Time is a flat circle, dear readers.
And, if you don’t believe in reincarnation, I submit to you a counterexample. The strange case of Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer. And Terez Hall and Cale Garrett.
Back in 2014, Brothers was a junior weakside linebacker and Scherer was a sophomore middle linebacker. They combined for 172.5 total tackles by Bill Connelly standards, 234 by the stat book standard (Brothers also had two on special teams against Alabama...but we’re not counting them). That set them up for a 2015 season in which Brothers went mental and the two of them combined for 182.5 total tackles, 245 by the stat book, in two fewer games.
Here we sit in 2017. Hall is a junior weakside linebacker. Garrett is a sophomore middle linebacker. Through 10 games this season, they’ve combined for 115 total tackles, 141 by the stat book. That puts them on pace for 138 tackles, 169 by the stat book in 12 games, 149.5 tackles, 183 by the stat book in 13 games.
Not so bad, right? Pretty comparable, right?
Let’s go a little deeper into the numbers to see how similar Hall/Garrett is to Brothers/Scherer.
In 2014, Scherer played 89 percent of the team’s snaps, and Brothers played 77. In 2015, the defense leaned even more heavily on them, with Scherer playing 97 and Brothers playing 96.
Well, Hall and Garrett don’t play quite that much. Hall has played in 73 percent of the Tigers’ snaps, and Garrett has played in 67. But that’s not because they’ve been pushed by backups. It’s because, with the exception of Kentucky and (kind of) South Carolina, each game this year has been a blowout one way or the other. So lots of snaps for backups.
In 2014, Brothers logged a solo tackle every 12.9 snaps and a total tackle (one for a solo, 0.5 for an assist) every 8.6 snaps. Scherer had a solo every 17.6, a total every 10.9.
In 2015, Brothers’ production increased to a solo every 11.0, a total every 7.1. Scherer held about steady, getting a solo every 17.3 snaps and a total every 11.6.
This year, Garrett has a solo tackle every 10.7 snaps, total every 8.4, and Hall has a solo every 13.0 and a total every 9.9.
So Garrett is right up there with Brothers’ 2015 per-snap production, and Hall is better than either of Scherer’s two years.
In 2014, Brothers (12.1) and Scherer (10.3) combined for 22.4 percent of the team’s total tackles and 23.5 percent of the total ones.
In 2015, those numbers increased to 26.5 and 28.7.
Garrett and Hall are a little behind in that department, combining for 20.5 percent of the team’s solo tackles and 21.2 of the total ones.
Here’s an interesting stat: Garrett’s tackles come an average of 3.71 yards from the line of scrimmage, Hall’s come an average of 3.76 yards away. That’s a combined average of 3.73, which is considerably better than the 5.69-yard per-play average that the defense is allowing this year.
So, on average, Garrett and Hall are making tackles 34 percent closer to the line of scrimmage than the rest of the Tigers’ defense. That’s pretty good.
Certainly better than the numbers Brothers and Scherer put up. In 2014, they combined for 4.51 average scrimmage yards on a team that gave up 4.82 yards a play, or 6.4 percent better. In 2015, they combined for 4.36 average scrimmage yards on a defense that gave up 4.32 yards a play, or less than one percent worse.
So, while Garrett and Hall’s tackles come less frequently, they are abnormally impactful on this defense: 14.8 percent of their tackles this year have gone for a loss, better than 2015 (11.5 percent) and 2014 (4.9).
This year, Hall and Garrett have combined for two picks, two passes broken up, two QB hurries and a fumble recovery. That’s a disruptive play once every 149.9 snaps.
In 2014, Brothers and Scherer combined for five passes broken up, four QB hurries, two fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles, or a disruptive play every 111.5 snaps.
In 2015, they combined for two interceptions, four passes broken up, three QB hurries, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble, or a disruptive play every 134.7 snaps.
In 2014, Brothers and Scherer played well on a good defense. In 2015, Brothers played insanely well and Scherer played well on a great defense.
This year, Hall and Garrett are both playing well on a bad defense. So could that be a springboard to playing well (or insanely well?) on a better defense in 2018?
They are on the Brothers/Scherer career track, after all.
Check below for some more involved numbers...