Detroit’s program is one that has improved year-over-year until a hiccup last season. The Titans had a defective offense for much of the year, and backslid during the senior season of their first recruiting class.
This year’s team aims to reverse that, and although they didn’t manage to knock of Ohio State yesterday, their performance (against a Buckeyes squad that is probably better than last year’s) indicated that they can get back on track and improve for this season.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Ohio State 2013|
|Faceoff Wins||8||Faceoff Wins||18|
|Offensive Efficiency||.250||Offensive Efficiency||.311|
This game had a nice pace to it (although we din’t know yet how the clock rules will affect national averages there, so take it for what it’s worth at this point). Although neither team had a super-efficient offensive output, it was a high-scoring contest. Ohio State dominated that possession, approaching 60% of the ball.
The ride/clear game was relatively even (and it’s always a question mark indoors), and the faceoff dot – and the Buckeyes finishing their possessions with goals – explains away the difference. A host of Titans tried their hand and didn’t see much success. Had teams accomplished even possession, the efficiency margins would have had it about a 12-10ish game.
This was a tale of two halves, really. In the first, UDM was absolutely destroyed on possession, but made up for it by being the far more efficient team. They had 16 possessions and scored 6 goals (.375 efficiency), while OSU had six goals on 25 possessions (.240 efficiency). After the break, possessions were a little more even, 16-20 in favor of Ohio State, but the Buckeyes kicked both offense (.400 efficiency) and defense (.125 Titan offensive efficiency) into gear.
Without being able to watch the game, it’s tough to say exactly what was behind that difference. Were the Buckeyes simply a better team all along, and their depth and talent took over in the second half? Did Detroit run out of offense and get tired on D (a result of that possession deficit and some penalties)? Surely, it’s a combination of all the above.
The possession game will continue to be a theme for UDM until they’re not a low-end team in that metric. Five different Titans took draws, and all of them struggled. While Jordans Yono and Houtby may have been by design to play D and not give up the break, last year’s specialists both finished poorly. Damien Hicks actually had a 3/5 day, so the redshirt freshman could be a bright spot for the Titans. OSU and UDM both had three “Team” faceoffs, which I think is a statistician’s error, though I could be wrong.
Sophomore midfielder Mike Birney was the offensive star for the Titans, putting in three goals. That’s as many as he had all last year, so either he’s ready to step up as another offensive option, or Ohio State was defending in a way that made it easy for a midfielder to put three goals on four shots.
Shayne Adams and Alex Maini, on the other hand, are known quantities, and they lived up to expectations. Two goals and an assist apiece for the duo, and Adams added a caused turnover/GB. Maini did commit three turnovers, so there’s definitely an area of improvement for the attackman. Freshman attack Ryan Callaghan contributed two assists in a non-starting appearance, so he could be one to watch as the year goes on.
On defense, this was not the Detroit defense we’ve come to expect. Only eight caused turnovers on 45 Buckeye possessions (including only one apiece from Jordan Houtby an Jamie Hebden, with the former also taking faceoffs) isn’t what we’ve seen in the past. Was it a good performance from Ohio State, or a change in philosophy from the Titans’ defense?
One thing the defense is definitely doing is giving up a lot of shots – A.J. Levell faced 31 and saved 17 – which you might not expect, given that the stats don’t seem to indicate they were taking defensive risks to create turnovers. Based on the stats, the Columbus native performed well in his hometown.
Of course, when the opposing team has Logan Schuss, maybe you just aren’t going to stop them for too long, no matter what you do. He scored seven goals (albeit on 17 shots(!)), and added three assists for a double-digit point day. Fellow attackman Carter Brown had a six-point day, and midfielder Jesse King had three goals. This is a talented Ohio State unit, but there’s still an idea of what UDM didn’t do well in game one.
Another couple games of data – albeit without a chance to watch the Titans play live – will give a better indication of what items from this game are attributable to the Titans’ and Buckeyes’ respective teams.
Detroit travels to Annapolis, Maryland Friday to take on Navy. The Midshipmen blasted VMI 20-7 yesterday, and although beating the Keydets is nothing to write home about, it’s also something UDM failed to do in 2012.
Navy was a middling 6-6 team in the first year of the Rick Sowell coaching tenure. It’ll be interesting to see whether they’ve made the strides necessary to return to their historical standards.