Statistical Snapshot: Alabama Defense Historical Comparisons

Still the standard by which all modern Alabama defenses are judged.

As of this week, Alabama leads the nation in just about every defensive category. After seven weeks of the 2011 season, the Crimson Tide is No. 1 for Rushing Defense, Scoring Defense and Total Defense. Bama is also No. 2 in Pass Efficiency Defense and No. 4 in total Pass Defense. The question then is what does this tell us about the season to come? To shed a bit of light on that I've been looking through Alabama's own football history to see what past Crimson Tide seasons might reveal.

The trick is breaking down the numbers thus far this season in a like comparison to last season. Last week, I provided a sample of several seasons to get a sense of things but then went back and have filled in our publicly available online spreadsheet with data going back to 1990 as well as including the National Championship seasons since 1961. That many numbers can be dizzying so I've put together some of the info in graphs.

Alabama Yards Allowed 1990-2011 (through seven games)
Ypg790-11_medium

Obviously, the performance by the 2011 defense thus far this season is among the best Alabama has seen in the past 20 years. They are significantly ahead of the 2009 National Championship team at this point in the season and, in fact, are only surpassed by the National Champion 1992 team after seven games.

That said, there are at least three teams that hovered at that 200-yard total defense mark that fell well short of the lofty heights. Great average numbers doesn't necessarily translate into individual victories on the field as the 1994 squad can attest. They fell to Florida in the SECCG as did the 1996 team en-route to a 10-3 final record.

The 2004 squad is the portrait of a hot start going completely off the rails in the second half of the season. They finished 6-6. The 2008 team is a cautionary tale for finishing strong. They followed up an undefeated regular season with a pair of painful post-season losses.

Points allowed offers similar optimism and a similar cautionary tale.

Alabama Points Allowed 1990-2011 (through seven games)
Pointspg790-11_medium

The forfeited games in 1993 occludes the fact that this was also one of Alabama's strongest squads but, also, one that simply fell short on important occasions. Despite one of the stingiest squads in terms of the scoreboard, that seasons' team had already recorded a tie with Tennessee by the seventh game of the season. They would go on to fall to both LSU and Auburn down the stretch.

After the jump, we'll look at these numbers in comparison with Alabama's National Championship squads.

Alabama National Champions Yards Allowed (through seven games)
Ypg7champs_medium
Alabama National Champions Points Allowed (through seven games)
Pointspg7champs_medium
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