Phil Callihan and Clint Derringer discuss Michigan’s 45-20 victory over SMU using Clint’s modified S&P+ analysis methods.
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Many Wolverine fans are clamoring for a return to the “good ol’ days” of Michigan football. Some of those same fans forgot that those bygone days consist of complaining about the lack of domination in 25-point home victories…Onward into the B1G Ten season!
|Explosiveness||Michigan – small||Yards/Play (MICH 7.36 / SMU 4.89);|
IsoPPP (MICH 0.73 / SMU 0.73)
|Efficiency||Michigan – LARGE||Success Rate (MICH 54.2% / SMU 32.3%)|
|Field Position||Michigan – LARGE||Avg Start (MICH Own 32 / SMU Own 22)|
|Finishing Drives||Michigan – small||Pts/Trip40 (MICH 5.17 / SMU 4.67)|
|TO’s & Penalties||SMU – LARGE||TO Margin (EVEN)|
Offense Net Pen. Yds. (SMU +72 / MICH +5)
I am calling this another business-like performance from the Michigan offense. Jim Harbaugh’s staff has shown they are going to game plan around efficiency, and will stretch the field vertically via play action passes. The offense exceeded 54% success rate for the second consecutive week, and only had to punt twice. However, the fact that the first three drives went punt, punt, interception put a bad taste into the mouths of the Michigan fans. While I certainly felt frustrated by the 0-0 first quarter as well, I am very encouraged that the offensive staff is adjusting to the defensive looks they are given early in the game, and the players are executing successfully more times than not.
I am particularly happy with the evolution of the pass attack, led by Shea Patterson. He had a shaky first quarter, including a Red Zone interception, and another pass that should have been intercepted around Michigan’s 30-yard line. However, after that, he made very accurate throws, to all six areas of the field (Short/Deep & Left/Middle/Right). Patterson ended his day 14-of-18 overall for 237 yards & 3 TD’s, and eleven of the completions resulted in successful plays across first, second, and third downs. After three games, I am very comfortable that Michigan is capable of maximizing their opportunities. Going forward, I feel that we will only be limited by the O-Line’s execution.
On defense, we have seen three very similar performances so far in 2018. The Success Rate for opposing offenses is remarkably consistent: ND – 34.3%, WMU – 32.4%, SMU – 32.3%. Where we’ve seen the greatest variation, and where my #1 concern rests, is in Explosiveness. When using the Isolated Points per Play (IsoPPP), we are only looking at successful plays. IsoPPP answers the question, “How big are your good offensive plays?”. Remember in Week 1, after an explosive start, Notre Dame was held pretty much in check through the second half. SMU outperformed Notre Dame in the IsoPPP metric versus Michigan’s defense, SMU – 0.73, ND – 0.61. The coverage bust in the second quarter is the most egregious example, but 17 of SMU’s 65 plays went for 10+ yards. Giving up big plays is a logical expectation, given Don Brown’s mantra “Solve your problems with aggression”. Swinging for the fences produces many swing-and-misses, but it also produces home runs like the Josh Metellus pick-six to end the first half. The key for Michigan remains the same: the star play-makers need to connect on enough big defensive plays to win the big games.
Overall: 21.2, 10th (down 1)
Offense: 34.8, 38th (up 14)
Defense: 13.7, 7th (down 4)
vs. SMU: UM 45 SMU 20
Pregame S&P+: UM by 20, 3-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 39, 2-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 2.6
vs. Western Michigan: UM 49 WMU 3
Pregame S&P+: UM by 10.8, 2-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 25, 1-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 1.6
@ Notre Dame: ND 24 UM 17
Preseason S&P+: ND by 0.1, 1-0
Preseason Clint: UM by 4, 0-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 0.6
vs. Nebraska: Overall 6.9, 46th
M Offense 34.8 (38th) vs. O Defense 26.3 (58th), Midpoint: 32.4
M Defense 13.7 (7th) vs. O Offense 33.4 (45th), Midpoint: 23.55
PREGAME EDGE: Michigan
S&P+ gives the edge to Michigan on both sides of the ball. Under first-year coach Scott Frost, the Cornhuskers’ offense is on the steep end of their learning curve, similar to Michigan with Shea Patterson.
