Thursday, June 01, 2006

Red Zone = Danger Zone in 2005

The Red Zone. I don't know how long this term has been around but it seems to have gained widespread popularity in the past 10-15 years. The Red Zone is defined as having the ball inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Last year, the Red Zone was the Danger Zone for U-M on both sides of the ball. On offense, Michigan ranked an embarrasing eighth place in the Big Ten in Red Zone scoring percentage at 79.3 percent. Defensively, U of M performed even worse. The Wolverines finished 10th in the Big Ten in Red Zone scoring defense at 86.5 percent last season.

For the offense, in 2005, these stats mean it was unable to score 20% of the time it had the ball as far as the opponent's twenty yard-line. Coming away with no points that often when the ball is in scoring position can mean the difference between winning and losing in a close game. Oh wait, that's right, we lost 4 games last season by 4 points or less. Blown scoring opportunities will come back to haunt a team in close games and it happened repeatedly to last year's team. The Wolverines couldn't cash in on scoring opportunities early in games and suffered for it late.

As for the defense, once the opponent got into the Red Zone they were money to come away with SOME points as the opponents scored at an 86.5% rate last season once they reached the Red Zone. Michigan has long been known for a "bend-but-don't-break" defense but last year there was more breaking than bending. New Defensive Coordinator Ron English will have to find a way to have the "D" lock it down more often once the opponents get into the Red Zone. Otherwise, U of M might find themselves on the wrong end of some more close games in 2006.

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