It was a topic of conversation before fall camp had even started, mainly because the Fresno State Bulldogs had such success prying football away from their opponents a year ago, and because teams that do that one year historically have not been able to do it the next.
Whether a statistical anomaly or there is a difference in emphasis or the way it was coached one year to the next, it is something of a mystery. But only 19 of the 116 teams ranked in the top 10 or tied for 10th in the bowl subdivision in turnovers gained over the past 10 years had been able to repeat the following season and more than half, 59, had had their number of turnovers fall by 10 or more.
And here are the Bulldogs, a perfect 6-0 and ranked No. 17 in the first BCS standings but stewing about a number of things including a turnover margin that is only ninth best in the Mountain West Conference at minus-1 -- they have lost 13 turnovers while gaining 12.
That last game, a victory over UNLV, they did not create a turnover for the first time in 19 games.
"Sometimes it can be cyclical," said coach Tim DeRuyter, who had the Bulldogs jump to fifth in the nation in turnovers gained from a tie for 119th and last with a turnover margin of plus-15.
"Sure, you can have dips, but it shouldn't be 50 percent of what you had the year before. We have to continue to emphasize it. We had opportunities the other night. L.J. (Jones) will tell you, that one ball that was overthrown hit him in the arm and he has to make that play. We had a chance when Ejiro (Ederaine) knocked the ball loose, it was on the ground, and he should have got on it and made the official make a call. But because he didn't, he blew the whistle and it was over.
"It's going to be a continual emphasis for us. If we'll take care of it on offense and create more on defense, we'll get that back to where we want it to be."
But with the Bulldogs defense playing faster and more consistently the past few weeks in victories at Idaho and against UNLV, turnovers could come in greater numbers.
"I'll tell you, it's a function of a lot of things," DeRuyter said. "When you're playing fast and not thinking, you have a chance to make plays. (Phillip Thomas) just played natural football last year and created a ton of plays. We have some guys that didn't have that experience level this year and they're starting to come into their own and I think it's going to come.
''Two weeks ago it did. Last week we had opportunities and didn't quite make it. But we're getting closer to the point where we have some guys playing harder, playing more confidently and hopefully more takeaways will result from that."
"I'd love to have more," defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "But we have more sacks this year than we did a year ago at this time, so you have to hope the opportunities come from there.
"We're not creating enough fumbles, I'll tell you that. We're not. We have to keep ripping at that ball. The last two weeks were better, but we talked as a coaching staff during the off-week before Idaho about, 'Hey, we have to get back to reemphasizing this.' We're doing it, but not hard enough. You over-emphasize it, and you get better at it."
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