The linebacker is typically both strong and fast. They play a hybrid role and are the most versatile players on the defensive teams. At any time there are usually 3-4 of them on the field. The middle linebacker is frequently the “quarterback of the defense”. Based on his positioning, he has the best ability to call the play and instruct the defense into specific formations and plays. Their job is to shadow the running backs (RB), tight ends (TE), and sometimes the wide receivers (WR). Rushing the quarterback with the intention of tackling him (a sack) or interfering with him throwing the ball, and tackling ball carriers are things that linebackers do.
In Upland, the linebacker’s primary statistics are as follows:
- Yards allowed – This is a team statistic, and not an individual one. Yards allowed is the net sum of all the yards that the opposing teams offense gained against the defense. The average for this statistic is approximately 350 yards/game. To put this into context, the football field is 100 yards long.
- Forced turnovers – A forced turnover can be either an interception or a forced fumble. An interception is when the opposing quarterback throws the ball to one of his receivers and the defensive player, in this case the linebacker catches it instead. A forced fumble occurs when an offensive player who has complete possession of the football is stripped of the football by the defensive player, and the ball comes in possession of the defensive team.
- Tackles – The number of times the player tackled the ball carrier to the ground, thus ending the play. This statistic is broken down further to solo tackles and assisted tackles.
- Sacks – This is the number of times the player was able to tackle the quarterback. In addition to the offense having an unsuccessful play and the loss of a down, this typically results in loss of yards for the offensive team. This means that if the offense started the play on a first down, they have 4 opportunities to move the ball 10 yards. With a sack, it is the offense could find themselves having 3 down left but have to move the ball 15 yards.