Saturday, April 25, 2009

Limited Damage

Adam Mehrer created the most takeaways for Columbia in 2008 with 4 INT's

In 2007, Columbia finished 1-9 but had just a -4 turnover ratio.

The problem is the Lions' opponents scored 98 points off Columbia turnovers while CU managed just 33 points off takeaways.

That was a big point differential of 65.

I felt this was a major area where the Lions needed to improve in 2008.

And they did... but there's a lot of improvement still needed.

Last season Columbia's turnover ratio actually got worse, falling to -6. But thanks to a fantastic job by the defense, Lion opponents scored just 60 points off turnovers.

To make the defense's achievement more plain, consider this: Columbia turned the ball over 21 times in 2008 and that led to just 60 opponent points. That's less than a field goal per turnover.

Meanwhile, Columbia improved by scoring 38 points off its own takeaways, leaving a much more manageable point differential of 22.

But, bottom line. The Lions will need to create and capitalize off of more turnovers in 2009 to be an Ivy contender.

It starts with interceptions. Columbia's opponents threw the ball a lot more agains the Lions in '08 than they did in '07, but Columbia grabbed fewer interceptions overall. They went from picking off 4.2% of all opponent passes to intercepting just 2.9% of the time. Strip away the five INT's the Lions got against Cornell alone, and you're seeing just too few pick offs from a secondary that was talented enough to do better.

Turnovers are a big part of the game of football, and an inevitable part of college football. Columbia needs to find a way to make them work more in its favor.


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