Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2011 Season Grades: Defense

I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but Jordan Kovacs will be Michigan's top returning defender, according to my grades
(image via Maize and Blue Nation)
Over the last three games of Michigan's season, I took the time to grade the defense.  For individual games, you can look at the grades for Nebraska, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech.  The following shows each player's cumulative grade:

MMartin: +36
RVanBergen: +24
JKovacs: +21
JRyan: +16
KDemens: +12
FClark: +11
WHeininger: +5
CAvery: +4
CRoh: +3
BBeyer: +1
JBlack: +1
WCampbell: +1
DMorgan: +1
JFurman: 0
DHollowell: 0
JVanSlyke: 0
QWashington: 0
MJones: -1
RTaylor: -1
NBrink: -2
BHawthorne: -2
TGordon: -2
BCountess: -3
TWoolfolk: -3
JFloyd: -16

I don't think it's any coincidence that defensive linemen seem to rocket to the top of the grading scale, while defensive backs linger toward the bottom.  By the nature of the sport of football (and the angles that television uses), defensive linemen and linebackers are more involved in the game.  And when the ball is in the air, roughly 60% of the time it's going to result in a completion and an angry defensive back.

Obviously, this three-game sample is not indicative of the entire season.  For example, J.T. Floyd's best game was probably against Illinois, which isn't a game I graded.  On the flip side, Frank Clark ended up with a +11 largely because he was outstanding in the Virginia Tech game.


  1. I have a two part question or request. First, please rank the strength of the last four teams that Michigan played. It would be interesting to know how our players faired against each and did they get better, worse, stayed the same or not effective at all.

    Secondly, [You may have already done this and if so I apologize], in your opinion, what are the prospects for our CB rotation for the fall 2012, with their strengths. The CB's were lit up pretty good against at least the last three games. With the current CB's on the roster and the Richardson the freshman coming in does it look like we're going to get better, worse or no change? Thank

    1. a) No offense, but determining the strength of our opponents is a statistical request probably best left to guys like the Mathlete, who regularly posts over at MGoBlog. I think the play of our front seven was pretty steady overall, although there were some small fluctuations. I thought the secondary played best against Illinois in that stretch, second-best against Nebraska, third-best against Virginia Tech, and worst against Ohio State.

      b) I do think the corners will be better in 2012, if only because Countess will be a sophomore. The greatest gains often come between a kid's freshman and sophomore season, and he struggled late in the year. As a rising senior, J.T. Floyd kind of is who he is. I don't expect much improvement there. But Countess should be better, and I also think Avery is serviceable. Richardson is a good cover guy, but I doubt he'll be able to crack the starting rotation unless we suffer injuries.

  2. It's shocking to consider the level of improvement the front 7 made in one year. Having Martin healthy was obviously a big deal, but Mattison had some youth and mediocre talent to overcome in other spots. I wish Wisconsin had been on the schedule. That would have been a great litmus test after getting abused up front two years in a row.

  3. "And when the ball is in the air, roughly 60% of the time it's going to result in a completion and an angry defensive back."
    Especially in college where defensive secondaries are so weak. I like that Kenny Demens made #5 on your list Magnus; a solid MLB is quite welcome after the Ezeh era at MLB.