Quantitative Analysis

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

How could we have beaten Tennessee and gotten pummeled by BYU? What's in store for us against Arizona this weekend?

After the BYU game I read comments describing the size of the BYU players compared to our Bruins. I could only listen on the radio and follow the game on BN so I thought I'd do some research. I've churned the numbers and got some interesting results.

I extracted data from team rosters and summarized the data into two tables. Note that I took rosters directly from team websites and did not account for position changes and injuries that have occurred since the rosters were posted. The first table simply shows the average weight of the offensive and defensive lines for UCLA, Tennessee, BYU, and Arizona. I've also included averages and counts for just the upperclassmen to get a rough sense of average weight by experience/probable starters.


BYU has the highest average OL weight at 307 and UCLA is last at 296. BYU's disparity increases significantly when looking just at upperclassmen; BYU's OL upperclassmen average is a whopping 321, while the average is not signficantly different for the other schools.

Interestingly, on the defensive side, UT's DL averages one pound less than UCLA's (258 versus 259) while BYU leads again with a 283 average and still leads when considering just upperclassmen. UA comes in at second with 270. A glaring issue for UCLA is having a mere three OL upperclassmen as compared to 8 and 7 for UT and BYU respectively.

So far, the numbers support the view that BYU's players are bigger than our players. However, additional analysis reveals the magnitude of this disparity. Obviously, offensive lines don't play against each other, they play against defensive lines. So how do the weights of the offensive lines compare against the defensive lines? This shown in the next table.


Starting with UT, UCLA's OL outweighs UT's DL by 38 pounds on average, while UT's OL outweighs UCLA DL by a 43 poound average. UCLA has an average net disadvantage of -5 pounds, which turns into an advantage of +2 pounds when considering just upperclassmen. From a purely physical point of view, I'd call this dead even. However, UT's experience level is better. They have 8 OL upperclassmen versus 3, and 11 DL upperclassmen versus 7. Seems to me the win here was due to a better headcoach/offensive coordinator combination and a little luck. And oh yeah, that Relentless Optimism.

Looking at BYU, their OL outweighs UCLA's DL by 48 (53 for upperclassmen), while UCLA's OL outweighs BYU's DL by a mere 13 pounds. This results in a huge +35 pound net average advantage (or +28 when limited to upperclassmen) over UCLA. Yeah, BYU is BIG. The outcome seems obvious, from a physical point of view. Turnovers during the game only served to make a difficult situation worse.

Looking ahead, the same analysis shows UA with a net +19/+15 average advantage, but we are nearly even with respect to upperclassmen. UA doesn't have as big a weight advantage as BYU, but that advantage is significantly greater than UT's over UCLA. Hopefully, coaching will overcome the physical disadvantage and we can keep it close going into the fourth quarter.

So this analysis seems to correspond with the first couple of games. Obviously this analysis does not account for skill level, conditioning and many other factors, but football is an incredibly physical sport. You need to start with a foundation of athletes with the size to compete. You can't coach size and when we're out-sized, we've got to be better in all other aspects of the game to have a chance. We'd better get recruiting going or we're gonna be referred to "gutty little bruins" again.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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