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Returning production and the SEC

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Missouri’s in a pretty good spot.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Missouri
Paul Adams will be ushering defenders through the backfield for one of the most experienced lines in the league in 2018.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve talked here before about returning vs. rebuilding from a position of strength vs. a position of weakness.

Good teams that return a lot from the year before are usually good again. Bad teams that return a lot, it’s more of an iffy proposition.

Bad teams that return a little from the year before, well, that can go one of two ways: cratering even more or cleaning house and starting to trend up. Good teams that return a little tend to take a step back.

Missouri’s getting the best of both worlds heading into 2018. The Tigers were a good team last year, finishing at 7-6. And they’re returning more than most of their conference mates, pretty much all across the board.

We looked at the starts and offensive and defensive production from all 14 SEC teams last year, then paired it up with the latest versions of their rosters from this season to see how much everybody is returning. Then we split it up by Overall, SEC East/West and bowl teams/non-bowl teams.

Long story short, Missouri’s looking pretty good. Long story long, keep reading:

Quarterbacks

Missouri (% Returning)

Starts — 100
East Avg. — 75.3
Bowl Avg. — 77.7

Attempts — 100
East Avg. — 77.7
Bowl Avg. — 80.8

Completions — 100
East Avg. — 77.9
Bowl Avg. — 80.7

Yards — 100
East Avg. — 79.8
Bowl Avg. — 80.9

TD — 100
East Avg. — 88.2
Bowl Avg. — 86.6

Yes, Missouri is in good hands with Drew Lock. The Tigers are one of 10 teams across the league to return their main starter from last year and one of only three — along with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt — to return all of its passes.

Skill Positions

Missouri (% Returning)

Starts — 56.9
East Avg. — 58.7
Bowl Avg. — 57.0

Rushes — 60.9
East Avg. — 62.1
Bowl Avg. — 63.3

Yards — 57.5
East Avg. — 57.3
Bowl Avg. — 61.9

Rush TD — 62.5
East Avg. — 53.5
Bowl Avg. — 56.0

Catches — 57.9
East Avg. — 59.1
Bowl Avg. — 62.1

Yards — 60.9
East Avg. — 60.7
Bowl Avg. — 60.6

Catch TD — 65.9
East Avg. — 63.2
Bowl Avg. — 63.2

Touches — 59.9
East Avg. — 61.2
Bowl Avg. — 62.9

Yards — 59.6
East Avg. — 59.2
Bowl Avg. — 61.2

Total TD — 65.0
East Avg. — 58.3
Bowl Avg. — 59.2

Missouri is hovering more around the average marks in these marks, even dipping below a little bit. Losing a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver will do that to you. But the Tigers also have a (hopefully) healthy Damarea Crockett to look forward to and a whole year of Emanuel Hall. So it’s not that bad, really. Mississippi State and South Carolina are both returning about 90 percent of their offense, while LSU is only returning about 20 percent of its.

Offensive Line/Offense Starts

Missouri (% Returning)

OL Starts — 93.8
East Avg. — 79.1
Bowl Avg. — 71.7

Offense Starts — 77.6
East Avg. — 69.5
Bowl Avg. — 65.6

Yes, that Paul Adams-Trystan Castillo-Yasir Durant-Kevin Pendleton-Tre’Vour Simms barbershop quintet will be experienced and formidable this year. And, overall, the Tigers return about 18 percent more starts across the offense than the bowl-team average. Floridaand Vanderbilt return all of their line starts, and Texas A&M returns all but one (98.5 percent). Only Florida (90.9), Arkansas and Mississippi State (81.8) return more offensive starts than the Tigers.

Defense

Missouri (% Returning)

Starts — 54.5
East Avg. — 54.5
Bowl Avg. — 53.9

Tackles — 60.5
East Avg. — 61.7
Bowl Avg. — 64.7

TFL — 65.5
East Avg. — 66.0
Bowl Avg. — 66.3

Sacks — 63.6
East Avg. — 68.7
Bowl Avg. — 64.9

INT — 50.0
East Avg. — 60.0
Bowl Avg. — 56.0

PBU — 59.5
East Avg. — 53.4
Bowl Avg. — 54.5

Fumbles Forced — 50.0
East Avg. — 59.7
Bowl Avg. — 63.0

Fumbles Recovered — 60.0
East Avg. — 63.3
Bowl Avg. — 70.5

This is not counting Kaleb Prewett, since he wasn’t on the Tigers’ spring roster. And who knows what the deal is with him, amiright youguys?!?!!

Anyway, Missouri comes down on the bad side of the ledger in every category here except passes broken up. They’re right on with number of starts returning, but lack returning production in just about everything else. But, as we were talking about at the top...maybe that doesn’t have to be a bad thing? Maybe the Tigers can be one of those teams that builds from a relatively weak position (83rd in the nation in total defense) and changes enough to make a positive difference?

Here are all the numbers, if you wanted to dig in: