The Alabama Crimson Tide November Report

With the Iron Bowl complete, Alabama's 2011 regular season has come to a close. The particular post-season destination has yet to be determined but, for now, lets take a look back at where this squad stands in comparison with the rest of college football after a dozen games. For comparison sake, here are the September and October versions of this rundown.

Here are all the categories from the NCAA's 2011 FBS Football Statistics page that Alabama appears in the top ten.

NCAA SEC Holder Category Statistic
1 1 team Rushing Defense (yd/gm) 74.92
1 1 team Passing Defense (yd/gm) 116.33
1 1 team Total Defense (yd/gm) 191.25
1 1 team Scoring Defense (pts/gm) 8.83
1 1 team Defensive Pass Efficiency
83.97
1 1 team First Down Defense (tot/gm) 10.5
1 1 team Defensive 3rd Down Efficiency (Atts/Conv) 0.25
1 1 team Defensive Red Zone Efficiency (Drive/Score) 0.59
1 (tie) 1 (tie) team Fumbles Lost 4
3 1 team Fewest Penalties (tot/gm) 4
3 (tie) 2 (tie) team Fewest Turnovers Lost 12
4 1 team Fewest Penalty Yards (tot/gm) 33.67
6 1 Trent Richardson Rushing (yd/gm) 131.92
6 1 Trent Richardson Scoring (pts/gm) 11.5
8 1 Trent Richardson All-Purpose Runner (yd/gm) 164.67
10 3 Marquis Maze Punt Returns (yd/ret) 12.39

As you probably have heard, the Alabama defense is pretty darned good this year. How good? How about 1992-level good. You have to go back to Gene Stallings National Championship squad to find an Alabama defense that performed better than the 2011 version - and even then it's only a difference of degree.

On the offensive side of the ball, the engine that makes it all go is Number 3. With the bowl game still ahead, Trent Richardson holds the school season rushing touchdown record and he's just 75 yards shy of breaking Mark Ingram's season rushing record. Without a doubt, this season he's has absolutely lived up to the considerable hype that has followed him his whole career at the Capstone.

And a testament to the focus of this squad are the extremely low penalty and turnover's lost numbers. Coach Saban preaches the elimination of mistakes and few teams he's led onto the field have done it better.

After the jump are the rest of the Alabama team and individual rankings.

Alabama's Regular Season Individual Stat Leaders
NCAA SEC Holder Category Statistic
71 3 AJ McCarron Total Offense (yd/gm) 197.25

9 Trent Richardson Total Offense (yd/gm) 131.92

24 Eddie Lacy Total Offense (yd/gm) 57.36
6 1 Trent Richardson Rushing (yd/gm) 131.92

11 Eddie Lacy Rushing (yd/gm) 57.36

23 Jalston Fowler Rushing (yd/gm) 32.08
22 3 AJ McCarron Pass Efficiency (rating) 149.8
63 (tie) 3 AJ McCarron Passing (cpl/gm) 16.33
61 3 AJ McCarron Passing (yards/gm) 200
84 (tie) 3 Marquis Maze Receptions (tot/gm) 4.67

25 (tie) Darius Hanks Receptions (tot/gm) 2.33

7 Marquis Maze Receiving (yds/gm) 52.25

22 Darius Hanks Receiving (yds/gm) 30
8 1 Trent Richardson All-Purpose Runner (yd/gm) 164.67
74 4 Marquis Maze All-Purpose Runner (yd/gm) 112.25

20 Eddie Lacy All-Purpose Runner (yd/gm) 69.27
6 1 Trent Richardson Scoring (pts/gm) 11.5
27 4 Jeremy Shelly Scoring (pts/gm) 8.33

22 (tie) Eddie Lacy Scoring (pts/gm) 3.82
80 (tie) 11 (tie) Dee Milliner Interceptions (int/gm) 0.25
41 (tie) 5 (tie) Dee Milliner Passes Defended (tot/gm) 1
41 (tie) 5 (tie) DeQuan Menzie Passes Defended (tot/gm) 1

14 (tie) Dont'a Hightower Tackles (tot/gm) 6.75
20 (tie) 2 Courtney Upshaw Tackles for Loss (tot/gm) 1.33

19 Dont'a Hightower Tackles for Loss (tot/gm) 0.79
39 (tie) 7 Courtney Upshaw Sacks (tot/gm) 0.62

17 Nick Gentry Sacks (tot/gm) 0.32

23 (tie) Dont'a Hightower Sacks (tot/gm) 0.25
25 (tie) 4 (tie) Jeremy Shelly Field Goals (tot/gm) 1.33

13 Cade Foster Field Goals (tot/gm) 0.17
10 3 Marquis Maze Punt Returns (yd/ret) 12.39

What this graph tells us is that April 26 is going to be bittersweet as hell. Between the guys we know who will be high draft picks and the seniors whose production earned them a place on this list, attrition next year will be brutal. But lets not get ahead of ourselves...

