Turnovers spoil victories
Last week’s outcome was not what we wanted. I told the Dawgs team after the game mistakes you make in football and in life have consequences. Some are delayed, some are immediate. We turned the ball over five times. When you give your opponent a short field it is not good. We will work hard this week to correct these issues and prepare to beat the Belton Tigers and qualify for the state playoffs.
Sports can be complicated. Football has many moving parts and it takes all the parts to move in the right direction for clear victory to happen. Last week is a good example of what happens when everything does not move in the right direction. Offense clicked (only had to punt one time), defense was stout and special teams were excellent. Turnovers are a killer.
I’ve come to realize football comes down to five basic things, four of which you can mostly control. You make more big plays than your opponent, you stay on schedule, you tilt the field, you finish drives, and you fall on the ball. Explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers are the five factors to winning football games.
The following facts are taken from the 2013 college football game data. If you win the explosiveness battle, you win 86 percent of the time. If you win the efficiency battle, you win 83 percent of the time. If you win the drive-finishing battle scoring when you get inside the 40, you win 75 percent of the time. If you win the field position battle (using average starting field position), you win 72 percent of the time. If you win the turnover battle you win 73 percent of the time.
These are good facts and they hold true year after year. These are the basic fundamentals of football. You want to be efficient when you’ve got the ball. If you fall behind schedule and into passing downs, you’re far less likely to make a good play. You want to eat up chunks of yardage with big plays, because big plays mean both points and fewer opportunities to make mistakes. When you get the opportunity to score, you need to score. When you give the ball back to your opponent, you want them to have to go as far as possible. Last week we put them in short field situations which spells defeat. The bottom line is the ball is oblong and doesn’t bounce right. So, we must not drop it.
Besides eliminating turnovers, field position is a very important ingredient for success when playing equally matched teams. We know starting a possession at the opponent’s 30 yard line is more to your advantage than giving them a short field. If explosiveness and efficiency matter so much, and if a single big or successful play can make such a difference, then it would stand to reason that the length of the field in front of us matters a lot, too. If, on average, you are starting 65 yards from the end zone, and if your opponent is starting 75 yards away, that’s an enormous difference.
No matter how you approach it, the game of football changes when the field shrinks. We must have a thorough plan when we get close to the end zone. It is a question that needs an answer.
The facts are simple. The team creating the less amount of mistakes, penalties and turnovers will win the vast majority of the time.
The Dawgs have one more regular season game left and we are not looking back. This team has accomplished more than the pre-season experts thought was possible, yet we know we let some victories slip through our hands. Turnovers are costly. We must play great and eliminate the turnovers. When we do the rewards are great. We must finish with a perfect effort. Coaches must provide the how to and the players the want to. It is time to finish the job at hand and make the state playoffs.
Thought for the week, “That’s one thing you learn in sports. You don’t give up; you fight to the finish.” Louis Zamperini