Josh Kendall

College football’s simplest, most important stat not lost on Gamecocks

We’ve heard Will Muschamp and his coaching staff talk a lot about taking care of the football on offense and creating turnovers on defense. We’ll hear a lot more of it.

There’s a good reason for that. Even as the college football world fills with more and more advanced statistics, there’s no more cut-and-dry indicator of success than turnover margin. While we’re all searching for new and exciting ways to explain why Team A outplayed Team B, often it’s as simple as one line on the stat sheet.

When South Carolina went 33-6 from 2011-2013, the Gamecocks were a combined plus-22 in turnover margin. They finished in the top six of the SEC in the category in each of those years. In the last two years, when the Gamecocks have combined to win 10 games, they have were a combined plus-3 in turnover margin.

Muschamp has his own experience with the power of turnover margin. In 2012, when his Florida team was 11-2 and he was named SEC coach of the year, the Gators were eighth in the nation in turnover margin at plus-15. In his other three seasons at Florida, when he was 17-19, his teams were minus-eight combined in turnover margin.

An analysis by in 2014 concluded that each turnover was worth on average five points. This is why Muschamp talks about it all the time. It’s why every coach talks about it all the time.

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