Michigan v. Notre Dame Liveblog

The action should get going shortly before 7:30. Be here or be gueer.

Posted under Hockey

Post Game: Michigan vs. Purdue

Purdue 67 – Michigan 49

At the end of the first half it was 26-25 Michigan after a last second tip by Gibson as time expired.  The first half Manny was quiet and Novak was suspended. Michigan got some good production from DeShawn Sims early and then the bench brigade, mainly Sheppherd and Gibson, was key in providing a lot of the first scoring.

The first half was pretty brutal offensively overall. Michigan didn’t score for the first 6 minutes of the game yet only trailed by 4 points.  Michigan played tough and hustled hard on defense even though they were overmatched at more than a few positions.

The second half is where it all went to hell. Usually there isn’t a particular play in a basketball game, much less a 18 point blow out,  but this game is defenitely an exception. Like most games, Manny Harris was frustrated as he would go to the basket, get mauled and have to get back on defense when the ref didn’t blow his whistle.  Before the 18 minutes mark in the second half, Manny had the ball outside the 3 point arc on the wing. The defender, Robbie Hummel [UPADTE: It was Kramer. My rage got the best of me], was right up in Manny’s face playing tight D.  Manny brought his arms with the ball around and accidentally caught Kramer in the nose with an elbow.  Kramer went to the ground holding his nose.  There was blood, and the Purdue fans were howling for more. Immediately a foul was called. Manny looked around for a ref, so he could give him the ball. All of a sudden they called it a flagrant personal foul and Manny was heading to the locker room. The rule book (pg 87) says:

Art. 4. Flagrant personal foul, live ball.
A flagrant personal foul shall be a personal foul that involves severe or excessive contact with an opponent or involves contact that is extreme in nature while the ball is live.

I guess there isn’t anything in there about intent, so if the official thinks that the contact is that far out of the realm of normal play, he has every right to throw Manny out. But it wasn’t a dirty play. Manny wasn’t trying to hurt the player; he wasn’t even trying to hit the Purdue player. Obviously it should be a foul. There was contact and the defender had his position, but there shouldn’t have been an ejection for that.

Speaking of the refs, they were pretty awful the entire games. Like most Big Ten crews, they love to call stupid, ticky-tack fouls, yet don’t call muggings at the rim. I really don’t get it, at all.

After that, everything went to hell in a handbasket. Purdue got hot and Michigan was rattled. They couldn’t get anything going offensively and that affected their defensive ability.  Eventually it got to be too much. Around the 11 minute mark, most observers could tell the game was effectively over.

They were able to lead a good Purdue team at the half without Novak, who is arguably Michigan’s 3rd or 4th best player. No way Michigan had a chance without Manny for the second half. Manny averages 32 minutes a game, but only could play 18. Novak averages 26 and played none.  Playing on the road against a team with better talent, it was just too much for this team to overcome.  They played hard, but when Anthony Wright, CJ Lee and David Merrit all have to play serious minutes, the team is not going to win much.

Do you think that the ejection was the wrong call? Let us know in the comments.

Posted under Basketball

Michigan vs. Purdue Live Blog

Can Michigan pull the upset? Will there be enough grit without Novak? Figure it out here. We’ll get started a bit before 1pm.

Posted under Basketball

Comments Off on Michigan vs. Purdue Live Blog

Hoops Preview: Purdue Round I

Or: Tim’s foray into tempo-free statistics.

Michigan has a chance to best the conference’s preseason favorite as they take on the Purdue Boilermakers today at 1PM. The game takes place in west Lafayette, and can be seen on CBS.

Tempo-Free and efficiency comparison (if you need an explanation of what any of these things mean, head to KenPom’s website):

Michigan v. Purdue: National Ranks
Category Michigan Purdue Advantage
Mich eFG% v. Purdue eFG% D 144 1 PP
Mich eFG% D v. Purdue eFG% 199 95 PP
Mich TO% v. Purdue Def TO% 11 34 M
Mich Def TO% v. Purdue TO% 162 41 PP
Mich OReb% v. Purdue DReb% 231 147 P
Mich DReb% v. Purdue OReb% 143 245 MM
Mich FTR v. Purdue Opp FTR 317 86 PPP
Mich Opp FTR v. Purdue FTR 17 208 M
Mich AdjO v. Purdue AdjD 43 5 P
Mich AdjD v. Purdue AdjO 142 68 P

Differences of more than 100 places in the rankings garner two-letter advantages, differences of more than 200 get a third.

