A ”successful” play, as defined by Football Outsiders, is 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 “explosive play”) is any play that gains ≥15 yards (run OR pass).
Success by Quarters
Not seeing charts? Tap here to load the full article.
Per cupcake game norms, the charts don’t tell many stories that weren’t obvious from the scoreboard result: the Tide totally destroyed an overmatched opponent before letting things loosen up in order to burn clock. These charts are nigh-stereotypical for an Alabama blowout: a sheer smothering early—ULL only had 6 successful plays in the entire first half—then a flurry of activity from our opponent in a quick 4th quarter.
It is notable how potent this particular 4th quarter flurry was, though: a 71% SR is extremely high, and is the highest that I can recall the Tide giving up in a quarter these past few seasons. It’s definitely related to the play volume, as this was a very quick quarter where both teams were trying to chew clock running the ball, but it is remarkable that 10 of the Cajun’s 14 4th quarter plays were successful (with two of them explosive, to boot). I guess that’ll give something for Saban to chew the 4th-stringers about.
He’s got to be happy about is that first quarter from the Tide offense, though: I had to go in and manually increase this chart’s maximum values to 80% to be able to display this monstrous 78%-SR quarter. How about we just leave it there in case Tua decides to do it again this season, hmm?
Running and Passing
Tua Tagovailoa was awesome again—and hey, Jalen Hurts was pretty good passing, too!—but Alabama was primarily trying to run the ball: our run rate didn’t dip below 50% during the entire game, and we ended with a sky-high 73% run rate (for a solid 60% rushing SR).
Running the ball worked well against this talent level, but I guess we’re just a passing team these days (where’d my Tide go!?), as our passing success rate was in the 80%+ range until the very last play of the game! I mean, that passing SR line is just plastered to the 100% ceiling there for most of the first quarter, as Tua’s first 5 passes in a row were all successful plays. This chart is hilarious, strange, and wonderful.
Running and Passing, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Cajun’s charts are not atypical for a blowout; by the second half, they were good sports and ran the ball to keep that clock moving. But... they may have also been running the ball because running the ball started working, albeit after the Tide’s backups were in during the 2nd half.
Still, it’s remarkable that they kept pushing and got that rushing SR above the 40% league average by the end of the game. Against the #1 team in the country! We discussed here last week that Alabama’s rushing defense is probably not a huge source of concern, but this is the second game in a row that we’ve seen the 2nd/3rd-team defense fail to stop the run late in games. Something to keep an eye on in the lead up to our November tilt against some of our run-oriented SEC West peers.