Alabama vs. Michigan 2012 – A Roster Comparison

Alabama vs. Michigan 2012 – A Roster Comparison

Submitted by Sextus Empiricus on June 17th, 2012 at 11:20 PM


This diary takes a look at the spring roster data currently available from the schools’ home sites, Rivals recruiting profiles from 2008 to the present and depth charts from bloggers like you.  I mash these up to share some data hopefully in an interesting way.

First the disclaimers… this is down and dirty.  Like most of you there isn’t a ton of time to do this sort of thing.  The data is broadly categorical and prone to errors on my part.   The depth charts are just for comparison purposes and don’t mean much.  The 1s look pretty solid to me though for both teams.  Enough said… let’s do this…

Every team comes from the crucible of recruits who are signed and walk-ons who show up in the present and previous 5-6 years.  Here is a table of the recruiting classes from Rivals for both schools.


Alabama averages 26.6, Michigan 23.6 . You can’t talk about this game without this elephant in the room.  The way Alabama does football is different.  This has been discussed openly here (long may Meechigan Dan run) , in the WSJ… and by everyone including recently the local media in Alabama but not by Saban (not openly) or the University of ******* (name redacted to protect it’s privacy.)

Here is a table of the players who are on the roster now by class…


Not quite accurate perhaps… one of the class of 2008 took a greyshirt and is currently a RS Sophomore.  There are 4 JUCO players on the Alabama roster – 2 of whom will start on the defensive line in September.  The other two are on the 2s but will probably see time.  One them was a member of the 2010 class but was shunted to a JUCO for roster  school work.  Suffice to say the charts above look relatively matched by class especially with the JUCO/Greyshirt disclaimer with respect to this years roster at least on the face of it.

College football is never the same at any school. Teams follow the rules of the NCAA (supposedly), their conference and their school. Northwestern is more severe on admissions than most all if not all B1G teams. Service academies have JV squads that follow different rules. BYU and other schools send athletes on 2 year missions…CFB is complex, varied and… freaking pretty great all together.  So let’s not cry about the insanity that is Oversigning or discuss it further.  There are better places for that.

In fact oversigning is only significant when the players who show up are good to begin with. How good are the players from each school?

Here’s the Rivals ratings of Alabama and Michigan for the crucible classes of 2008 up to and including 2012 class by school…including the current walk-ons.

The green diamonds are mean diamonds.  When they don’t overlap in general the populations are demonstrably different.  These do overlap.


Here’s the same analysis but just for the current roster plus 2012 class.


Note that Alabama will have 119 players (noted as observations in the lower right corner above).  Some people will not be invited to Fall camp.  Hmmm… that happens to the best of teams.  Note also the crucible dataset is better than the actual roster.  It hurts to lose people to the NFL – early or otherwise.

Let’s break this down by position.


I don’t have time or inclination to make this pretty. Notice the Defense is on average more highly rated for Michigan – but not at safety – which is a key position for Alabama and any team.

The “Adjusted” tick mark is to signify the positions have been normalized. How I did that is not worthy of discussion but suffice to say it wasn’t categorically fun  – but I wanted to compare them head to head and it’s adequate IMO for this purpose.

Here’s a similar breakdown by body mass index (BMI) and straight weight.

BMI works for positional analysis and can yield interesting insight IMO.  I did a diary last year that showed JR Hemmingway’s outlierish BMI.  I seem to recall him pawning a few DBs on underthrown balls last year with said BMI.  I’m going to say this just to get pissy comments… BMI even points to fitness wrt football.  If you don’t think that is true then bring it on.  There are few coaches in the game that don’t give a player a target weight to train toward.  BMI points to stockiness good and bad and possible leverage advantages.  It also kills more NFL players in retirement than PCS.

But I digress… back to the charty things….


Kenny Demens is the lone max outlier point at LB for either team.  We are thin there and everywhere (pun intended.)

Here are the weight comparisons with the exact same analysis.


Our defensive ends, safeties and backers are statistically different (especially without Demens.)  Bama’s safeties are tightly packed by weight.  Most of this has to do with my normalization of position I think. I would have to look at this more closely.

The biggest complaint with this analysis (and yes I know there are many) is that it’s 11 on 11 not 119 on 102.  Let’s look at depth chart’s and do a little more charting.