Purdue is a very good defensive team, and one of the more well-rounded squads Michigan has faced on the year. They’re a horrible matchup for a Michigan team that is struggling to produce on offense, and especially one that is struggling to hit its shots. The Boilers are #1 in the nation in forcing their opponents into missing their field goal attempts. Another sign of a tenacious defensive unit is opponents’ turnovers. The Boilers have been pretty good at forcing the opponent to give up the ball. Michigan, on the other hand, has been good at holding onto it, save for a few bad perfformances (most notably Wednesday night in Columbus). Michigan will face a tough challenge in getting the offense going. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 73-60 Boilermaker victory in a 66-possession game, and gives Michigan just a 9% chance of winning.

The key players for Purdue are E’twaun Moore, Chris Kramer (#29 in the nation in steals and last year’s conference defensive POY), and Robbie Hummel, who is now coming off the bench after coming back from an injury. Hummel is an efficient offensive player, as is big man JaJuan Johnson.

Before the end of the Ohio State game, I thought it might be time to reduce Laval Lucas-Perry’s minutes, as he’s clearly struggling on the floor right now. With Zack Novak suspended for a game though, LLP will probably have to play at least as many minutes as he’s been getting. There should also be a lot of Zack Gibson in the game (not necessarily a good thing), and Manny will probably have to play the 4 a lot as well.

Things look grim, but if the Wolverines somehow manage to pull off a huge conference road victory, they may be able to scratch their way back into the tournament discussion.

Posted under Analysis, Basketball

Comments Off on Hoops Preview: Purdue Round I

Tags: ,

Zack Novak to Serve One Game Suspension

Zack Novak gets suspended for one gameNear the end of the Ohio St. game, Zack Novak appeared to intentionally hit PJ Hill with an elbow in the face after a free throw attempt.  He was given a flagrant foul and ejected from the game. Coach Beilein announced that Novak will serve a one game suspension:

“We are taking swift and appropriate action with Zack for the unacceptable incident that occurred at Ohio State,” said Beilein. “After speaking with Zack, he understands the severity of his actions. He expressed regret and embarrassment for his behavior. I hope Zack will learn a valuable lesson from this imposed discipline.”

This seems like the appropriate response. People have made comparisons with the Conboy play on Kampfer. While there are common features, the biggest difference is that this is Zack’s first time pulling something like this while Conboy had a string of prior bad acts. Hopefully this was a one-off, gritty freshman mistake.  For those of you who like Jevhohn Sheppard, you’ll be seeing plenty of him against Purdue.

UPDATE: The Big Ten approves of the suspension. Here’s the commish:

“Zack Novak’s actions at the end of the Ohio State game are unacceptable and have no place in the sport of basketball or the Big Ten Conference,” Commissioner James E. Delany said. “We support Michigan’s implementation of a one-game suspension. Also, SEC sux, Big Ten rulez!*”

*He didn’t actually say that last part

Posted under Basketball

Recruiting Update 1-29-09

Recruiting Boards can be found to the left at any time or right here: 2009 & 2010.

Decent recruiting overview with less than a week left from the Free Press.

OH CB Commit Justin Turner has apparently been offered the #2 jersey when he arrives in Ann Arbor. This would surprise me, as Boubacar Cissoko has been rumored to be switching to #2 this year.

LA DT Commit DeQuinta Jones gave a little feedback on his Michigan visit:

“Snow was piled up everywhere,” said Jones, who verbally committed to the Wolverines over the summer. “But it really wasn’t that cold to me.”

One of the highlights of the trip for the handful of recruits was getting to pay a visit to coach Rich Rodriguez’s home. “We went to coach Rodriguez’s house and played pool,” Jones said. “It’s a three-story mansion.”

Overall, Jones says his visit, “went real good.”

He also said he won’t be sure where he’s going until signing day comes and goes, but current scuttlebutt among those on the internets is that he’ll still end up with Michigan.

2009 FL QB Denard Robinson is considered a Florida lean? This goes against all the conventional wisdom on Robinson and Witty, but it is worth noting in case there’s something to it.

