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Charting the Tide, Defense and Special Teams | That Orange Team

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The stats show the Tide defense did just enough to get it done against the fresher Viles

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Connelly invented all of this; check out his college football analytics blog, Football Study Hall.

But first, let’s rewatch the play of the game in all its disruptive glory:

For, oddly enough, just the fifth time all afternoon,[1] the Viles’ offensive line failed to tackle a Crimson Tide pass rusher at the point of attack, allowing nearly unfettered access to Joshua Dobbs. Once Ryan Anderson was loose, he homed in on the true sophomore quarterback, and in the process of planting him into the turf got a big paw on Dobbs’ right arm, causing the ball to tumble into the even larger paw of A’Shawn Robinson. While Robinson had thoughts of going full Dareus on the play, he came up a few yards short of the end zone, but in the process ended the Viles’ upset bid and iced a hard-fought 19-14 Tide win. Any win over this opponent, regardless of final margin or the highs and lows that created it, is worth savoring, and I can only imagine how sweet those victory cigars were for the ninth year in a row.

1 | Ok it was more than this, but it sure seemed like it was only on five or so plays…

Confused?

  • Air Yards — The down-the-field or vertical yardage gained on a pass play as a result of the quarterback’s throw (i.e., prior to the receiver’s involvement), as measured from the line of scrimmage. So for forward passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, the Air Yardage would be negative. This metric is also tracked on incomplete passes — underthrown balls are measured from where the ball lands, and overthrown balls from where the intended receiver is. Balls tipped at the line or thrown away are not measured. The companion statistic on completed passes is yards after catch — the sum of Air Yards and yards after catch on a completed pass equals the yardage gained on the play.
  • Catch Rate — The number of balls caught over the number of targets for an individual, or how often a receiver makes the catch when targeted.
  • Disruptive Plays — A sum of sacks, stuffs (tackles for loss on a ballcarrier, as opposed to a QB on a pass play), blocked kicks/punts, passes defensed/broken up, interceptions, and forced fumbles. Think of these as things that got you multiple helmet stickers when you were playing peewee.
  • Distance Splits — Aside from the quarterback performance chart (which is in terms of Air Yards), all distances refer to the yardage to go for that particular down, not how much yardage would be required for a successful play (see Success Rate).
  • Percent of Total for Rushing and Passing Splits by Down — These numbers refer to the percentage of first down plays that were a rush, second down plays that were a pass, and so on, NOT the percentage of rushes that were on first down. For example, the sum of first down pass frequency and first down rush frequency will be 100%, but the sum of first, second, third, and fourth down rush frequencies will be well in excess of 100%.
  • Garbage Time — Defined as when a game is not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second quarter, 21 points in the third quarter, or 16 points in the fourth.
  • Pass Direction — One the quarterback performance chart, the pass directions (left, middle, right) refer to the third of the field the ball was thrown to, as defined by the hash marks, relative to the direction the offense is moving (i.e., from the quarterback's perspective). 'Left' throws are to the leftmost third, 'middle' throws are to the area between the hashes, and so on.
  • Run Directions — See the figure below. Defensive letter gap terminology is on the top in blue, and offensive hole terminology is on the bottom in green. Rushes are coded as 'Left Tackle' if they head through the left B and C gaps / the 3 and 5 holes, and so on.
  • RunDirection

  • Success Rate — A 'successful' play is defined as gaining 50% of required yardage on first down, 70% of required yardage on second down, and all of the required yardage on third and fourth downs — required yardage is another term for the distance required for a first down on a given play. Success rate is simply how often a team is successful.
  • Target — The intended receiver on a pass play. All pass plays have intended receivers, with the exception of passes that were tipped at the line, thrown away, or otherwise thrown in such a manner as to render identification of an intended receiver impossible.
  • YAC — Passing Yards After Catch, the amount of yardage gained by the receiver after catching a pass. YAC + Air Yards = Passing Yards.
  • iPPPIsolated Points Per Play, the amount of Net Equivalent Points gained per successful play. This is the best explosiveness metric the advanced stats community currently has; read more about it here.
  • Line Yards — The number of rushing yards on every run attributable to the offensive line’s efforts. Read more about it here.
  • Highlight Yards — The number of rushing yards on every run attributable to the running back’s efforts. Line Yards + Highlight Yards = Rushing Yards. Read more about it here.
  • Opportunity Rate — The percentage of carries where the back has an opportunity to accrue Highlight Yards; read more about it here.
  • Running Back Rating (RBR) — An overall quality metric for running backs, this is the product of Opportunity Rate and Highlight Yards per Opportunity.

