The age-old adage that defense wins championships still holds true today, but elite quarterback play and wide open offenses have certainly been an added wrinkle.
So, which SEC teams return the highest percentage of tackles this season?
College football expert Phil Steele ran the numbers ahead of 2017. Here’s how he computed the numbers:
Today I will look at the % of tackles returning. I took all of the tackles made by the team a year ago and then took all of the returning tackles from 2016 and divided it into that number for the percentage.
The Georgia Bulldogs return 10 defensive starters this season, the most of any SEC team. So, naturally, the Dawgs are going to return the highest percentage of tackles.
Interestingly, Alabama returns just 57.6 percent of its tackles, while LSU is the only SEC team to return less than half. Both teams could have the most talent in the conference. Reigning SEC East champion Florida returns just 57 percent.
However, this could be one positive thing going for the SEC East if its going to have a revival against the powerhouse West. Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee return the three highest percentages this season, with three West teams — Mississippi State, Texas A&M and LSU — returning the least.
Here’s how every SEC team stacks up compared to others around the country:
3. Georgia Bulldogs: 86.6 %
13. Kentucky Wildcats: 77.7 %
23. Tennessee Volunteers: 75 %
34. Auburn Tigers: 71.9 %
64. Ole Miss Rebels: 64.4 %
71. Vanderbilt Commodores: 62.5 %
72. Missouri Tigers: 62 %
79. Arkansas Razorbacks: 59.8 %
81. South Carolina Gamecocks: 59.3 %
91. Alabama Crimson Tide: 57.6 %
94. Florida Gators: 57 %
95. Mississippi State Bulldogs 56.9 %
97. Texas A&M Aggies 56.6 %
120. LSU Tigers: 41.7 %
Source: Saturday Down South