Review of 2010 Season Predictions

Review of 2010 Season Predictions

February 18, 2011
Denard Robinson was the star of the show in 2010

One of the reasons I started this blog a couple years ago was to record my thoughts and predictions in order to go back, see what I said, and see if I was right.  With the 2010 season completed, I thought I would go back and check out what I said prior to the year beginning.

First of all, here were my 2010 Season Predictions.

And here’s a rundown of how accurate those were:

Prediction: I said Denard Robinson would start the opener but that Tate Forcier would have an opportunity to take most of the snaps by the end of the season.
Actual: Denard Robinson started the entire season.
Accuracy: 50%

Prediction: Denard Robinson with approximately 800 yards.
Actual: Well, I was right on the player, but wrong on the yardage.  Way wrong.  Robinson ended up wtih 1,702 yards on the ground.
Accuracy: 100%
Prediction: Roy Roundtree with 60 catches for 900 yards
Actual: Roundtree had 72 catches for 935 yards.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Jonas Mouton
Actual: Mouton led the team with 117 tackles, beating out safety Jordan Kovacs by a slim margin.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Ryan Van Bergen with 7.5 sacks
Actual: Van Bergen led the team in sacks, but it was a down year in that category – he ended up with only 4.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: J.T. Floyd
Actual: Cornerback James Rogers and safety/linebacker Cam Gordon each had 3.  Floyd only had 1, but he missed half the season with a broken ankle.
Accuracy: Incomplete due to Floyd’s injury

Prediction: Center David Molk and kick returner Darryl Stonum
Actual: Molk was the right choice.  However, the coaches decided to save Stonum for his offensive duties, giving the job to a couple mediocre returners instead.  With a surprisingly good season, Denard Robinson was also named to the first team by the media.
Accuracy: 33%

Prediction: Roy Roundtree
Actual: Running back Michael Shaw scored 9 touchdowns to lead this category.  Roundtree and running back Vincent Smith were second with 7 touchdowns each.
Accuracy: 0%

Prediction: Denard Robinson
Actual: Robinson was definitely the breakout player of the year on offense.  He was in the discussion for the Heisman, was the Big Ten Player of the Year, and generally wowed Michigan fans and college football fans in general.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Ryan Van Bergen
Actual: Well, nobody really expected much from the defense, and that’s what they got – not much.  Van Bergen had a decent season with 37 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.  But I think the real breakout star was middle linebacker Kenny Demens, who surpassed incumbent Obi Ezeh and finished third on the team with 82 tackles.
Accuracy: 0%

Prediction: Vincent Smith
Actual: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Smith was somewhat less effective than is expected from a starting tailback at Michigan.  He finished the year averaging 4.4 yards per carry and – other than a long run against Indiana – was generally ineffective as a complementary runner to quarterback Denard Robinson.  Roundtree might be an option here because of his play in the final few games of the season, but Smith was ineffective for the majority of the season.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Cameron Gordon
Actual: While Gordon was a disappointment after all the hype he received in the spring and summer, he wasn’t a complete failure.  He actually made some plays from the free safety position (3 interceptions), but he didn’t have the speed or awareness to stay there and moved to outside linebacker.  But the bigger disappointment was Obi Ezeh, the fifth-year senior middle linebacker who lost his job mid-season to redshirt sophomore Kenny Demens.  Ezeh ended the year with 58 tackles, which is exactly 24 fewer than Demens . . . and 8 fewer than J.T. Floyd, the cornerback who missed half the season with a broken ankle.
Accuracy: 0%

Win against UConn
Loss to Notre Dame
Win against UMass
Win against Bowling Green
Loss to Indiana
Loss to Michigan State
Win against Iowa
Win against Penn State
Win against Illinois
Win against Purdue
Loss to Wisconsin
Loss to Ohio State



  1. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Your math skills need work thunder. e.g. When you say "I was right on the player, but wrong on the yardage" thats not "100% accuracy". Its more like 50%. You undershot Denard's yardage when he more than doubled your prediction. Which – who knew?, but still 100%?