Here’s what I will use…

Alabama Offense Michigan Offense
Position First Second Third Pos First Second Third
QB AJ McCarron Phillip Ely Blake Sims QB D. Robinson D. Gardner R. Bellomy
TB Eddie Lacy Jalston Fowler T.J. Yeldon TB F. Toussaint V. Smith T. Rawls
X Kevin Norwood Amari Cooper Marvin Shinn X R. Roundtree D. Gardner J. Robinson
Y Kenny Bell Chris Black Blake Sims Y D. Dileo R. Miller J. Hayes
Z Christion Jones DeAndrew White Danny Woodson, Jr. Z J. Gallon J. Jackson A. Darboh
HB Brian Vogler Harrison Jones Brent Calloway HB S. Hopkins J. Kerridge D. Funchess
TE Michael Williams Malcolm Faciane Brian Vogler TE B. Moore A.J. Williams C. Eddins
LT Cyrus Kouandjio Barrett Jones Kellen Williams LT T. Lewan K. Kalis E. Gunderson
LG Chance Warmack Chad Lindsay Isaac Luatua LG E. Mealer C. Bryant J. Burzynski
C Barrett Jones Ryan Kelly Chad Lindsay C R. Barnum J. Miller E. Mealer
RG Anthony Steen Isaac Luatua Austin Shepherd RG P. Omameh C. Bryant G. Glasgow
RT D.J. Fluker Austin Shepherd Barrett Jones RT M. Schofield K. Kalis B. Braden
Michigan Defense Alabama Defense
Pos First Second Third Position First Second Third
SS J. Kovacs M. Robinson T. Carter SS Vinnie Sunseri Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix Jarrick Williams
FS T. Gordon J. Furman J. Wilson FS Robert Lester Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix Nick Perry
CB1 B. Countess C. Avery D. Hollowell CB1 John Fulton Bradley Sylve Travell Dixon
WLB D. Morgan B. Hawthorne J. Ross WLB C.J. Mosley Tana Patrick Dillon Lee
CB2 J. Floyd R. Taylor T. Talbott CB2 DeMarcus Milliner Deion Belue Jabriel Washington
WDE F. Clark B. Beyer M. Ojemudia WDE Xzavier Dickson Adrian Hubbard Ryan Anderson
DT J. Black Q. Washington K. Wilkins DT Quinton Dial Jeoffrey Pagan LaMichael Fanning
MLB K. Demens J. Bolden M. Jones MLB Nico Johnson Trey DePriest Dillon Lee
NT W. Campbell R. Ash O. Pipkins NT Jesse Williams Brandon Ivory Jeoffrey Pagan
SLB J. Ryan C. Gordon K. Ringer SLB Adrian Hubbard Dillon Lee Jonathan Atchison
SDE C. Roh N. Brink K. Heitzman SDE Damion Square Ed Stinson D.J. Pettway
Alabama Special Teams Michigan Special Teams
Position First Second Third Pos First Second Third
P Cody Mandell     P W. Hagerup M. Wile  
K Jeremy Shelley Cade Foster   K B. Gibbons M. Wile  
        KO M. Wile    
PR Christion Jones Dee Hart Deion Belue PR J. Gallon B. Countess  
KR Christion Jones Dee Milliner Deion Belue KR J. Hayes T. Rawls  
LS J. Glanda    
H D. Dileo J. Gallon  

I followed the HB convention for Alabama and XYZ nomenclature subbing in FB and WR1, Slot and WR2 for Michigan with plenty of fudge. I used common Michigan terms on defense.  It is what it is.  I said I wasn’t going to get into the normalization of positions and I did… back to charts.

This is worse case for Michigan (barring injury - not to tempt the fates) and best case for Alabama.  I don’t see any of the non EEs playing for the Tide from the 2012 class.  I do see a strong possibility that some 2012 non EEs play for Michigan (though not well enough to start the first game – there is too much to learn.  Glasgow will play when Mich goes up by 30 in the final five minutes of the game.)  This is just to separate out the players from the scout team for comparison purposes anyway.

Let’s get back to charts looking only at the players on the depth charts above. These are pretty busy…zoom your screens.  I’m to lazy to break out the sides.




OK… I’m surprised more diaries don’t end like this.  My wife just told me to get to bed.  I must obey.

I can say a few things here but really it’s the data I want to share – not so much my opinion.  But let me say this… so far not much new here. :-|

I have a ton more comparisons here as well as a novel way of looking at walk-on talent (nothing sexy but I think it’s interesting.)  I hope you guys can make this out and that there aren’t too many errors in my data.

I will throw up other charts looking at the roster, rivals DB and depth charts at a later date if time allows.

Before I sign off though… let me leave you with 3 points as to why Saban is God’s gift to coaching.   You can’t argue with these…

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He’s the smartest guy in the room if you listen to the talking heads and hangers on. I can’t stand SEC hubris.  Here are some counterpoints.

  1. Saban has been beat before.
  2. Saban isn’t going to play on the field in Texas.
  3. I sure would like Hoke to hold one of these someday…if only there was a team and a schedule that could make that happen…

After looking at the teams and where they are at…I don’t think we are 10 points worse than Alabama.  I say we win this game.  If I could prove that then CFB wouldn’t be worth watching.

I must go.  If I must… then I choose to Go Blue!

Edit: I screwed the pooch on the formatting - fixing a data error for Hasean - a five could I miss that?