tackle stretch handoff to Toussaint/Smith, 3. option left, 4. roll right with option to pass to TE/WR in flat, and 5. roll right/throw back screen to Smith on left). Since a 49 year-old man has picked up this pattern, it's safe to say that the "keys" are pretty simple when he's in the game and qualified Big Ten coaches have figured this out long ago. Any scramble is a disaster waiting to happen due to his questionable judgment. Sit him down for the rest of the year unless Robinson gets hurt, because he is bringing nothing but defendable predictability and high risk at this point.

To me, the issue is the fact that once the opposing defense adjusts to the RB running attack (whether due to OL injuries or tweaked schemes), this team is dead in the water offensively due to Robinson's staggering inability to display any consistency whatsoever in the passing game. Defenses can jump or game plan the short routes knowing that Robinson literally cannot get within 5 yards of the intended receivers on anything 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Woolfork's presence on the field at this point is a mystery to me. I know he's a senior/warrior/leader, but he takes terrible angles, is bad in run support, and is slow (likely due to injury). He's Big Bang Clock without the headhunting. Gordon, MRob (concussions?) or even Avery would be a better choice back there at this point. Bad day for Morgan. Poor gap selection/bad angles resulted in a few of Coker's big gainers.

We have become comfortable that Mattison will make decent adjustments during the game because he knows what his guys can/can't do. I think Borges understands his players' talents as well, but it's been very hard for the offense to improve during the game due to Robinson's inconsistency in the passing game. And the turnovers from him continue to be atrocious.

P.S. I think Carvin Johnson leaving the team in the past week or two tied Mattison's hands a little bit at the safety position as well.

Edited by Dick Pole Upside, 06 November 2011 - 12:20 PM.


#198 twibnotes


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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:42 PM

I agree. But on the Hemingway non-overturn, I don't think the replays were definitive enough to change the initial call.

Re Gardner: not that he was lighting the world on fire to begin with, but there are about 5 plays that he runs (1. handoff to an in-motion Robinson, 2. off-tackle stretch handoff to Toussaint/Smith, 3. option left, 4. roll right with option to pass to TE/WR in flat, and 5. roll right/throw back screen to Smith on left). Since a 49 year-old man has picked up this pattern, it's safe to say that the "keys" are pretty simple when he's in the game and qualified Big Ten coaches have figured this out long ago. Any scramble is a disaster waiting to happen due to his questionable judgment. Sit him down for the rest of the year unless Robinson gets hurt, because he is bringing nothing but defendable predictability and high risk at this point.

To me, the issue is the fact that once the opposing defense adjusts to the RB running attack (whether due to OL injuries or tweaked schemes), this team is dead in the water offensively due to Robinson's staggering inability to display any consistency whatsoever in the passing game. Defenses can jump or game plan the short routes knowing that Robinson literally cannot get within 5 yards of the intended receivers on anything 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Woolfork's presence on the field at this point is a mystery to me. I know he's a senior/warrior/leader, but he takes terrible angles, is bad in run support, and is slow (likely due to injury). He's Big Bang Clock without the headhunting. Gordon, MRob (concussions?) or even Avery would be a better choice back there at this point. Bad day for Morgan. Poor gap selection/bad angles resulted in a few of Coker's big gainers.

We have become comfortable that Mattison will make decent adjustments during the game because he knows what his guys can/can't do. I think Borges understands his players' talents as well, but it's been very hard for the offense to improve during the game due to Robinson's inconsistency in the passing game. And the turnovers from him continue to be atrocious.

P.S. I think Carvin Johnson leaving the team in the past week or two tied Mattison's hands a little bit at the safety position as well.


Have to wonder if Gardner's playbook starts to expand. At some point, you would expect to see Borges incorporate a play or two that gets D-Rob down field as a wr to stretch the defense.

#199 sachmoney


  • SoSH Member


  • 7,944 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:52 PM

The first half was an utter shitshow and better play in the 2nd half (especially from the D) wasn't enough to overcome it. The Gardner experience is underwhelming and I thought the announcers did a good job of criticizing it. What is more troubling to me though, is the inability to attack the edges and D-Rob's inability to hit any throws accurately past 20 yards.

