What numbers stand out to me as the 2012 regular season comes to and end?
Of course, the record. Many pegged Michigan for, at minimum, 2 or 3 losses. I think 4 is certainly close enough to not make the entire season a disappointment. But those 4 losses came at the hands of teams that have achieved more (and in some cases, much more) success than Michigan has this year. To get to the level Hoke wants this program to be at, you need to beat the teams better than you. That never materialized for Team 133. The biggest win of the season, record-wise, was Northwestern.
That's Michigan's turnover average. Unacceptable. A season ago it was 0.50, good enough for 26th overall nationally. This year, Michigan was tied for 100th. In the 4 losses mentioned above, Michigan handed the ball over 16 times (12 picks, 4 lost fumbles). In 8 wins, Michigan turned the ball over 9 times (6 picks, 3 lost fumbles). Turnovers are killers in big games on the road.
Going into the finale against OSU, Michigan's overall offensive yardage per-game average was on a nice upswing. After Denard went down against Nebraska and before Gardner took over against Minnesota, Michigan's offense was averaging 378.13 yds/gm. In the three starts Devin had prior to the OSU game, he rejuvenated the offense to the tune of 440.33 yds/gm in those three games. But an offensive output against the Buckeyes of only 279 total yards sunk Michigan's season average from 400 yds/gm to 385.42.
The disparity between home and away games was evident this season, offensively. A little fun with the numbers...
at Home (6): 465.3 ypg
on Road/Neutral (6): 305.5 ypg
in Wins (8): 448.8 ypg
in Losses (4): 258.8 ypg
vs AP Ranked (5): 290.8 ypg
vs AP Unranked (7): 453.0 ypg
vs BCS AQ (10): 361.8 ypg
vs BCS non-AQ (2): 503.5 ypg
The redzone was kind to Michigan offensively. They scored points almost every time they passed their opponent's 20. 92.68 percent is good enough for 4th nationally among FBS schools. But the flipside to that is the redzone TD percentage. That was 63.41, only good enough to be tied with Memphis at 49th. Still, not bad either way. Brendan Gibbons and his brunettes had a good year.
The "non-Denard running game" was a real thing that was discussed many times this year. At a certain point, you just accept the fact that your o-line is simply not working, and just embrace your inability to run the ball effectively with traditional backs. Denard accounted for 52% of the team's overall rushing yardage with 1,166. Fitz was a distant 2nd at 514. Rawls added 242. The rest was a smattering of guys with less than 100. Fitz's 3.95 yds/att is troubling.
When it was all said and done, Denard accounted for 54% of Michigan's total offensive output...a percentage much lower once Devin Gardner stepped back under center. After the first two games, Shoelace was responsible for 95% of Michigan's total offense.
If OSU blogs can blast anyone they want for criticizing just how bad the B1G is, and why that invalidates the significance of their 12-0 record, then I suppose I can do the same for Michigan's much-improved pass defense average, no? Did Michigan play Peyton Manning or Aaron Rogers 12 times? Of course not. But you can't argue that it's not at least slightly impressive that Michigan went from a smoking crater of a secondary just a couple seasons ago (112th nationally), to having the #2 unit in FBS. Not to mention, of course, they did so without the help of their best cornerback, Blake Countess, who was injured early against Alabama.
While not really a gigantic weakness for Michigan, getting pressure on the quarterback and getting sacks seemed to be too few and far between for the front 7. Once in a while, Mattison would dial up a blitz that would work. Actually, the OSU game was one of the better games for this unit as they were able to get to Miller 4 times for a loss of 39 yards, by far their best performance of the season. But a sack average of 1.58 needs to improve. Michigan had no sacks against Air Force or Notre Dame, and only 1 per in 4 other games. In so many areas, Michigan's defense has improved so much the last couple of seasons, so I do realize that I'm nit picking a tad here.
A little sidebar stat here...Did you know that Michigan has only 1 total sack against Notre Dame in the last 5 meetings (2010)? I guess they really overdid it with 8 sacks back in 2007. Time to get those homeboys off the schedule!
The number of fake plays Michigan ran this year. You could call the half-back pass against Notre Dame a trick play, but not a fake play. I don't know why, but since my buddy Tim mentioned this to me, I think it's pretty interesting.