GAME WEEK UPDATE: Nebraska’s defense has performed better than the preseason outlook had suggested, as the Black Shirts have moved into the top half of the rankings. I still expect some surprises from Nebraska in this game, and I’d love to see Michigan start pulling out a few of their own.
Michigan 31 Nebraska 20 (PRESEASON: Michigan 27 Nebraska 20)
The Michigan offense continues to march toward Jim Harbaugh’s vision of an efficient, pro-style outfit capable of exploding a few times per game. On defense, the Wolverines continue to keep teams mostly bottled up, but still haven’t developed the killer instinct they need. As the Big Ten season kicks off, Michigan must utilize the next couple games against underwhelming opponents to take another step up to the level of the nation’s elite teams.
The Wolverines hosted SMU’s Mustangs of the American Athletic Conference Saturday at Michigan Stadium in the third game of their 139th season. The fans of the one and one Wolverines were expecting to run away with this one, in a landslide. The Wolverines won in a dominate victory, but the Mustangs battled. The Wolverines at one-point pre-game were 35.5 favorites.
The Mustangs have not recently lived up to their storied past which featured the likes of their great running back Doak Walker. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1948, and achieved nation-wide fame, in the same year Benny Oosterbaan’s Wolverines won the National Championship. All I ever saw of him was in the newsreels then shown in movie theaters, but they displayed remarkable performances. Even up here in Michigan, he was a renowned football player. The Doak Walker Award, was developed in 1989 to annually honor the best running back in college football, and the award is still prized.
The ranks of great SMU running backs also include the great Eric Dickerson of a more recent era.
This season the Mustangs came into M Stadium having lost two in a row.
Saturday the SMU running game was pretty much stymied by the Wolverines, but once in a while the passing game of the Mustangs had some kick. SMU had 110-yards rushing and 209 passing compared to 197 and 237 for the Wolverines.
WOLVERINES OL CONTINUES TO BUILD DEPTH AND EXPERIENCE: The Wolverine’s offensive line has been the subject of much fan indignity over the past decade, some well-earned, and some unfair. This has continued into the current season.
Last week the holes were there for the running backs and the running game prospered, as it did again against the Mustangs. Against the Broncos, they scored three passing TDs to end a long passing TD drought of almost exactly a year. This Saturday Donovan Peoples-Jones matched that pass catching effort by catching three TDs himself. Granted this was not against a top 10 defense last week, nor this week, but these last two games have offered significant offensive experience thru live game snaps.
Position group depth is always a necessity. This Saturday against the Mustangs third string RB Tru Wilson got a great shot at playing time because Karan Higdon was dinged, and therefore not available. Someone had to relieve the busy Chris Evans who ran18 times for 85 net yards, with a long of 35. Wilson did a mostly admirable job. His 11 attempts for 53-yards netted a TD. He had a long run of 12-yards. Tough guy FB Ben Mason bulled for one TD.
Zach Gentry was the best of the TEs, with 4 grabs for 95-yards and a long of 32. As good as his day was Donovan Peoples-Jones matched Zach’s catch total of 4 with three being TDs. His long was for 41-yards.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Wolverines got off to a slow start offensively in the first quarter, but prospered enough defensively, to enable a zero-zero score in that quarter.
It is remarkable that after the first quarter, the Wolverines scored on every offensive possession of the second quarter.
Zach Gentry was paramount in the Wolverines opening scoring drive as he grabbed a 24-yard Patterson throw to the SMU twenty-seven. This 11-play TD drive had several short runs. It featured the absence of the injured Karan Higdon, and provided opportunity Tru Wilson’s first of 11 carries on the game. Fullback Ben Mason nailed the one yard TD. M-7, SMU-0.
SMU quickly answered with a 75-yard TD drive fueled by a 50-yard pass play. Suddenly it was 7-up.
The Wolverines answered with a little help from the competition as the Mustangs coach earned an unsportsmanlike penalty of 15-yards to the SMU 35. A beautiful pass to Peoples-Jones for 35-yards made it M-14, SMU 7.
DB Josh Metellus provided a gifted and spectacular run down the eastern sideline with an interception, cutting back toward the center as it seemed he was trapped near the ten, and angling into the North end zone. It was 21-7 at the half. Strong run, some uncanny moves, and Josh is forgiven for a costly prior game targeting error. After the extra point was kicked, the clock read 00.00.
