The Gophers rank last nationally in turnover margin through four games this season, and their 16 total turnovers are tied for the most. That is not good news for the Gophers as Ohio State, which owns the nation's second-ranked defense, comes to town on Saturday. For all the criticism directed at the defense — much of it deserved — the rash of turnovers is perhaps more troubling because it's out of character for this program.
Since the 2000 season, the Gophers have finished in the top 11 nationally in fewest turnovers every season, save one. They committed 21 or fewer turnovers in all seven of those seasons. The Gophers are averaging four turnovers a game this season, which puts them on pace for 48 for the season.
One week after committing seven turnovers in a loss at Florida Atlantic, the Gophers had four more turnovers in the first half of a 45-31 loss to Purdue.
Gophers coach Tim Brewster benched senior tailback Amir Pinnix after he lost a critical fumble for the second consecutive game in the second quarter. Brewster reiterated Sunday that he won't tolerate turnovers and said he will continue to emphasize ball security in practice this week.
"Ball security is the No. 1 issue in my mind that determines wins and losses," Brewster said. "Until we figure that out, we're going to struggle to win football games. As I state again, those that turn the ball over consistently will not play. We're going to put people on the field who have great ball security."
The outlook isn't much better on the other side of the ball. The Gophers rank last in Division I-A in total defense and pass defense and are 109th in scoring defense. And yet Brewster felt his defense made strides after giving up "only" 31 points and 504 total yards against Purdue.