ed.- the graphs are fairly wide in this post, and therefor disappear under the right sidebar if you don't have the "wide" display option. It's over on the left just underneath the blog logo. What a difference a week can make. After a dominating performance over Clemson to open the season, a week's worth of "Bama's Back!" hype from the national media, and a swelling sense of cautious optimism from the fanbase, our beloved Tide went out against a vastly inferior team and slept walk their way to an ugly win. Just looking at the numbers, there isn't a lot positive we can say about the Alabama offense's performance yesterday other than they didn't lose the game. Take a look at the comparison from the past two weeks:
The brutally efficient juggernaut that held the ball for nearly twice as long as Clemson last week sputtered almost the whole game, managing only one drive of ten plays or longer (an 11 play, 77 yd drive capped by Ingram's 15 yd TD run), and going a miserable 3 of 11 on 3rd down. Against the Tigers, we were 11-17, a key reason we were able to hold onto the ball for so long and put up such huge numbers. Last season we probably would have been placing all the blame on Wilson (rightly or not) for the offensive woes, but to his credit he avoided making the kind of mistakes that cost us several games last season and played relatively smart football. Here are his numbers from the past two weeks:
The two key numbers from his stat line this week are 4 and 0, the number of sacks and the number of INTs. Clemson got little to no pressure on him last week, while the Tulane defense was in his face all evening yesterday by rushing hard off the edges and bring pressure from the outside with the DBs, and a big part of the drop in his completion percentage was the number of balls he had to throw away to avoid a sack. Just looking at the stat line, you'd think he had had a very bad day, but in reality it was a step forward for Wilson who likely would have thrown those balls into coverage last season. Having Andre Smith out at LT and then Marlon Davis pulled early for a hamstring tweak didn't help him, as the offensive line never gelled during the whole game and simply wasn't able to pick up the blitzes Tulane was bringing. Making matters worse was the fact that the running backs apparently forgot how to pass block as well after a great game in that regard last week.
I'm sure much will be made over the course of this week about how great the special teams and defense played, and they deserve all the credit for this win. Javier Arenas is the reason we sit at 2-0 right now, and the defense stood up in the red zone to hold Tulane to FG tries on four deep drives (they actually haven't given up a TD yet this season, so they have that going for them, which is nice), but having positive efforts from two out of three aspects of the game isn't going to be enough to carry us through the heart of the schedule. Overall it was a disappointing display, and the Girl summed up the mood at my place Saturday night best when she said "It feels like we lost." The hard truth here is that we easily could have and probably should have. Take away two amazing special teams plays, and the Tide had only seven points in that game, while Tulane had four shots at field goals. If you take away our special teams scores (which are fairly rare, especially two in one game, and cannot be counted on) and Tulane makes just one more FG last night then the score could have been 9-7 and Tulane would have opened their season with a win. We got incredibly lucky this weekend, and the best thing that can come from this is a reality check for the players that maybe read a little too much of their own press, plenty of film to study on how they can improve next week, and positive game experience for the backup offensive linemen that came in to help them fit in a little better in the future should their services be required again.