Individual Performance

Disruptive Plays
Player VS.
VILES
2015
Season
Total PBUs STFs INTs Sacks FFs BKs Total
Fitzpatrick, Minkah 1 7 1 2 2 --- 1 13
Humphrey, Marlon --- 8 2 1 --- 1 --- 12
Allen, Jonathan 1 2 2 --- 6 1 --- 11
Jackson, Eddie --- 2 1 5 --- 1 --- 9
Foster, Reuben 3 5 2 --- 1 --- --- 8

Observations

While not matching the absurd raw output of last week’s tilt against Texas A&M, the Tide tallied 11 total disruptive plays, including five sacks of the aforementioned Dobbs. Anderson, Daron Payne, D.J. Pettway, Reuben Foster, and Jonathan Allen were the respective disruptors, with Foster adding a stuff and Reggie Ragland notching one as well. Foster, Ronnie Harrison, and Minkah Fitzpatrick all collected pass breakups, although unfortunately all three were dropped interceptions, most notably Fitzpatrick’s.[2] The downturn in disruption came in tandem with the best opponent offensive performance since the Ole Miss game; given that this one was not aided by numerous Tide turnovers or gifts from the football gods, this was a clear sign of either the quality of the opponent’s offense or the general fatigue of a Tide squad in desperate need of a bye after a hellacious October slate.[3]

2 | 1 out of 4 defensed passes is an interception, so these “drops” were regression to the mean.

3 | With all disrespect intended toward the opponent, it was the latter.

Overall Defensive Performance

Quarter Breakdown
Metric 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
Plays 22 129 18 154 13 107 10 43
S. Rate 45.5% 34.9% 33.3% 29.2% 53.8% 25.2% 40.0% 32.6%
iPPP 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.9 0.6 1.3 2.0 2.0
Pass % 45.0% 49.6% 41.2% 62.6% 38.5% 67.3% 50.0% 57.9%
P. S. Rate 55.6% 35.5% 28.6% 31.5% 40.0% 26.5% 75.0% 45.5%
P. iPPP 1.3 1.1 0.6 1.0 1.1 1.7 2.1 2.3
Rush % 55.0% 50.4% 58.8% 37.4% 61.5% 32.7% 50.0% 42.1%
R. S. Rate 45.5% 36.5% 40.0% 29.1% 62.5% 27.3% 25.0% 25.0%
R. iPPP 1.0 0.6 1.0 0.8 0.4 0.5 1.5 1.2

Observations

The Tide offense wasn’t able to get much going in this one, and as a result this game never made it into garbage time. The most notable column in this chart is the fourth quarter success enjoyed by the Viles, although a large percentage of that came on the four play, 75 yard drive that culminated in their final points of the day. After largely relying on heinous, persistent, unchecked holding the feet of Dobbs (early on) and hard running from Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara to pick up yards, on this particular drive Dobbs was able to connect deep with the curiously open Josh Smith and Josh Malone to rapidly put the Viles into a scoring situation.

Those were two of the opponent’s longest plays of the day, with a 29-yard Hurd run in the second quarter — one marred by numerous poor tackles — providing their only other gain in excess of 20 yards on the day. The Viles had perhaps the most success running the ball on the Tide of any team this season, largely a result of the power of Hurd and the shifty, explosive game of former Tide back Kamara. One of the many narratives coming in was the Tide’s well-publicized “issues” with mobile quarterbacks, and while Dobbs put together some nice runs on the day,[4] he lost 27 yards on sacks and scrambles, blunting his impact on the ground considerably. 28 of those 46 yards came on his first two attempts of the day, after which the Tide defense settled in and prevented any substantial production on such plays for the remainder of the game.

