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Graphing the Tide vs. Tennessee

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It was a statistically-significant pummeling of an outmatched opponent.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This is the cliffs notes version this week. The Tide offense rolled and the defense shut down Tennessee at nearly every turn, so the story is much simpler than we may have expected coming in to the season. Enjoy.

Metric definitions

A "successful" play, as defined by Football Outsiders, is basically when a play gains enough yardage to keep the offense on track, i.e., 50% of needed yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd, or 100% on 3rd/4th. A "big play" (aka an "explosive play") is any play that gains ≥15 yards (run OR pass).

Success rates, big play rates

Big play rate (XR) and Success rate (SR)

* NCAA average SR = 40%

Not seeing a chart here?

Four quarters of above-average success rates for Alabama? Check. Four quarters of below-average success for the other team? Check. Sounds like a good Saturday to me. This was a shellacking: aside from a few frustrating early drives, and a few odd turnovers, Bama outmatched Tennessee in every quarter.

As for explosiveness: that the Tide had explosive plays in every quarter (with fairly solid rates), while holding Tennessee to only a few non-garbage time ones, is fantastic.

Running and Passing, Alabama (#RTDB)

Not seeing a chart here?

Here’s a chart any Gump should enjoy: passing was fine (finally back to average success rates by the end of the game), but running was consistently excellent. And Lane kept at it, with 62% run rates by the end of the game. Interesting that this all looks like it’s from an old-school running Tide offense, but the run-heavy nature is actually due largely to QB running (which was NOT a staple of things back then).

Another item of note is that long 2nd quarter: the Tide only had a few opportunities in the 1st, but then things stretched out for a nice, high-scoring (for one team) first half.

Running and Passing, Tennessee

Not seeing a chart here?

Tennessee utilized a fairly balanced attack throughout the game, only to see it further and further crushed as the game wore on. Passing did pick back up in the second half, especially during garbage time, but that shouldn’t be a surprise given similar effects this year when the second-stringers go in.

Parting thoughts

  • Saban = happy. For now. But let’s hope for enough grumpiness to get us through the rest of the SEC slate, though. We like grumpy.
  • Not a lot of receiving balance this week: for successful plays, Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart showed up all over the place, but the only other successful receptions were from Joshua Jacobs, O.J. Howard, and Trevon Diggs (on a pass from Cooper Bateman). Hopefully an opponent doesn’t come along that can shut down the two main options.