September 10, 2010 in Sports

Huskies hungry for some turnovers

UW failed in takeaway department vs. BYU
Scott M. Johnson Everett Herald

SEATTLE – The way senior linebacker Mason Foster sees it, three is the magic number.

Teammate Everette Thompson will settle for two, but he’d prefer “two-plus.”

There is no one single number that will satisfy the University of Washington defense on Saturday afternoons this fall, but one thing upon which all the Huskies can agree is that zero is not going to get it done.

For the first time in the 13-game tenures of head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt, the Huskies did not force a single turnover last Saturday. That, more than anything else, is what left Holt rubbing his scalp in frustration after the 23-17 loss to BYU.

“If you look at it, we dropped an interception in the fourth quarter; it was an easy play,” Holt said three days later, his face still showing the frustration. “And if you look at it, there was a fumble – in my opinion – a fumbled punt in the second quarter that we didn’t get. There were some balls on the ground, and we’ve got to capitalize on that.”

Turnovers were a huge part of UW’s success in 2009. Four of the five victories came after the Huskies forced two or more turnovers, with the convincing 42-23 win over an overmatched Idaho team serving as the only victory that included just one opponent turnover. The win over USC included a key interception in the red zone and Foster’s interception return for a touchdown with 2 ½ minutes remaining beat Arizona.

The coaching staff has preached the importance of turnovers since they arrived in January 2009, using methods such as rewarding a “strip king” after each practice to the player who causes the most fumbles.

“Turnovers are probably the most important part of a ballgame,” junior linebacker Cort Dennison said. “Look at a turnover stat: Most of the time if you win the turnover battle, you win the game. Our coaches preach that.”

Preaching it and doing it are two different animals. This week, the Huskies are trying to make sure they don’t get shut out in the turnover department again.

“We’re stressing that every day and every meeting,” defensive line coach Johnny Nansen said. “We’re trying to tell our kids, ‘Hey, make sure, we’ve got to get the ball back for our offense, to help them out.’ So, yeah, we’re really stressing that this week.”

Foster didn’t hesitate when asked how many turnovers the Huskies should expect from their opponents every Saturday.

“We try to get three,” the senior captain said.

“I feel like between the D-line, linebackers, safeties and corners, we could definitely make that happen.”

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