Unit Efficiency: Florida Game

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 1: Linebacker Courtney Upshaw #41 of the Alabama Crimson Tide chases quarterback Jeff Driskel #16 of the Florida Gators October 1, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Bama thrashed the Gators on Saturday night in the Swamp, and things were pretty much just as good statistically as they looked on TV. This week's piece will be a fairly quick rundown of the Florida game, but next week we'll update all the efficiency stats to include the first six games cumulatively. We will also begin to adjust some of the numbers for opponent strength now that we have nearly half a season's worth of stats on our opponents. For now, though, let's take a look at Bama's statistical performance against the Gators.

Offensive Scoring Efficiency  |  155.5%  |  Very Good

Alabama's offense had only nine non-garbage-time possessions in the game, a relatively low number that is becoming a noticeable trend. This is not a bad trend, mind you, but rather actually goes to show why efficiency per drive, and not raw scoring or yardage totals, is what is really important. Although Bama only had nine possessions, the Tide got some pretty favorable field position on two of those, setting up at the Florida 29 after Marquis Maze's long kickoff return in the first half, and getting the ball on the Florida 46 after a fumbled snap in the 4th quarter. Even on the other seven possessions, Bama had a starting field position of its own 30, which is somewhat favorable.

Due to the number of possessions and the field position on each possession, the Alabama offense had an expected scoring value of 19.37 points. The Tide scored touchdowns on four of the nine possessions (44% touchdown rate) and managed a short field goal on a fifth possession. Bama never turned it over, and punted on the remaining four non-garbage drives (44% punt rate). With these scores, Alabama's offense produced 30.13 points in scoring output, well above their expected value and resulting in a scoring efficiency of 155.5% on the day, a value that may be all the more impressive once we take a look at the strength of the Florida defense later on.

Defensive Scoring Efficiency  |  58.4%  |  Very Good

Florida's offense had ten non-garbage possessions in the game, with an average starting field position of their own 26. They never started a drive in Alabama territory. Even though they had an extra drive relative to Alabama's offense, because of their poorer field position, the Florida offense had a slightly lower expected scoring value: 17.15 points.

On those ten drives, the Gators only touchdown came on their first drive (first play in fact), meaning of course their touchdown rate was only 10%. They managed field goal attempts on two of their drives, one very short and one very long, which taken together produced 3.07 points in scoring output (2.76 points for the 21-yard attempt and 0.31 points for the 52-yard attempt). They had two turnovers, one forced by Bama and the other not (20% turnover rate), and they punted on the remaining five drives (50% punt rate).

In sum, the Gator offense produced only 10.01 points in scoring output, which means they only reached 58.4% of their expected value. Obviously, these are borderline excellent numbers for the Bama defense, once again.

Offensive Field Positioning  |  + 1.60  |  Very Good

Any positive number here is generally good for the offense, because that typically means the offense avoided costly turnovers that set up the opposing offense with good field position. That's exactly what happened yet again, just as was the case in the Tide's other two marquee games. However, in this game, unlike in the Penn State and Arkansas games, the offense was able to move the ball well and flip field position even when they weren't scoring. This ball movement on non-scoring drives effectively reduced the expected Florida scoring output by almost 2 points, hence the positive value seen here.

Defensive Field Positioning  |  + 7.54  |  Excellent

Most of this extra value produced by the Tide defense came from the two turnovers (remember, turnovers are the biggest way to move the offensive and defensive field positioning numbers). Courtney Upshaw's pick-six produced +5.10 points, while the Florida fumbled snap near midfield produced an another +0.95 for Alabama by setting up the offense with good field position. Even aside from the two turnovers, though, the Bama defense produced an additional +1.49 points in field position value, primarily by forcing so many Florida punts deep in their own territory in the second half. Clearly, when your defense produces more than a touchdown's worth of value just by getting the ball back in choice positions, it was an excellent day at the office.

Special Teams Field Positioning  |  - 0.70  |  Below Average

  • The kickoff return unit produced +1.87 points in field position value, virtually all of which came from Maze's long return in the first quarter.
  • Cody Mandell and the punting unit had by far its best performance of the season, producing +1.20 points in field position value on five punts. All five punts produced positive value, and all five resulted in Florida beginning the ensuing drive inside their own 20. Really, it doesn't get any better than that.
  • The kickoff coverage unit had a pretty rough day at the office, as Cade Foster's kicks were placed even shorter than usual and didn't have their usual hangtime. As expected, the speedy Gator returners made the Tide pay on a couple of occasions. The Gators returned all seven kickoffs for positive field position value (for them), and as a result the Bama kickoff unit produced -1.30 points in field position value.
  • The Bama punt coverage unit had an ugly number: -2.69 points in value. On the bright side, this had almost nothing to do with our unit, really, as Florida's rugby-style punts were just that effective in rolling the right way and not allowing any significant returns. Really, this is quite amazing: Florida was able to reduce the Bama offense's expected scoring output by almost 3 points just from effectively rolling their punts up the field. Can't argue with the results.

Field Goal Success  |  + 0.93  |  Above Average

For the fourth time in five games, Jeremy Shelley and the field goal unit were perfect on field goal attempts, going 5-for-5 on PAT attempts (0.06 points in added value each) and nailing the only field goal attempt, a 31-yarder (0.63 points in added value).

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