2009 PA WR Je’Ron Stokes is considering taking a visit to Georgia this weekend. I’m not quite sure how serious that interest can be, considering it’s pretty much come from nowhere. Rich rodriguez was also in his home “most of the evening” on Tuesday.

2009 SC DE Sam Montgomery was visited by South Carolina Monday, but he doesn’t plan to head to Columbia before Signing Day for an unofficial, so it seems like South Carolina probably isn’t a player here. Sam will announce his decision on ESPN at 10 or 10:30 on Signing Day. Also a very brief mention of his visit to LSU, wherein LSU commit Chris Faulk commits on his bubbly personality.

2009 LA LB Barkevious Mingo visited Alabama over the weekend.

Superfluff on 2009 MI QB AJ Westendorp. The article seems to say that he’ll definitely accept a scholarship offer somewhere (and Michigan doesn’t seem likely to offer). He might even pick GVSU over Central Michigan if the Chips offer. He’s verrry close to being removed from the board.

2010 SC QB Cornelius Jones is getting Michigan interest, though he’s no longer reporting a Michigan offer as he (falsely) was over the spring/summer.

2010 FL WR/Slot Chris Dunkley has a top 5, and Michigan isn’t in it. The big 3 Florida schools, Georgia, and West Virginia are.

The 2010 contingent from Byrnes, SC (including RB Marcus Lattimore, one of the nation’s top prospects, and fellow target DE Brandon Willis) made their way to Duke’s junior day last week, and will visit Florida State this weekend.

Michigan Sports Center does a bit of super-sleuthing to determine that Michigan has offered 2010 MI QB Robert Bolden.

2009 VA QB Tajh Boyd. Clemson.
2009 TX WR Josh Gordon. Baylor.
2009 TX CB/WR DeWayne Peace. Arizona.

Guys who weren’t on the board but can pretty much be forgotten about now:
2009 LA WR Travante Stallworth. Reaffirmed to Auburn.
2009 FL WR Willie Haulstead. Don’t entirely forget about him, but he’s reaffirmed his FSU commitment.

Posted under Football

OSU Postgame

Each time the Michigan basketball team loses for the remainder of the year, they inch ever closer to completely whiffing on the NCAA tournament and earning a bid to the NIT. Midway through the first half in the Ohio State game, the commentator, referring to Michigan’s dismal shooting to start the game, asked, “Is that Michigan, or is it Ohio State’s defense?” Of course, as always, the answer lies somewhere in the middle of those two answers. However, I think, for the most part, Michigan basketball’s current slide can be accounted for by the offensive performances of Michigan and their foes, moreso than either team’s defense.

It’s gotten frustrating starting games in a big deficit, then clawing back to within striking range at halftime (or shortly after, as was the case in this game), and thinking “well, when the team starts making shots, they should be able to run away with this one.” The team hasn’t started hitting those shots in almost any game. The shooting hasn’t improved too much in the last few weeks, and the games have all too often ended up with the Wolverines on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Later in the same game, the announcer came back with another interesting quite regarding Michigan’s offense: “how easy must it be to play for a coach who’s never going to criticize your shot selection?” This is a ridiculous misrepresentation of the John Beilein philosophy. Running an offense that relies heavily on 3-pointers is in no way the same as having a coach who tells his players to shoot whenever and wherever they want. On the contrary, Beilein can often be seen screaming at a player after he takes a particularly reckless shot, and uses the unceremonious substitution as punishment for the same very often. In this game, Beilein got so angry as to earn a technical foul at one point. This isn’t a guy who’s not getting frustrated with his teeam.

So, again BJ Mullens dominated the offensive boards with putbacks, again Michigan couldn’t hit their shots, open or otherwise, and the Wolverines sulked back to Ann Arbor with their tails between their legs. The tournament is going to be a tough task now, with Michigan all-but-requiring wins against the likes of Purdue and Michigan State to make it in. Are they up to the task?

Posted under Basketball

CoverItLive: Michigan @ Ohio State

Should get started shortly after 6. The game is at 6:30.

Posted under Basketball

Comments Off on CoverItLive: Michigan @ Ohio State

Tags: ,

Ohio State Preview: Round 2

Or: Tim’s foray into tempo-free statistics.

