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The Alabama Crimson Tide September Report

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Now we are a third of the way through the 2010 season it might be a good time to take a look at where this version of the Alabama Crimson Tide stands nationally. With four games down the Tide has faced a pair of cupcakes and two top 25 teams -- the the 51st most difficult slate in the nation. Going forward, the Crimson Tide is looking at the 17th most difficult schedule nationally and the toughest lineup in the SEC.

To start, here are the national top ten rankings for both the team and individual players as of last week's games.

Rank Holder Category Statistic
1 Team Scoring Defense (Pts Allow/Gm) 9.75
2 (tie) Robert Lester Interceptions (Tot/Gm) 1
4 Trent Richardson All-Purpose Run (Yds/Gm) 191
4 (tie) Team Kickoff Return (Yds/Return) 30.27
5 Trent Richardson KO Returns (avg) 35.25
5 Team Defense Pass Efficiency
5 (tie) Team Passes Intercepted 8
6 Team Total Offense (Yd/Gm) 511.75 
7 Greg McElroy Passing Efficiency
8 Team Passing Efficiency

Source: NCAA

In addition, Alabama is currently ranked fourth in the nation and first in the SEC this season for average attendance and 3rd and first, respectively, for average percent of capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Penn State game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sept. 11 boasted the 11th largest crowd to see a college football game in person this season.

Now onto the more detailed statistics...

Here are Alabama's offensive stats as ranked both nationally and in the conference (the numbers in all of these graphs come from the NCAA).

NCAA SEC Category Statistic
13 2 Rushing Offense (Yd/Gm) 244.75
28 2 Passing Offense (Yd/Gm) 267 
6 1 Total Offense (Yd/Gm) 511.75
15 1 Scoring (Total Points) 158 
43 (tie) 5 Interceptions Thrown 3
8 2 Passing Efficiency
40 (tie) 5 Fumbles Lost 3
39 (tie) 4 Turnovers Lost 6
21 (tie) 2 Tackles for Loss Allowed (Tot/Gm) 4.5
62 (tie) 8 Sacks Allowed (Tot/Gm) 2
13 1 First Down Off (Tot/Gm) 24.75
18 1 3rd Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 50
31 (tie) 6 4th Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 66.67
49 (tie) 7 Red Zone Eff (Drive/Score) .84
58 7 Time of Possession (Tot/Gm) 30:15

As you can see, the Crimson Tide offense has become an effective attack ranking in the top quarter of the nation in more than half the categories listed. But there are a couple of points that clearly need work such as sacks allowed and red zone efficiency (the latter being one of the bugbears of the offense from last season).

One that might not jump out immediately but could be the most important indicator for the team going forward is the balance of the attack. During the off season we noted that under Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide has excelled at equalizing the running and passing games and 2010 shows him holding true to form. Thus far this season Alabama has gained 48% of its yards on the ground and 52% through the air.

Now for the defense...

NCAA SEC Category Statistic
27 (tie) 3 (tie) Rushing Defense (Yd/Gm) 106.5
52 6 Passing Defense (Yd/Gm) 186.75
24 (tie) 2 Total Defense (Yd/Gm) 295.25
1 1 Scoring Defense (Pts/Gm) 9.75
5 (tie) 2 Passes Intercepted 8
5 1 Defense Pass Efficiency
103 11 Sacks 4
116 12 Tackles for Loss 3 tpg
98 (tie) 11 (tie) Fumble Recoveries 1
20 (tie) 3 Turnovers Gained 9
23 (tie) 2 First Down Defense (Tot/Gm) 15.5
15 1 3rd Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 26.79
88 (tie) 8 4th Down Efficiency (Att/Conv) 71.43
24 (tie) 2 Red Zone Eff (Drive/Score) .70

OK, lets start with the good news. Alabama is No. 1 in the nation in the only stat that matters here -- scoring defense. The points on the scoreboard at the end of 60 minutes is still how they decide the outcome of the games and the Tide has been superb at keeping the opponents off it. This squad is in the top fifth of the country for total defense and a lot of that is due to the great work by the very young secondary.

But there are clearly some areas that need work. Number one is tackles for loss. Last season, Alabama finished 14th nationally in this category. Thus far this season only New Mexico State ranks lower in all of college football. Our sack numbers are slightly better but that's not saying much. In the conference, only Tennessee ranks lower. Whatever needs to be done to fix this needs to get done fast.

Onto special teams...

NCAA SEC Category Statistic
59 8 Punting (Avg Yards/punt)
99  10 Punt Return (Yds/Return) 4.75
78 (tie) 10 Punt Return Defense (Yds/Return) 11
4 (tie) 1 Kickoff Return (Yds/Return) 30.27
66 8 Kickoff Return Defense (Yds/Return) 21.42

This was another category that provided a lot of anxiety during the off season and the data thus far is only a partial comfort. On the one hand Trent Richardson is proving to be a beast on kickoff returns, which is great. But our KO return defense is in the lower half of the league, which is much less so. Punts are pretty much exactly at the national average but punt returns are downright anemic.

NCAA SEC Category Statistic
26 (tie) 3 (tie) Turnover Margin .75
43 (tie) 3 Fewest Penalties (Tot/Gm) 5.75
30 6 Fewest Penalty Yds (Tot/Gm) 43.75

The turnover margin is bolstered significantly by the work of the defensive secondary but fumble recoveries are bringing the total back down to earth. This could be the law of averages coming around but we'll have to wait and see.

And to wrap it up, here are the national standings for individual players in the categories listed by the NCAA.

Player Rank Category Statistic
Greg McElroy 7 Passing Efficiency
Greg McElroy 32 Total Passing Yards 899
Greg McElroy 43 Passing (Yds/Gm) 224.75
Greg McElroy 61 Total Offense (Yds/Gm) 226.5
Greg McElroy 65 (tie) Points Responsible For 10.5
Greg McElroy 71 (tie) Passing (Cpl/Gm) 15.25
Trent Richardson 4 All-Purpose Run (Yds/Gm) 191
Trent Richardson 5 KO Returns (avg) 35.25
Trent Richardson 33 Scoring (Pts/Gm) 9
Trent Richardson  41 Rushing (Total Yds) 356
Julio Jones 37 Total Receiving Yards 303
Julio Jones 48 Receiving (Yds/Gm) 75.75
Julio Jones 50 (tie) Receptions (Tot/Gm) 5
Robert Lester 2 (tie) Interceptions (Tot/Gm) 1
C.J. Mosley 13 (tie) Passes Defended 6
Robert Lester 27 (tie) Passes Defended 5
Dre Kirkpatrick 46 (tie) Passes Defended 4
Cade Foster 54 (tie) Field Goals (Tot/Gm) 1
Jeremy Shelly 97 (tie) Field Goals (Tot/Gm) 0.5