Stat crunch: Big 12 returning tackles
What Max unearthed was that Texas (by far) leads the Big 12 in career starts returning, both offensively and defensively. TCU’s defense ranked second behind the Longhorns’ defense, while the Iowa State offense placed second. The Horned Frogs could have their most dominant defense yet in the Big 12, and the Cyclones could feature their best offensive attack in years, suggesting both teams could also be in for bounce-back 2014 campaigns.
Yet while revealing, compiling returning starts doesn’t tell the entire story when examining team experience, since the equation doesn’t account for those who played key roles as reserves. TCU safety Derrick Kindred, Texas Tech linebacker Micah Awe and Baylor end Shawn Oakman weren’t starters last year. But they were still valuable players on their respective teams.
To examine returning experience in another way, I’ve tallied up the percentage of tackles returning for every team in the Big 12:
The percentage of tackles returning for every Big 12 team from last season:
|Rank||Team||% of tackles returning|
On the flip side, Oklahoma State is at the cellar of this list, and not just because it graduated seven starters. The Cowboys also lost several defensive reserves that played a bunch, including linebacker Joe Mitchell, cornerback Tyler Patmon and safety Zack Craig.
Of course, like with returning starts, a high level of returning tackles doesn’t guarantee success. And it doesn’t necessarily preclude it, either.
Oklahoma ranked 119th nationally in returning tackles (40 percent) last season. But by the end of the season, the Sooners were wreaking havoc in the backfield of the two-time defending national champs.
The tackle equation can be an indicator of the defenses that might be formidable. Oklahoma State and Baylor both had 73 percent of their tackles returning from 2012 going into last season. Both wound up being formidable, ranking first and second in the league in both fewest yards per play and points per drive.
That bodes well for the defensive prospects of Oklahoma, Kansas, TCU, Texas and West Virginia, which all have like tackle rates coming back for 2014.
Big 12, Oklahoma Sooners, Jordan Phillips, Geneo Grissom, Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs, Baylor Bears, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Jordan Evans, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kansas State Wildcats, West Virginia Mountaineers, Shawn Oakman, Zack Craig, Derrick Kindred, Joe Mitchell, Tyler Patmon
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