Monday, October 14, 2013

Let's talk turnovers

I'll preface this by saying I believe we're recruiting much better players under Todd Grantham. Physically they're better equipped for the SEC, they're faster and able to compete for playing time earlier rather than later.

But suddenly that's not translating into creating fumbles and picking off passes. And the numbers are eye opening to be quite honest. Now, this isn't a knee jerk reaction, fire the coaches they all suck post. So if you're looking for that, you might as well go elsewhere. I'm sure there are plenty of other hosts that will feed into that, but the fact is that it's October. I'd rather look at what needs fixing than throw grease on the fire.

Speaking of grease fires, let's look back at Willie Martinez's last season.
2009 - 12 turnovers gained, .92 turnovers per game, and a -16 margin on the season
That sucked. And it reminds us that a lot of Martinez's defensive backs were so far out of position they made up for it with pee wee league tactics such as face guarding and just out-right interfering/tackling/mugging the potential receiver. All in all, those numbers in 2009 were a large part of why the defensive staff (outside of Rodney Garner) were let go.

Ok, now Grantham's revolution.

Year Total
Margin Turnovers per game
2010 26 10 2
2011 32 7 2.28
2012 30 11 2.14
2013 5 -4 0.83

Our national ranking in turnover margin since 2009: 118th, 19th, 26th, 22nd, and this year we're back down to 106th. You can tell me about the youth and the inexperience. But we're now six games into the season. Where are all those pick sixes we heard about in training camp back in August? The pass rush is starting to evolve and we're actually on pace with last year's sack totals despite losing arguably our best pass rusher of all time. But we just can't create enough chaos to give us the ball back.

Is it having the confidence to make a play? Being in position to separate the ball from its carrier or tip a pass at the line of scrimmage enough that it falls into a teammate's waiting hands? Knowing an opposing quarterback's tendencies well enough that you can anticipate and jump a route?

I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things. The number of points scored against this defense through just six games has to be playing games with their collective psyche. I'm just dumbfounded at the drop in creating turnovers. Is it a regression to the mean? I don't think I'm wrong about that opening statement as to the talent, size and ability of the players. And I know that turnovers are an emphasis with Grantham and his staff.

So what gives?