Cal Football 2007 in Numbers: Turnovers III

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, March 3rd, 2008

So to summarize the last two posts, let’s take a look at the table displaying the output off of turnovers. Cal turnovers stand for the number of times we forced a turnover, POT is points off turnovers.


The symmetry is obvious: Cal forced eleven more turnovers than its opponents in its first five games–the results were wins. They then lost fifteen more turnovers (and at least three a game) than they forced from their opponents in their last eight games, and the result were two squeaker wins and six losses. I guess the idea that losing more turnovers than gaining is a resounding ‘duh’.

A good judgment of performance is the point to turnover ratio, where we examine the points produced by the offense on the next drive after the defense forced a turnover (or in mathematical terms, POT/number of turnovers).


Again, turnabout is fair play–the lopsided numbers on both sides show how big an advantage Cal was handed during its start. I hate to borrow a Berkeley term, but karma is a bitch, and it bit back hard.

So after two obvious sets of data (turning the ball over creates losses), let’s look at the relative difficulty of scoring on the turnovers based on starting field position. The Cal offense was particularly anemic in their production during the 1-6 stretch, but even their best opportunities turned up nothing.

Cal’s forced turnovers during 1-6 stretch
Cal forced fumble at Cal 14, resulted in punt (Cal: 0)–hard to score from that area.
Cal fumble at Cal 39, turned into missed field goal (Cal: 0)–good field position.
Cal fumble at UCLA 36, turned into INT (Cal: turnover)–by far the worst.
Cal fumble at ASU 13, recovered in the end zone for TD (Cal: 7)–SCORE!
Cal INT at own 42, turned into punt (Cal: 0)–very good field position, and it was only appropriate we went 3 and out with it.
Cal fumble rec at own 2, turned into INT (Cal: turnover)–hard to do anything but punt, but you shouldn’t be throwing picks inside your own red zone.
Cal fumble at own 42, turned into punt (Cal: 0)–it really doesn’t get much better than this
Cal INT at own 29, turned into punt (Cal: 0)–I’d say the majority of drives end in punts here, and that’s to be nice.
Cal fumble at own 36, turned into INT (Cal: turnover)–*sigh*

The contrast between our own turnover stats and our opponents’ ability to capitlize on them looks even worse when you realize WHERE Cal kept on turning over the ball. Starting field position is our dependent variable here.

Own 0-19: 3 for Cal (resulted in 2 punts & 1 INT), 3 for opponents (3 punts)
Own 20-39: 2 for Cal (punt & 1 INT), 4 for opponents (1 def TD return, 3 punts)
Own 40-Opp 40: 2 for Cal (2 punts), 5 for opponents (1 TD, 1 FG, 2 punts, 1 loss of down)
Opp 39-20: 1 (1 INT), 6 for opponents (3 TD, 1 FG, 2 punts)
Opp 19-0: 1 (1 def. TD), 3 (2 FG, 1 TD)

The fact that Cal gave their opposition a short field fourteen times (and a REALLY short field nine times) was certain to lead to disaster. Two extra drives, deep inside opposing territory? Yeah, that ain’t working.

So despite all the rankles of bend-not-break (an utterly infuriating style of football to play when things aren’t going right), Cal fans will have to look at a woefully unprepared offense that let them down. The defense simply could not keep on holding back Pac-10 offenses on essentially sixty yard fields. The fact that they only gave up two field goals and a six rather than three whole TDs is a testament to their yeoman effort. The offense let them down when they needed help the most.

And let’s not place the blame on Nate Longshore. He had his troubles this year, but Forsett, Best and Montgomery all fumbled the ball at crucial junctures. Also routes were missed and receivers slipped or dropped crucial balls. So everyone played a part in the problems. We’ll cover them throughout a long, interesting offseason.

Okay. That’s way too much time spent on analyzing turnovers. Do you guys have any parting thoughts?

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