Michigan Football By the Numbers: Western Michigan

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…

TABLE: FIVE FACTORS
FACTOR EDGE STATS
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)

OFFENSE

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.

DEFENSE

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.

S&P+ THROUGH WEEK 2

MICHIGAN
Overall: 24.1, 9th (up 13)
Offense: 32.7, 52nd (up 51)
Defense: 8.6, 3rd (down 1)

REGULAR SEASON PROJECTIONS vs. RESULTS

@ 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

NEXT UP

vs. SMU
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)

TL; DR SUMMARY

**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.

About Clint Derringer

Born & raised in Warren, MI. My wife Bethany, my three kids, and I now reside in Grosse Pointe, MI. B.A. Sport Management & Communications - 2005 M.S. Program & Project Management - 2018