The Wolverines have a chance to exact revenge on Ohio State tonight in Columbus. The Wolverines will try to turn the tables on the Buckeyes from the last game, a 7-point loss for the home side just 11 days ago. The game can be seen on Big Ten Network tonight at 6:30.

Tempo-Free and efficiency comparison (if you need an explanation of what any of these things mean, head to KenPom’s website):

Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks
Category Michigan Ohio State Advantage
Mich eFG% v. OSU eFG% D 126 79 O
Mich eFG% D v. OSU eFG% 172 50 OO
Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO% 4 130 MM
Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO% 165 118 O
Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb% 238 192 O
Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb% 158 267 MM
Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR 321 5 OOOO
Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR 7 84 M
Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD 28 42 M
Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO 141 79 O

Differences of more than 100 places in the rankings garner two-letter advantages, differences of more than 200 get a third.

When Last We Met…

BJ Mullens had a ridiculous game, going 7-9 from the field, with nearly every one a dunk. Evan Turner got to the line 14 times (albeit many of them at the end of the game, when Michigan was just trying to extend the contest). William Buford had 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Despite all of this, Michigan was in the game until near the very end, and even led for pretty big portions of the second half.

DeShawn Sims struggled (a surefire bad sign for Michigan chances of victory), but Manny Harris was easily Michigan’s player of the game. The only other player to hit more than one 3-ball for Michigan was Stu Douglass, who appears to be getting hot for Michigan at the right time.

Since Last We Met…

The Wolverines split games with Penn State and Northwestern, defeating the latter. Their shooting has continued to decline, mostly on account of a horrid performance against the Nittany Lions (but also a poor effort from 3 against the Wildcats). Opponents’ shooting, meanwhile, has gotten better, as Michigan either has terrible defense or terrible luck (a combination of both, if you ask me, and I’ve discussed it in more depth elsewhere) of late. Michigan’s rebounding has improved (offensive slightly; defensive significantly), but their ability to get to the line has waned, thanks to Manny Harris’s inability to get a foul called on an opponent. Overall, the Wolverines’ offensive and defensive effeciency have both fallen. Sims hit bottom against Penn State, but returned to form against Northwestern.

In big losses to Illinois and Michigan State, the Buckeyes’ shooting has gotten worse, but they have also locked down on opponents’ field goal attempts. They’ve started forcing more turnovers, and have turned the ball over much less themselves. So what explains drops in their offensive and defensive efficiency numbers? The rebounding on both ends of the floor has gotten worse, for one. Other than that, most stats appear to be about the same (or better) for the Buckeyes.

And it Means…

Michigan is coming off their second-consecutive 4-day break, after previously having only 3 days’ rest before their last three games. Michigan is a much better team off long breaks, with wins against UCLA, and every Big Ten victory except that against Indiana off at least four days without a game (this is notable, because the 3-day rest before the Indiana game could be considered a factor in the terrible performance there, if we’re drawing a correlation). With the long break, Michigan’s seeming recovery on offense against Northwestern, and John Beilein’s uncanny ability to make adjustments the second time he faces an opponent that he lost the first game to, Michigan should be a little closer in this game. Jevohn Shepherd has gotten playing time in the past two contests, and he might get some tonight, if for no other reason than to absorb fouls in the post. I think this game should end up closer than the first.

Ken Pomeroy predicts a 67-62 Buckeyes victory in a 62-possession game, and gives Michigan just a 29% chance of winning. If the Wolverines are to harbor any realistic dreams of making the NCAA tournament, stealing one in Columbus tonight would be an important start.

Posted under Basketball

Life on the Margins: Michigan Wolverines 2008

For those of you who are college fotball fans and don’t read Dr. Saturday, shame on you. The Artist Formerly Known As Sunday Morning QB is one of the most analytical, fair, and funny college football writers I’ve come across. His season-long “Life on the Margins” series was continuously “Obsessing over the statistical anomalies and minutiae of close and closer-than-they-looked games that could have gone the other way. Be careful before you judge these games by the final score alone …

Of course, Michigan’s season was one almost defined by turnovers, yardage deficits, and results that simply had observers scratching their heads. In the spirit of DocSat, let’s take a look at Michigan’s season on the margins.

