Turnover Chain, Turnover Chain, Turnover Chain
Before you go in on the comment section, no this is not another referendum on whether the Turnover Chain should remain or be retired. This has more to do with the appearance of the glorious jewelry that flipped the college football world on its head a season ago. Many an article and TV segment, and even some clothing apparel, have been spawned by the birth of the magnificent 24 karat accessory.
While former Oakland Raiders’ WR Michael Crabtree may have had his chain snatched—multiple times—and opponents mock snatching the chain, the Hurricanes’ piece of jewelry remains a useful tool in a sport that is chock full of motivational instruments.
Yet this article has more to do with the actual turnovers diminishing, rather than the shine of the Cuban links.
The season before the birth of the chain, the Hurricanes managed to gain 19 combined turnovers (11 fumbles, 8 interceptions) in 2016. In 2017, the ’Canes turnover gain total jumped to 31 (14 fumbles, 17 interceptions)! For context, Miami has accumulated 20 or more turnovers six times within the last decade, before last season, with the next highest total being 28 in the 2010 season.
The Hurricanes finished the 2017 season tied for third in the nation in the total turnover margin, one behind UCF’s 32 and seven behind Wyoming’s nation-leading 38. The numbers are great, and so is the production; however, replicating that success on defense will be hard to do, even with much of last season’s unit still intact.
The reason is because turnovers are, for a lack of a better term, random.
If football is a game of inches, then a turnover can be a stat of good fortune. A batted pass here, a fumble recovery there, and a ‘johnny on the spot’ interception there easily can turn into incompletions or completions for the offense a year later.
What we’re trying to say is that, come 2018, Miami is going to need to rely less on the Turnover Chain chant.
So what does that mean for the defense? How do you improve on a season where you gave the offense numerous possessions, even if they failed to capitalize on said chances? How do they become a better group?
By getting off the field on third down.
Let’s give props to Miami’s defensive staff who have improved the unit in some form or fashion since their arrival three seasons ago. The first season, the Hurricanes were a sack-happy group, improving to 37 sacks in 2016 from 26 sacks in the course of the 2015 season. In 2017, they became a turnover-happy group and brought in 31 turnover gains combined (fumble and interceptions), an improvement from the 19 they racked up in 2016. Illustrating improvement each offseason in an area where it was much needed. It’s painfully obvious that the focus entering 2018 will be to get the defense off the field sooner, even if it means fewer appearances of the Turnover Chain.
The question for the staff next season is: How will they go about doing so? It could mean a tweak in defensive philosophy from DC Manny Diaz, whether that is dialing down exotic blitzes or playing with personnel on third and intermediate situations—a tactic that he employed in the Orange Bowl.
Whatever the adjustments end up being, Diaz and the staff have earned the benefit of the doubt for their past improvements. Perhaps The Honorable Solo D may have to add another verse to remix.
You see big homies get off the field on third down, don’t need the turnover chain.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!