Pac-12's leading tacklers

Kevin took a look at the big number offensive guys last week. This week, let's consider the defenders -- those who are back and those who need to be replaced.

Here are the leading tacklers -- calculated as per game average, not total tackles -- for each team. The bolded guys return in 2012.

Cort Dennison, LB, Washington: 9.8

Michael Clay, LB, Oregon, 9.3

Chaz Walker, LB, Utah, 9.1

Mychal Kendericks, LB, California: 8.2

Feti Unga, LB, Oregon State: 7.4

Dion Bailey, LB, USC: 7.4

Alex Hoffman-Ellis, LB, Washington State: 7.3

Jon Major, LB, Colorado: 6.5

Patrick Larimore, LB, UCLA: 6.2

Derek Earls, LB, Arizona: 6.2

Colin Parker, LB, Arizona State: 5.8

Jarek Lancaster, LB, Stanford: 5.4

So how do things stack up looking into 2012?

Arizona: Safety Marquis Flowers also averaged 6.2 tackles a game in 2011, and he seems like a solid fit for the new 3-3-5 scheme. LB is a questionable position for the Wildcats, but the best money is on Jake Fischer, who is returning from a knee injury that killed his 2011 season, making the most plays.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils are rebuilding at linebacker, not unlike their friends from down south in Tucson. And, not unlike Arizona, the Sun Devils figure to be led on defense by a player who missed last season with an injury: LB Brandon Magee.

California: In the Bears' 3-4 scheme, ILBs Nick Forbes and Robert Mullins are expected to make lots of tackles. Here's a guess that Forbes will get the most.

Colorado: By the way, Colorado fans, if you want to know why I keep screwing up your leading tackler, go here -- the official Pac-12 statistics, which for some reason short changes Major 20 tackles. If he gets and stays healthy, ILB Doug Rippy likely will lead the Buffs in tackles -- he averaged 8.9 per game through seven games in 2011 before getting hurt.

Oregon: Safety John Boyett led the Ducks with 108 total tackles, but you'd expect that number to go down because of the strength of the Ducks' front seven. Clay is a good pick to repeat as the defense's leader, but Kiko Alonso might eclipse him as he becomes a full-time starter inside.

Oregon State: Unga is the most likely candidate to lead the Beavers. They certainly don't want it to be safety Anthony Watkins, who led the Beavers with 85 total tackles last year.

Stanford: The Cardinal is stacked at LB, but I'd be shocked if Shayne Skov, who missed nearly all of last year with a knee injury, doesn't end up leading Stanford in tackles.

UCLA: The Bruins will use a base 3-4 this season, so you'd figure Larimore's chief competition will be promising sophomore Eric Kendricks, who will man the other ILB spot.

USC: The Trojans have a nice crew of speedy young LBs. Expect MLB Lamar Dawson to lead the team in tackles. And possibly get some All-Conference consideration.

Utah: V.J. Fehoko will step in at MLB for Walker and is likely to equal his production in 2012. It helps to have a very good D-line in front of you.

Washington: It's hard to say with the Huskies because we're not certain of the scheme -- 4-3, 3-4 or some sort of hybrid. What the Huskies don't want is it to be safety Sean Parker, who was second on the team last season with seven tackles per game. Best bet might be Thomas Tutogi, who backed up Dennison last year.

Washington State: Another team that's hard to project. Both MLBs from 2011 are gone, as is Hoffman-Ellis who did his damage from the weak side. And the Cougs are switching from a 4-3 to 3-4. Best bet is probably Darryl Monroe, who manned the "Mike" slot before getting hurt.