"How Big Is The Big Ten?" - Position Analysis - Defense

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on August 10th, 2012 at 9:39 AM




This is yet another portion of the series “How Big Is The Big Ten?”

This time, we shall take a look at how average heights and weights stack up at various position groups on the defensive side of the ball. I have made a few minor formatting changes at the suggestion of some MGoUsers here – I have listed the heights in feet and inches rather than just inches, and I have added a column next to Michigan’s which shows the averages of all other Big Ten teams and compares it to Michigan.



You will note that this is simply broken down into five groups – DE, DT, LB, CB and S. The reason for this is that not every two-deep I could find (and I did search for updates since it has been a couple weeks), makes the distinctions to which we might be accustomed when describing the defense, such as SDE, WDE, MLB, WLB, FS, SS, and so forth (whatever nomenclature you prefer). Further, I did not want to wager guesses in those cases (although for some teams I would have a fairly good idea) and risk presenting something inaccurate. 

The hope was to create a composite of sorts here, actually focusing on that more than I did with the offensive portion of this analysis. I tried to be careful about this, of course, to ensure that it would be descriptive enough even if you wanted to talk about weak side / strong side and the like.

Beyond this, I did not really change any methodology from the offensive portion.



Below are the compiled statistics. The second table illustrates the relative lack of dispersion across position groups by showing both standard and average deviation. Averages for the "Big Ten" column exclude Michigan for purposes of comparison.


Position Michigan BIG TEN MSU Iowa Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern
DE 6-4 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-4 6-4 6-3
DT 6-4 6-3 6-5 6-3 6-3 6-2 6-4
LB 6-2 6-1 6-1 6-2 6-2 6-1 6-2
CB 5-11 5-11 6-0 6-0 5-11 6-1 5-11
S 6-1 6-0 6-0 6-2 6-0 6-1 5-11
Position Michigan BIG TEN MSU Iowa Minnesota Nebraska Northwestern
DE 246 253 261 255 244 263 251
DT 296 291 302 273 289 291 283
LB 227 226 231 214 227 218 227
CB 178 186 180 185 187 198 176
S 199 199 195 195 199 203 198
Position Illinois Indiana Ohio Penn State Purdue Wisconsin
DE 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-3 6-4 6-4
DT 6-3 6-3 6-4 6-3 6-3 6-3
LB 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-1
CB 6-0 6-0 5-11 5-8 5-10 5-11
S 6-3 6-0 6-1 6-0 5-11 6-0
Position Illinois Indiana Ohio Penn State Purdue Wisconsin
DE 240 258 264 252 243 255
DT 280 299 294 301 290 301
LB 222 229 231 231 225 227
CB 190 185 189 185 183 190
S 210 204 200 202 183 206



Looking at these particular statistics, it would appear that, at least physically, we stand up well to the average Big Ten defense in 2012. Indeed, we match the average height at DT and CB and exceed it by an inch in the other groups. For weight, we are lighter at DE and CB on average, slightly heavier at LB and DT and on par at S. Again, different teams recruit and develop for different schemes, and you can definitely see that looking at the individual team statistics here.

One other thing that sticks out is the relative lack of variation across teams, save in a few notable instances. What that says to me – in a way – is something that we may (or at least, I) already assume. The Big Ten is indeed a mature conference, if you will, with a fairly entrenched prevailing philosophy on this side of the ball. That isn’t necessarily profound, but these tables do seem to support that notion.



Although this did not end up being quite as transparent as I wanted it to be because of the widely varied levels of detail between teams, I wanted to share the results with the community for their edification. Hopefully, these analyses are helpful in some way, for they have certainly increased my appreciation for the complexity and the considerations of the modern game.


Michigan Manders

August 11th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

It'd be interesting if someone could do something like this for every BCS team (average every conference) to see how the conferences stack up against one another in terms of height and weight at different positions. Probably very time consuming though.


August 14th, 2012 at 7:17 PM ^

How do our DEs average 246 when all of the DEs in our 2-deep are heavier than that?  What weights did you use?  Same with our LBs.  Our starters average about 240 - what back ups did you use to get to 227?


August 15th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

This might be the product of having what is now a 2 MB monster spreadsheet of Big Ten roster day, but it was my oversight all the same - I forgot to update the fall weights for a few position groups via MGoBlue.com, and I apologize for that. DEs in the most recent two-deep that I was able to put together would put the DEs at an average of 268, so a substantial jump. LBs would jump to 232 lbs. For LBs, at the time of writing this, I found myself agreeing with HTTV actually, so I went with Morgan, Demens, and Ryan as starters, with Gordon, Bolden and Hawthorne as backups (again, I put it together before the 10th, when I posted this).

Apologies for any inaccuracies.