Turnovers continue to hamper football's offense
The football team's turnover saga started on the opening drive of the season, when LJ Scott fumbled at the goal line, and it hasn’t ceased since.
Eight games into the regular season, there isn’t room for excuses or the cliche “Young players are going to make mistakes” phrase.
The Spartans need to stop turning the ball over.
MSU's defense has grabbed 12 takeaways in 2017, while the Spartans’ offense has turned the ball over 14 times for a minus-2 turnover margin, which is tied with six other schools for 81st in the nation.
“Obviously, we haven’t been the greatest with the turnover margin,” quarterback Brian Lewerke said. “I’m not exactly sure what ours is right now, but I know it’s definitely not in the top of the conference — something we got to work on. We have ball security drills every day at practice, so we just got to be able to translate that into the games and try to limit those as much as we can.”
If MSU’s turnover problems persist into this weekend’s game against No. 7 Penn State, it’s going to be a miserable weekend for Spartan fans.
The Nittany Lions, who have forced 20 turnovers this season and only gave away six, enter Saturday with an average turnover margin per game of 1.75, a mark that is the best in the Big Ten Conference and tied with South Florida for second in the nation. Only Wyoming has a better average turnover margin per game (2.00).
“We just need to rake at the ball more, play the ball more,” sophomore defensive tackle Raequan Williams said of forcing turnovers this weekend. “I feel like we play a little more conservative, and we need to play a little more aggressive. So, just aggressive to the ball this week because we know what type of defense we’re playing up against.”
While turnovers have cast a shadow over this year’s team, forcing and limiting them has been a key focal point in practice for much of the season.
“We focus on it every week,” senior linebacker Chris Frey said. “We do a bunch of drills on forcing turnovers. … We go out there and every time a guy runs into a gap, the second, third and fourth guy in are always trying to force fumbles and get the ball on the ground, so it’s definitely an extra focus this week going into this game.”
Lewerke can’t pinpoint exactly why turnovers are still plaguing this team but believes teams are finding ways to capitalize on their mistakes.
“I feel like it's something that kind of builds on itself when teams see how many fumbles we have,” Lewerke said. “They try and go after the ball maybe a little bit more than they might if it was a team that didn’t fumble, and that kind of builds on itself more and more until they finally get one. But it’s something we just got to focus on more.”