Since coach Tim DeRuyter's arrival, much of Fresno State's defensive identity has evolved around forcing turnovers.
The Bulldogs generated 35 turnovers during DeRuyter's first season in 2012 and followed with 23 turnovers last season.
Fresno State (3-3 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) has been slow to force opposing teams into mistakes this season. But a few recent signs might indicate the Bulldogs are in line for more turnovers entering the second half of the regular season.
"With this team, turnovers are huge -- we need them," defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "It's a confidence builder. It gets guys playing at a higher level. We spend a lot of time at practicing working on this stuff. We want to keep making more of them.
"When the defense gets turnovers, it's good energy for the whole team."
The Bulldogs have forced five fumbles and made three interceptions for the season, on pace to finish with a mere 16 turnovers.
But the Bulldogs showed some signs of getting a better hang of generating turnovers again during last week's 24-13 win against San Diego State. Facing an Aztecs team that didn't have its primary starting quarterback, Fresno State forced Aztecs true freshman quarterback Nick Bawden into a lost fumble and two interceptions.
And as Fresno State prepares for Friday's game at UNLV (1-5, 0-2), the Bulldogs could face another inexperienced quarterback with primary starter Blake Decker considered questionable after suffering an injury last week.
In addition to possible instability at quarterback, the Rebels have been one of the most turnover-prone teams in the nation. UNLV already has committed 13 turnovers (12 interceptions, one lost fumble) to tie for 109th in the nation.
"If we get those opportunities, we have to take advantage of them," said linebacker Donavon Lewis, who has made one interception, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble. "At the beginning of the year, we weren't collective doing things right. Now we're starting to collective do things right.
"If your D-linemen are getting to the quarterback, which can alter his pass and gives the secondary more opportunity for interceptions. If the secondary is covering well, that gives the D-linemen and the linebackers more opportunity to get sacks. So once everybody is doing their job, it allows us to make more big-time plays."
Fresno State's opportunity for turnovers could continue after playing UNLV, too.
Boise State, which hosts Fresno State on Oct. 17, ranks second-to-last in the nation in turnovers committed. The Broncos have been picked off 11 times, which also ranks second-to-last in the nation, and lost five fumbles.
"We've worked on it since the start of the season," Toth said. "We just haven't had the fortunate to do it those first three games. The other part is we hadn't performed well enough to get takeaways in the early part of the year.
"It's good that it's happened the past couple of games. It creates mojo for everybody and that emotional lift is big for some of our younger guys. It boosts their confidence and it boosts the team's confidence. The whole team plays better when we're forcing turnovers."