Last season, Towson compiled a 7-4 record and captured a share of the Colonial Athletic Association championship despite ranking 85th in the Football Championship Subdivision in turnover margin. This fall, the team has been markedly better in that department.
Three games into the campaign, the Tigers are tied for ninth in the nation with a 2.0 turnover margin average. The team has forced eight takeaways while committing just two giveways for a turnover ratio of +6, which is bettered only by a +11 margin shared by South Dakota State and Western Illinois and a +7 owned by Fordham.
The defense has been especially proficient at causing turnovers. The unit recorded one interception and one fumble in a 33-18 win against Connecticut on Aug. 29, two interceptions in a 49-7 rout of Holy Cross on Sept. 7 and two interceptions and one fumble in a 49-7 thumping of Delaware State last Saturday.
Towson is tied for 11th in the country with in turnovers gained, and coach Rob Ambrose said the defense is playing fast and aggressive.
“We’re putting a lot of pressure on anybody who has the ball in their hands at any point in time,” he said during a conference call Tuesday arranged by the CAA. “Whether it’s the quarterback, the running back, the wideout, we’re coming, and we have some really good pictures floating around here on defense and special teams about how we hustle to the football. And we have pictures of nine, 10, 11 guys around the football. If you keep doing that for 60 minutes, that swarming mentality, odds are that ball is coming out eventually, and we’re going to be the ones that end up with it. If you go look at the world statistically, a high-end turnover margin – forcing turnovers and limiting your own – is one of the key factors to indicate a whole lot of wins throughout a season. So this is something we’ve worked towards, something we need to continue to do.”
On the flipside, the offense has protected the ball well. The Huskies managed an interception in the season opener, and the Hornets forced a fumble last Saturday, but the Tigers are tied for ninth in the nation in giveaways.
Ambrose said a veteran-laden squad has impressed upon everyone the need to maintain possession.
“You get some older guys in there who have a true understanding of the importance of protecting the football offensively,” he said. “This game is about opportunities, and when you’re limiting the opportunities that you’re giving your opponent by not turning the ball over, mathematically the odds are in your favor. … I’d say the mentality of our team and the protection of the football is becoming ingrained, and it’s certainly helping us be successful.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun