In listing the most important statistics in football, most coaches and players will say that turnover margin is near the top.

Although Colorado's football team has had a lot of struggles this season, the inability to create turnovers has certainly been a factor in the Buffs' 1-8 season (1-5 Pac-12).

Through nine games, the Buffaloes are last in the Pac-12 in turnovers created (12) and turnover ratio (minus-11).

"Since the first day we got here, getting turnovers is one of the things we talk about every day," freshman cornerback Yuri Wright said. "We just haven't really been able to get any this year."

There are a few reasons for that. For one, the Buffs need to be better at gang-tackling and attacking the ball.

"Part of it is getting more than one guy to the ball so that when you're tackling, another guy can go in and try to rip the ball," head coach Jon Embree said.

Youth plays a role, too. As has been well-documented this season, the Buffs are playing a load of freshmen on defense. With that, the Buffs have not put themselves in good positions to force turnovers.

"Being in better position and knowing your assignments (would help)," Wright said. "If you know your assignments, the ball is going to eventually come to you. Everybody's got to be doing the right thing at the right time.

"Once the chemistry starts to come and we start clicking with each other, you'll definitely seen an improvement on that side."


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Another aspect to getting turnovers is to actually take advantage of opportunities that are given. Opponents have fumbled 13 times, but CU has recovered just nine. As a team, the Buffs have picked off only three passes, but there have been a couple of drops in there, too, including one by Wright on Saturday against Stanford.

"There's opportunities; we just have to make the most of them," Embree said.

As the Buffs look to the future, their turnover production will have to increase dramatically. This is the second year in a row that the Buffs are producing record-low numbers.

In 2011, the defense created just 15 turnovers all season, it's lowest total in the record-keeping era (starting in 1946). The 2011 team had just seven interceptions, which is the lowest total since the 1984 Buffs had three.

This season, the Buffs are on pace to create 16 turnovers, including four interceptions. CU has not intercepted a pass since having two in its only win, 35-34 at Washington State on Sept. 22.

CU's minus-11 turnover ratio is on pace to be its worst since the 1980 team set a school record at minus-22.

No QB decision yet

After Wednesday's practice, Embree said the Buffs weren't ready to name a starting quarterback for Saturday's game at Arizona (5-4, 2-4). Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood are battling for the job.

"I'll have to watch the tape," Embree said. "I was watching how the defense was practicing today."

Muscle up front

Embree said he feels the Buffs could be able to compete well in the trenches against the Wildcats.

"I think both of our lines match up well, which is always good when you go into a game to know that your lines aren't going to be overmatched on either side," he said.

CU's offense is 11th in rushing (99.7 yards per game) and has allowed a conference-worst 40 sacks, but Arizona's defense is 10th against the run (183.1 yards per game) and last in sacks (13).

Statistically, it's not as good of a matchup on the other side of the ball. CU's defense is last against the run (204.2) and 10th in sacks (16), while Arizona ranks third in rushing (190.6) and fourth in sacks allowed (16).

Notable

Senior linebacker Jon Major is hoping to get back on the field after hyper-extending his elbow last week. Embree said Major looks "all right," but that he's not sure of Major's strength at this point. ... Parker Orms (concussion) practiced a bit on Wednesday, when the Buffs went without pads. Embree said that's part of the process with players recovering from concussions and that Orms would be evaluated for symptoms afterward. ... OL Ryan Dannewitz (knee), TB Josh Ford (ankle) and C Gus Handler (knee) are all out this week. Dannewitz may be out for the rest of the year after spraining his ACL vs. Stanford on Saturday. ... DT Justin Solis (neck) is doubtful to play, while Major, Orms, DT Nate Bonsu (ankle) and DT Josh Tupou (ankle) are all questionable. ... CU opponents are 2-6 this season the week after facing the Buffs. Only Sacramento State and Oregon won the next week.

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