TE Zach Gentry was the leading receiver in the half with two catches for 56-yards. Chris Evans was the leading rusher in the half with 45-net yards. M-21, SMU-7.
In second half’s third quarter, the Wolverines kept their offensive motor running.
SMU provided a substantial gift of an unsportsmanlike penalty to start a drive that featured an 11-yard pass to Gentry. Wilson got a holding penalty of ten yards that negated a nice Patterson run. After some short runs, Gentry nabbed one for 28-yards to the SMU seven, and a nifty pass to Peoples-Jones got the TD. It was DPJ’s second of the day. The drive consisted of 8 plays for 62-yards. It was M- 28, SMU -7
SMU answered with an 87-yard drive for a TD as M was guilty of multiple pass interference penalties, plus a personal foul call that got K. Hudson ejected. The Mustangs ran it in from the two. M-28, SMU-13. (SMU missed the point after).
DPJ showed up again in the subsequent series, make a TD catch of 41-yards for his third TD catch of the day, matching a record set by JU Chesson. M-35 SMU -13.
The Wolverines closed the third quarter with one more pass interference penalty.
SMU opened the 4th quarter with an impressive 80-yard TD drive and it was M-35, SMU-20.
Chris Evans nailed a 35-yard run to start the next M possession. Tru Wilson rushed for 12, 3 and 3. Quinn Nordin hit a 45-yard FG to make it 38, 20.
Patterson hit Peoples-Jones for a 7-yard gain and then scrambled 18-yards to the SMU 44. Samuels then rushed for 4, and then 18-yards to the SMU 9. Wilson ran it in for the TD. M-45, SMU-20.
Aiden Hutchinson got a roughing the passer penalty on the next SMU possession, but the defense held, M got the ball back and it was in the books.
AFTER THOUGHT: While the expected giant blow-out did not occur, the Wolverines achieved a dominate victory as Chase Winovich stated afterwards. It was probably the best kind of game the Wolverines could have as an “exhibition” game, as the Mustangs did not give up, and had a talented passing game, and battled. The Wolverines tested many different players, and Shea Patterson showed some of his unique quarterback skills. He has really athletic quickness, unusual pocket presence which leads to intense ability to escape. The moxy is there, along with the arm. He is an impressive player, and the best QB that has been at the helm at Michigan in a while. Maybe, in a couple of whiles.
His 18 throws captured 237-yards, and 3 TDs. He was sacked only once, but that is a lot attributable to his escape ability. He used poor judgment in trying to fit a laser to a covered receiver, but the net balance of Saturday’s effort very much tilts to the good. Where would this team be without him?
Defensively Chase Winovich did well.
TE Zach Gentry had a remarkable game, but Donovan Peoples Jones had a remarkable three TD catches in this game. It is fun to watch this talented player grow, and I feel his ceiling has not been reached yet.
NEXT WEEK: The Wolverines have lassoed the Broncos, and corralled the Mustangs so now it is time to knock the corn off the cob in roasting the Huskers of Nebraska. The Big Ten Season has finally started.
We all had to step back from the ledge after the loss to Notre Dame. Similarly, don’t buy your tickets for the National Championship Game just yet…
|Explosiveness||Michigan – LARGE||Yards/Play (MICH 8.55 / WMU 2.72);|
IsoPPP (MICH 0.90 / 0.29)
|Efficiency||Michigan – LARGE||Success Rate (MICH 54.7% / WMU 32.4%)|
|Field Position||Michigan – LARGE||Avg Start (MICH Own 39 / WMU Own 22);|
MICH Blocked Punt Included
|Finishing Drives||Michigan – LARGE||Pts/Trip40 (MICH 5.83 / WMU 3.00)|
|TO’s & Penalties||Michigan – small||TO Margin (MICH +1);|
Offense Net Pen. Yds. (WMU +35 / MICH +15)
We can all breathe a sigh of relief. Following an underwhelming performance in Week 1 versus Notre Dame, the Michigan offense found themselves in the triple digits on the S&P+ ranking. After the Week 2 performance versus Western Michigan, the unit has moved back up above average, 52nd in the rankings. The Wolverines dominated in all facets against the 125th ranked Broncos defense. It’s important that we keep the level of competition in mind during our analysis, but Michigan’s success should not be dismissed. Michigan ran on first down twenty out of twenty-five times, for an average of 9.65 yards per rush. That explosiveness on the ground probably summarizes the day for Michigan as good as any other statistic. Michigan had nine runs of 10+ yards, including rushes of 67, 44, & 27 (2x). Give credit to the offensive line for continuing to improve their zone blocking, and to the running backs for good vision, and good acceleration through the gaping holes in the WMU defensive front.
