Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winning the Turnover Battle

The Panthers head into Saturday's game against Louisville(4-2) with a 6-2 record (2-1 conference) coming off a stunning comeback victory in South Bend against Notre Dame. If Pitt is to keep winning and is eying a spot in a BCS game and Big East conference championship, it is imperative that it improves its turnover margin in the final four games of the season. Pitt's opponents over the coming four game stretch have compiled a respectable 23-10 record. And everyone can agree that Louisville, Cinicinnatti, West Virginia and UConn are among the better teams in the league, especially the latter three.

Chas over at Pitt Blather made an interesting observation:

"Pitt is -9 in turnovers this year. They only “won” the turnover battle against Syracuse. Otherwise it was even with Buffalo, and “lost” in the other 6 games."

Not only that, but the Panthers have turned the ball over an astounding 17 times this season, and they've turned it over three or more times three times this season. The fact of the matter is, when you turn the ball over like that you are not going to be able to win many football games. Pitt has been lucky in that respect. They turned the ball over three times against Notre Dame. The interception before halftime led to a quick score that put the Panthers in a 17-3 hole by half time. The other interception, in the waning seconds of regulation could have very well cost them the game were it not for a holding penalty on Notre Dame's first play of the ensuing possession. Luckily for Pitt the Irish decided to take a knee and go with their chances in overtime after that.

Louisville, surprisingly, has actually turned the ball over 19 times this season, two more than the Panthers. Their turnover margin, however, is only -1 as they have forced 18 turnovers this season. Their pass-happy offense is prone to turning the ball over though, and it would bode well for Pitt if they were able to not only take care of the football themselves but force the Cardinals to be a little careless with the pigskin. Louisville turned the ball over a stunning five times in their season opener against Kentucky and also turned it over three times against both Kansas State and Connecticut.

As Pitt heads into the home stretch of the season, improving their turnover margin will hold the key to their success. I do expect them to make improvements. LeSean McCoy has done a better job of holding onto the football in recent weeks and with Bill Stull healthy and returning to the starting lineup I am much more comfortable with their ability to throw the football to the right team. If the Panthers can rectify their turnover problem in the coming weeks there is really no telling how far this young, talented team might go this season.

Let's go PITT.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah no question the defense needs to force more turnovers in these last four games. Over the past 2 games the secondary has allowed 9 tds and intercepted just one pass. Hunter Cantwell doesn't pose much of a running threat so I think this weekend we will see the speed of Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus force Cantwell to make some bad throws, resulting in turnovers for the Panthers.