Ranking Defensive Lines (Fun Stat Nerd Tidbit: Boise State)

UPDATE: Sample Sizes And The Boise State Broncos is now up at the mothership.

The strength of the 2010 defense was undoubtedly the line. Starting at midseason, when I began to realize how good this defense might be, I began rooting for them to get a chance at Auburn; it didn't happen, of course (and in the game they lost, they were certainly manhandled late, albeit by a Top 10 Nevada line and running game), and since they only got to play a banged-up Utah offense in the bowl game, I am left to just theorize about how good they might have been. But the numbers -- both advanced defensive stats and pure size numbers (most of their ends are over 250 pounds, most of their tackles over 295) -- are certainly on Boise's side here.

Ten different linemen registered at least two tackles for loss, and eight return this fall, led by a pair of outstanding, and identically productive, ends: Shea McClellin (22.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL/sacks, 1 INT) and Tyrone Crawford (22.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL/sacks, 1 PBU). But it is at tackle where Boise shines. A four-headed monster of Billy Winn (19.5 tackles, 9.5 TFL/sacks), Chase Baker (19.0 tackles, 6.5 TFL/sacks), Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (17.5 tackles, 6.5 TFL/sacks) and Mike Atkinson (7.0 tackles, 2.5 TFL/sacks in four games) returns to manhandle the interior of mid-major and major conference lines alike. The squatty (6-foot-0, 312 pounds!) Atkinson is perhaps the best of the bunch, but he was suspended for the last nine games of the season for disciplinary reasons. This is a great line either way, but it could be even better if he keeps his head on straight. If Georgia fans are looking for something over which to wring their hands about their season opener against Boise State, this is it. The 'Dawgs could do alright against a Boise offense working in some new pieces, but their thin offensive line could get blown up.

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Now that we've ranked offensive lines, it's time to flip to defense. Today's a good day for it since, well, Boise State's defensive line was rather incredible last year. Our natural tendency is to talk down mid-major lines -- surely they're not big enough or athletic enough. But as I mention in today's Boise State profile, Boise State's line was big (ends over 250, tackles over 295) and incredibly deep. Ten players registered at least two tackles for loss (eight return in 2011), and the Broncos finished in the Top 5 in both Adj. Sack Rates and Adj. Line Yards. It is difficult to prove yourself to any major degree when taking on a mostly weak schedule. But if you completely dominate that schedule, you still prove something. Boise State completely dominated.

What you find below are three measures: Standard Downs Adj. Sack Rate, Passing Downs Adj. Sack Rate and Adj. Line Yards. To rank lines, we're going to more heavily rank the standard downs sack numbers (since blitzing linebackers are more likely to get involved on passing downs), then combine it with the run numbers, 50/50.

Let's get to it!