Additionally, we saw Shea Patterson make some pin point throws throughout the day. I was particularly impressed with Patterson’s delivery to Donovan Peoples-Jones on 3rd & Goal from the 5-yard line in the 3rd quarter. The ball came out just after DPJ came out of his break, and the throw had to be extremely precise along the sideline. The play calling showed increased diversity, as I hoped it would. Michigan attacked short and deep through the air, although we haven’t seen them press the ball down the field to the offense’s right, to this point.
Defensively, the S&P+ stats show dominance just like the score board did. The Wolverines did a superb job of limiting explosive plays in Week 2. Allowing just 2.72 yards per play is a significant improvement over their first game in South Bend. Western Michigan relies on hitting some big pass plays to keep the defense back on their heels, and Michigan did not allow any completions on six deep pass attempts, including three in the first quarter.
While the defensive performance was extremely positive, it was surprising to see only one 3-and-out by the Broncos. Western Michigan ran the ball 38 times for 123 yards, 3.2 yards/rush. This also points to a small measure of success for the Broncos in the efficiency metric. The S&P+ rankings also picked up on WMU’s success, as the Michigan defense moved down a spot in the rankings (ALL the way to #3). However, Don Brown’s squad certainly played well enough to keep the Bronco’s from ever truly getting comfortable. Western Michigan averaged 5.7 yards-to-go on third down for the game.
Overall: 24.1, 9th (up 13)
Offense: 32.7, 52nd (up 51)
Defense: 8.6, 3rd (down 1)
@ Notre Dame: ND 24 UM 17
Preseason S&P+: ND by 0.1, 1-0
Preseason Clint: UM by 4, 0-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 0.6
vs. Western Michigan: UM 49 WMU 3
Pregame S&P+: UM by 10.8, 2-0
Pregame Clint: UM by 25, 1-1
MICH Cumulative 2ndO Wins: 1.6
UM Offense 32.7 (52nd) vs. SMU Defense 39.7 (109th), Midpoint: 36.2
UM Defense 8.6 (3rd) vs. SMU Offense 23.8 (97th), Midpoint: 16.2
PREGAME EDGE: Michigan
S&P+ analysis is still somewhat volatile because of the small data set in 2018. Margin this week is almost twice as big as last week.
GAME WEEK UPDATE: Last week, the Broncos offense moved the ball, and WMU actually accumulated more time of possession. SMU’s Offense is not on that same level. I don’t think the Mustangs will be able to score the 10 points I originally predicted.
UPDATE Michigan 42 SMU 3 (PRESEASON: MICH 38 SMU 10)
**Whew** Our offense isn’t the WORST! Now let’s see if we can continue to improve through one more tune-up versus SMU before getting into the B1G conference games. I know it sounds and feels strange to be concerned about the defense, but I am not 100% comfortable with continued penalty issues, and consistent first-half game plan success for opposing offenses.
Western Michigan’s Football Broncos galloped into venerable Michigan Stadium Saturday noon in hopes of visiting the Wolverines with their second loss of the young season.
Western also lost their first game of the season as they fell to Syracuse University 55 to 42, but now the Wolverines have added another loss to the Broncos season record, and they did so in dominating fashion.
The Broncos have been a decent MAC football team for a long time, but faltered some last season. At a general size and talent disadvantage to the Wolverines, but the Broncos gave it everything they had against Syracuse in their opener. They almost performed a fantastic come back rolling up a total of 560-yards. The Orange of Syracuse managed an amazing 621 offensive yards. The Broncos could not match that performance against the Wolverines Saturday, as the Wolverines scored 49 and limited the Broncos to 3.
