Army Football: Fumble Luck In Perspective

Triple-option offenses depend on ball security, which is primarily a product of sound technique. Ball security begins with fumble avoidance. However, humans are imperfect creatures, so when teams do fumble, they need a bit of what analytics experts call "fumble luck." Here's a look at Army's fumble luck -- or lack thereof -- over the past nine seasons.


FUMBLE LUCK AT WEST POINT: 2005-2013

An overview of total fumbles and fumbles lost for the Black Knights over the past nine seasons

2005: 16 fumbles, 5 lost

2006: 27 fumbles, 13 lost

2007: 25 fumbles, 14 lost

2008: 36 fumbles, 24 lost

2009: 34 fumbles, 14 lost

2010: 23 fumbles, 11 lost

2011: 36 fumbles, 22 lost

2012: 35 fumbles, 20 lost

2013: 23 fumbles, 13 lost

NOTES


-- 2005 and 2006 were the final seasons of Bobby Ross’s tenure. The Black Knights ran a pro-style offense before returning to option-centric football under Stan Brock, with Rich Ellerson cementing the triple option in West Point. You can see that through 2007, Army’s lost fumble totals did not exceed 14. Yet, Army didn’t rely on the running game as much. In 2007, the last year of the pro-style offense before Brock ushered in the option in 2008, Army threw 17 interceptions, making the team’s 14 fumbles far more costly than the 11 suffered in 2010 or the 13 fumbles lost last season.

-- Since 2008, a span of six seasons, Army has fumbled the ball at least 34 times per season on four occasions.

– The two years in which Army did not fumble at least 34 times were 2010 and 2013. In each of those seasons, Army fumbled 23 times, losing roughly half of its fumbles (11 in 2010, 13 in 2013). The 2010 team went 7-6, making and winning the Armed Forces Bowl against SMU. The 2013 team finished 3-9.

– Why was the 2010 team able to make a bowl, while the 2013 team didn’t come particularly close to a postseason bid? In a word, defense. Army’s 2010 defense allowed 24.3 points per game, while the 2013 defense allowed 31.6 per game, 92nd in the Football Bowl Subdivision. As the “Pivot Points” series illustrated over the past few weeks, Army’s 2013 defense conspicuously gave up a lot of touchdowns right after Army’s offense scored a touchdown. Being able to stack stops on top of scores is a key point of focus for the Black Knights in 2014.

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