Michigan v. Utah
Michigan UtahBased only on the marginal analysis, it would appear that Utah should have run away with this game. They out-gained Michigan by huge yardage overall and on a per-play basis while starting with better average field position. The Utes wasted only 5 yards of offense in the entire game (this is a huge deal: they only gained 5 total yards that didn’t contribute to a scoring effort in some way), and tied Michigan in both turnovers and swing points. So, based on this analysis, it appears as though Utah should have run away with this game. The big difference in this contest, and what allowed Michigan to keep it close, was the manner in which Utah was scoring. While the Wolverines scored 3 touchdowns and a field goal, the Utes were settling for 3-pointers for much of the day, and Louie Sakoda nailed 4 of them. Near-swing points also played a role. While none of Michigan’s touchdowns came on drives of fewer than 25 yards (as per DocSat criteria), they had a 26-yarder, a 33-yarder, and a 31-yarder. Considering Michigan’s worse average starting field position, the remainder of their drives must have started in horrible situations (and they did: 8 of Michigan’s other drives started at or inside their own 20). It seems that, unless Michigan could get good field position, the offense was destined to fail. If only we had realized it would be like that all season…
Michigan v. Miami
Michigan MiamiMichigan is used to dominating MAC teams. Until later in 2008, the Wolverines had never lost to a squad from the Mid-American conference. So, when Michigan won this game, it was no surprise. In terms of marginal analysis, Miami was a fairly straightforward game as well. The final 10-point margin didn’t scream “There should be a difference of more than 30 total yards between these teams.” Michigan greatly outgained the RedHawks in yards-per-play (5.30 to 3.81) and got the benefit of a single turnover by Miami to their none, and 3 swing points resulting from it.Yeah, there’s a typo in the graph. It should be 16 to 15 first downs, in favor of Miami.
Michigan v. Notre Dame
Michigan Notre DameI think Doctor Saturday was peering into the future and seeing this game when he hatched the whole “Life on the Margins” concept. Looking at the boxscore, the Wolverines should have dominated the scoreboard. Michigan outgained the Irish by 128 yards overall, nearly a full yard per play, more than 10 yards per possession, and 7 overall first downs. If only that was a guaranteed way to put points on the board (awkward scoring systems in spring games notwithstanding). Michigan turned the ball over 6 times to Notre Dame’s 2, and the Irish had 21 swing points, while Michigan had 0. The Irish were very lucky to win this game (and even that against a historically-bad Michigan team), and perhaps a closer analysis would have tempered the expectations of Notre Dame fans. Without the huge disparity in turnovers and the resulting swing points, Michigan would be a hypothetical 17-14 winner of this game. Alas, turnovers are part of football, and the scoreboard ended with a big win for Notre Dame. What doesn’t make sense, however, is claiming that the Irish beat down Michigan in a reverse of the 2006 game. In fact, if you look at, like, the stat sheet, that’s a ridiculous comparison to make. Michigan dominated play in both years (340-245 in total yardage in ’06, 5.40-3.71 per play), and just so happened to get ridiculously unlucky/sloppy in ’08. Michigan fans actually came out of this game as encouraged as they could possibly be by a 3-score loss to one of their most hated rivals. Alas, aside from Michigan falling off a cliff not too long after this game, it appears as though Notre Dame’s defense was indeed just that bad, and the Irish offense was nothing special.
Michigan v. Wisconsin
Michigan WisconsinWisconsin started the season as a top-10 team, and were still in the upper echelon of college football heading into this game. They brought an undefeated record into Ann Arbor expecting to emerge with a fourth victory. In the end, though, the Badgers would be dealt the first of their many losses on the season. The margins were kind to Michigan in the this game. The Wolverines were outgained by 116 yards (0.62 per play) and 4 first downs, committed more turnovers than their opponent, and even scored fewer swing points than the Badgers. However, they managed to come away with the win. How? The answer lies in points per score. The Badgers, like Utah before them, were forced to settle for field goals, while the Wolverines scored only touchdowns. In fact, the Badgers had 3 swing scores, but only gained 9 points on all of them combined. Michigan, on the other hand, had only 1 swing score, but John Thompson, of all people, made it count by taking the interception all the way back. Wisconsin had 4 field goal attempts (one was missed) and Michigan didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer. Making each score count was huge for Michigan. Wasted yards were also a big factor in this game, as Wisconsin wasted nearly as many yards as they used on scoring drives, while Michigan wasted about one third of theirs.