    Overall, your predictions where pretty good – better than most, I suspect.


  2. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    @ Lankownia 12:05 p.m.

    I was only counting accuracy in regards to who the player was, not their stat totals. Expecting anyone to predict exact yardage, tackles, touchdowns, etc. is a little too much to expect.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Interesting that you choose Smith as your most disappointing offensive player, instead of the two upperclassmen who should have been able to displace him (Shaw & Cox). I think you're ignoring more deserving candidates in order to say that you were right.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    I don't understand the incomplete grade regarding interceptions. All players and teams face injury and predictions should take that into account. The prediction was for who had the most at the end of the season, which was Rogers and Gordon.

    Also, why would not one of the other RBs who could not displace Smith as the starting RB not be the most disappointing player? Shaw and Fitz could not stay healthy and Cox never moved up the depth chart. Looking at all the RBs, Smith's numbers in terms of YPC, TDs, and yards would be what you would expect from a true sophomore coming off a knee injury, but from the other, higher rated RBs you got less production.

  5. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    @ GoBlue 2:23 p.m.

    You're free to think whatever you want. Frankly, I'm not going to hold Shaw's injuries against him, and not many people expected much out of Cox. The bottom line is that Cox was about 4th or 5th on the depth chart, so I don't know how a kid who's 5th on the depth chart can be that disappointing.

  6. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    @ Anonymous 2:24 p.m.

    Yes, all teams face injury. I didn't make any predictions for other teams. You're right that Rogers and Gordon had more interceptions, which I noted in my post. But Floyd's season ended prematurely. He played an incomplete season; thus the category is incomplete.

    I'm not going to hold injuries against Shaw and Toussaint.

    Cox was approximately 5th on the depth chart, as I mentioned above. For a guy buried on the depth chart, I'd actually say 9 yards a carry is overachieving.

    Smith was the starter and got the most carries. He ran hard and gave it everything he had, but frankly, 4.4 yards a carry is a paltry number for a starting running back, especially when considering that he had a solid OL and he had the country's best rusher sharing the backfield with him.

  7. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    It's cute that you dismiss Cox as 4th or 5th on the depth chart after you spent a whole offseason touting him as clearly superior to Smith. Taking that fact into account, it's not surprising that fail to see lack of playing time as clear evidence of how disappointing they were. If he fails to get off the bench after several people indicated that he should be ahead of Smith, I think it's a clear sign that Cox underachieved.

  8. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    @ GoBlue 3:09 p.m.

    Yes, I did say repeatedly that Cox was superior to Smith. And his performance at every turn supports that idea.

    But I was also just about the only one supporting Cox as the best runner, meaning that not many people expected much out of him. So if nobody expected much out of him, how can he be the most disappointing? That doesn't make sense.

  9. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    This is JG2112 from MGo.

    I take issue with this comment:

    "And his performance at every turn supports that idea."

    You can't be serious making this statement. His "performance" in a Michigan uniform to date has been two fourth quarters against Delaware State and Bowling Green, when Michigan had already scored 50 points in each game. O'Neil Swanson could average 9 yards per carry against the gassed starters of a FCS team.

    I have no quibble with your assessment of Smith except for the idea that was a disappointment. He shouldn't have been on the field in 2010. He should have redshirted given his ACL tear. Given that fact, his performance in having 2 fine TDs against UConn, the fine TD against Indiana, and being the team's best run blocker cannot be put aside like you wish to do. It's not his fault he's being asked to do more than what his role should be as a third-down back. That is on the coach, not the player. Smith didn't call I-right 32 blast on 3rd and 1 – Rich Rod did. What, is Smith supposed to decline the carry?

