Turnovers are important to the former linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator. In fact, Fickell even expressed his desire to see his team lead the nation in turnovers during his introductory press conference. He wanted the Buckeyes excel in effort, toughness and turnovers, and while effort and toughness are subjective terms, turnovers are not. Ohio State has done a good job of not giving up the football, losing possession via fumble or interception 10 times. Only Wisconsin (six) and Iowa (nine) have committed fewer turnovers. On the flip side, however, the Buckeyes have forced 14 turnovers. That's tied for the fourth fewest. Only Minnesota (six), Purdue (11) and Wisconsin (13) have less.
"My opinion would be that we probably haven't got as many defensively, and we've done a decent job offensively at not turning the football over," Fickell said Tuesday during his weekly media luncheon.
Fickell lamented the fact that the Buckeyes only forced one turnover – a key fourth-quarter interception by junior cornerback Travis Howard – against Indiana in OSU's most recent game. The Hoosiers had 70 plays on offense but only had the one interception and never fumbled the football. Fickell stressed that getting turnovers is a key to getting talented offenses off the field.
He used games like the Oklahoma State-Kansas State shootout from last weekend as an example. The Cowboys outlasted the visiting Wildcats, 52-45, in a game that featured 1,082 yards of total offense. Kansas State ran 90 offensive plays, while Oklahoma State ran 63.
The game also featured three lost fumbles and three interceptions.
While Ohio State hasn't exactly faced offenses as high-powered as those on display in Stillwater, Okla., last Saturday night, Fickell said he was still not happy to only get one against Indiana.
"To only get one is not where we want to be," Fickell said.
Fickell was not the only person with that viewpoint on Tuesday. Senior nickel back/star Tyler Moeller said creating turnovers is one of the main goals of a defense.
"I don't think we've done a good job of it," Moeller said.
Junior defensive lineman John Simon echoed Fickell and Moeller, and dismissed the suggestion that luck plays a large part in whether a defense creates turnovers or not.
"I would say turnovers are effort plays, hitting people from behind when they're not seeing you coming and really focusing on stripping the ball out," he said. "We definitely need to work on that."
Perhaps turnovers is on Fickell's mind going into this weekend's game at Purdue because he remembered what happened the last time Ohio State traveled to West Lafayette. The Boilermakers upset then-No. 7 Ohio State 26-18 thanks in part to turnovers. The Buckeyes lost the turnover margin by two, losing the ball five times and creating three turnovers against the Purdue offense.
Turnovers could again play a large factor Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
"Turnovers are huge in the game of football," Simon said. "We can always get better with that. We've been working on it every day in practice, and that's going to be a big key to the game on Saturday."