THERE IS NOT BETTER VENUE IN WHICH TO WATCH COLLEGE FOOTBALL THAN MICHIGAN STADIUM: The crowds keep coming in spite of the rising costs of games and parking, the availability of TV, and the irritations of inclement weather and traffic. Many enjoy the band, cheer leaders, dancers, the entrance of the players, the roar of the crowd, the spectacle. Additionally, on Saturday the crowd heard the roar of two A-10C Warthogs as they flew over. There is no place like M Stadium, and the opening home game of the season. The place was packed with 110,814 fans according to M authorities. Even the student section looked full.
A FINAL LOOK BACK AT MICHIGAN’S 17-23 LOSS TO THE IRISH: Briefly, the Wolverine’s own mistakes spelled their doom on both offense and defense. Players have been acknowledging that fact.
Offensively: A leaky offensive line contributed to poor pass protection, and the running game blocking provided a stunningly paltry per carry average sans adjustment for sacks. Three sacks, a bunch of TFLs, and hurries is unacceptable. An Irish player said post game, that they knew the rhythm the snap count. That is not too surprising considering both center and QB were staring for the first time for the Wolverines.
In any case it was hard to recognize anything but basic play calling. Most of it was hum drum. Offensively, a run for two or three yards on first down, make it to third down and here comes the sack, TFL, or hurries.
Defensively the Wimbush ambush-either by a productive run up the middle, or a throw for a score, provided the margin of victory for the Irish. At crunch time late in the game came an interception and fumble by a bedeviled QB Shea Patterson. Shea has acknowledged that he needs to hang onto the ball better, avoid interceptions, and not take a sack in FG territory. All correctable faults.
So is the good game management deficit that the Wolverines displayed late in the game as they wasted time and opportunity when they should have been an offense on fire correctable. Any sense of urgency turned into snap delay, as the sands of time hurried on. Too late, too little, and too bad for winning opening game vibes.
At the start of the season, all worried about the offensive tackles, but after last Saturday’s game you can include the interior OL in the worry, at least a little bit. Coach Harbaugh has indicated that he will not change OL personnel at this time. But if the Broncos gallop away with our necessary OL improvement, certainly personnel change on the OL might be in the air.
Defensively: The early Metellus targeting call was pivotal as 3 and 9 became a 1st and 10 for the Irish. Other stupid penalties hurt. The Wolverines fortunes sunk into a deficit they could not overcome. A great second half defensive performance did not negate the effect of the very shaky first half on both sides of the ball.
The defense will quickly rise, even though it is apparent they miss MO Hurst. They began a resurgence in the second half, limiting the Irish to 69 total yards and 3 points, and they showed that Saturday by continuing their resurgence against the Broncos. They recovered poise and polish, and played a great game against Western Michigan.
SHEA PATTERSON LED THE OFFENSE WITH AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AGAINST WESTERN MICHIGAN. BACK UP DYLAN MCCAFFREY DID WELL ALSO. BOTH QBs THREW THEIR FIRST TD IN MICHIGAN STADIUM. Starter Patterson was 12 of 17 for 125-yards, three TDs, and no interceptions. He has a strong and accurate arm, and his vaunted escape ability were on display. Additionally, he has grit, poise, and QB moxie.
Dylan again looked poised and talented in his short stint in the fourth quarter. He tossed an 18-yard TD to Jacob McCurry
ALL OF THE OFFENSIVE POSITION GROUPS ALSO CONTRIBUTED AS KARAN HIGDON HAD A GREAT GAME: The running game suddenly got productive, which means the holes were there for the running backs. And the backs took advantage. M rushed for 184-yards in the first half on 16 carries, and carried that total to 308 for the game.
While the OL looked improved from last week, it still has much work to do. OL Substitutes Spanellis, Fillaga, Mayfield and Hudson, got game action. They looked more than adequate against the level of competition of the day.
The OL still has a lot to prove, but there was progress on Saturday. There was a hiccup or two. A false start on the second play of the game by the offensive line startled Michigan partisans early, but things smoothed out. The OL is still a work in progress, but the work progressed Saturday.
