Football is a game of momentum and I would argue that nothing shifts momentum in a game quite like a turnover. An out of the blue touchdown (off a special teams play, usually,) can also hugely swing momentum, but your team was getting the ball in that instance as well. A tunrover will stall the team that lost the ball, and often bring the offense out with a spring in their step. It is not at all uncommon to see a big offensive play right after a turnover, often due to the defense not quite being set on the field yet mentally. So it comes as no surprise that Joker Phillips notes turnovers as an area Kentucky is trying to improve upon this season.
From a blog post on the ESPN SEC blog:
Kentucky went 4-0 in 2010 when the Wildcats won the turnover margin, but just 2-7 when tying or losing the turnover battle. On the year, the Wildcats had a -4 in turnover margin, forcing 16 and giving up 20. That ranked Kentucky tenth in the SEC and the Wildcats’ 16 turnovers tied them at No. 102 nationally.
Numbers like that will get you a 6-7 record and that is something Phillips doesn’t want to repeat, so he’s putting special emphasis on creating turnovers during preseason camp.
“The difference from us winning seven, eight, nine games last year was turnovers,” Phillips said. “Let’s be real. It was us creating turnovers and creating takeaways and us giving the ball away. Everybody has to understand how important turnovers are to this football team and this football program. It is the difference for us, it really is.”
You really don’t even need to see the numbers to back it up, though. It’s just common sense. If you want to upset some teams and win some games you aren’t supposed to, you have to have more opportunities to score. You have to find ways to keep the ball when you have it, and take the ball when you don’t. It’s good to hear that Joker is making that a focus for the team and if it translates into on-the-field performance, there might just be a few surprises this football season.