As bad as Denard's decision making is at times, Gardner's decision making does not appear much better. I have no idea why he threw that ball in the midst of getting sacked. While it gives a different look when he's in, he hasn't been helping the team. I don't know if it's because of a lack of experience or what. The coaches say he has looked good in practice, but he has looked anything but in game situations.

Re Gardner: not that he was lighting the world on fire to begin with, but there are about 5 plays that he runs (1. handoff to an in-motion Robinson, 2. off-tackle stretch handoff to Toussaint/Smith, 3. option left, 4. roll right with option to pass to TE/WR in flat, and 5. roll right/throw back screen to Smith on left). Since a 49 year-old man has picked up this pattern, it's safe to say that the "keys" are pretty simple when he's in the game and qualified Big Ten coaches have figured this out long ago. Any scramble is a disaster waiting to happen due to his questionable judgment. Sit him down for the rest of the year unless Robinson gets hurt, because he is bringing nothing but defendable predictability and high risk at this point.

To me, the issue is the fact that once the opposing defense adjusts to the RB running attack (whether due to OL injuries or tweaked schemes), this team is dead in the water offensively due to Robinson's staggering inability to display any consistency whatsoever in the passing game. Defenses can jump or game plan the short routes knowing that Robinson literally cannot get within 5 yards of the intended receivers on anything 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

We have become comfortable that Mattison will make decent adjustments during the game because he knows what his guys can/can't do. I think Borges understands his players' talents as well, but it's been very hard for the offense to improve during the game due to Robinson's inconsistency in the passing game. And the turnovers from him continue to be atrocious.

I said this in the game thread after the game:

The offense never seemed to really get into rhythm and the god damn gimmicky Gardner+Robinson play calls just aren't working. There's no mystery to them. We're going to hand the ball to Denard and we're never going to have Devin run it when he's 6-4 and has 4.4 speed. I'm really frustrated with Al Borges right now. You're correct when you said we should have mopped the floor with this team. We just did not play well, especially the offensive line. The offense seems really constricted and awkward right now. We're not really asking Denard to make plays right now. It might keep him healthy, but I think it really hurts in games like today.

To expand on what I meant by the gimmick nature of the plays with Gardner and Robinson, we always seem to hand the ball off to Robinson now. Against Minnesota, we changed it up with Gardner running the option one side, while we fake to Denard going the the other. There was creativity and potential to the formation. I think, as we've seen Devin's poor decision making, some of that potential has sapped up and Borges is running it scared. It is, as you said, becoming too predictable.

The announcers were ripping it all game, and it was kind of annoying. It was also true. Our best drive was when we ran the ball with Fitz early in the game. Once we started to put both of our quarterbacks in the game, things started to slow down. There was no need for that.

Does anyone else think that Denard has been handcuffed in this offense? It seems like Borges wants to keep him healthy, but he's most effective when he runs. It seems like he never runs anymore. We need him to scramble and make plays. Furthermore, that's going to make the guys covering our receivers have to keep an eye in the backfield in case Denard takes off. It just seems like protecting him rather than getting into the open field has been counterproductive. I'm not saying we should let linebackers get free shots at him as he rushes, but he should be trying to get into the open field more often to make plays. He's your most dynamic player because of his legs, not his arm. Hoke and Borges always compare what they want to do with him to Michael Vick, but Vick actually runs the ball from time to time. I prefer spontaneous runs to designed plays at this point. The designed plays have no disguise to them and they're really predictable the way they are current drawn up.

I'm in no way excusing Denard's decision making or throwing abilities. He locks in on receivers a lot and throws into double and triple coverage. That's poor quarterbacking. He's trying to do too much with his arm. That shouldn't be the case.

Have to wonder if Gardner's playbook starts to expand. At some point, you would expect to see Borges incorporate a play or two that gets D-Rob down field as a wr to stretch the defense.

I don't think Gardner should be playing. He's hurting the team more than he's helping right now and I think for him to truly be effective, he'll have to be a full time QB getting all the snaps. Right now, he's not cutting it.

What about the physical aspect of the game? It seemed like the offensive line seemed physically challenged at times. Same with the defensive line (except on some of the biggest plays in the game). Have we not adjusted fully to the physical play in the Big Ten. By that, I mean that a lot of our guys have really transformed their bodies to play under the new coaching staff. Do some of them seem like they're tiring and getting pushed around? We've taken a lot of positive steps, but there are still some things that stand out..

