Pressure drop: sacks and takeaways

Based on a couple of comments I received in response to this post, I was curious to see if there’s any correlation between sacks and takeaways.  There is a certain logic to more pressure leading to more fumbles and interceptions, but do the stats bear that out?

Well, at least on the surface based on this past season, it’s not that clear cut.

Here are the top twelve schools in sacks.

  1. Georgia Tech
  2. Virginia Tech
  3. Penn State
  4. USC
  5. Virginia
  6. Cincinnati
  7. Georgia
  8. Indiana
  9. Ohio State
  10. Oregon State
  11. TCU
  12. Rutgers

And here are the top twelve teams in takeaways.

  1. Cincinnati
  2. South Florida
  3. LSU
  4. Kansas
  5. Wake Forest
  6. West Virginia
  7. Oregon State
  8. Florida Atlantic
  9. Missouri
  10. Utah
  11. Oregon
  12. Boston College

As you can see, only two schools appear on both lists.  Another four schools that are top twelve in sacks finished in the top 25 in takeaways.  But four of the sack leaders were very poor in takeaways – Georgia Tech (#88); Virginia (#74); Ohio State (#94); Rutgers (#94) – and Georgia finished an OK, but not spectacular, #39 in takeaways.

That seems hardly conclusive of a link between the two.  There is a slightly higher correlation in the ’06 numbers, as four schools appear in that season’s lists of the top twelve sack leaders and takeaway leaders, but I still wouldn’t call that decisive.   Anybody have any thoughts as to why there isn’t a stronger relationship?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Pressure drop: sacks and takeaways

  1. Probably a stronger correlation between pressures and turnovers than sacks, as that is essentially a tackle for a loss, but unless you pressure the throw, isn’t much more.

  2. Watching snow fall is very peaceful.

    Me thinks Max makes a good point.

  3. I think I’ve found a stronger correlation here.

    Ten of the top 12 teams in sacks are in the top 30 in opponent third down conversion percentage, with an eleventh at #40.

    That makes sense, if sacks often cause bigger down and distance problems for offenses to overcome.

  4. JasonC

    I think Max was onto something, but to use an example from the greatest game ever created- SuperTechmo Bowl, the more sacks a team has the fewer opportunities at INTs it has. Back when I used to reek havoc with Jerome Brown or Percy Snow and rack up 100+ team sacks, my teams would constantly be at the bottom of the list in INTs. Unless, the QB coughs up the ball a la Colt Brennan, he doesn’t have a chance to throw a pick. However, if you get pressure, but don’t sack the QB, you can increase the odds of a bad pass that gets intercepted.