Turnover margin key component for Big 12 wins


Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Defensive back Deon Broomfield returns an interception in the win against Tulsa on Sept. 1, 2012, at Jack Trice Stadium.

Jake Calhoun

Win the turnover battle, win the game — that’s the mantra ISU Coach Paul Rhoads has been stressing to his team.

Last weekend, Rhoads said his team’s plus-four turnover margin played a big part in its 37-23 win against then-No. 15 TCU. If Iowa State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) is planning on beating No. 6 Kansas State this Saturday, Rhoads said it will need to stay out of the red in turnovers.

“We lost [the turnover battle] two-to-zip a year ago and lost the football game,” Rhoads said of his team’s loss to Kansas State last December. “Oklahoma lost it three-to-zip to [Kansas State] this year and lost the football game.”

In the past two seasons, the Cyclones have been undefeated when they won the turnover battle (4-0).

The Cyclones are currently tied for eighth in passes intercepted by the defense with nine. Jacques Washington currently leads the team with three of those picks.

Deon Broomfield and Durrell Givens are the other defensive backs who have interceptions this season.

This season, Kansas State (5-0, 2-0) leads the Big 12 Conference in turnover margin with an overall mark of plus-10 while Iowa State is seventh in the conference with minus-one.

“Bill Snyder does an exceptional job of coaching his offensive football team in decision-making and the fundamentals of the game,” Rhoads said. “His quarterbacks understand how to protect the football, where not to throw it, when not to throw it and so forth.

“Their ball carriers protect the ball. They do the things fundamentally — high and tight, grab it with two arms when you should and really treat it as the valuable commodity that it is.”

KSU running back John Hubert coughed up the Wildcats’ lone fumble on the season in the second quarter of their Sept. 15 victory against North Texas.

Hubert, who is commonly overshadowed by the notorious rushing quarterback Collin Klein, leads the Wildcats in rushing with 527 yards.

“He’s very underrated. I don’t know why he’s not getting the hype that other running backs are getting,” Broomfield said of Hubert. “We knew that last year when we played him that he was a great running back. So, we’re a little more aware now.”

Overall, the Cyclones have turned the ball over 13 times — tied for 98th nationally — in their first five games of the season.

Even though five of their 10 wins the past two seasons have come when losing the turnover battle, Rhoads has said repeatedly that that type of dumb luck cannot be counted upon to continue winning games.

“I think it’s a proven fact that if you win the turnover battle, most of the time you’re going to win the ballgame,” said defensive coordinator Wally Burnham. “That’s something you always shoot for. They happen, just like I told you guys before. You try to do a good job every week in emphasizing that, and we will again this week.”

Even though forcing turnovers on defense is critical, Burnham said making the tackle is still the first priority of his players.

One of those five turnovers the ISU defense forced was a 20-yard interception returned for a touchdown by defensive end David Irving.

Irving, who stands at 6-foot-7, said he has been developing the strength of his lengthy arms to deflect passes and hopefully pick them off as he did last Saturday.

“Every aspect of the game — shedding blocks, deflecting passes, blocking field goal kicks — I just need to work on getting them out to shoot my arms out and use them more,” Irving said.

Iowa State will vie to win the turnover battle in an effort to beat Kansas State for the first time since 2007. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.