Lastly, what do you make of the game plans? I've been very frustrated with the way the offense has been run in the two losses and the offense just didn't seem prepared. Furthermore, it seems like the adjustments on offense are a bit more lacking than the adjustments on defense right now. Coaching and making sure your team is prepared is extremely important. I feel like something just isn't right with the offense in that regard.

#200 Zososoxfan

  • 1,508 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:38 PM

As bad as Denard's decision making is at times, Gardner's decision making does not appear much better. I have no idea why he threw that ball in the midst of getting sacked. While it gives a different look when he's in, he hasn't been helping the team. I don't know if it's because of a lack of experience or what. The coaches say he has looked good in practice, but he has looked anything but in game situations.


I said this in the game thread after the game:
To expand on what I meant by the gimmick nature of the plays with Gardner and Robinson, we always seem to hand the ball off to Robinson now. Against Minnesota, we changed it up with Gardner running the option one side, while we fake to Denard going the the other. There was creativity and potential to the formation. I think, as we've seen Devin's poor decision making, some of that potential has sapped up and Borges is running it scared. It is, as you said, becoming too predictable.

The announcers were ripping it all game, and it was kind of annoying. It was also true. Our best drive was when we ran the ball with Fitz early in the game. Once we started to put both of our quarterbacks in the game, things started to slow down. There was no need for that.

Does anyone else think that Denard has been handcuffed in this offense? It seems like Borges wants to keep him healthy, but he's most effective when he runs. It seems like he never runs anymore. We need him to scramble and make plays. Furthermore, that's going to make the guys covering our receivers have to keep an eye in the backfield in case Denard takes off. It just seems like protecting him rather than getting into the open field has been counterproductive. I'm not saying we should let linebackers get free shots at him as he rushes, but he should be trying to get into the open field more often to make plays. He's your most dynamic player because of his legs, not his arm. Hoke and Borges always compare what they want to do with him to Michael Vick, but Vick actually runs the ball from time to time. I prefer spontaneous runs to designed plays at this point. The designed plays have no disguise to them and they're really predictable the way they are current drawn up.

I'm in no way excusing Denard's decision making or throwing abilities. He locks in on receivers a lot and throws into double and triple coverage. That's poor quarterbacking. He's trying to do too much with his arm. That shouldn't be the case.

I don't think Gardner should be playing. He's hurting the team more than he's helping right now and I think for him to truly be effective, he'll have to be a full time QB getting all the snaps. Right now, he's not cutting it.

What about the physical aspect of the game? It seemed like the offensive line seemed physically challenged at times. Same with the defensive line (except on some of the biggest plays in the game). Have we not adjusted fully to the physical play in the Big Ten. By that, I mean that a lot of our guys have really transformed their bodies to play under the new coaching staff. Do some of them seem like they're tiring and getting pushed around? We've taken a lot of positive steps, but there are still some things that stand out..

Lastly, what do you make of the game plans? I've been very frustrated with the way the offense has been run in the two losses and the offense just didn't seem prepared. Furthermore, it seems like the adjustments on offense are a bit more lacking than the adjustments on defense right now. Coaching and making sure your team is prepared is extremely important. I feel like something just isn't right with the offense in that regard.


1. I think the plan with D-Rob this season was to have him healthy throughout the season. By that, I mean I expect to see Denard run more and more down the stretch (particularly against Neb. and OSU). If that's been the plan all along (to save Denard for the two huge games at the end of the season), then I think it's a good plan. Of course, you play to win every game, but I think after seeing what we have from Gardner, getting Denard through all 12 games has taken on added importance.

2. While the players have gotten bigger and stronger, the team may still be undersized. Having smaller players bulk up is going to help in the B10 (and I think the lack of blowouts reinforces this), but against the better teams, size and strength could still be a problem.

3. I think a lot of this can be explained by: Mattison >>> Borges. I don't think Borges is a bad coach at all, but Mattison is clearly a guru. That being said, Woolfork over Gordon and BWC not getting more burn is appalling IMHO. The other factor to consider with these personnel and strategic decisions is Brady Hoke. While he will never admit it, Hoke (and the other coaches as well if you assume they're on the same page) is very much still trying to establish a certain culture in A2 and that is having an impact.