Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dirk Thinks Turnovers Were Nebraska's Biggest Problem

Once again, I got sucked into reading something in the World-Herald that wasn't worth the time to read, let alone the paper to print it on.  It was hard to miss, with a big banner headline on the front page of the sports section proclaiming "Error Message", and a photo of Taylor Martinez coughing up the ball against Wisconsin.  So I flip in, and start reading:
"Nebraska didn't have one turnover in the 2012 opener. Then the dam broke. By New Year's night, the Huskers had 35. Dirk Chatelain studied the tapes, charted the miscues, and revealed startling numbers on the biggest problem facing Big Red."
Yep.  According to Chatelain, Nebraska's biggest problem wasn't defense.  It was turnovers.  Nevermind the 70 points that Wisconsin scored.  Nevermind the 63 that Ohio State scored.  Nevermind the 653 yards that UCLA racked up, or the 589 yards that Georgia amassed.

Nope.  Biggest problem was turnovers.

Now, that's not to say that turnovers weren't a problem in 2012.  They were an issue.  But it wasn't the biggest issue.  And Dirk's "research"?  Merely a laundry list of every turnover.  So where's the analysis?  Again, he just compares the total to other schools.  So what's his point?  Nebraska turns the ball over too much.

Guess what?

We already knew that.  Every Husker fan already knew that.

So tell us something that we don't know about these turnovers.  He gets close when he points out that Ameer Abdullah and Martinez rank in the top eight nationally in turnovers.  We kind of knew that already. 

The only real insight is Nebraska's five turnovers on punt returns. That's a staggering number IMHO, and something that needs to be addressed.  From my perspective, Ameer Abdullah's days as a punt returner should be over now.  He'll start spring practice as the top I-back, and he needs to focus his attention there.  There's no shortage of receivers that should get a shot at fielding punts this season:  Jamal Turner, Jordan Westerkamp, or Tyler Wullenwaber for starters.

As for Martinez's fumbles, some of that is a direct result of issues on the offensive line.  At least three were the direct result of blind-side hits.  That goes on the offensive line more than Martinez. Think that's why Pelini sought out a junior college offensive tackle in Matt Finnin, to help protect the blind side? But Chatelain doesn't really discuss that.  Of course, some Husker fans will eat up Chatelain's superficial look at the Husker turnover list and use it to bitch and moan for another couple of months until signing day?

The question isn't how Nebraska's turnover issues compare to other teams.  The question is really how does Nebraska fix those turnover issues.  Chatelain doesn't go there.  And that makes this pretty much superficial.

And pretty silly when you look at the end result on the season.  It's true that Nebraska might have managed to squeak out a win at UCLA if they had held onto the ball.  Maybe the Capital One Bowl against Georgia as well.  Maybe.  But Nebraska was going to lose to Ohio State with that defense.  And Nebraska was still getting smoked by the Badgers in Indianapolis with a zero-turnover game.  Not when the Badgers were jet-sweeping the Huskers into oblivion that night.


Section 37 said...

I also had the misfortune of reading Chatlain's article this morning. The question that kept rolling around in my head was "where are you going with this, Dirk?" When I eventually peeled back the layers, it seemed to me that smoke-and-mirrors chart was just another cleverly disguised hatchet job on Bo Pelini or, at least, the program.

Dirk's clearly got a hard-on for Bo (not in a good way), and Chatlain is going use any angle he can find to stick it to him.

Is Chatlain doing the T.J. Simers "coach killer" shtick to go for a big-time newspaper or ESPN gig? Time will tell.

Husker Mike said...

I really wanted to take the whole "Dirk Being Dirk" angle out of this, so I asked my wife this morning what she thought of turnovers being Nebraska's biggest problem this season. She's a big Husker fan too, and I didn't mention the article or who said that statement.

She looked at me like I had just said "2+2=5" or "Bill Callahan did an amazing job, in every way".

OK, that's a poll base of 1...but when you think back about the criticism of the Huskers this season, it's been far more on the defense this season.