One thing I neglected to mention in my preview is that I would like to see the defense produce more turnovers. As Leftover Hot Dog reminds us, we are ranked 112th in the country in turnover margin. A lot of the blame goes to our offense for throwing the ball away so often. However, while it's hard to blame our defense for much considering the way they've played, they haven't produced many turnovers.
This has been a problem for us going back to last year. I'm sure we all remember watching Tennessee fumble on their drive at the end of the fourth quarter. The ball bounced around on the ground for about five yards and we had plenty of guys in the area, but Tennessee managed to recover. Recovering that fumble would've won us the game and would've saved us the pain of watching yet another game against the Vols slip through our fingers.
I thought I saw improvement in this area during the NC State game. We seemed much more opportunistic. Then, we recovered a fumble against Vandy that set up our first TD in that game. Since then, though, we've been the ones coughing the ball up, and we've missed a number of key opportunities. I'm thinking about the sure interception Jasper dropped against Vandy. I'm thinking about the fumble Captain Munnerlyn created against UGA on a CB blitz that we failed to recover. That one would've been huge; we had just scored, we had momentum, and getting the ball back then would've prevented UGA from tacking on that FG at the end of the half. That FG hurt us; if they hadn't gotten it, the score would've been 10-7 after UGA scored their TD, and we would've been playing for FGs all of those times we got deep into their territory.
Like I said, it's difficult to be too hard on a defense that ranks so highly in so many categories. This is a defense that held UGA, one of the nation's top offensive outfits, to under 300 total yards. However, truly great defenses can create key turnovers, so I want to see us do that today. A few turnovers that give our offense easy scores could do wonders for our offenses confidence. Let's see it.
As always, join the open thread during the game.