Kirby Smart’s not buying any of that “turnovers are totally random” bullshit.
Kirby Smart, now Georgia’s head coach, puts a premium on creating turnovers more than he does getting a sack.
“Every pass rusher wants sacks,” Smart explained to a coaching clinic in Atlanta a few weeks ago. “All they want is sacks. ‘I want sacks. I want sacks. I want sacks.’ I don’t care about the sacks. I want the ball. OK, it’s about the ball, the ball, the ball…Sacks are great. It takes away a possession. Probably about 90 percent of the time, you take a sack, you’re going to have to punt. But 100 percent of the time, you turn it over, your possession is over.”
Alabama’s defense flipped around its fortunes on creating turnovers going from 10th in the SEC and 65th nationally in 2014 to tops in the SEC and 13th nationally. Alabama gained 27 turnovers last season en route to winning the national title after coming up with 20 in 2014.
“Almost one more turnover a game,” Smart said. “Everywhere I’ve ever been, you get what you demand. Bobby Bowden taught me that (when Smart was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 2002 and 2003). …So if you demand it, you’ll get it, but if you let it go by the wayside and just say ‘Ok, guys, we’ve got to be No. 1 in turnovers. Next. OK, guys, we’ve got to be good in special teams. Next.’ No, you’ve got to emphasize it and you’ve got to demand it.”
Hey, if it’s that simple, I’m all for it.
As Weiszer points it, it’s not as if the previous defensive staff didn’t work at ball disruption. It just get much in the way of results last season, as it forced seven less than it did in 2014. ( I have to admit that “…but if you let it go by the wayside and just say ‘Ok, guys, we’ve got to be No. 1 in turnovers. Next. OK, guys, we’ve got to be good in special teams. Next.” bit kind of sounds familiar, though.)
One thing about being really good at ball disruption on the defensive side is that it lets you be a little more aggressive on the offensive side. If you look at Georgia’s splits from 2015, you’ll see a peak of 11 offensive turnovers in October followed by a rapid fall off: four in November and none in the bowl game. That’s good, but it was accomplished at the price of playcalling that was extremely conservative in order to minimize risk.
One positive Smart and Tucker have working in their favor this season is an experienced secondary. We’ll see where things go from there.