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Alabama Running Back Success Rate: Game 10

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They billed Mississippi State as the best front seven Alabama would see all year. Let's take a look into how they performed on Saturday.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, one of my best friend's parents came down to Tuscaloosa to visit. They are wonderful people and, considering their Russian background, they fit in very well with the Alabama gameday atmosphere. However, while tailgating, I noticed her father was lighting up a cigar. Like, before the game. At first I thought he was being arrogant, but one of my other friends pointed out to me that he was just calling his shot. And that's when it hit me.

Alabama and Mississippi State did not come into this game with the same mindset. That's no disrespect to the Bulldogs; they played a competitive game and should be proud of the effort they displayed. But they were attempting to do something they had never done before, and might not have known what to expect in that environment. Alabama knew exactly what they were getting into. They flat refused to let anyone come into their house to take what was rightfully theirs. Mississippi State prepared as well as they possibly could for a football game. Alabama did everything necessary to win a fight.

As a refresher, the Success Rate measures the frequency with which a running back has a "successful" run. A run is considered "successful" if the runner gains 40% of the remaining yardage on first down, 60% on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down.

School Player Carries Successful Carries Yards Yards per Carry Success Rate
Alabama T.J. Yeldon 16 7 72 4.5 43.8%
Alabama Derrick Henry 11 5 36 3.3 45.5%
Arkansas Jonathan Williams 18 10 55 3.1 55.6%
Arkansas Alex Collins 16 9 46 2.9 56.3%
Auburn Cameron Artis-Payne 20 9 86 4.3 45.0%
Florida Matt Jones 18 10 63 3.5 55.6%
Georgia Nick Chubb 19 13 144 7.6 68.4%
Georgia Todd Gurley 29 14 138 4.8 48.3%
Mississippi State Josh Robinson 12 7 37 3.1 58.3%
Missouri Russell Hansbrough 20 11 199 10.0 55.0%
Missouri Marcus Murphy 20 13 88 4.4 65.0%
South Carolina Mike Davis 15 8 56 3.7 53.3%
South Carolina Brandon Wilds 12 3 34 2.8 25.0%
Tennessee Jalen Hurd 24 12 118 4.9 50.0%
Texas A&M Tra Carson 10 6 56 5.6 60.0%

For the second consecutive week (and for at least the fourth time this season), I watched T.J. Yeldon from the stands, unimpressed with what I saw from the junior starter. And for the second consecutive week, the numbers showed that Alabama would not have had a chance to win without Mr. Yeldon's efforts. He was not spectacular by any stretch, but he was good: good enough throughout the game to keep the offense on schedule, and was great on the game-clinching drive. If I'm Coach Saban, I sit Yeldon against Western Carolina and let Derrick Henry figure out whatever's wrong with himself.

Observations:

1) Remember when I said that Texas A&M's offense worked best when they committed to the run game? Well, I'm not here to say that I was right...but I don't think I was wrong. In their win against Auburn, the Aggie running backs combined for 31 carries compared to 29 passes. In this most recent loss to Missouri, the running backs combined for 21 carries compared to 36 passes for Kyle Allen. However you feel about Kevin Sumlin as a coach, it's very hard to defend his playcalling on Saturday night.

2) On the flip side, we all knew how abjectly terrible Texas A&M's defense has been all season, but this is much worse than I thought. Look, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy are both very talented backs for Missouri. But when you, as a defense, allow them to combine for 287 yards and 7.2 yards per carry at a 60% success rate, your performance is bad and you should feel bad.

3) I've never been a Georgia fan and never will be for reasons I don't care to go into on this post. I think Mark Richt has always been a bit overrated and was sort of puzzled when he wasn't fired after the 2010 season. But I will always, always be a fan of Todd Gurley and am wishing him the absolute best in his career. However you feel about the "investigation" the NCAA launched into Gurley and the Bulldogs, it became clear that Gurley did not act with malicious intent. All he's done for the past three years is run ridiculously hard (almost single-handedly bringing UGA an SEC title) through injuries, questionable play-calling, and increasingly unrealistic expectations. You gave us one last masterpiece, Todd. Go get paid millions of dollars legally. I'm sure a lot of us are rooting for you.

Here's the section where I'm supposed to talk about next week's opponent, honoring The Process by taking every opponent seriously. Instead, I'll leave you all with one question: what's the one thing Alabama has to do to beat Auburn on November 29th? As always, thank you for reading!