    Let's be honest – if Cox were a better complete back (which includes run blocking, something he and Hopkins weren't the greatest at), he'd be on the field. He'll get his chance this year. But using evidence of 15-18 rushes against winded FCS defenders, when up by 45+ points, to call Cox a superior defender is intellectually dishonest.

  10. Comments: 21383
    Feb 18, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    @ jg2112 3:32 p.m.

    I know there are people like you who disagree. And that's fine. Your opinion is that Cox hasn't shown that he's a better back than Smith. I have seen the same plays you have, and I disagree. I'm not going to get into another lengthy argument defending my stance.

    After three years of watching Rodriguez, if you think that he consistently put the best back on the field, then that's a severe indictment of the talent level at the University of Michigan. Sam McGuffie in 2008 and Smith in 2009-10 weren't very good runners at all.

    I'm not saying Smith should have declined the carries. What I'm saying is that for a starting running back, he was disappointingly mediocre.

    It's not intellectually dishonest to call Cox a superior runner (I assume you meant to say "runner" rather than "defender"). It's simply my opinion. And you are free to disagree.

  11. Comments: 21383
    Feb 19, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    "And his performance at every turn supports that idea."

    This is not a statement of opinion. Opinions are fine, but when you assert that all evidence points to yours being correct, people are right to question your statements. You cross the line of what is or isn't a matter of opinion when you start talking about evidence.

    The main evidence for Smith over Cox is that Smith plays while Cox sits the bench. The main evidence of Cox over Smith is a limited sample of carries in meaningless situations, as JG points out.

    Rodriguez's judgment isn't infallible but it shouldn't be disregarded entirely. When/if Hoke also tethers Cox to the bench, I wonder if you'll change your mind.

    You've already stated you refuse to change your mind on this subject and I'm pretty sure you made up your mind about Smith a long time ago, so I don't know that it needs to be covered further. Everytime you unfairly disparage Smith in comparison to other UofM RBs (none of which were very good) people disagree with you. Which is fine of course, and you don't mind arguing, just sayin…

    In my opinion – the biggest disappoint offensively was the RBs, as a unit — all of them. Despite some 4-star talent, none of the backs distinguished themselves enough to surpass Smith, who was pretty ho-hum.


  12. Comments: 21383
    Feb 19, 2011 at 3:47 AM

    @ Lankownia 7:04 p.m.

    Unless you want every one of my statements to be prefaced by the words "In my opinion," then I reserve the right to make statements without qualifying them. This is my blog. It is full of my opinions. People are free to argue them, but I'm not going to cover my ass by repeatedly qualifying my statements. Middle school is over.

    I think it's funny that all kinds of people come out of the woodwork to defend Smith. For someone who finished #15 in yards, #18 in yards per carry, tied for #15 in rushing touchdowns, and lacking big play ability (his long run of 56 yards was #18), it sure doesn't seem like people realize how mediocre he is.

    Plenty of running backs have distinguished themselves enough to surpass Smith. He's literally no better than the fourth best running back on the team (in my opinion, of course). It's just Rodriguez was clueless on how to deploy running backs, and the others happened to get hurt or got in Rodriguez's doghouse somehow.

    When one of the best things you can say about a player is "Well, at least his catastrophic injury happened in the last game of the season," then there's something wrong.

    I don't refuse to change my mind on the subject. Smith has two more years to prove me wrong. I do refuse to change my mind right NOW, because the evidence I've seen makes him a subpar running back (in my opinion).

  13. Comments: 21383
    Feb 19, 2011 at 3:49 AM

    By the way, the above rankings for Smith are within the Big Ten. I forgot to mention that. He had the 15th-most rushing yards in the Big Ten, etc.

  14. Comments: 21383
    Feb 21, 2011 at 5:45 AM


    I'm in total agreement with you on Smith. The only positives I hear about him from all of his defenders are "he's not a major liability" and "he gets more playing time than the other backs on the team." Not only are those rather feeble positive traits, but after watching Smith either get stopped time and again on 3rd and short or fumble at a key juncture, the first one is debatable. A starting Michigan tailback should be better than Vincent Smith.