Defense Standard
Downs
Adj. Sk Rt
Rk Passing
Downs
Adj. Sk Rt
Rk Adj.
Line
Yards
Rk DL+ Rk
Miami 260.1 1 100.6 55 115.6 14 319.8 1
Boise State 200.2 3 160.2 4 123.5 5 307.8 2
Oregon State 202.9 2 119.1 36 98.3 68 270.9 3
Utah 166.3 5 98.8 60 126.6 3 268.2 4
South Carolina 162.8 6 113.2 42 121.4 7 265.4 5
N.C. State 159.9 9 141.3 12 108.7 31 260.2 6
Ohio State 161.2 7 87.9 74 120.5 8 255.2 7
SMU 181.2 4 101.2 52 100.3 55 252.7 8
West Virginia 119.9 35 174.1 1 114.3 17 250.3 9
Fresno State 154.6 10 146.0 9 97.9 69 247.6 10
Florida State 146.7 13 155.0 7 97.6 70 245.0 11
Texas 125.7 29 155.1 6 110.7 27 244.1 12
Notre Dame 154.6 11 88.9 72 111.5 25 242.2 13
Arizona 121.0 34 130.3 21 119.6 11 241.8 14
Purdue 125.1 32 142.7 10 111.5 24 240.5 15
Virginia Tech 143.7 15 132.2 19 102.5 48 240.4 16
Arkansas 135.6 18 134.4 17 107.1 34 240.3 17
Pittsburgh 150.4 12 119.1 35 101.4 51 239.4 18
Missouri 160.4 8 118.3 37 94.7 81 239.1 19
Kent State 100.1 57 131.3 20 129.5 1 238.1 20
Oklahoma 113.2 40 138.1 15 113.1 18 232.7 21
TCU 126.6 27 115.1 40 109.3 30 230.2 22
Alabama 126.5 28 101.0 53 112.1 22 228.3 23
Southern Miss 98.4 60 127.6 25 119.8 9 226.1 24
Washington 137.8 17 84.8 80 106.5 36 224.7 25
California 107.5 46 163.3 3 100.5 54 224.7 26
Ole Miss 115.9 37 115.9 39 110.5 28 224.6 27
Nebraska 141.0 16 109.4 50 96.0 74 224.6 28
Miami (Ohio)
113.4 39 112.5 44 112.3 20 223.6 29
Texas A&M 95.1 63 119.7 34 119.8 10 221.3 30
Troy 130.1 23 140.7 14 88.2 105 219.9 31
BYU 109.2 44 98.2 61 115.9 13 219.7 32
Louisville 126.7 26 126.2 27 94.2 83 218.9 33
Mississippi State 83.5 79 125.9 28 122.9 6 218.8 34
Tulsa 144.0 14 93.3 65 93.4 85 218.6 35
Illinois 86.8 76 135.2 16 117.1 12 218.3 36
Auburn 105.3 49 110.9 47 112.2 21 217.6 37
LSU 92.0 68 170.6 2 100.0 58 216.5 38
Clemson 95.2 62 113.8 41 115.2 16 214.9 39
South Florida 131.8 21 75.9 90 102.5 47 214.0 40
Georgia 106.2 47 102.1 51 109.5 29 212.6 41
Washington State 132.4 20 92.5 66 93.0 87 210.4 42
Texas Tech 121.0 33 68.6 96 107.6 33 209.5 43
Stanford 100.0 58 126.9 26 100.8 53 208.1 44
UCLA 127.6 25 100.2 57 90.2 96 206.9 45
Arizona State 80.5 90 88.9 71 124.7 4 206.4 46
Tennessee 127.7 24 62.7 107 101.9 49 206.2 47
Marshall 91.1 69 130.0 22 103.7 42 206.1 48
Temple 130.4 22 87.4 75 91.7 91 206.0 49
Oregon 92.1 67 100.8 54 112.5 19 205.9 50

Full list after the jump.

