- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We've taken a look at some offensive milestones and which Big Ten players are likely to reach them in 2013, including 1,000 yards rushing, 1,000 yards receiving and 3,000 yards passing. But what about the defense?
Defensive statistics are a little harder to predict, and there aren't as many readily identifiable milestones. One such marker, though, is 100 tackles. On the one hand, tackle numbers can sometimes be a bit misleading, since one good player on a bad defense can pile up numbers, or a defense can funnel plays to certain areas. But if you've reached 100 tackles, odds are you're a pretty good player.
And unlike the 3K passers or 1K receivers, the Big Ten is flush with returning 100-tackle men. Here's the rundown of players who reached triple digits in stops last season and will look to do it again in 2013:
Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa: 124
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State: 115
James Morris, LB, Iowa: 113
Damien Proby, LB, Northwestern: 112
Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State: 111
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin: 104
All are solid bets to repeat the feat in '13. Here are some other guys to watch for the century mark:
Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa: Could the Hawkeyes really have all three linebackers go over 100 stops? They very nearly did it last year, with Kirksey finishing just five tackles short, and getting back to a bowl game would aid the cause. Then again, Iowa would love to see its defensive line make more plays so the linebackers don't have to clean everything up.
Greg Heban, S, and David Cooper, LB, Indiana: Heban somewhat quietly had a really strong 2012 with 91 stops and should be even better this year. But the Hoosiers would like to see fewer opposing players get to the safety level. If so, Cooper (86) might be the statistical beneficiary.
Glenn Carson and Mike Hull, LB, Penn State: With Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti gone, the Lions will need someone to pick up the slack for two guys that combined for 205 stops last year. Carson registered 85 tackles last year and will be the most experienced member of the linebacker group, while Hull could be the next star at the position.
Ethan Armstrong, LB, Wisconsin: Borland and Mike Taylor formed a dynamic duo the past couple of years at linebacker for the Badgers. Could it now be Borland and Armstrong? The latter had 93 tackles a year ago in his first year starting.
Desmond Morgan, LB, Michigan: After an 81-tackle season a year ago, Morgan will likely start this year at middle linebacker. Someone will have to increase their production while Jake Ryan is out; it could be Morgan or James Ross III.
David Santos, LB, Nebraska: The Huskers replace all three starting linebackers from last year, including 110-tackle guy Will Compton. Perhaps Santos or one of the new starting safeties will lead the way.
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