A look at turnover margin

Turnover margin is one of those stats that should probably have more attention paid to it.

Last year, College Football Resource did a series of posts tracking the eight year records of D-1 schools with regard to turnover margin. His post on the SEC is here. Just to summarize, here’s the total margin for the eight year period ending in 2005 at each school:

  • Alabama, +30
  • Arkansas, +37
  • Auburn, +13
  • Florida, +22
  • Georgia, +36
  • Kentucky, -35
  • LSU, -5
  • Mississippi, +6
  • Mississippi State, -22
  • South Carolina, +1
  • Tennessee, +31
  • Vanderbilt, -46

You can read his post to get a better feeling for trends and how different coaches at the same school fared. The only thing lacking is a breakdown of gains and losses.

Interestingly enough, Sunday Morning Quarterback found some correlation between turnover margin and success in 2006, but discovered that some other statistical categories were even stronger indicators.

Here’s how all the SEC schools fared in turnover margin in 2006:

                         |--Gained--||---Lost---|TURNOVER MARGIN
                         G  Fum Int Tot Fum Int Tot Mar  Per/G

--------------------------------------------------------------

1. Kentucky............ 13   18  14  32  10   7  17 +15   1.15

2. Alabama............. 13   11  16  27  10  10  20  +7   0.54

3. Auburn.............. 13   15  10  25  10  10  20  +5   0.38

4. Florida............. 14    8  21  29  10  14  24  +5   0.36

5. Tennessee........... 13    4  16  20   9  11  20  +0   0.00

   LSU................. 13    5  16  21  12   9  21  +0   0.00

7. Georgia............. 13   11  19  30  15  16  31  -1  -0.08

8. South Carolina...... 13    7  14  21  10  13  23  -2  -0.15

9. Vanderbilt.......... 12   12  14  26  14  14  28  -2  -0.17

10.Ole Miss............ 12   10   3  13   6  10  16  -3  -0.25

11.Arkansas............ 14    5  16  21   7  18  25  -4  -0.29

12.Mississippi St...... 12    8  12  20   9  16  25  -5  -0.42

Obviously, the number that jumps out from last year is Kentucky’s. The Wildcats were able to overcome the fact that their defense was easily the worst in the conference last year by going +15 in turnover margin. That number was second best in all of D-1. The big question is whether they can repeat that level of success. Historically speaking, that would seem to be a tall order.

I find Georgia’s ’06 margin worth noting as well, as it declined from +11 in 2005. Looking at the breakdown, the Dawgs were still effective at creating turnovers, something that’s been a hallmark under Martinez. They finished with 30, second in the conference. However, they were also dead last with 31 giveaways. Certainly you can chalk a lot of that up to breaking in a new quarterback, and it’s reasonable to expect fewer giveaways in Stafford’s second year. However, the defense loses an experienced Tony Taylor (seven interceptions and one very memorable fumble recovery in ’06), so Martinez has himself a challenge there.

We need to see significant improvement in this category in ’07, unless you think it’s a coincidence that under Richt, his three teams that made the SECCG were +8, +11 and +11 in turnover margin.

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