4 | 46 yards on 9 designed runs — draws, zone reads, etc.

Formation / Playcall Breakdown
Call Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
VILES
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
Shotgun 59 93.7% 80.6% 42.4% 30.4% 1.1 1.2
Pistol 4 6.3% 3.2% 50.0% 50.0% 0.5 0.6
Under Center 0 0.0% 15.7% --- 26.5% --- 0.9
No Huddle 44 69.8% 52.9% 45.5% 31.4% 1.1 1.2
Huddled 19 30.2% 47.1% 36.8% 28.9% 0.8 1.0
Play Action 7 11.1% 13.6% 57.1% 44.1% 1.9 1.6

Observations

The Viles mixed in a few attempts out of the Pistol for the sake of variety, but largely operated entirely out of the Shotgun, and at a HUNH tempo. Play-action passes were the most successful plays of the afternoon for the opponent, notching a 57% success rate and 1.9 iPPP across seven total attempts, including the aforementioned two to Smith and Malone.

Personnel Breakdown
Group Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
VILES
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
11 42 66.7% 31.5% 45.2% 31.6% 1.1 1.0
10 9 14.3% 28.2% 44.4% 28.7% 0.5 1.0
20 5 7.9% 10.0% 20.0% 30.2% 0.9 2.1
01 4 6.3% 1.9% 50.0% 25.0% 1.9 1.9
00 3 4.8% 10.2% 33.3% 29.5% 0.7 0.9

Observations

The Viles worked out of 11 personnel on two out of every three plays, which is sincerely appreciated as it made charting the game absurdly easy. With the exception of five plays out of a two-back set, they were able to eclipse the Tide’s seasonal averages on success rates across the board. Of note were four attempts out of 01 personnel, which hasn’t been seen in a Tide game since Lousiana-Monroe. The two successful plays were big gainers as well — the late completion to Smith and a slightly earlier 18-yarder to Kamara.

Down and Distance Matrix
Distance Metric Down
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
Short
(0-3 Yds)
Plays 0 2 2 12 2 23 0 3
S. Rate --- 50.0% 100.0% 66.7% 100.0% 52.2% --- 66.7%
iPPP --- 0.4 0.3 1.4 0.5 1.1 --- 0.2
Medium
(4-6 Yds)
Plays 0 2 3 30 3 29 0 1
S. Rate --- 50.0% 33.3% 16.7% 100.0% 44.8% --- 0.0%
iPPP --- 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.7 1.0 --- ---
Long
(7-10 Yds)
Plays 25 158 11 73 5 41 0 1
S. Rate 44.0% 31.6% 36.4% 27.4% 20.0% 14.6% --- 0.0%
iPPP 1.0 1.0 1.7 1.3 1.4 1.4 --- ---
Very Long
(11+ Yds)
Plays 3 15 6 27 3 16 0 0
S. Rate 0.0% 6.7% 33.3% 29.6% 33.3% 25.0% --- ---
iPPP --- 2.1 1.4 1.2 2.3 1.8 --- ---

Observations

The Viles picked up all five of their third down attempts within 6 yards to go, but went 2 for 8 on longer tries, good for an ok-but-maybe-a-tad-high 54% on the afternoon. With the exception of an ohfer on first-and-long, the opponent outstripped the success rate the Tide normally allows regardless of down or distance, including a perfect four for four on short yardage attempts.

