Manny Diaz, who’s back at Mississippi State as its defensive coordinator, has an interesting theory about how to generate turnovers on defense – and he ought to have an inkling, as the defense he ran last season led the nation in takeaways:
“It’s always going to start with stopping the run. If you stop the run, you make them have to throw to beat you. If they have to throw to win, the ball is in harm’s way. No one turns the ball over more than the quarterback.
“There’s a bunch of things you can do to get after the quarterback to make him make mistakes. But if you can’t stop the run, then you have no chance of doing that. Our run defense will be the first thing we’ll pride ourselves on. Anything from that point on, that’s where the turnovers start to come.”
- First seven regular season games: 2.43 turnovers per game; 3.04 yards per carry
- Last five regular season games: 1.80 turnovers per game; 5.33 yards per carry
- Bowl game: 3 turnovers; 2.30 yards per carry
There does seem to be some correlation there. Just something to keep in the back of your mind as Pruitt and Rocker figure out how to restructure a defensive line that will have plenty of new faces being counted on to do a better job of stopping the run than we saw in the second half of last season.