By the Numbers: Week 1 vs. MTSU



All the Michigan Football previews are written. Fall camp has wrapped up, and the Wolverines emerge with a boat load of expectations as well as a handful of injury concerns. On offense, the battle at right tackle resolved itself when Andrew Stueber tore his ACL. Donovan Peoples-Jones may still be hampered by a groin injury that held him out of spring practice. For Don Brown, the defensive backfield got a bit thinner as Ambry Thomas is doubtful for week 1 as he battles colitis. Despite those issues, most local and national media outlets expect this Michigan offense to challenge multiple entries in the record book. The defense starts the year ranked 14th in SP+ with less star power but increased depth as compared to the 2018 defense.


Starting next week in this section, we’ll compare the SP+ projection and my projection for the previous week’s game.


In this section, I’ll insert a table with key statistics from last week’s match up. The key metrics are aligned with the Five Factors from the SP+ analytics model: Explosiveness, Efficiency, Field Position, Finishing Drives, & TOs/Penalties. When we do our analysis we’ll carve up these metrics by season, opponent, run/pass, quarter, down, etc. If a higher number is better for the offense, then lower is better for the defense on that same metric.

YPP is short for Yards per Play and is a simple average: total yards / number of plays.
IsoPPP is short for Isolated Points per Play. This metric answers the question “How good are your good plays?” In this case, we are talking about expected points gained by moving from a particular yard line to another yard line. The term isolated means that we are only looking at successful plays, so bad plays can’t weigh an offense down on this metric.
2018 Offense: 12.0 YPP; 0.90 IsoPPP
2018 Defense: 13.0 YPP; 0.98 IsoPPP against

Success Rate is the % of plays that the offense stayed on schedule toward moving the chains. It means gaining 50% of the yards needed on 1st down, 70% on 2nd, and 100% on 3rd or 4th down plays. Each play is either successful or it is not. More successful plays means you are continuing to march down the field.
2018 Offense: 46.7% Success Rate
2018 Defense: 34.0% Success Rate against

Average Starting Yard Line for all drives, includes after punts, kickoffs, & turnovers.
2018 Michigan: Own 31
2018 Opponents: Own 25

Pts/Opp is short for Points per Opportunity. This is the average number of points an offense scores on drive where they get a fresh set of downs inside the other team’s 40 yard line.
2018 Offense: 4.44 Pts/Opp
2018 Defense: 5.30 Pts/Opp

Turnovers and penalty yardage combine into a fifth factor that attempts to quantify mental discipline and the luck factor. Turnovers on downs are removed. Net penalty yards are calculated from the offense’s perspective. A holding penalty on an OL is -10. Pass Interference is +15.
2018 Offense: 12 Giveaways; 85 Net Pen. Yds.
2018 Defense: 13 Takeaways; 218 Net Pen. Yds. against

NEXT UP: vs. Middle Tennessee State: Overall -8.5, 101st

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 29.7, Win Probability 97%
A season full of promise kicks off in Ann Arbor.  Toe meets leather at 7:30 PM at the Big House.

Michigan Offense (14th) vs. MTSU Defense (86th) 
Time to unwrap the largest gift under the tree, the 2019 Michigan offense.  Let’s see what #SpeedInSpace means in terms of personnel groups, run/pass ratio, and adjusted tempo.  Cheers to lighting up the scoreboard against a much weaker defense than the unit Josh Gattis and company have seen through fall camp.

Michigan Defense (13th) vs. MTSU Offense (113th)
The Blue Raiders will provide an analog spread offense for Michigan’s defense to attack.  I don’t expect to see many of the potential adjustments put onto film in week one, but we will see how the defense will change personnel and alignment to be more multiple.  Keep your eyes peeled for Josh Uche, Kaleke Hudson, Jordan Glasgow, and Kwity Paye playing multiple positions for the Wolverines.

PREDICTION:  I still have concerns about how sharp Michigan will be in a Week 1 night game.  That is the main factor keeping me from predicting a #SpeedInSpace track meet. The increasing fall camp hype about the running backs does increase my optimism a bit.  There may be a few wrinkles to iron out through the first half, but I am excited to see the 2019 Michigan Football season start with a bang.
Michigan 37 MTSU 3 (PRESEASON: Michigan 34 MTSU 3)


In this final section, we’ll update the Wolverines’ national resume each week. I will refresh the poll numbers and SP+ rankings. In addition, I will include some information about how the teams that Michigan had previously faced are faring.

  • SP+ Overall: 9th, 21.2
    • SP+ Offense: 14th
    • SP+ Defense: 13th
  • AP Poll: 7th, 1164
  • Coaches’ Poll: 7th, 1155
  • CFP Rank: N/A

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18

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