One thing that sticks out is how AJ McCarron has emerged as a very reliable passer. He may not be in Greg McElroy's league when it comes to passing efficiency but he's done quite well for his inaugural season in the fire against SEC defenses. Make no mistake, there's still a ton of work to be done but if he can finally develop that vertical passing threat we all dream about next season we'll be cooking with hot grease.

Alabama's Regular Season Offensive Statistics
NCAA SEC Category Statistic
15 1 Rushing Offense (Yds/Game) 219.83
74 4 Passing Offense (Yds/Game) 213.58
31 2 Total Offense (Yds/Game) 433.42
16 3 Scoring Offense (Points/Game) 36
29 (tie) 8 (tie) Fewest Interceptions Thrown 8
29 4 Passing Efficiency 144.35
1 (tie) 1 (tie) Fumbles Lost 4
3 (tie) 2 (tie) Turnovers Lost 12
40 (tie) 2 Tackles for Loss Allowed (Tot/Game) 5.25
26 2 Sacks Allowed (Tot/Game) 1.25
39 3 First Down Offense (Tot/Game) 21.58
11 1 3rd Down Efficiency (Atts/Conv) 49.02
18 (tie) 5 4th Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 63.64
24 (tie) 2 (tie) Red Zone Efficiency (Drive/Score) 0.87
14 3 Time of Possession (Tot/Game) 32.35

The consensus about the Alabama offense this year is that the running game is world class and the passing game mediocre. There's nothing in these numbers to disabuse you of those notions. But the end result is an offense that's in the top third of college football in terms of yards and inside 16th in terms of points. That's not something to sniff at.

What matters more is that Alabama's 3rd down efficiency is just outside of the top ten nationally and leads the conference. In fact, this year's squad performs significantly better in this department than both 2010 (44.37) and 2009 (39.18). When the chains need to be moved, this unit finds ways to get it done. That's also reflected in the red zone numbers although not to the same degree due to the smaller sample size.

Alabama's Regular Season Defensive Statistics
NCAA SEC Category Statistic
1 1 Rushing Defense (Yds/Game) 74.92
1 1 Passing Defense (Yds/Game) 116.33
1 1 Total Defense (Yds/Game) 191.25
1 1 Scoring Defense (Points/Game) 8.83
42 (tie) 6 (tie) Passes Intercepted 12
1 1 Defensive Pass Efficiency
83.97
103 11 Fumble Recoveries 6
79 (tie) 8 (tie) Turnovers Gained 18
22 3 Tackles for Loss (Total/Game) 7
43 (tie) 3 Sacks (Total/Game) 2.08
1 1 First Down Defense (Tot/Game) 10.5
1 1 3rd Down Efficiency (Atts/Conv) 25
35 (tie) 4 4th Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 44
1 1 Red Zone Efficiency (Drive/Score) 0.59

Well, pretty much the entirety of this section is already posted above its worth noting a few categories that aren't in the top tier nationally. One surprising ranking is passes intercepted where Alabama is tied for 42nd and slap dab in the middle of the SEC pack. Over the past two year's Alabama has been one of the country's leaders in this category but this year the numbers are about half those final marks. It's an interesting development for such a dominant defense, to be sure.

Even more perplexing is the woeful fumble recovery numbers. Now we've looked at the details of the turnover statistics in the past and noted this is an extremely random statistic but there are only eight teams in all of college football who have recovered fewer fumbles than Alabama this year. Yet the Crimson Tide's fumble recovery percentage is 40% and that's a lot closer to the mean - just as we expected in the wake of last year's bizarre numbers.

Once again, sacks and tackles for loss stats are less than one would expect but, by now, we've seen enough success out of the defensive front seven to trust Coach Saban's admonition that these two categories are ancillary to the performance of the unit.

Alabama's Special Teams, Turnover Margin and Penalty Statistics
NCAA SEC Category Statistic
63 9 Punting Average (Net Avg. Yards/Punt) 36.42
17 4 Punt Returns (Yards/Return) 12.22
23 4 Punt Return Defense (Yards/Return) 5
24 2 Kickoff Return (Yards/Return) 23.71
62 5 Kickoff Return Defense (Yds/Ret) 21.74
26 3 Turnover Margin 0.5
3 1 Fewest Penalties (Total/Game) 4
4 1 Fewest Penalty Yards (Total/Game) 33.67

Yes, punting and kickoff return defense are just about where you expect if you've been watching at all for the past few months. But, as you saw at the start of this post, Marquis Maze is in the top ten in the nation for punt returns, giving a boost to Alabama's KO return numbers and turbocharging the punt return totals.

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