By Edward Lee
The Baltimore Sun
1:15 PM EDT, October 14, 2013
The Towson football team has been playing with fire, and coach Rob Ambrose knows it.
The team has turned the ball over a total of six times in the first quarters of each of the past three games, and opponents have taken advantage by running up a 55-9 advantage. The No. 3 Tigers (6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) managed to defeat Stony Brook, 35-21, on Sept. 28 and then-No. 19 New Hampshire, 44-28, on Oct. 5, but fell to No. 15 Villanova, 45-35, Saturday night.
The inability to protect the football in the opening period is a much discussed subject for Towson, which has forced 17 takeaways while committing 15 giveaways for a plus-2 turnover margin thus far.
“It’s one that’s not just been bandied about in the coaches’ offices, but in the locker room as well,” coach Rob Ambrose said Monday. “We’re going to continue to harp on the little things. The crazy thing is, we talked about this for a week and changed some stuff up and changed our attitude in terms of how and why we do what we do, and I really thought that with the crowd and the TV game and everybody really excited about starting fast, I really thought that was the direction we were moving in. It ended up moving just the opposite.
"Call them physical mistakes or not, but that mentality is on me. That’s my responsibility. I’m going to spend a ton of time this week working with the staff and the kids to get back to the little things and the critical situations – one of which is the beginning. Instead of just finishing incredibly strong and having great character, we need to start fast and borrow some of the aspects that some of the other great teams have in the league.”
The Tigers’ remaining opponents will surely have caught onto the team’s propensity for turning the ball over in the first quarter. Albany (1-6, 0-3), Towson’s opponent Saturday, has certainly noticed.
“Any team tries to get the turnovers, and I think sometimes an opponent will help you by being a little careless with it,” Great Danes coach Bob Ford said Monday morning. “But I know he’s a good coach with a good staff, and they are hammering that thing, the fact that they are turning the ball over. Obviously, they don’t want to see that happen and they’re preaching ball security. Yeah, we’d like to have them turn it over to us a couple times, and we’re obviously going to try to take it away, but it takes two parties. They’ve got to get a little careless with it to let us take it away.”
Ambrose is aware that until the Tigers break their recent history of coughing up the football, opponents will try to be aggressive in creating those gaffes. But Ambrose he can only be worried with what his players can do to maintain possession.
“If someone had the power to force turnovers in the first quarter, everybody would be drinking that elixir every weekend and you could make a million dollars,” he said. “I don’t think it’s about the other teams trying to do something to us. It’s us being responsible to our role.”
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