Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Scoring by quarters

One of the biggest complaints Michigan fans had about the 2005 team was that the Wolverines could not seem to hold a lead and/or close out a game. Many theories abound to explain these difficulties but suffice it to say that as a result of last year's struggles Michigan is boasting new Offensive and Defensive Coordinators for the upcoming season. Taking a (sometimes painful) look back at last season's results, here is the 2005 team's scoring by quarters:

2005

  • Michigan 94/1st 123/2nd 38/3rd 81/4th 9/OT 345/TOTAL
  • Opponents 51 71 22 97 3 244

By way of comparison, here are the scoring by quarter figures for 2004:

2004

  • Michigan 78/1st 70/2nd 105/3rd 99/4th 18/OT 370/TOTAL
  • Opponents 66 64 55 84 10 279

The 2004 team finished 9-3 and played in the Rose Bowl while the 2005 team finished 7-5 and played in the Alamo Bowl. Yet, scoring-wise the two seasons were very similar. The 2004 (30.8 pts./game) and 2005 teams (28.8 pts./game) scored roughly the same number of points (370 vs. 345). Likewise, defensively the two teams yielded roughly the same number of points(279 in 2004 vs. 244 in 2005). Overall, the 2005 Wolverines outscored its opponents by a margin of 101 points while the 2004 Wolverines outscored its opponents by a margin of 91 points. However, as previously noted, the 2004 team won two more games and went to the Rose Bowl.

Four of U of M's losses last season were by a margin of four points or less (a fact that Wolverine fans seem to be able to recite with as much ease as they recite the lyrics of "Hail to the Victors!"). U of M got beat late in games. In fact, in 2005, the Wolverines were outscored in the 4th quarter by the score of 97-81. This was a virtual flip-flop from the 2004 season when the Wolverines outscored their opponents in the 4th quarter by a score of 99-84.

Everyone knows about the "4th quarter collapses" but it is also interesting to review what happened last year in the 3rd quarter with respect to a reduction in scoring. Traditionally, Michigan owns the 3rd quarter as the coaching staff makes adjustments at the half and emphasizes having a strong 3rd quarter to set the tone for the rest of the ballgame. The 2004 season was a typical dominating Wolverine performance as U of M outscored its opponents 105-55 in the 3rd quarter. However, last season the Wolverines only managed 38 third-quarter points and only outscored its opponents by the score of 38-22 for the season. Thus, the Wolverines were not entering the 4th quarter with big leads and this repeatedly spelled trouble for U of M when the play-calling became conservative as the game went down-to-the-wire.

To remediate last year's difficulties, Coach Carr has ordered the players to become more svelte so they will not wilt in the 4th quarter of close games and he has, as previously mentioned, hired new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Hopefully, these changes will be enough to get U of M back on the winning track in 2006. Go Blue!

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