Next to scoring more points than your opponent, the most important stat in football is the turnover margin, and pretty much every coach can agree on that.
Every coach and defensive coordinator in America will also agree that they want more turnovers (and then more on top of that). At Penn State last season, the Big Ten champs ranked near the middle of the pack nationally with 21 turnovers gained, while also losing the ball 20 times themselves. Not exactly the type of ratio you hope for as a staff.
After practice, James Franklin explained that creating more turnovers next fall starts with two things that often get overlooked on the defensive side of the ball. First you have to invest in them, then it's about creating confidence with your defensive players.
Allow him to explain.
"The receivers, and the tight ends, wherever I've been, spend so much time in the off season in front of the JUGS machine, catching balls. Wherever I've been, not just at Penn State, wherever I have been, the defensive players haven't approached it the same way."
"So we've talked a lot about, if we really want to improve in turnovers - which is an area that I think we can improve - then we've got to invest in it. I think the more confident that our defensive players are in catching the ball, the more willing they're going to be to go for the pick, then the PBU [pass break up].
"If we can increase our turnover ratio, and do a better job with picks and things like that - and I'm not talking about making unbelievable catches, just makes the ones you're supposed to - then that is going to really help us. I think you can take a good defense and become great, or a great defense and become elite. If we did nothing different but increased our turnovers next year, it would have a dramatic impact on our defense, and obviously on our offense as well."
Hear more from Franklin below.