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Bye Week Stat Roundup: Turnovers

BSU LogoNormally throughout game weeks we regale you with fun little items like stat comparisons and the like for the coming Cardinal opponent. As this week is the challenging opponent Open Date State, there is no substantive data to pour over. Except our own.Yesterday saw us ponder the offensive and defensive numbers, but today we focus on turnovers. Not the yummy kind… the soul crushing ones that make a victory damn hard to come by. Additionally, by special reader request we take a look at the 09 numbers compared to the 08 numbers. Hint: It isn’t good. Ballin’.

Part 3: Turnovers
The turnover story for a football team is essentially a two chapter book. The best teams in terms of turnover margin (and usually victories) not only don’t turn the ball over, they create turnovers as well for their opponent. As we chatted about yesterday, none of those things are going exceptionally well for the Cardinals this season.

At a paltry turnover margin of -11 (that’s 11 more giveaways than takeaways) the Cardinals are tied for 114th in FBS for total turnover margin. To break that down on a per game basis means that each and every game, on average, is going to feature at least one more turnover than takeaway, and in many cases, several. The bad news is only 3 teams in the entire division are worse than BSU in this particular category. The good news is two of them are BCS conference schools. That’s encouraging, right? Wait… it’s Georgia and Maryland? Nevermind. Let’s focus on the negative first… the turnovers lost.

The 09 Cardinals’ turnovers lost chart:
09 to lost

If the trend continues, then NIU should get at least two fumbles, since the Cardinals have followed up every zero fumble game this season with at least two coughed up the next week. Perhaps the bye week will throw off that logic. The two most surprising things here? More INTs at Army than at Auburn and a the combined 5 turnovers at Temple which was essentially wrapping paper and a nice bow on a victory for the Owls.

The 09 offensive stats and the 08 offensive stats weren’t compared, largely because I had no desire to become even more pissed off than I currently am, and there is no reason to throw salt on a freshly ripped off scab for a unit that nearly everyone thought would take a step back. The turnovers lost for 08 fall into that category somewhat, but are worth comparing… simply for comparison’s sake.
08 to lost

Now class… what do we notice here? For starters, there were 8 turnovers through 9 games in 2008. In 2009 we hit the 9 mark after game #3. The bigger picture question that is begged is whether or not a successful offense is predicated on not turning the ball over or whether not turning the ball over is predicated on a decent offense. I think it does speak volumes to the amount of regression though, considering the offensive playbook, risks, and downfield shots have been significantly reduced, and yet, the propensity to hold onto the football has been significantly reduced as well. To take it to the next level, if these drives that ended in turnovers at best resulted in scoring chances like TDs or field goals, or at worst diminished field position for the opponent through a punt, the Cardinals may have several more wins. Yes… turnovers lost are that important, and in this case, just as bad as everyone thought.

The second prong of the turnover plug is the turnovers gained. Teams throughout FBS rely on this to change momentum, create scoring opportunities, and give the offense better field position and the subsequently increased scoring opportunities. For BSU in 2009, it’s not a pretty sight.
09 to gained

The games that BSU was closes to pulling off a considerable “upset” like Toledo and Ohio are also the games where the turnovers gained were considerably higher than other weeks. Unfortunately in the MAC, with its ridiculous parity, those turnovers are the great equalizer in games where the outcome is in doubt.

Compare the above chart to the 08 Cardinals…
08 to gaines

Most noticeable? The INT’s of course, but not only the 4 picked off against Akron. Past the season-opener against Northeastern, the Cards picked off at least one pass by each and every opponent. For a defensive secondary that took a considerable amount of heat compared to its highly touted Cardinal offensive counterpart, this defense was not only respectable, it was a game changer. It’s taken the Cards 9 games in 2009 to get 5 picks. They did it in 3 last season. They do have 1 more fumble recovered in 2009 than the same span in 2008, so that’s a plus.

Looking at the above charts, clearly the margin isn’t going to be favorable in comparison from last year to now. The aforementioned margin of -11 in 2009 is considerably different from the +9 through 9 games last season. That’s a difference of 20 for those not so good with negative numbers. Where the Cards finish this season is anyone’s guess, but the odds of putting up a margin that is even remotely respectable is going to be hard. Putting up a number that is even comparable to last season is damn near impossible. The 08 Cardinals finished +5 for the year. Knock out the Buffalo and Tulsa games and the Cards were +11 for the season overall. Yes… those two games sucked.

Turnovers… they are an  absolute killer. In fact, when really pressed for a reason behind the frustrations and struggles of this particular season, turnovers would be at, or at least near, the top of everyone’s list. To top off this craptacular turd turnover cupcake, the Cardinals’ next opponent is Northern Illinois… the leader of the MAC in turnover margin at +10. Something tells me that margin is going to go up a bit if history is any sort of indicator.

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