Over the course of the 2013 season, Georgia Tech fumbled the ball 28 times. Even for a team that ranked 3rd in rushing attempts (713), that's bad. Only seven teams coughed up the rock more last season (Virginia, Auburn, Oregon, West Virginia, Nebraska, Maryland and Texas Tech).
This season has been a very different story, and a large reason behind the Yellow Jackets' 5-0 start so far is because they've found a way to flip the script on their fumbling issues from last year. Through five games Paul Johnson's crew has fumbled just five times, losing three of them.
Sports Illustrated released a piece today profiling how they approached their ball security issues, and as with most everything in football, it started with a tweak to practice.
The scout team defense can earn their way out of running sprints by forcing a fumble from the offense. The price an offensive fumble is the unit doing more than their fair share of up-downs. If they fumble at any point in practice, it's 5 up-downs for the guilty party.
The catch here is that the play isn't dead when the whistle blows, instead the ball is live up until the ball carrier flips the ball to one of the managers, giving the scout team some valuable extra time to get after it.
There is also a price that must be paid for the offense having no fumbles during practice and drills; 10 push-ups for the coaches, namely Bryan Cook (QBs / B-Backs) and Lamar Owens (A-Backs). It's a nice way for the players to stick it back to the coaches at times.
I love the thought here with this renewed emphasis from the staff. It teaches your ball carriers to be self-aware of the technique that their taught day in and day out anytime that they have the ball in their hands, not just in between the whistles. Bottom line is developing good habits.