November 02, 2012
In 13 games during 2011, the Oklahoma State offense turned the ball over 23 times. Last year's Cowboys lost 10 fumbles and threw 13 interceptions to average 1.77 turnovers per game (TO/G). The 2012 offense has been slightly more charitable through 7 games, having coughed up 5 fumbles and 8 interceptions for an average of 1.86 TO/G.
A further look into these numbers reveals that fumbles lost per game has actually improved slightly in 2012 — down from .77 in 2011 to .71 in 2011. This is exactly the trend most fans would expect with a returning stable of proven running backs (although both wide receivers and kicking game specialists can also negatively affect this stat). Interestingly, the 2012 Cowboys are running the ball an average of 9 times per game more than the first seven games of 2011. By any measure, fewer lost fumbles over more opportunities is a positive takeaway.
Inversely, the interceptions per game have gone up from an even 1 per game under Brandon Weeden to 1.14 under the "Walnut" (Walsh and Lunt) duo in 2012. Magnifying the interceptions per game statistic, the 2012 Cowboys are throwing an average of 9 fewer passes per game when compared to last year*. Accounting for attempts, this year's team is averaging a full interception per 100 attempts more than during Brandon Weeden's tenure (through 7 games).
With 20 takeaways, Kansas State boasts one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country. Combined with a stingy offense, the Syndercats are currently #4 in the nation in turnover margin at +2. For the Cowboys to prevail in Manhattan, Wes Lunt and the offense must improve on turnovers. I can think of no better time to start.