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Ball Security, Defensive Thievery Rankings In The SEC (Corrected)

In 2010, Alabama lost the turnover battle to LSU by two.  They lost last year’s game by three (24-21 Tigers in Baton Rouge).

In 2009, the Tide and Tigers each had one turnover.  Bama won the game 24-15.

In 2008, LSU was in the negative on turnover margin — 4 to 3 in a sloppy game — and they lost by four (27-21 Tide).

In two of the last three games in this storied series, the team with more turnovers has lost.  That should surprise exactly… no one.

With the game of the century lined up for tomorrow, we thought it would be a good time to break out a pair of our favorite stats — Ball Security and Defensive Thievery.  One measures an offense’s ability to protect the pigskin while the other shows us which defenses are the best at forcing turnovers.

We’ll start with Ball Security and the explanation for that one is simple.  In SEC contests only, how many times has a team turned the ball over in relation to the total number of offensive snaps its run?

Here are the answers:

School Giveaways Offensive Snaps Plays Per Turnover
Alabama 1 336 336.0
LSU 1 323 323.0
Georgia 9 441 49.0
Arkansas 6 252 42.0
Tennessee 8 290 36.2
Auburn 12 410 34.1
Miss. State 11 343 31.1
S. Carolina 16 428 26.7
Florida 13 342 26.3
Kentucky 11 274 24.9
Ole Miss 13 318 24.4
Vanderbilt 15 299 19.9


* Any wonder Alabama and LSU have been so dominant?  They don’t turn the ball over.  Practically ever.  Alabama’s 1-turnover-per-336 plays is roughly 7x greater than Georgia’s third-best mark of 1-turnover-per-49-plays.  Absolutely mindblowing.  Staggering.

* The top six teams in terms of protecting the football have a collective SEC record of 22-9.  And that’s including Tennessee’s 0-5 league mark.  Not counting UT, the top teams in our Ball Security ratings are 22-4.  As for Tennessee, clearly the Vols aren’t losing games because they turn the ball over.  Talent, depth, youth and an inability to force turnovers — to be discussed next — are the issues facing Derek Dooley.

* The bottom six teams in Ball Security are 9-22.  Makes sense.  Take out South Carolina’s 5-1 record and five of the worst six in terms of committing turnovers combine for a 4-21 SEC record.  Like Tennessee above, Carolina is the oddball in this category.  So how are they 5-1 in league play?  See the chart below.

* Vanderbilt is turning the ball over once every 20 plays in conference play.  James Franklin has made improvements in Nashville already, but how much more dangerous might the Commodores be if they could take care of the football?  Take away a fumble inside Arkansas’ 10 last week and they’ve probably got at least one more win.

Now let’s look at our Defensive Thievery stat.  Again, pretty simple stuff.  We compare each squad’s total number of takeaways (in SEC games only) to its total number of defensive snaps played (again, SEC games only).  The result shows us which SEC defenses are the best at forcing turnovers.

The results:

School Takeaways Defensive Snaps Plays Per Turnover
S. Carolina 20 286 19.3
Alabama 10 256 25.6
Ole Miss 7 342 28.8
Georgia 13 376 289
Vanderbilt 12 351 29.3
LSU 9 278 30.8
Auburn 12 406 33.8
Kentucky 7 275 39.2
Arkansas 7 282 40.3
Miss. State 7 350 50.0
Florida 7 422 60.2
Tennessee 5 332 66.4

* We’ve had to correct the numbers on the Defensive Thievery list.  Our apologies.  We offer you this word of advice… never try to copy over the numbers from your Excel sheet into your admin panel while doing radio shows.  It’s possible you’ll copy over the wrong lines.  Apologies.


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