There’s a reason the No. 9 LSU football team hasn’t coughed up the ball this season.
Protecting the ball is a focal point during everyday practice because, to the Tigers (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), turnovers decide who wins each game and who loses.
The Tigers began to focus on cleaning up their number of turnovers after racking up 23 fumbles, eight of which were lost, and nine interceptions in 2014.
“It starts in practice,” said sophomore wide receiver Malachi Dupre said. “Every time we get a ball, the guys on defense are trying to strip it.”
Anytime an offensive skill player runs off the field or is moving in practice with a football in hand, another player can come and try to rip the ball out — so they better keep it in tight.
“Anytime we run back to the huddle, we better have the ball high and tight,” Dupre said.
The Tigers have not committed an offensive turnover thus far on 184 plays this season.
No interceptions. No fumbles. Nothing.
No turnovers through three games is a rare sight in college football as LSU is the only team remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision without a turnover.
Dating back last season, LSU played 203 offensive snaps since it last committed an offensive turnover when junior quarterback Anthony Jennings fumbled at the 7:21 mark in the third quarter against the University of Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl.
For the first time since 1959, LSU has not committed an offensive turnover in the first three games of the season.
Under LSU coach Les Miles, the Tigers are 56-9 when winning the turnover battle in games and have combined a turnover margin of +69 for Miles’ career. LSU is currently +3 this season.
“We know that the team that wins the turnover margin, then their chances of winning are a lot higher than the other team,” Dupre said. “That is always an emphasis, offensively, for us not to turn the ball over.”
Miles commended Harris for how he curates the LSU offense. He said Harris is not trying to do too much — not forcing throws into tight windows or heavy defensive coverage.
“Brandon continued to manage the offense and does the things we ask him to do,” Miles said. “He gives us the efficiency and the ability to make a big play all in one.”
Harris completed 29-of-47 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. Also, he is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 117 yards and two touchdowns so far.
Harris has not needed to throw a ton this season because when feeling pressure, LSU dishes it to sophomore running back Leonard Fournette — then, he does what he does.
Fournette, the first running back in LSU history to rush for over 200 yards in two straight games, is averaging 210.3 yards a game. He is No. 2 in the nation and first in the SEC in points per game with 16.
LSU rushed the ball 137 times this season, 73 of which were carried in Fournette’s hands.
“His improvements, he’s coming lighter, he’s faster, and he’s always been strong,” Miles said. “When he runs with power and then when he gets in front, they don’t catch him. That’s kind of the key piece.”