  15. Comments: 21383
    Feb 22, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Smith positives: blocking, catching, breaking tackles relative to Shaw, and whatever the coaches see that warrants playing time that we can't see (e.g. knowing the playbook, not screwing up mentally, etc.)

    Smith success rate on 3rd and short is far better than Shaws, Hopkins, and Cox's. All of the evidence says Smith is by far the best running back on the Roster. (The last two sentences were just opinion, but I didn't feel like saying so.)


  16. Comments: 21383
    Feb 22, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    @ Lankownia 1:32 p.m.

    The one glaring omission from your comment is that Vincent Smith, who is a running back, isn't so good at the "running" aspect.

    Also, I don't think Smith is necessarily better at breaking tackles than Shaw. And Shaw was recruited by some schools as a wide receiver (and was listed as a WR for his first two years on campus), so I'm not sure that Smith is better at catching the ball than Shaw.

    So, in essence, you're saying that Smith is a better blocker than the other guys. That's not necessarily the best reason to put a guy on the field.

  17. Comments: 21383
    Feb 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    I think that's what you're saying, actually.

    There's no point in rehashing this debate. We disagree about the meaning and relevance and appropriate use of available statistics so it boils down to a matter of opinion – nothing more.

    I was just taking umbrage with the 'all relevant data' comment and it's factual (rather than opinionated) implication.

    When Barry Sander Junior runs for 2800 yards his freshman year behind Lewan/Omameh/Khoury/Barnum/Schofield/ we can all look back and laugh about the the smith/shaw era of Michigan RBs.


  18. Comments: 21383
    Feb 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    @ Lankownia 6:00 p.m.

    That is what I'm saying, simply because I had to strip away all the irrelevant stuff you tossed in there about Smith. When comparing running backs, you give the edge to Smith when Shaw's just as good of a receiver. And neither Smith nor Shaw is particularly good at breaking tackles. At best (for your case) it's a push.

    So when you trim away the fat, you're left with this:

    Smith is a better blocker. I'll give you that. It doesn't mean a whole lot, though.

  19. Comments: 21383
    Feb 22, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    But yeah, I sure wouldn't mind if Barry, Jr. decided to come to Ann Arbor.

  20. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    The blocking thing is as much an opinion as the other things, not sure why you're giving that one credence and not the others. Its all opinion.

  21. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    @ Lankownia 2:01 p.m.

    The reason I'm giving Smith's blocking abilities more credence is that he actually is a better blocker. The other stuff isn't true.

  22. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    I appreciate your opinion. But all evidence available says otherwise (in my opinion).

  23. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    @ Lankownia 3:06 p.m.

    And your evidence causes you to choose the player with the lowest YPC average (except for the true freshman, short yardage back) and who scores rushing touchdowns at a lower rate than everyone (except Michael Cox who only got 6 carries).

    That's not evidence, Lankownia. It's really not. You have no statistical basis for it. The evidence points in several directions, none of which are Smith.

  24. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    [NOTE:The following comment was made by Lankownia. I accidentally hit the delete button, but I'm copying and pasting in entirety from the e-mail sent to me.]

    Context, man.

    Unless you think Javarris James and Derrik Ward are two of the NFL's best running backs you recognize that touchdown rate is a nearly worthless stat. Its a function, primarily, of opportunity. Likewise YPC ignores down, distance, and opponent quality. You agree that UMass and Iowa represent different challenges right?

    You chose to extrapolate from meaningless situations against opponent like Bowling Green and compare them to games against teams like Wisconsin. I find this preposterous.

    You choose to look at Cox's 6 carries and find substance in such a small sample.

    You ignore context, you ignore sample size, you selectively sample (look at 2010, but ignore 2009). So YOU, Thunder, have no statistical basis for YOUR view. Not if you choose to look at stats objectively and thoughtfully.

