More often than not, the team that takes care of the ball best is going to win. But last year, Tech often struggled to win the turnover battle.
Averaging -0.31 turnovers gained per game, Tech was just 92nd in the nation in turnover margin. That was good for only 7th in the Big 12.
In all, Tech gave the ball away 19 times, which was 82nd in the nation. But where the real struggle came was in taking the ball away, something that the Red Raiders managed to do only 15 times (which also ranked 82nd in the country).
Again, the Houston game skewed this stat last fall just as it did Tech’s sack total. By securing four interceptions against the Cougars, Tech got over a quarter of their turnovers for the season in just one game.
This is where new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter must live up to his billing as a coach who can coax plenty of takeaways out of his defense. Last year at Oregon, his team’s 22 takeaways were tied for 26th in the country, and of that total, 17 were interceptions, 5th most in the NCAA.
This year, Tech will have quite a small margin for error given how daunting the schedule looks to be. Thus, taking the ball away could tip the scales in a number of games.
While we hope that stability at the QB position will help to improve Tech’s ability to protect the football, the real improvement needs to come from the defense and its ability to generate takeaways. Lots of defensive coordinators have come through Lubbock with a reputation for doing just that only to fail to produce results (we’re looking at you, David Gibbs) but Tech needs DeRuyter to be the man that turns that trend around in 2022.