~ ~

Friday, October 16, 2015


SpartanMan82 raised an interesting question this week about the Michigan Football team. He's wondering whether Jim Harbaugh has been as "conservative" as Mark Dantonio, keeping the ball on the ground with a big lead and trying to grind out the clock without flashy offensive pizzaz. SM82 suggests that UM has kept their passing game alive in almost every game even after opening a three-score lead.

I would just say to him:  "Your analysis is a bit on the weak side, my friend. The number of passing attempts is not a sure sign that a team is trying to run up the score."

It's not as simple as just throwing the ball with a big lead. There are other sure signs of "running up the score", or at least trying to do so, such as:

  • Up 31-0 with 3 seconds left in the half, passing play from the opponent's 27. 
  • Up 21-0 and changing the play calling to increase passing attempts.
  • Up 28-7 with 5:46 left in the game, throwing a pass on 4th & 7 at the opponent's 36.
  • Up 31-0 with 6:33 left in the 3rd, going for it on 4th & 16 at the 35.
  • Up 31-0 with 3:30 left in the game, throwing a pass on 4th & 2 at the opponent's 16.
  • Up 31-0 late in the 4th, throwing passes on 1st and 2nd downs.

The sure signs that UM ran the score up (or tried to) came in games versus UNLV, BYU, and Northwestern. The others games? Meh.

Here are the forensic details. The scores at the end of each quarter in each game are noted by the bracketed number. All quarter-scores from each game are included in each summary to show the scoring flow of the contest:

UNLV [1] 0-7 [2] 0-21 [3] 0-21 [4] 7-28

  • UM rush 15, pass 9 to get to 21 points at the 7:50 mark in the 2nd. Then rush 25, pass 16.
  • Up 21-0, UM play selection increased passing attempts from 37.5% to 39.0%. Up 28-7 with 5:46 left in the 4th, UM elected to pass (incomplete) on 4th & 7 at the UNLV 36.
  • Those are signs of running up the score.

BYU [1] 0-7 [2] 0-31 [3] 0-31 [4] 0-31

  • UM rush 15, pass 10 to get to 21 points at the 11:37 mark in the 2nd. Then rush 36, pass 14.
  • Up 31-0 with 3 seconds to go in the 2nd, UM elected to pass at the BYU 27. Up 31-0 with 6:33 to go in the 3rd, UM elected to rush (9 yds) on 4th & 16 at the UM 35. Up 31-0 with 3:30 to go in the 4th, UM elected to pass (incomplete) on 4th & 2 at the BYU 16.
  • Those are signs of running up the score.

Northwestern [1] 0-21 [2] 0-28 [3] 0-31 [4] 0-38

  • UM rush 9, pass 4 to get to 21 points at the 2:35 mark in the 1st. Then rush 36, pass 20.
  • 1st score was a KO return for 6. 4th score was a pick-6.
  • Final TD drive, 1 pass was on 1st down, the other on 2nd down.
  • Those passes are signs of running up the score.

Oregon State [1] 7-3 [2] 7-17 [3] 7-20 [4] 7-35

  • UM rush 22, pass 20 to get to 20 points at the 9:25 mark in the 3rd. Then rush 25, pass 7.

Maryland [1] 0-0 [2] 0-6 [3] 0-21 [4] 0-28

  • UM rush 20, pass 28 to get to 21 points at the 5:07 mark of the 3rd. Then rush 19, pass 7.
  • UM final score was a 4 rush drive for 24 yards.

Utah [1] 3-0 [2] 10-3 [3] 17-10 [4] 24-17

  • UM never held a lead in this game.

My statistical analysis shows that Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh was DEFINITELY "RUNNING UP THE SCORE" in three of their games this season, but maybe not-so-much in the other two victories.


"Thanks,'76, for the detailed statistical analysis. I had Harbaugh running up the score in four of their games, and you have cut that down to three of their games. Even with your result, I would suggest that the style of play by UM has made their team statistics look "as good as they could be". Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it stands in contrast to the MSU approach, which has tended to diminish the overall look of their team statistics. My assumption at this point is that the Wolverines look as good as they can look against lower-tier competition, while the Spartans look much worse than they could look. I could be wrong, but I still think Michigan State is a better team than what the team statistics make them out to be. I guess we will find out tomorrow."


 ****** Click on NO COMMENTS (or # comments) below to enter and view reader comments.   ----- Remember to check Spartan Headline links, updated real time, in the left column of (Web version only). *****Note: If you are receiving this post via automated email, you need to go to the site to view headline links and embedded videos in this post: (Web version only). SIGN UP TO RECEIVE POSTS VIA EMAIL, TWITTER OR FACEBOOK IN THE RIGHT COLUMN.*****

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please sign in using the method most convenient for you. We do not receive your login information. This function is provided by Blogger.