Bulldogs struggling to create turnovers

ATHENS, Ga. --- The talk out of Georgia all preseason was about how it was forcing turnovers in droves on defense.


When it came time for the actual games, the Bulldogs have been muffled, mustering just six takeaways this season -- that ranks last among 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, coaches whose teams rank in the top 10 in turnovers gained, say pressuring the quarterback and having experienced players in the secondary factored into their success this season.

"When you look at turnovers, a lot of times turnovers happen in zone situations especially from an interception standpoint," said Holtz, whose team entered Thursday night's game against Virginia Tech tied for 10th in the nation with 21 takeaways. "When you get pressure on the quarterback with your front four and play zone and try to put the quarterback into some tight windows and you don't have a lot of open spaces, then you're going to turn and get a lot of interceptions."

Schiano's team has recovered a nation-leading 14 fumbles and is fourth in turnovers gained with 25.

"Takeaways are fickle things," said Schiano, whose team leads the nation in turnover margin, but ranked 71st in turnovers gained last season. "We've done the same takeaway drills that we've done for years. We always look to tweak them a little bit here and there. I wouldn't say we're putting more emphasis on it than we have in previous years. I wish I told you we had a poison or a magic bullet to do it, but we don't."

Georgia coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Willie Martinez wouldn't argue with the often unpredictable nature of turnovers.

The Bulldogs have forced 10 fumbles, but they have only recovered one -- an FBS low.

"I've studied that film, and for whatever reason, when the ball is on the ground it ends up closer to one of their guys than one of our guys," said Richt, whose team is 119th in turnover margin at minus-15. "Why's that happening? I don't know. It's just happening, but that's football."

Added: linebacker Rennie Curran "It's all about formation recognition and being in the right place at the right time. Guys giving that extra effort and guys flying to the ball."

Reach Marc Weiszer at marc.weiszer@morris.com.



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