Front Seven Performance

Rush Splits by Down, Distance, and Direction
Metric Attempts Rush % S. Rate iPPP LY/Att.
VS.
VILES
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
All Carries 22 56.9% 40.6% 68.2% 40.9% 0.6 0.3 3.1 2.5
1st Down 14 69.2% 52.6% 28.6% 24.0% 0.8 0.6 2.6 2.5
2nd Down 5 45.0% 36.1% 60.0% 32.4% 0.4 0.7 2.9 2.6
3rd Down 3 50.0% 24.0% 100.0% 50.0% 1.1 0.6 5.3 2.4
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
4 100.0% 64.1% 100.0% 57.1% 0.4 0.2 4.1 1.6
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
1 66.7% 37.9% 0.0% 6.7% --- 1.2 0.0 1.9
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
14 51.3% 40.2% 28.6% 25.6% 0.8 0.7 2.6 2.6
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
3 55.6% 28.3% 66.7% 44.4% 1.5 1.2 4.7 4.6
Left
End
4 18.2% 14.2% 75.0% 44.4% 0.6 0.6 5.1 3.5
Left
Tackle
5 22.7% 11.0% 60.0% 50.0% 0.3 0.5 2.8 2.4
Middle 7 31.8% 43.3% 28.6% 12.7% 1.2 0.6 2.1 1.9
Right
Tackle
1 4.5% 16.5% 0.0% 28.6% --- 0.5 0.0 2.6
Right
End
5 22.7% 15.0% 40.0% 52.6% 1.2 0.7 3.6 3.2

Observations

Despite starting two true freshmen, the somewhat-suspect Viles offensive line held their way to success met the challenge of the country’s finest front seven, consistently opening decent holes for Hurd and Kamara up the gut and moving well when required to block around the edges. Overall the Viles had the most rushing success of any Tide opponent thusfar putting up a sky-high 68% success rate and doubling the Tide’s seasonal average in iPPP. Performance in short yardage was nothing short of amazing, with the Viles piling up an average of 4.1 Line Yards per attempt, over 2.5X what the Tide normally allows.

Opposing RB Performance
Metric Attempts Opp. Rate Hlt. Yds. / Opp. RBR
VS.
VILES
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
All Carries 22 36.4% 25.4% 5.3 3.2 1.9 0.8
1st Down 14 28.6% 26.0% 3.0 1.8 0.9 0.5
2nd Down 5 40.0% 25.0% 2.3 4.4 0.9 1.1
3rd Down 3 66.7% 27.3% 13.0 8.8 8.7 2.4
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
4 50.0% 11.8% 2.8 2.8 1.4 0.3
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
1 0.0% 14.3% --- 4.8 --- 0.7
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
14 28.6% 25.6% 3.0 2.4 0.9 0.6
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
3 66.7% 66.7% 12.5 5.8 8.3 3.9
Left
End
4 75.0% 38.9% 3.2 3.4 2.4 1.3
Left
Tackle
5 40.0% 35.7% 1.0 2.6 0.4 0.9
Middle 7 14.3% 7.8% 22.0 8.0 3.1 0.6
Right
Tackle
1 0.0% 33.3% --- 0.9 --- 0.3
Right
End
5 40.0% 44.4% 4.5 3.1 1.8 1.4

Observations

The two Viles backs had a pretty outstanding day considering the quality of their opponent, and together outstripped the Tide’s typical allotted Opportunity Rate by over 10%. They complement each other well, as Hurd is a physical monster that’s every bit the size and strength match to Derrick Henry, whereas Kamara provides the slashing, high speed game one typically associates with Kenyan Drake.

The edges were where they did the most damage, with only three successful runs coming between the tackles. The Highlight Yards on third down, long yardage, and up the middle are skewed considerably by Hurd’s 29-yarder on 3rd and 16 at the end of the first half, which accounted for the majority of production in those situations. Their combined 1.9 RBR is the highest allowed by the Tide all season.[5]

5 | In competitive time, that is. Pretty sure Georgia beats that if you include Nick Chubb’s second half work.

Secondary Performance

Opponent Quarterback Performance
Air Yards Metric Left Middle Right Totals
6 4 13 23
Behind
L.O.S
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 1/1 (100.0%) 2/2 (100.0%) 4
S. Rate 100.0% 0.0% 50.0%
iPPP 0.5 --- 2.1
0-5
Yards
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 0/0 (---) 3/4 (75.0%) 5
S. Rate 100.0% --- 75.0%
iPPP 0.8 --- 0.9
6-10
Yards
Comp. % 0/0 (---) 0/0 (---) 2/2 (100.0%) 2
S. Rate --- --- 100.0%
iPPP --- --- 0.7
11-15
Yards
Comp. % 1/3 (33.3%) 0/1 (0.0%) 0/2 (0.0%) 6
S. Rate 33.3% 0.0% 0.0%
iPPP 1.4 --- ---
16+ Yards
Comp. % 0/1 (0.0%) 2/2 (100.0%) 1/3 (33.3%) 6
S. Rate 0.0% 100.0% 33.3%
iPPP --- 2.6 2.1

Observations

Aside from an occasionally-flat pass rush, the most evident area impacted by the fatigue plaguing the Tide at this stage of the season was in the secondary, where Tide defensive backs on several occasions appeared to move at three-quarter speed against a well-rested Viles receiving corps. This was particularly notable at the very end of the game, which coincidentally saw the most explosive gains of the day for the Viles passing offense.