Michigan v. Illinois
Michigan IllinoisThe Illinois game was really the beginning of the end for Michigan’s season. The slide, momentarily halted by an exciting win over Wisconsin, resumed in full force at home against the Illini. The defense, expected to keep Michigan in games in 2008 until the offense came around, began a slide of its own, which would continue for the remainder of the year. Juice Williams set a Big House record with 431 yards accounted for on his own. Michigan turned the ball over twice, one of which turned into 7 Illinois points. However, Michigan did, at one point, look like a competent team in this game. The Wolverines led 17-14 at halftime after their lack of depth did them in later in the game (get used to this; it’s something of a theme in Michigan’s 2008 season). Illinois dominated the second half, outscoring Michigan 31-3. A rudimentary analysis of the margins bears that out. The Illini outgained Michigan by more than 2 yards per play, wasted 20% of their yards while Michigan wasted 43%, had more swing points, total yards, first downs, etc. Led by Juice Williams, the illini were simply the better team on this day. Of course, the Illini, like the Wolverines, would unravel later in the year. The win in Ann Arbor was almost certainly Illinois’s best performance of the year. The fact that it came against the anemic offense of Michigan is understandable.
Michigan v. Toledo
Michigan ToledoToledo, or as Michigan fans know it “ARGJGRFGRGFGHGH.” Michigan, despite being the more talented team, managed to lose to a MAC team, and a bad one at that. How did it happen? Surely there was a ridiculous difference in the margins, no? Surprisingly, that isn’t so much the case. The Rockets outgained Michigan 327-290 (4.54-4.39 per play), and had a deficit of only 2 first downs. Michigan, in fact, seemed to get its lunch handed to it. HOWEVA, the Wolverines were actually able to hold the Rockets when they needed to: only 78 of Toledo’s yards contributed to a score of any type. The Rockets wasted the vast majority of their yardage. Michigan used a little more than a third of theirs for scores. So how did the Rockets win? Michigan’s season-long bugaboo, the turnover, resulted in this Toledo victory. The rockets had 10 swing points, including an interception return of 100 yards by Tyrell Herbert. Michigan had no swing points, and only benefitted from one Rockets turnover. If not for a missed field goal by KC Lopata at the end of the game, the Wolverines still would have had a chance to take this one in overtime. The yards-per-play, not among the worst of Michigan’s season, contributed to one of the lowest scoring outputs based on timing. Michigan turned the ball over at the worst possible instants. On Herbert’s interception return, the Wovlerines had driven the field and were going in for the score. Had that turnover not taken place, Michigan would have likely won this game – not even accounting for the momentum swing it created.
Michigan v. Penn State
Michigan Penn StateOn a macro, game-long level, Penn State dominated Michigan. The Wolverines had fewer yards (total and per-play), fewer first downs, worse starting field position, and 29 fewer points. However, it is important to point out Michigan’s success in the first half, after which they led 17-14 (including a Penn State drive with only 2 minutes left in the half to bring the margin back within a field goal). At the beginning of the second half, the tides turned. Steve Threet got hurt, Nick Sheridan took a safety, and it was all downhill from there. The momentum-killing 2-pointer led to a second-half shellacking at the hands of the Nittany Lions, and they followed it with 30 more points, including 10 more swing points. A greater man than I would look at the marginal analysis of each half of this game, to see the radical tale-of-two-halves. Without looking at the actual data, I would assume Michigan fairly dominated the first two quarters straight up, while Penn State controlled the third and fourth. Aided by the swing points they they scored, the second half was an ugly, ugly thing to behold for Michigan fans. Like the Illinois game, it was partially a testament to the lack of depth across the board on Michigan’s roster. Once the depth is built up, games aren’t likely to continue this familiar path.
Michigan v. Michigan State
