What Else is Going on?
Aside from the new clock rules, there are two problems that Michigan football has had this year when it comes to putting up points.
First, Michigan is taking longer to score on drives. The explosive plays may actually be there in part this year, but so are the short gains. Michigan is averaging 6.94 plays per touchdown drive so far this season. Last year, when you account for one 14-play drive at the very end of the Colorado State game, Michigan was averaging just 5.7 plays per touchdown drive.
Michigan is taking longer on drives to score. The main reason for this is that there have been some miscues and negative plays offensively. This adds up over the course of the game and leads to more time coming off the clock and fewer total offensive possessions.
Last year Michigan averaged 12.25 offensive possessions per game through the first four games. This year they’re averaging just 10.
Lastly, the running game for Michigan hasn’t really gotten out of the blocks yet. Last year, the running game was averaging 6.15 yards per attempt in the first four games. This year, it’s averaging just 5 yards per attempt.
The passing game has actually improved slightly (10.21 yards/attempt this year vs. 9.99 yards/attempt last year).
What is Actually to Blame?
In reality, it’s a number of factors most centered around the new college football clock rules. These rules are taking possessions and overall plays away from the offense. Also to blame is the running game not yet being as effective as it was a year ago.
None of these factors are that significant, but neither is Michigan’s perceived lack of offensive success. About 40 points tend to be the turning point from a mediocre offensive showing and a really good one. So far this season Michigan has scored 30 points, 35 points, 31 points, and 31 points.
Seven plays per game, two offensive possessions, or 1 yard per attempt may not seem like much. But neither is falling nine points short of ‘elite’ offensive numbers.