His dad was the Mayor of Miami. If this keeps up Penn State Football defensive coordinator Manny Diaz might soon be the Mayor of State College.
The inventor of the “Turnover Chain”, when he was the head defensive guru at the University of Miami a few years ago, Diaz may have found his happy place in Happy Valley.
It has since been retired, but the second year D.C. at Penn State will always be synonymous with the bejeweled and gaudy “Cuban link” that is still being recreated and imitated in other forms by other programs and other sports leagues.
The turnover chain was cool, it was trendy. It exuded swag and it screamed Miami. But it also screamed Manny Diaz.
When Diaz introduced it back 2017 the Hurricanes finished the season third in the nation in takways with 31 and those takeaways led Miami to a10-0 start that year.
But it wasn’t a gimmick.
When Diaz gave out his privileged little reward for the defensive player who registered a takeaway during a game, it was really a glimpse into just how much emphasis the Miami native put on the value of the turnover. If you don’t understand the correlation between turnovers and winning then you have to pay better attention on Saturdays and Sundays.
For there is no bigger indicator of a team’s success on the stat sheet than the turnover. Check the numbers.
Penn State Football Defense Embodying Manny Diaz
Right now, the top six teams in turnover margin in Division I football are a combined 20-1 and Penn State tops that list out of 133 FBS schools. (If you need more empirical data, the top six teams in turnover margin in the NFL are a combined 13-3 after three weeks. Just sayin’).
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“We tell our guys every year,” Diaz said during an appearance on The Next Man Up Podcast. “Everyone understands the correlation between turnovers and winning. The way that we look at the game in terms of the game strategy is more turnovers happen on 3rd down and long than any other down and distance.
“So, what creates 3rd down and longs? We were outstanding last year in completion percentage against. We were top five in TFL’s (tackles for loss). If you marry those things together you’re going to end up in a lot of 3rd and eight pluses and when you do that you have the ability to get around the quarterback”
With Diaz’ defensive philosophy of controlled chaos, once again the Nits are one of the top teams in the country in keeping their opponents “behind the sticks”, a.k.a. off schedule, and what Diaz has produced thus far is a defense that is second in the country in takeaways with 11.
Combine that with an offense, led by five star quarterback sophomore sensation, Drew Allar, who has thrown exactly 0 interceptions through four starts and you have the top team in all the land in turnover margin with a plus 11, a whopping three ahead of second place Fresno State.
That’s an insane turnover margin average of almost plus three per game.
On the other side of the ball in their last 26 consecutive quarters the Penn State offense hasn’t committed a single turnover.
Let me repeat that.
In the Lion’s last 26 consecutive quarters, which includes all four games this season, the offense hasn’t committed a turnover.
The Lions are the only program of the 133 who hasn’t coughed the ball up so far this year. In that same time, which equates to six and a half games and all four thus far this season, the Nits defense has registered an eye-popping 17 takeaways.
That’s not a typo and no, I haven’t been drinking.
Penn State is a plus-17 in their last consecutive 26 quarters.
But, thwarting your opponent with takeaways doesn’t mean all that much if you can’t convert them into points.
Good teams do that.
Good teams make you pay for your sins and through four games this season the Penn State gods appear to be angry and vengeful. The Nits have turned 10 turnovers into 61 points in their last 12 quarters and are a perfect 4-0 on the young season heading into Saturday’s battle at Northwestern.
Amazing. Truly amazing.