Print and Go Back Pac-12 [Print without images]

Thursday, February 12, 2009
Who lost -- or welcomes back -- their top tacklers

By staff

Posted by's Ted Miller

Most every fan knows if his team's starting quarterback -- or leading rusher -- is coming back next season.

Some, of course, know the name of every returning starter. And some have even memorized the two-deep depth chart. Or three.

For most fans, however, defense often becomes a nameless blob of "10 starters back ... yippee!" Or "just three guys back? Yikes!"

(Oregon State fans upon finding out they only have three defensive starters back merely write 15,000-word essays about why this doesn't matter, based on a complicated series of mathematical equations and coordinator Mark Banker's ability to teach his players to breathe through their eyelids).

So I went through each team to figure out how many of the top-four tacklers from last season are coming back in 2009.

Production matters. 

Some of these surprised me (my suspicion that UCLA will improve significantly next season got another boost).

Arizona: Lost three of top four

Arizona State: Lost two of top four

California: Lost two of top four

Oregon: Lost two of top four

Oregon State: Lost three of top five (tie for fourth-leading tackler)

Stanford: Lost two of top four

UCLA: Lost one of top four

USC: Lost four of top four

Washington: Lost zero of top four

Washington State: Lost one of top four