Karan Higdon led the running game. He had 156-yards on 13 carries for the game. He had two runs of 45-yards or more, one of them being of 67-yards for a TD. It was the second longest of his career. He showed good speed, power and evasiveness Saturday. He shares honors with Patterson as the best M offensive player in the game. It lloks like Higdon is well on his way to the 1,000-yard season he missed by six yards last year.
RB Chris Evans was also outstanding. He had a 27-yard TD in the 1st Quarter, and a TD on a 2-yard run in the 2nd quarter. Again, the group amassed 308-yards of 451 net offensive yards. This included some nice runs by newcomer Tri Wilson. He had several late game carries that moved the chains, and gained 54 net yards. Quick to the hole, and fast upfield with power.
The WR position group was outstanding, with the pass of the day being a difficult Patterson toss into the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard TD by Donovan Peoples Jones, who made an outstanding reception. Harbaugh lauded the throw and catch afterwards. He indicated the throw was a quick decision by Patterson on the second read.
Nico Collins’ 44-yard catch in the second quarter was a very close second. It was the first time in a year a wide receiver in a Michigan uniform had snagged a TD pass. After the game the soft-spoken Collins was pleased with how the game went down for the team and his own progress as a receiver. He is a tall and talented target.
The receivers caught 143-yards net yards passing
TIGHT ENDS WERE ALSO POINTS PRODUCTIVE: TE Sean McKeon caught a 17-yard Patterson pass to open the scoring for the Blue.
It was interesting Saturday to see how the offense advanced from the prior week, but it is also necessary to keep in mind the stepdown in competition from last week.
The Wolverines Did engineer 451-yards of offense.
THE DEFENSE WAS SHARP: Even without the dinged DT Lawrence Marshall, and noted NT Aubrey Soloman, the unit produced a shut out until the tail end of the game, when the Broncos nailed a FG.
This no way diminished the success of the defense on this day. They gave up a first down on only 4 of 17 Western third down attempts, and 2 of their 5 4th down attempts. Noah Furbush nabbed an interception. DT Rashan Gary had his first sack of the year, as did LB Jordan Anthony. Viper Kaleke Hudson blocked a punt.
The leading tacklers were Metellus and Gary. Safety Metellus had 4 solo stops, plus 3 assisted, for a total 6. DE Gary 4 solo stops, plus 2 assisted for a total of 6. DB Brandon Watson had an outstanding game. DL Carlo Kemp started his first M game. They held the Broncos to 2.8-yards per offensive play
SPECIAL TEAMS: M’s punting was spectacular. Punter Hart hit three for an average of 56.7-yards. Kicker Moody was consistently knocking KOs into the end zone. The only downer came as Place Kicker Nordin missed a routine FG.
BRIEF SCORING RECAP: The Wolverines put the game away in a very productive first quarter with a trio of TDs. TE McKeon scored on a 17-yard Patterson pass. Then Karan Higdon went on his 67-yard tear for six. The speed, read, evasiveness, and power were all there. The Chris Evans hit a home run with a 27-yard streak for six. At the end of the First; M-21, WM- 0.
Evans added to the scoring deluge early in the second quarter on a two-yard run. Then Nico Collins collared a 44-yard pass in the end zone. A great throw and catch.
It was 35-zilch at the half.
Donovan Peoples-Jones made a great catch of a 5-yard TD pass already described for the only score of the third quarter, which ended 42-zip.
Dylan McCaffrey hit Jacob McCurry on a 18-yard toss. Again, Dylan displayed poise and ability.
Next the Broncos hit their consolation FG to make the final 19-3, Michigan.
AFTERTHOUGHT: The was a solid domination from any aspect. The Wolverines played a great game.
While it will not quell all the adverse commentary that the team and Coach occurred after the Notre Dame game, it should quell much of it. It does not remedy all the faults exposed in the ND game. Hopefully, as the season progress this will be a team that can threaten all challengers.
Usually, win or lose, there is a hangover from a Notre Dame game. None of that was displayed Saturday. Obviously, they came home from South Bend and went back to work.
While it is a given that that WMU is not as talented or deep as ND, they have playmakers. Ask Syracuse.
A great home opening day is now in the books. Its time to take the saddle of the Broncos and throw it on the Mustangs as we welcome SMU to Ann Arbor next Saturday.