In searching for explanations for Coastal Carolina’s four-game losing streak, one statistic may stand out above the rest: the team’s woeful turnover mark.
CCU has lost the turnover battle 10-4 this year, and during the team’s four-game losing streak it has turned the ball over 10 times while forcing just two – a fumble against Alabama-Birmingham and the team’s first interception of the season by junior safety Fitz Wattley on Saturday against Georgia State on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the first half.
The Chants threw eight interceptions and lost two fumbles in the first three games of the losing streak before not committing a turnover Saturday.
In their season-opening win over Massachusetts, the Chants won the turnover battle 2-0.
“The disappointment is the turnovers early,” Coastal offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “That’s one thing we knew we couldn’t do no matter how good we were going to be or how bad we were going to be. We improved that last week. If we can continue to do that we have to try to find more ways to be better on third down.”
A lot of Coastal Carolina’s success during last year’s 10-2 season can be attributed to forced turnovers in defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews’ first season, when the Chants forced at least one turnover in all 12 games. They forced turnovers in 15 consecutive games through the first two games of this season, totaling 33 turnovers in that span.
CCU had 21 interceptions last season to rank fourth in NCAA Division I and scored nine defensive touchdowns to rank second in Division I nationally to Alabama. The Chants’ only points on defense this year is a returned blocked extra point for two points against UAB.
“I think what happens with anything that you’re making an emphasis on, sometimes kids try so hard to do it instead of letting it sort of come to you,” Chadwell said. “I think we’re pressing a little bit on defense trying to create a turnover because that’s in everybody’s head, instead of just making the plays that are there and letting it happen.”
I think we’re pressing a little bit on defense trying to create a turnover because that’s in everybody’s head, instead of just making the plays that are there and letting it happen.
CCU interim head coach Jamey Chadwell
The Chants continue to target forcing turnovers in practice, but the results haven’t carried over to this season thus far.
“Coach Matthews, he tries to get a lot of drills in. We work our strip drills and defensive backs are always after the whistle trying to fight the running backs and receivers to get the ball out,” senior linebacker Shane Johnson said. “As a team we were comfortable enough that we could get the ball out whenever we needed to, but it hasn’t happened that way. We’ll go back to the drawing board and work on those skills and perfect that.”