Sacks and Sacked: No. 1 Mississippi State has SEC's best pass rush
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are not only the nation’s No. 1 ranked team through seven weeks, they also have the SEC’s best pass rush at the midpoint of the season. Mississippi State and Texas A&M are tied for first in the conference with 21 sacks apiece, and Mississippi State has cost its opponents an additional 20 yards of sack yardage compared to the Aggies.
The Bulldogs had three sacks against Auburn and speedy quarterback Nick Marshall in last week’s win over the Tigers, while A&M recorded two sacks for 18 yards in a loss to Ole Miss. Mississippi State also leads the conference in tackles for loss with 45.
Missouri is not far behind at third in the conference with 19 sacks, thanks in large part to the efforts of Shane Ray and Markus Golden (we’ll get to them in a bit). The Tigers have also accumulated the most sack yardage of any SEC defense, moving opponents back a total of 151 yards, an average of close to eight yards per sack. Missouri is second in the conference in tackles for loss, and once again it can thank Ray and Golden for its gaudy defensive numbers.
South Carolina was off last week, so it remains the SEC’s worst pass rushing defense with just six sacks and 21 tackles for loss on the year. No other SEC team has fewer than 10 sacks or 36 tackles for loss. Arkansas is second-worst in both categories at 10 and 36.
|Team||Sacks||Sack Yards||Tackles For Loss|
|T1. Mississippi State||21||129||48|
|T1. Texas A&M||21||109||41|
|T10. Ole Miss||11||73||37|
|14. South Carolina||7||65||21|
The Razorbacks might not have the best pass rush in the SEC, but they’ve got the best protection against the pass rush of any team in the conference. Arkansas is tied with Florida in having allowed just five sacks this year, and the Razorbacks have cost themselves six fewer yards on sacks than the Gators. Arkansas has also allowed the fewest tackles for loss with just 27 in six games.
Auburn and Alabama have both allowed six sacks on the year, and Auburn is tied with Florida for the second fewest tackles for loss allowed at 29 on the season.
Seven of 14 SEC teams have allowed fewer than 10 sacks this year, and of the SEC’s six teams in the current rankings, four have allowed fewer than 10 sacks through seven weeks. Ironically, the two ranked teams to have allowed more than 10 sacks on the year are the SEC’s two highest-ranked teams in Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Tennessee continues to boast the SEC’s worst protection, allowing a conference-high 23 sacks and 48 tackles for loss on the season. No other team in the SEC has allowed more than 15 sacks or 40 tackles for loss. The Volunteers allowed lowly Chattanooga to sack them five times in last week’s win, proving the Vols’ issues in protection are not just a product of a high level of competition in the SEC.
|Team||Sacks Allowed||Sack Yards Allowed||Tackles For Loss Allowed|
|T6. Texas A&M||9||74||30|
|T6. South Carolina||9||87||24|
|T9. Ole Miss||11||55||40|
|T9. Mississippi State||11||89||23|
Myles Garrett recorded another sack in the loss to Ole Miss to pull himself within a half-sack of Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman record for sacks in a season. Garrett has five games remaining to break Clowney’s record, and more importantly he has five games left to lock down his conference-best sack total of 7.5.
Ray is second in the conference with 7 sacks, while his teammate, Golden, is one of five players tied for fifth in the conference with four sacks apiece. In referencing the team totals above, Ray and Golden have combined to record as many sacks as five entire SEC teams through seven weeks.
The other players tied with Golden at four sacks on the year are as follows: Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd, Florida’s Alex McCalister and Vanderbilt’s Caleb Azubike.
|1. Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||DL||7.5|
|2. Shane Ray||Missouri||DL||7.0|
|T3. Xzavier Dickson||Alabama||LB||5.0|
|4. Preston Smith||Mississippi State||DL||4.5|
|T5. Five players tied||Various||Various||4.0|
Ray leads the conference in tackles for loss with 12.5, and Golden isn’t far behind in third with eight tackles for loss in six games. No other pair of teammates has as many sacks or tackles for loss as Ray and Golden this year, which is impressive considering both of Mizzou’s starting defensive ends from last year’s team are currently on NFL rosters.
Garrett is second in the conference between Ray and Golden with nine tackles for loss on the year, and Xzavier Dickson and Darius Philon round out the top 5 with more than seven tackles for loss each. Dickson ranks in the top 4 in the SEC in both sacks and tackles for loss this season.
|Name||Team||Position||Tackles For Loss|
|1. Shane Ray||Missouri||DL||12.5|
|2. Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||DL||9.0|
|3. Markus Golden||Missouri||DL||8.0|
|4. Xzavier Dickson||Alabama||LB||7.5|
|5. Darius Philon||Arkansas||DL||7.0|