    Here is the greatest stat that points to Smith's superiority in 2010: 136 carries. Shaw is the only one that comes close. And if you want to talk about health: the first game of the season was the last that Shaw got more than Smith – and that was by all of 1 carry.

    Forgive me, but I'll trust Rich Rodriguez's opinion (and that of his staffers) over yours when it comes to college football offensive personnel. That's not to say they're infallible, but I'm going to need a lot of evidence to think they're wrong – and you don't have it.

    Statistics are evidence and opinions are not. That was my original point and then you brought up stats…which, again, is not a strength here at TTB.

    Thunder, you're wrong about statistical basis and you're wrong to conflate evidence with opinions.


    I'll append HEALTH to my list for Smith's superiority.


    Again, I don't actually think Smith and Shaw are significantly different – they're both wholly mediocre. My OPINION is that Shaw is the bigger threat to make a big play but also less reliable, and as the older player, I'd rather the younger Smith be used than Shaw. When both were healthy they were used roughly equally, which seems about right to me.

    My problem is that Smith is used as a scapegoat by M fans and I think thats unfair to the young man. Michigan's running backs all kind of sucked. Everyone wanted Cox or Hopkins or Shaw or whoever, but if they came in, they did no better in meaningful situations.

  25. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    @ Lankownia

    Speaking of context and opportunity…

    Shaw and Hopkins got a lot of short yardage carries, right? I mean, that's probably how Shaw got 9 touchdowns. And Hopkins was almost exclusively a short yardage guy or a mop-up guy.

    That means Smith probably got a vast majority of his carries when the ball was either a) far away from the goal line b) on long or medium yardage downs.

    And yet Smith had the lowest yards per carry. So with all those opportunities with vast amounts of space to run the ball, Smith still only got 4.4 yards a carry. Those 4.4 yards a carry haven't been dragged down by a ton of short yardage stuff. So basically what you're saying when you say Smith didn't have an "opportunity" is that the coaches (whose opinions you trust) didn't think he was a good short yardage back, and the numbers show he wasn't a good long yardage back.

    So…ya know…meh.

    lol @ Smith's health

    It's funny that you bring that up. Smith had the most catastrophic injury that any of the running backs have had. He was just "lucky" enough to get it in the final game of the 2009 season and have the entire offseason to rehab. Dude also got a concussion.

    If you want to say the timing of Smith's injuries has been superior, sure, I'll give you that. He chooses pretty good times to get hurt. Other than that, I don't see much indication that he's very durable.

    I'm okay with you trusting Michigan's coaches more than me. I have no doubt that they know more about the sport of football than I do.

    That doesn't mean they're right.

    By the way, it's tough to do better in "meaningful situations" when you can't get on the field.

  26. Comments: 21383
    Feb 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    "Smith probably got a vast majority of his carries when the ball was either a) far away from the goal line b) on long or medium yardage downs. "

    I wouldn't assume that at all. Smith seemed to get more 3rd and short opportunities than anyone else. I'd guess his short-yardage percentage was higher than Shaw's. I'd agree with the hypothesis that Hopkins share of carries were probably more short-yardage than Smiths, but I'm far from certain about it. Most short-yardage situations were not at the goal line, so I'm not sure I buy your assumption.

    Smith actually has a higher YPC than Hopkins but its besides the point. I wasn't arguing that Smith is superior by virtue of YPC, I was arguing that the differences, whatever they are, aren't significant evidence to claim superiority of one over another.

    Yeah, I agree that if you can't get on the field in meaningful situations you can't prove yourself. I'm just not willing to assume that the reasons for that circumstance don't exist.

  27. Comments: 21383
    Feb 24, 2011 at 3:02 AM

    @ Lankownia 6:44 p.m.

    Sorry, I was referencing my point above about Hopkins having the lowest yards per carry besides Hopkins (behind Shaw, Cox, Toussaint). I guess I didn't make that clear.

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