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Published: Wednesday, 10/27/2010

End Zone: UT 10-28


Ask Zach Silka your University of Toledo football questions every Tuesday at 12 p.m. on ToledoBlade.com in the UT/UM football Web chat.

Yards and points allowed is the customary methodology for determining the potency of a defense. But with the explosion of the spread offense in college football, those numbers can get a little off kilter and often don't tell the true story on how stout a defense is.

That's why Toledo coach Tim Beckman, when he convened with his defensive coaching staff in the offseason, talked about the importance of beefing up one key statistic – turnovers. If the Rockets' defense started forcing more turnovers, then they could be a serious contender in the Mid-American Conference. So, during spring and preseason practices, the coaches drove home the idea repeatedly with their players to attack, to swarm to the football, and force opposing offenses into making mistakes. And for every turnover a defensive player forced in practice, he earned a 100 Grand candy bar.

The emphasis has clearly paid off, as the Rockets rank second in the nation with 24 takeaways this season and are tied for second nationally with 14 interceptions. And largely because of those numbers, UT is undefeated in conference play and tied atop the MAC West standings with Northern Illinois.

So even if you're allowing an average of 360.6 yards per game, like Toledo is this season, your opponent can't beat you if it doesn't have the ball.

β€œIt's a very simple game,” Beckman said.

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