Michigan Michigan StateSometimes, little brother wins. This was one of those instances. Sparty had more rushing yards, more passing yards, more first downs, and a significant advantage in yards-per-play. Michigan turned it over once more than did Brian Hoyer, and even though they had the game’s only swing points (on a terrible call that gave Brandon Minor a TD reception), they really had their asses handed to them. Still notable, however, is that this game was tied after three quarters. Again, Michigan’s lack of depth did them in late in the game. Looking to the future, the Wolverines really weren’t as close to Michigan State this year as they’d like to think (of course, how close can you expect a 3-9 team to be to a 9-4 team?). With Sparty losing their QB and RB, however, the Wolverines can make up ground next year.
Michigan v. Purdue
Michigan PurduePurdue had 522 yards of total offense. Of course, that does include a 61-yard fake punt and a 32-yard hook-and-ladder, but is 429 yards against one of the league’s sputtering offenses really that much of an improvement? The points scored on those two drive aren’t technically “swing points” but they are certainly unconventional ways in which Purdue ended up scoring, and in effect do the same thing. Without those two scores, Michigan would have won. Of course, the Boilermakers still would have outgained Michigan by 129 yards and 0.4 yards per play. The margins were fairly even in this game, as each team had 7 swing points (Michigan’s on a punt return for touchdown, Purdue’s on a fumble recovery that gave them the ball just 14 yards from paydirt), a single turnover, and identical starting field position. So yeah, that 3-3-5 experiment really sucked. Thanks, Tony Gibson. The Wolverines, afraid of the rushing threat by redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Siller, went with a run-oriented defense. In stopping the run (Purdue still ran for 256 yards, 77 of them by Siller), the Wolverines gave up the short passing game. Siller threw for 266 and 3 touchdowns, with no turnovers. The Boilermakers wasted 22% of their yards, while Michigan didn’t use 17%. Again, the timing of big plays by either team tell more of the story than the yardage itself.
Michigan v. Minnesota
Michigan MinnesotaAfter being shredded by Purdue, clearly Michigan stood no chance against the potent(ish) offense and ball-hungry defense of Minnesota. Uh, not so much. The Wolverines turned the ball over once (matched by the Gophers) and gave up by far its fewest yards of the season. Michigan almost doubled up the Gophers in yard-per-play (and more than doubled their number of first downs), Nick Sheridan was competent, and Wolverines fans perhaps got a glimpse of what the future could look like under Rich Rodriguez. The gophers wasted nearly half of their yards, and Michigan wasted less than a quarter of their own. In every single way, the margins bear out that this was a dominating performance by Michigan. The Wolverines outdid the gophers in every marginal category except swing points and turnovers, in which the two teams were even.
Michigan v. Northwestern
Michigan NorthwesternrMichigan outgained Northwestern by 7 yards, but they also ended up 7 short of the Wildcats in a much more important measure – points. The Wolverines scored the game’s only swing points (on a blocked punt returned to the endzone by walkon Ricky Reyes). So with advantages in perhaps the two most important categories, on top of field position, how did Michigan lose to Northwestern? The answer lies instead in wasted yards. Michigan had great field position on their first drive (Northwestern’s 8), but Nick Sheridan tossed two incompletions and KC “Kicking Consistency” Lopata missed a field goal. The offense came away empty-handed, perhaps setting the tone for the whole game. The timing of turnovers is an important factor, that isn’t readily apparent just from looking at the boxscore or the marginal analysis. Michigan’s first turnover was a killer in terms of timing. Though the 39-yard drive that ensued from that turnover doesn’t count as “swing points” in the strict terms of being shorter than 25 yards, it wasn’t far off. The missed opportunity for Michigan combined with the opportunity given directly to Northwestern. certainly hurt Michigan on the final scoreboard. This was a game that Michigan could have won, based on marginal analysis.
Michigan v. Ohio State
Michigan Ohio StateAgain Michigan was within striking distance at halftime, and again their opponent used far-superior depth to slam the door on the Wolverines. This game, still, was closer than it seemed. Michigan missed a field goal, and turned it over twice to Ohio State’s once (14 swing points for OSU, 0 for Michigan). Sure, playing hypotheticals accomplishes almost nothing, but even without the changes in momentum that those events produced, that still would have meant only a 28-10 loss for Michigan, far from a blowout. But as we learned in the Notre Dame game, turnover and swing points do indeed count on the final scoreboard, and Michigan was demoralized by the Buckeyes for the second year in a row.

Posted under Analysis, Football