Offensive Production from Bama Opponents

The Notorious PAB is back again this week with an interesting look at the offensive efficiency of Alabama’s 2015 opponents.  Enjoy!!!!

Introduction

In this entry, we provide a summary of offensive production by Bama’s opponents. The summary covers up to the game vs. Texas A&M, played on October 17. If all goes as planned, this entry will be updated as the Tide’s season moves on.

Season record to date

AP Final Bama
Date Opponent Conference   Poll Score Record AP Poll
9/5 Wisconsin Big10 20 35 – 17 (W) 1 – 0 3
9/12 Middle Tenn Conference USA na 37 – 10 (W) 2 – 0 2
9/19 Ole Miss SEC – West 15 37 – 43 (L) 2 – 1; 0 – 1 SEC 2
9/26 UL – Monroe Sun Belt na 34 – 0 (W) 3 – 1 12
10/3 Georgia SEC – East 8 38 – 10 (W) 4 – 1; 1 – 1 SEC 13
10/10 Arkansas SEC – West na 27 – 14 (W) 5 – 1; 2 – 1 SEC 8
10/17 Texas A&M SEC – West 9 41 – 23 (W) 6 – 1; 3 – 1 SEC 10

Season opener against Wisconsin was the Cowboys Classic Game, played at AT&T Stadium (aka “Jerry World”) in Arlington, TX.   The contests against Georgia and Texas A&M were away games. In text below, these opponent’s names are in italic text.

Ole Miss losing to the University of Memphis, 24 – 37, on October 17 probably doesn’t help the Tide when it comes to strength of schedule. Not ideal that the only Tide loss is to a team that was in turn bested by an American Athletic Conference program (no offense to the AAC intended). Then again, the Tigers are 6-0 this season and riding an 11-game winning streak. Bama does have victories over three Top 20 teams and its SEC schedule is certain to provide more opportunities for quality, high-visibility wins.   Can we all say “ L S U?”

Rushing against Bama

Rushing Net Yards/ First Rushing Fumbles
Opponent Attempts Yards Rush Downs TDs Lost
Wisconsin 21 40 1.9 2 0 0
Middle TN 31 86 2.8 3 0 3
Ole Miss 32 92 2.9 6 2 0
UL – Monroe 31 9 0.3 1 0 0
Georgia 38 193 5.1 12 1 1
Arkansas 25 44 1.8 1 0 0
Texas A&M 25 32 1.3 2 0 0

The Tides’s rushing defense has been excellent so far this season. Georgia has been the only team to exceed 100 yards rushing in a game. The Bulldogs netted 193 yards on the ground, with an impressive 5.1 yards/carry average. But that effort translated into only a single rushing touchdown “Between the Hedges” that day. The Bama D really did a number on the Badgers, a program usually known for a stout O-line and productive running game (against other Big 10 teams, anyway). Wisconsin had the fewest rushing attempts – 21 – generating only 40 net rushing yards for a paltry 1.9 yards/rush average. Five of seven opponents have been denied rushing TDs.

While some conferences are enamored with high-scoring, one-read, options-based, spread-the-field offenses and defenses that look like a seven-on-seven drill took the field, one detects a different emphasis in Tuscaloosa. Stop the run, thereby forcing opponents to rely more on their passing games.  (As contemporary American philosopher, “Iron Mike” Tyson once explained:   “Everyone has a plan ‘til they get hit in the mouth.”) With the run threat negated, release the D-linemen, rely on NFL-size LBs to clobber any receivers coming out of the backfield and look for ball-hawking DBs to break up catches and snatch any errant passes.   For those of us old enough, think “Steel Curtain.”

There’ve been references to “dinosaur game plans” in the sports media. Maybe that isn’t bad thing. Without intending to offend anyone’s beliefs, there is a school of thought that contends the dinosaurs were the dominant vertebrates on Planet Earth for about 135 million years, and it took a random asteroid strike way more powerful than any nuclear arsenal to bring them down. (See any one of the “Jurassic” movies.)

