Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Cranking up the turnover machine

Tuesday September 9, 2008

If there’s a "thanks, Captain Obvious" topic when talking about football, it’s the importance of turnovers. Turnovers matter? I had no idea. Still, there are some games in which turnovers factor more than others, and this weekend’s game in Columbia could be one of them. Whether it’s Quincy Carter’s five interceptions or David Pollack’s unbelievable play, turnovers in the South Carolina game at Columbia tend to stick out.

The Georgia Sports Blog correctly points out how turnovers in this series have either put Georgia in a bind or kept games closer than they might have been otherwise. They’ve also bounced Georgia’s way, and there is no better example than the second half of the 2002 game.

With that in mind, David Hale painted this picture yesterday:

So far the Bulldogs have played two clearly overmatched opponents, one without a true starting QB. Both of those opponents were clearly out of their element in front of the energetic Sanford Stadium crowd. Both games were lopsided, forcing those opponents to throw the ball in a desperate attempt to play catch up. And yet, with all that favoring Georgia’s secondary, the DBs have yet to record a single interception.

Good and timely observation. To be fair, the defense does have two interceptions, and both of those were at somewhat important times in the first half when the opponent was driving in Georgia’s half of the field. We like saying that Georgia started out 38-0 on Georgia Southern, but it took an interception in our own end zone (not to mention a missed field goal) to get there. He’s right, though. Georgia’s somewhat experienced secondary is still 0-for-the season. They’ve come close – Rashad Jones had an interception for the taking against Georgia Southern – but the plays haven’t been made.

You can credit what you like for Georgia’s turnaround and strong finish last season, but turnovers should be near the top of the list. We know that Matthew Stafford cut down the errors that led to some back-breaking turnovers in 2006, but the end of 2007 was also about what Georgia was doing on defense to score takeaways.

Through the first seven games of the 2007 season, Georgia managed a total of six takeaways. There were three games (South Carolina, Western Carolina, and Tennessee) in which the Dawgs struck out in the takeaway department. They had two multiple takeaway games (Ole Miss and Vanderbilt).

Beginning with the late and game-turning fumble recovery at Vandy, something changed. The only game down the stretch in which Georgia didn’t record multiple takeaways was the Kentucky game. The results were impressive: against Florida (2), Troy (4), Auburn (4), Kentucky (1), Tech (3), and Hawaii (6) Georgia tallied 20 takeaways.

So far this season Georgia’s offense has been outstanding taking care of the ball. The only turnovers have come on fumbles by a reserve tailback and quarterback. Stafford is – knock wood – still without an interception this year, and that’s much more important to the team than chasing the 300-yard barrier. Keeping that mark intact against a much better pass defense than we’ve seen so far will be a key to avoiding another nailbiter.

On the other sideline, South Carolina has already turned the ball over seven times through two games. Six of those turnovers were interceptions. The Gamecock quarterback position is unsettled, and it’s possible that their best receiver will be out or at least limited by a hamstring injury. Worse, their running game hasn’t done much to pick up the slack. It’s a scenario any secondary should salivate over.

So which gives? South Carolina’s propensity for throwing the ball up for grabs, or Georgia’s interception shutout in the secondary?

One Response to 'Cranking up the turnover machine'

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  • I can think of no reason that we should not snare at least two Cock ‘n Misfire throws Saturday. NC State and Vanderbilt had all kinds of pressure on the Cock QBs and that, as much as anything, created the bad throws. LeFevour was a much better athlete and QB than Smelley and Beecher and was difficult to bottle up. We should be able to get to the QB Saturday. One more thing to consider, we saw only limited blitzing in the first two games. I think CWM will call more blitzes this week to create havoc for those two QBs who already know that the OBC will have a hair-trigger this week. Nothing makes a QB crap his pants quite like having Rennie Curran flying in untouched and Spurrier ready to replace your ass anyway.