Defense Standard
Downs
Adj. Sk Rt
Rk Passing
Downs
Adj. Sk Rt
Rk Adj.
Line
Yards
Rk DL+ Rk
Idaho 125.5 30 91.0 68 91.9 90 204.2 51
Hawaii 97.5 61 111.3 46 103.1 45 203.5 52
Western Michigan 89.4 74 150.9 8 94.9 80 203.1 53
Central Florida 78.1 93 141.1 13 105.4 37 202.8 54
Colorado 82.5 82 128.5 24 106.6 35 202.8 55
Florida International 103.0 51 121.1 32 95.3 79 202.7 56
UAB 132.8 19 66.4 101 93.3 86 202.3 57
Middle Tennessee 108.2 45 116.1 38 91.7 92 200.8 58
Arkansas State 105.2 50 129.1 23 89.1 102 200.6 59
San Diego State 102.6 52 88.0 73 104.4 40 200.5 60
Tulane 125.5 31 99.2 58 84.8 113 199.9 61
North Carolina 105.7 48 89.9 70 99.9 60 198.7 62
Nevada 101.5 53 98.8 59 98.8 64 197.9 63
Florida 110.5 43 61.6 108 103.7 41 196.3 64
Wisconsin 80.6 89 123.4 30 102.8 46 196.1 65
Maryland 89.3 75 94.8 63 105.3 38 194.9 66
Colorado State 80.6 88 157.7 5 89.8 97 194.5 67
Florida Atlantic 111.2 42 85.7 78 92.7 89 193.9 68
Boston College 57.8 109 79.6 86 129.5 2 193.1 69
Army 113.7 38 83.0 82 91.2 93 193.0 70
USC 100.7 55 85.8 77 98.8 65 193.0 71
Michigan 112.3 41 57.7 113 100.2 56 192.7 72
Toledo 116.2 36 81.5 83 89.1 101 192.2 73
Rutgers 81.9 84 68.0 99 115.4 15 191.2 74
Northern Illinois 93.0 65 96.2 62 98.6 67 191.1 75
Cincinnati 57.8 108 124.9 29 111.6 23 190.3 76
Syracuse 92.4 66 86.6 76 100.1 57 189.0 77
UL-Monroe 100.1 56 78.4 87 96.3 72 187.7 78
Baylor 98.5 59 70.1 95 98.7 66 186.2 79
Vanderbilt 83.9 78 85.4 79 103.2 44 186.1 80
Houston 78.6 91 113.1 43 96.8 71 185.4 81
Wyoming 82.1 83 141.7 11 84.5 114 185.0 82
Iowa 70.8 98 91.0 69 108.5 32 184.6 83
Michigan State 91.1 70 71.2 93 101.6 50 184.6 84
Penn State 81.5 85 80.6 85 104.7 39 184.5 85
Wake Forest 101.5 54 65.9 102 96.3 73 184.4 86
Oklahoma State 86.3 77 71.2 93 101.3 52 181.2 87
Virginia 83.3 80 109.6 49 89.2 99 179.8 88
Central Michigan 90.5 71 77.4 88 90.7 94 175.4 89
Indiana 81.0 86 65.5 103 99.1 62 173.6 90
Louisiana Tech 94.6 64 73.9 91 86.5 110 172.8 91
Georgia Tech 82.8 81 60.2 111 95.8 77 169.7 92
Buffalo 78.6 92 68.3 97 95.9 76 169.7 93
Ohio 81.0 87 94.4 64 85.3 112 169.4 94
Kansas State 89.9 73 60.9 109 89.2 100 168.0 95
San Jose State 55.3 111 133.9 18 87.2 107 167.4 96
Memphis 36.7 117 122.4 31 103.4 43 167.3 97
Akron 90.3 72 58.9 112 88.2 104 166.8 98
Connecticut 50.8 114 100.6 56 98.9 63 165.0 99
North Texas 77.8 94 80.7 84 85.4 111 162.9 100
UL-Lafayette 59.7 106 83.0 81 95.9 75 162.1 101
Minnesota 60.5 104 31.8 120 111.0 26 160.7 102
Bowling Green 75.0 97 92.1 67 80.7 118 160.1 103
Navy 46.2 116 120.6 33 88.8 103 158.5 104
Kentucky 34.1 119 110.9 48 99.4 61 157.9 105
East Carolina 59.0 107 67.8 100 95.8 78 156.5 106
Rice 53.7 112 65.2 104 99.9 59 156.3 107
Kansas 62.5 102 76.4 89 89.6 98 155.5 108
Air Force 75.2 96 56.2 115 87.6 106 155.2 109
Iowa State 67.1 100 56.1 116 92.8 88 155.1 110
Northwestern 57.5 110 68.3 98 94.6 82 154.5 111
New Mexico 50.1 115 112.0 45 81.6 116 151.1 112
UNLV 66.6 101 64.9 105 81.3 117 146.2 113
Western Kentucky 53.1 113 60.7 110 90.6 95 145.1 114
Utah State 68.0 99 53.4 117 82.6 115 144.6 115
Eastern Michigan 59.9 105 46.7 118 86.5 109 141.0 116
Duke 36.3 118 71.5 92 93.7 84 140.7 117
UTEP 76.4 95 41.8 119 75.9 119 139.6 118
Ball State 61.4 103 64.7 106 75.4 120 136.8 119
New Mexico State 21.2 120 57.6 114 86.6 108 119.1 120

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