“In pro ball you don’t have to recruit, so you’ve got to do something,” Grantham said. “So you do stats.”
It turns out in his spare time Todd Grantham is a stat-head. And the stat he’s focused on at Georgia is turnover margin.
… On defense, Georgia couldn’t go anywhere but up after 2009. The Bulldogs recovered two fumbles, last in the nation, but have grabbed 10 each of the past two seasons.
It forced 18 in 2009, 22 in 2010 and has 29 already this year.
“We need to recover some more,” Richt said. “When you’re knocking the ball out, you’re going to get a chance for turnovers.”
The Bulldogs have gone from 76th in the nation in interceptions gained (10) to 27th last year (16) to 15th this year (13). Georgia starts each practice with three minutes of ball disruption drills.
“We’re putting pressure on quarterbacks so DBs can get interceptions,” said defensive end Abry Jones. “Just group tackling and really getting the ball out of there.”
Georgia has gone from minus-16 in turnover margin in 2009 to +19 in the past two seasons combined. Grantham believes the current eight-game win streak is no coincidence.
… The fact that Georgia’s current winning streak coincides with its turnover success — it came out ahead of its opponent in six games with Mississippi State and Tennessee even — is consistent with what Grantham found out in his own study when he was an NFL assistant.
Grantham said a minus-one turnover ratio meant a team’s chances of winning were about 20 percent and if a team was plus-one, a team’s chances of winning are at least 80 percent.
He said he saw Georgia’s defensive turnover statistics when he arrived, but didn’t look at reasons for them.
“I just knew that it was critical that we got turnovers and we were in the plus-margin,” he said.
And before you yell about the anomaly of the 2010 season – plus-10 in turnover margin and a 6-7 record – look at the game log. The Dawgs were 6-1 in games with a positive turnover margin and lost all four games with a negative one.