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December 4, 2013
Stat Tracker: U-M gives up the big play too often
When Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison took over after the defensive disaster of the 2010 season, he vowed to make sure the Wolverines' stopped big plays at all costs.
And in his first two seasons, Michigan did just that.
In the year before Mattison arrived, the Wolverines surrendered an eye-popping 64 plays that spanned at least 20 yards. That ranked 11th in the Big Ten and 102nd nationally.
The defense sliced that number by 20 in 2011, giving up just 44 plays of 20-plus yards in 2011 (26th nationally, sixth in the Big Ten), a huge reason why the Wolverines saw such a resurgence on that side of the ball in Mattison's first season at the helm.
Last year, the defense was even better at limiting big plays, surrendering just 35 plays of 20 or more yards all season - the best in the nation.
Through the 12-game regular season this year, Michigan has taken a big step back.
The Wolverines surrendered 49 plays that spanned at least 20 yards this year, including at least one in every game except one: a 42-13 win over Minnesota. That ranks 42nd nationally and sixth in the Big ten.
Here's a breakdown of how many 20-plus-yard plays each opponent had against the Wolverines, compared to their season average per game:
Opponent: vs. Michigan, Season Av. Per Game:
Seven of Michigan's 12 opponents either met or exceeded their season average for plays of 20 or more yards per game.
On the season, the Wolverines posted a 4-1 record while holding teams under their season average for offensive plays of 20 or more yards. When the opponents met or exceeded their season average, Michigan's record was 3-4.
Excluding the three defensive scores surrendered by Michigan and the overtime periods against Penn State and Northwestern, the Wolverine defense gave up 49 scores this season: 30 touchdowns and 19 field goals.
Michigan surrendered at least one play of 20 or more yards on 30 of those 49 scoring drives (61.2 percent).
Of the 30 touchdown drives surrendered by the defense, 23 of them included at least on play of 20 or more yards (76.7 percent).
In Michigan's seven wins they allowed 23 plays of 20 or more yards (3.3 per game).
In those seven wins, the Wolverines also surrendered 12 touchdowns and 12 field goals (excluding defensive scores and overtime periods). Nine of the 12 touchdown drives were accompanied by at least one play of 20 or more yards (75.0 percent). Five of the 12 field goal drives were accompanied by at least one play of 20 or more yards (41.7 percent). All told, 14-of-24 scoring drives included at least one big play (58.3 percent).
In Michigan's five losses, the defense gave up 26 plays of 20 or more yards (5.2 per game). Each opponent amassed at least three such plays, and Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State had at least five.
In those five losses, the Wolverines also surrendered 18 touchdowns and seven field goals (excluding defensive scores and overtime periods). Of the 18 touchdown drives, 14 of them were accompanied by at least one play of 20 or more yards (77.8 percent), and two of the seven field goal drives included at least one play of 20 or more yards (28.6 percent).
All told, 16-of-25 scoring drives in Michigan's five losses included at least one play that spanned at least 20 yards (64.0 percent).