Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scary Michigan Defense

Happy Halloween everyone.

So after suffering through the Michigan vs Penn State game last night, drinking until I passed out and trying to figure out how Lloyd Brady gets the great seats he does, I was forced try and find some rational reason why the Defense man, why?

Over the past 8 games every Michigan fan has engaged in some kind of discussion about the defense. And 9 times out of 10, if the conversation is with smart fans, ends in a comment about the youth of it. And I think we can all agree that the defense is young. But, is that really it? Isn't GERG and ultimately Rich Rod responsible for the poor play?

I've always been in the "youthy defense" and not the "coaches blow" camp. But after last night I finally had a few moments where I just went, "well maybe coaching..."

So I took to the numbers in hopes to find some solace. I remember in 2008 when we were suffering through Rich Rod's first year and the offense was horrible. I looked at the percentage of starters verse other first year coaches. What I found was that Michigan had the highest percentage of underclassman contributors. Fast forward two years and we're #2 in total offense and Denard!

So, I want to take a look at the Big Ten defenses and where how they rank nationally in total defense and scoring defense:

*quick note: all numbers are through week 10/23/2010


Team Total Scoring
OSU 3 9
Iowa 13 11
ILL 23 15
Wisc 25 34
PSU 31 21
MSU 32 17
Pur 63 62
NW 67 40
Ind 77 91
MN 90 100
UM 104 80

No surprise to anybody, Michigan ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten in total defense.

Now let's take a look at each team's defense contribution by class. To do this I looked at solo tackles and total tackles (solo plus assisted) by each class. I removed any player that registered a tackle that was not listed as a defensive player. This removed some special teams tackles and tackles after turn overs.


Ohio State




Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 7 29 55 11% 12%
SO 10 55 87 20% 18%
JR 5 45 78 16% 17%
SR 10 147 251 53% 53%
Total
276 471

Under 17 84 142 30% 30%
Upper 15 192 329 70% 70%
Total
276 471



Iowa





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 7 7 34 3% 7%
SO 6 26 52 13% 10%
JR 12 91 193 44% 38%
SR 8 81 227 40% 45%
Total
205 506

Under 13 33 86 16% 17%
Upper 20 172 420 84% 83%
Total
205 506



Illinois





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 5 17 49 8% 10%
SO 13 53 120 24% 24%
JR 6 93 210 42% 43%
SR 6 58 114 26% 23%
Total
221 493

Under 18 70 169 32% 34%
Upper 12 151 324 68% 66%
Total
221 493



Wisconsin





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 9 28 72 11% 15%
SO 7 36 62 14% 13%
JR 9 109 192 42% 40%
SR 4 84 149 33% 31%
Total
257 475

Under 16 64 134 25% 28%
Upper 13 193 341 75% 72%
Total
257 475



Penn State




Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 5 17 43 8% 9%
SO 12 68 140 32% 28%
JR 9 81 196 38% 39%
SR 4 48 121 22% 24%
Total
214 500

Under 17 85 183 40% 37%
Upper 13 129 317 60% 63%
Total
214 500



Michigan State




Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 12 46 100 17% 16%
SO 9 71 159 26% 26%
JR 5 40 100 14% 16%
SR 7 121 258 44% 42%
Total
278 617

Under 21 117 259 42% 42%
Upper 12 161 358 58% 58%
Total
278 617



Purdue





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 8 54 86 18% 19%
SO 6 88 126 29% 27%
JR 9 112 170 36% 37%
SR 3 54 82 18% 18%
Total
308 464

Under 14 142 212 46% 46%
Upper 12 166 252 54% 54%
Total
308 464



Northwestern




Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 9 20 27 7% 7%
SO 7 40 61 14% 15%
JR 12 149 202 52% 50%
SR 4 77 116 27% 29%
Total
286 406

Under 16 60 88 21% 22%
Upper 16 226 318 79% 78%
Total
286 406



Indiana





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 7 14 28 6% 7%
SO 8 30 74 13% 17%
JR 9 105 175 44% 41%
SR 8 88 148 37% 35%
Total
237 425

Under 15 44 103 19% 24%
Upper 17 193 323 81% 76%
Total
237 426



Minnesota




Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 8 36 63 13% 14%
SO 7 104 156 36% 34%
JR 8 86 154 30% 34%
SR 2 61 86 21% 19%
Total
287 459

Under 15 140 219 49% 48%
Upper 17 147 240 51% 52%
Total
287 459


So every team has over 50% of it's contribution coming from upperclassmen. And the bottom half, save Indiana and Northwestern, because well, they're Indiana and Northwestern, the contribution is closer to 50%. The quality defenses are upperclassmen led. 

Now let's take a look at Michigan's table:


Michigan





Number Solo Total Solo% Total%
FR 9 60 104 20% 21%
SO 9 106 173 35% 35%
JR 9 38 65 13% 13%
SR 7 96 156 32% 31%
Total
300 498

Under 18 166 277 55% 56%
Upper 16 134 221 45% 44%
Total
300 498


So yeah 56% percent of Michigan's defense contribution comes from underclassmen. Three of our top five tacklers are Kovacs (SO), Floyd (SO) and Gordan (FR). And only Michigan State has more underclassmen on its roster.

Looking at the summary of the above:


Team Total Scoring Upper Production Under Production
OSU 3 9 70% 30%
Iowa 13 11 83% 17%
ILL 23 15 66% 34%
Wisc 25 34 72% 28%
PSU 31 21 63% 37%
MSU 32 17 58% 42%
Pur 63 62 54% 46%
NW 67 40 78% 22%
Ind 77 91 76% 24%
MN 90 100 52% 48%
UM 104 80 44% 56%

Aside from Northwestern and Indiana, which no one is going to mistaken for football schools (although NW is bowl eligible), you can't tell me that experience does not translate into success, on some level. Yes, you need talent. But your likelihood to succeed with that talent increases with the age of said talent.

I suppose you can make a recruiting argument that holds the coaches solely responsible, but even then, the talent they are ultimately responsible for is producing (SO, FR classes). So before you head for AA torch and pitchfork, look at the numbers and hope that we can beat Purdue to get the extra practices.

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