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).
Total Running and Passing
Monday in GTT we discussed the run/pass balance: passing was still successful overall, but we wanted to run the ball last Saturday (and we did). Let’s see who did it:
Success by Runner
Damien Harris got the most attempts for the second week in a row—one might think coaches Locksley and Saban have been trying to prove something these past two weeks—but Najee Harris and Jacobs both passed Damien in successful plays and SR%. Josh Jacobs, especially impressed with a near-80% success rate on his rushes. It’s great to see him looking healthy and wily again.
For once the QBs didn’t get any successful rushes on the day, though one should consider that Tua Tagovailoa’s single attempt was a long scramble and slide that was—in what felt like a head trip to the funny farm—was called short of the first down line. That means it technically wasn’t a successful play, despite what we all saw. Whatever.
Success by Passer
This one isn’t as drastic as we’ve seen it so far this season: Tua had a solid game, with a slight-majority success rate passing (and a solid-if-not-amazing 21% big play rate). But for the first time we’ve seen this season, he had a fair share of missed passes and opportunities. It’s hard learning that your childhood (adulthood) hero is human, too!
But Jalen Hurts had a good little game, now didn’t he? Only 8 attempts, but 3 explosive plays and a 75% SR. With Tua’s knee injury (albeit, supposedly minor), we’ve been lucky to have this great backup QB around: maybe it’ll give the coaches the confidence they need to sit Tua as much as possible while he heals. Roll Jalen, Roll.
Success by Receiver
And hey, there’s Jalen again, showing up to catch a successful pass! I had to double-take on Saturday watching this one live... this was a fun drive that included some of the 2-QB shenanigans that some of us gumps were dreaming of over the offseason. Hey, that Tua guy didn’t catch ANY passes! Why is he starting anyway!?
At the top of the chart, though, you’ve got your usual suspects but in a different order. Our now-banged-up Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III both had good games with some explosive plays between them. Jerry Jeudy fell to 3rd in the list in terms of attempts and successful plays, but—per his usual style whenever this happens—every one of his catches was an explosive play. It’s truly an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, even in the least-remarkable passing game that the Tide offense has put up this season.
Jaylen Waddle had a quieter day, though we may be seeing more of him soon if Smith or Ruggs need extra time healing. Again, having this quality depth on offense is amazing.
Super-senior Derek Kief caught both of his passes from Jalen Hurts; the first was an unsuccessful play (what appears to be a rare WR screen gone for negative yardage), but the second was an explosive play on a great second effort by Hurts. Tight ends Irv Smith Jr. and Hale Hentges both made appearances, though with little of the excitement or success we’ve seen from them at times this season. Get ‘em next time, champ.
Success by Tackler
Mack Wilson is king again — at least in total tackles recorded this game. Most of those were on plays that were successful for the offense, though, which is not his usual “all stuffs all the time” style. Still, this is one of the more obvious occasions where Mack is much more involved than Dylan Moses, who’s usually been up there in the top 3-4 each week, but who’s halfway down the chart this time around.
But speaking of stuffs: our two biggest men in Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis stepped up big, recording tackles on a combined 11.5 unsuccessful plays. If those big stripey bar charts don’t represent success from your DL, then I don’t know what else would. Unfortunately, should-be-fan-favorite Isaiah Buggs had a sleepier game than in his prior few weeks: he’s been excellent, so I hope he finds his way back to the top of this chart.
And speaking of unsuccessful plays: the DBs got in on the action too! I was a’scared (and am still concerned) when the Trevon Diggs injury was announced, but Saivion Smith stepped up in a big way on Saturday. He had obvious highlights this game in his interceptions, but he was giving Mizzou hell as a tackler, too. Nice work, dude.
Shyheim Carter and Patrick Surtain II played a similar role, coming up to record a few tackles each on unsuccessful plays (remarkable for a cornerback or Star). Unfortunately, some of these tackles may have come at the expense of Deionte Thompson’s usual numbers: he hadn’t fallen this far down the chart all year, and I believe this is his first game without recording a single tackle on an unsuccessful play. Please come back, Deionte! (But bring your friends Saivion and Shyheim and Xavier McKinney too, we like them).
With only 17 tacklers, we didn’t get the 20+ counts we’ve seen from our cupcake wins so far this year, but the defense seems to have acquitted itself well this weekend. Here’s to hoping for continued success to close out October (except this time with our QB feeling his usual self, please).