Monday, October 08, 2007

We're coming for you, Oregon State. (And possibly you, 2003 Army.)

Through six games there is, somehow, a team that has turned the ball over more often than we have. Giveaways:

But whereas the Beavs have redeemed themselves somewhat by taking the ball away 14 times (21st nationally), we have not been so fortunate. Takeaways:

We haven't so much as forced a fumble since the Wofford game. That's also the only game in which we have a fumble recovery. UCF fumbled three times and recovered all of them; BC, Clemson, Louisville, and FSU did not fumble against us (Xavier Lee's botched RB pitch in the first half apparently didn't qualify).

NC State forced 13 fumbles in 2006 and is on pace to force 14 this season. What is the deal? Lately this has been as frustrating to me as the offense's problem. Talent on the defensive side doesn't seem to be the issue; the two most talented defenses in recent memory--and perhaps in Wolfpack history--were the 2004 and 2005 units, which forced 14 and 17 fumbles, respectively.

Between 2000 and 2003, our lowest single-season forced fumble total was 20 (2001). In each of the other three years, we forced at least 26 fumbles and averaged at least two forced fumbles per game. From 2004 onward, that rate is 1.2 per game.

So for some reason, the defense's FF rate tapered off in the post-Rivers era (right when we could least afford it to do so; eventually, we as an institution are going to figure out this timing thing). Regardless of the overall quality of the defense on the field, the last four years have borne the same poor results. Trying to makes sense of this is probably of no use.

Rivers Era 2.1
Post-Rivers 1.2

Anyway, back to the offense. Twenty-two giveaways in six games puts the Pack on pace for, natch, 44 giveaways on the season. The highest single-season giveaway total in the NCAA database, which goes back to 2000, belongs to the 2003 Army team, which turned the ball over 44 times. Generally over the last seven seasons, the most turnover prone team in I-A has given the ball away 38-42 times in a season. Hawaii miraculously fought through 41 giveaways in 2002 to manage a 10-4 record, but the other schools in this neighborhood were terrible, as you might expect.

Most giveaways, by year:
                  TOs     W-L
2000 La Tech 41 3-9
2001 Rutgers 42 2-9
2002 Hawaii 41 10-4
2003 Army 44 0-13
2004 Washington 42 1-10
2005 NMSU 38 0-12
2006 La Tech 37 3-10
2006 Army 37 3-9