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Turnovers Turnovers Turnovers

I was doing a bit of browsing the interwebs this evening while watching the Falcons suck it up, and came across this article. The part about Houston and turnovers really stuck out. "After a nightmarish first season as Houston's head coach, Tony Levine has the program back nearing the Top 25 again. His Cougars are 6-1 and just went up to Rutgers and blasted RU 49-14. The Cougars lone loss was by one point last week, 47-46 to BYU. What's even more impressive is that UH has had this bounce-back season despite losing its best player, Charles Sims on the eve of the season when the star RB bailed for West Virginia. Then, the Cougars lost veteran QB David Piland in the first half of the second game of the season to concussions, which forced him to retire. The secret to the Cougars' success isn't such a big secret. They're winning the turnover game. UH leads the nation (and by a wide margin) in turnover margin at +2.9. To put that number in context no FBS program has been near +2.0 in a decade, and you have to go back to the mighty Miami team of 2001 to find anyone that was even over 2.0. And, Miami was 2.36. The combined records of the past 11 teams that have led the nation in turnover margin is 127-26. All coaches emphasize winning the turnover game. Levine tried to hammer that point home the best way he could during his first team meeting of fall camp. He did a power-point presentation on some stats regarding UH's 2012 season. The Cougars ranked No. 82 in the country in turnover margin. They forced 31 turnovers (not bad), but gave up the ball 35 times (really bad). Levine then showed the top 20 teams in turnovers forced. Then the top 20 in turnovers committed. And then the records of each to underscore the correlation. "If you guys want to win football games," Levine told them, "we have to be in the Top 20 in turnover margin. Here's how you win. It's as clear as could be. Our offense has to take care of the football. Special teams, our punt returners and kick returners have to take care of the football. We have to." Like many teams, the Cougars have a period in practice every day where they work on ball security and the defense works on forcing turnovers. The attitude has been contagious. "Our defense takes pride in it and they know how many turnovers they've forced," Levine told me Sunday. "So when they're coming off the field and one of the guys has the ball, they're yelling 'That's No. 22! That's No. 22!'"

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