Creating turnovers a priority for defense

One positive note coming out of the game with Cincinnati was the continuation of the defense's stellar play. Going into Saturday's game against Idaho State the unit ranks 12th in the nation and second in the Pac-10 for total defense allowing 212.5 yards per game. They also rank nationally in rush defense at third allowing 24 yards per game and eighth in sacks at 4.0 per game.

"We played an excellent defensive game with intensity," coach Mike Riley said.  "We were very disruptive as you look at the film, but there's always some stuff we're going to look at, correct, and do better."

One thing the team could do better is create turnovers.  The defense has forced just two turnovers, both fumbles, in two games. The team's -7 turnover margin is second worst in the nation.

"Every play in practice we need to work on getting the ball in our hands, whether it's a pass or a run, strip the ball, pick the ball off, we need to create extra opportunities for our offense to score points," defensive end Dorian Smith said.  "We also need to learn to smother offenses and make a lot of big plays. We need to work on making it hard for offenses to get anything."

"Our motto on the defense is if they don't score, we win."

The defense has been defending a short field all year with the average starting point for a drive following an OSU turnover being at the Beaver 28-yard line.  But Smith says there is no excuse for giving up points, they need to continue to improve and attack opposing team's offenses.

"It's not about that, It's about doing our job and working to smother offenses, and making them not want to play anymore," Smith said.

Over the last 39 games, the Men in Black are 17-2 when committing few turnover than its opponents, 3-12 when committing more and 3-2 when even.  Last year the Beavers were blessed with a senior quarterback who threw just seven interceptions all year long, but the defense did their part too recovering 16 fumbles and picking off 17 passes.  The 2006 squad finished with a +8 turnover margin, good for second in the conference.

Although the defense doesn't have many turnovers at this point, Smith says he thinks they are one of the best defenses in the nation and it is only a matter of time before the ball bounces their way.

"We have so much depth on the defensive line, I think we have the best linebacking corps, and our secondary, they know the defense just like the back of their hands," Smith said.  "They are animals back there."

"I feel really confident and I think that we have a great defense."


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