Tag:turnover margin
Posted on: November 3, 2010 11:34 am

Kiffin admits Ducks drove him to distraction

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Oregon 's up-tempo, quick-strike, pinball-machine offense has made Chip Kelly one of the most successful coaches in the country, but it hasn't done it through points and yards alone. It's also accomplished it through the extreme pressure it puts on opposing offenses to keep up and opposing head coaches to react accordingly.

  As it turns out, even Lane Kiffin is man enough to admit he failed to make those reactions last Saturday:

"I was prepared for that during the week, but once you get into the game and you feel how fast they can score, it's why I was very critical of myself," Kiffin said three days after USC 's 53-32 loss to the Ducks on Saturday at the Coliseum. "I don't think I managed the game with the quarterback as well as I could have. I got a little too aggressive there. We were feeling like we needed to go score because of the pressure that they had just scored as opposed to just giving [Matt Barkley ] some four- and five-yard completions and just staying within rhythm ...

"What I'm saying is that they score so fast and all of sudden you feel like 'Boy, if we don't answer right now, we could fall behind really quick and ... that's really not the right thing," Kiffin told Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson [of 710 ESPN Radio] in the radio interview. "I had said it all week, but I didn't necessarily follow it. It's not about how fast you score, whether you take one minute or seven minutes, it's about making sure you score."

As Kiffin himself proves, it's easy enough to say "it's about making sure you score." It's another to continue to coach that way when faced with Oregon's onsalught, and it's a major reason -- maybe even a bigger one than the Ducks' opportunistic defense -- why opposing offenses have made enough killer mistakes (like, say, the quarrterback raising his foot one time too many) to make Oregon the No. 1 team in the country in turnover margin.

That turnover margin has been one of the biggest factors in making the Ducks nearly-untouchable through eight games. (Remember here that the incredible seven turnovers committed by Arizona State were the only thing keeping Oregon from a loss in a game in which they were outgained by more than 200 yards.) While many observers consider turnover margin to be nearly random (and fumble recoveries certainly seem to be from a statistical perspective), Kiffin's and USC's experience with the Ducks suggests that in Oregon's case, it's not.

And that, in turn, suggests that it's going to take a truly phenomenal (and phenomenally poised ) all-around performance if Kelly's team is to be defeated this season.

Posted on: October 21, 2010 3:12 pm

Yep, turnover margin is really freaking important

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every college football fan knows that "winning the turnover battle" is a "key to the game" in any matchup that's actually "competitive." But as a season-long cumulative statistic, turnover margin still doesn't get the attention it deserves as the one stat that can singlehandedly make or break a team's year, regardless of what happens with all that silly yardage and special teams and whatnot.

It's true. Look over the national top 20 in turnover margin and you'll see there's almost nothing a positive outcome in the turnover column can't accomplish. Like:

Propel your conference front-runner into pole position for a BCS championship berth. Their performances against Utah State , Air Force , and Cincinnati didn't exactly scream "future national champion," but Oklahoma still topped the first edition of the BCS rankings courtesy of a +9 margin that has them tied with one other team for the third-best margin in the country. The other team in that tie? Only Oregon , the BCS's No. 2 team, despite a performance at Arizona State where they gave up nearly 600 yards.

Put your previous conference also-ran within reach of a championship season. Sorry, preseason prognosticators , but Oklahoma State is not going to narrowly finish ahead of Baylor in the race to avoid the Big 12 South basement. Some of that is Dana Holgorsen 's offensive acumen and the unstoppable Justin Blackmon , but a large part of it is also the Cowboys' +5 margin, tied for 18th in the country. Also tied at +5: surprising Missouri . Even higher up the ranks at +8: surprising Michigan State . You get the picture.

Turn around your previously downtrodden mid-major program. Last year Miami (Ohio) failed to score a single point their first two games and finished 1-11. This year, Mike Haywood 's Redhawks are 4-3 overall and a perfect 3-0 in MAC play, good enough to stand alone atop the conference's East division and position Miami for the country;s most surprising bowl bid. How? +7 in turnover margin, that's how. Also at +7? Hawaii , all but left for dead after June Jones ' 2008 departure and now tied with Boise State for the WAC lead. And Army , No. 1 in all the land in turnover margin at +11, is on pace for their first bowl bid since 1996.

Negative turnover margin, of course, wields the same power in the other direction, helping turn your program into the worst in all Division I (New Mexico, -10, No. 118), arguably the worst in a BCS conference (Kansas , -7, No. 113), or the worst it's been in a decade (BYU , -5, No. 98).

If you're an annual reader of Phil Steele or his numbers-oriented like, none of this will come as a shock. But even for the statistical diehards, the overwhelming strength of the correlation between turnover margin and victory can -- and should -- still make the eyes pop.

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