Aside from the handful of big throws deep, Dobbs and company mostly found success with ten yards of the line of scrimmage — Dobbs was 8 for 9 on these attempts, seven of which were successful. A good chunk of Kamara’s overall production on the day came via these throws, as he picked up 44 receiving yards on four balls thrown three yards or less through the air.

Pass Splits by Down and Distance
Metric Attempts Pass % S. Rate iPPP
VS.
VILES
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
VS.
VILES
2015
Season
All Passes 25 43.1% 59.4% 48.0% 32.4% 1.3 1.4
1st 8 30.8% 47.4% 62.5% 36.6% 1.0 1.2
2nd 11 55.0% 76.0% 45.5% 30.6% 1.7 1.5
3rd 6 50.0% 63.9% 33.3% 30.3% 1.1 1.5
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
0 0.0% 35.9% --- 71.4% --- 2.1
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
2 33.3% 62.1% 50.0% 36.1% 0.8 1.0
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
19 48.7% 59.8% 52.6% 30.8% 1.3 1.3
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
4 44.4% 71.7% 25.0% 21.1% 2.1 1.7

Observations

Dobbs had one of his better games in this one, clearing the Tide’s normal success rate on every down and distance to go, and generally with good explosiveness. Most of that success came on first down, however, with the Viles passing game only going two-for-six on third down conversions.[6]

6 | Technically three-for-nine, if you include Dobbs scrambles.

Special Teams Performance

Punts and Kickoffs Performance
Metric ALABAMA VILES
Punt Hangtime 4.62s 3.30s
Gross Points per Punt 4.81 3.70
Net Points per Punt 4.12 3.70
Kickoff Hangtime 4.15s 4.18s
Gross Points per Kickoff 6.57 6.62
Net Points per Kickoff 3.48 3.24

Observations

This, surprisingly enough, was where the game was won for the Tide. Adam Griffith, that noted assassin of the placekicking arts, largely kept the ball away from the dangerous Evan Berry on kickoffs[7] and nailed both of his field goal attempts to provide the winning margin over the Viles. Don’t look now, but the embattled senior has been virtually automatic since stumbling in the season’s first two games, and has hit 10 of his last 12 tries. His counterpart was asked to attempt three field goals in excess of 40 yards, including two 51 yarders, and missed all three. Who knows what might have been if ol’ Butch went for it on those fourth downs, or attempted to pin the Tide deep with some precision punting.[8]

7 | Berry’s one good return was due more to poor tackling than a poor kick from Griffith.

8 | Field position is important, and that will be addressed tomorrow as well.

Speaking of punting, whatever undisclosed injury procedural concerns that hindered J.K. Scott to start the year appear to have vanished, as the sophomore is back to consistently kicking the snot out of the ball in 2014esque fashion. He averaged nearly 50 yards a punt in this one, with a touchback depressing the net to 44 a punt. His last two of the day were a pair of gorgeous, unreturnable 56 yarders; the second pinned the Viles at their own 10 yard line, and represented his finest punt of the year according to Net Equivalent Points. His counterpart knuckleballed his punts all over the field, with his only decent effort a drop-and-roll affair that accumulated 53 yards when all was said and done. Neither team did much in the punt return game.

Finally, a special shoutout to Drake, who took the two returnable kickoffs of the afternoon 33 and 29 yards, with the latter providing solid field position on the final scoring drive of the game. Damien Harris has been handling kick returns for weeks now, so it’s possible Drake was reinserted into that role this week as a result of the true freshman’s gaffe late in the first half of the Texas A&M game.

ROLL TIDE