  • Most rushing attempts: Georgia – 38
  • Most net rushing yards: Georgia – 193
  • Highest net yards/rush average: Georgia – 5.1
  • Most rushing TDs: Ole Miss – 2
  • Fewest rushing attempts: Wisconsin – 21
  • Fewest net rushing yards: UL–Monroe – 9
  • Lowest net yards/rush average: UL–Monroe – 3

Passing against Bama

Pass Pass Comp Net Yards/ First
Opponent Attp Comp % Yards Comp Downs TDs INTs
Wisconsin 39 26 67 228 8.8 12 2 1
Middle TN 41 23 56 189 8.2 11 1 1
Ole Miss 33 18 55 341 18.9 8 3 0
UL – Monroe 43 20 47 83 4.2 5 0 2
Georgia 31 11 35 106 9.6 4 0 3
Arkansas 32 15 47 176 11.7 8 2 1
Texas A&M 45 22 49 284 12.9 13 1 4

Not to oversimplify the profession, art and science of coaching big-time college football, but when the running game is rendered ineffective, passing is pretty much all that’s left. (A towering punt of long hang time and precise placement is a wonder, but puts no points on the board.) This is obvious in concept, but far from easy to execute against a defense recruited/trained/coached/adjusted by Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.

Three teams have attempted more than 40 passes in a given game, with normally-run-centric Wisconsin close by at 39. Ole Miss’s passing game was by far the most effective against Bama so far: 55% completions, 341 net yards, an eye-popping 18.9 yards/completion average and three TDs. The numbers for Texas A&M look pretty good until one spies the 1:4 TD-to-INT ratio, with three of the INTs being “pick sixes.” 18 points right there: game over, Aggies

Georgia had the fewest passing attempts (31) during a game in which UGA achieved 193 net yards rushing and a 5.1 net yards/rush average. Relatively few passing attempts – and 31 is only a low number in recent offensive context – is not bad per se.   Bama bested the Bulldogs that day because only 11 passes were completed (35% completion rate), three passes were intercepted and what might have seemed a solid running game generated but a single TD.

  • Most pass attempts: Texas A&M – 45
  • Most pass completions: Wisconsin – 26
  • Best completion percentage: Wisconsin – 67%
  • Most net passing yards: Ole Miss – 341
  • Highest net yards/completion: Ole Miss – 18.9
  • Best TD:INT ratio: Ole Miss – 3:0
  • Fewest pass attempts: Georgia – 31
  • Fewest pass completions: Georgia – 11
  • Worst completion percentage: Georgia – 35%
  • Fewest net passing yards: UL-Monroe – 83
  • Worst TD:INT ratio: Georgia – 0:3 (and don’t forget three pick-sixes thrown by A&M)

Offensive efficiency of opponents

Total Yards/ First Red Zone Points
Opponent Yards Plays Play 3rd Downs 4th Downs Downs Trips : TDs : FGs Off TO
Wisconsin 268 60 4.5 6 – 14 0 – 0 14 4 : 2 : 1 0
Middle TN 275 74 3.7 6 – 19 1 – 1 14 3 : 1 : 1 14
Ole Miss 433 65 6.7 4 – 14 1 – 2 14 4: 2 : 2 0
UL – Monroe 92 74 1.2 3 – 20 1 – 4 6 0: 0 : 0 7
Georgia 299 69 4.3 3 – 17 0 – 0 11 1 : 0 : 1 7
Arkansas 220 57 3.9 5 – 16 0 – 1 9 1 : 1 : 0 3
Texas &M 316 70 4.5 7 – 18 0 – 1 15 2 : 1 : 1 24

To be brief: the Tide lost to Ole Miss by 6 points (37 – 43), giving up 24 points on turnovers; the Tide defeated Texas A&M by 18 points (43 – 23), scoring 24 points off turnovers.   The ol’ calculator says that’s a 48 point swing in two games. Turnovers matter and a defense that converts TOs into immediate points is incredibly valuable. (For those who follow the NFL, think of the Denver Broncos this season. Without its D putting up points, the Broncos would be maybe 2-4 instead of 6-0 going into their bye week.)

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