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Graphing the Tide vs. Arkansas: Lots of success, but some of it was bacon-flavored.

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The piggies got some yards, but the Tide got whatever they wanted.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Metric definitions

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

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Per much discussion around here since Saturday: yes, Arkansas’ offense had some success against the Tide. By Success Rate, however, they didn’t have dramatically more than in prior games: the Aggies (albeit a better team) got a 39% SR and a similar 13% XR against Alabama, and ULL already turned in an above-average 41% (7% XR) the following week. That said, pairing these solid SR/XR numbers got the piggies a higher point total than other opponents have had.

But for the outcome of the game, it hardly mattered, as Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts and our other offensive starters got us a jaw-dropping 75% SR and ~30% XR throughout the first half, ending up with a still-super-high 63% SR and a blistering 25% XR on the game. I’m running out of adjectives... that, is, incredible! Good thing I upped these charts to an 80% max last week.

Things slowed slightly in the second half, but the Tide still put up big SRs over the rest of the game (well above average in every quarter), and maintained that ~30% XR through the 3rd quarter. This is crazy-town Big12 stuff, people, and against “and improving SEC-ish defense,” to boot.

Play Map

That scatter of big plays across the top is lovely, a real milky way of offensive explosiveness... I bet you can see the stars real nice from Hawaii (#TuaTime). The offense at times seemed to have more explosive plays than just regular old “successful plays.” There were hardly any flops, either, with only 2 negative yardage runs all day (and both in the second half).

Oh yeah, and the pigs got some of those special explosive play dots, too. Theirs came notably in a few spurts... with basically all of them happening with the game out of reach. You live, you learn, you eat bacon even though you know it’s bad for you.

Running and Passing

Running came back into fashion this week, as we loaded the scoreboard early and pushed that run-rate to the 60-70% range for the remainder of the game. That should feel much more familiar to last season’s model for beating cupcakes: “run a lot, and when we’re up, run even more.”

Passing, though, was mighty explosive: between Jalen’s two big pass plays and Tua’s eight of them (!), our big play rate on passing was 56%... or literally the majority of the time we passed the ball. Unreal.

Not much more to say here, as the chart looks similar to the one last week vs. (non-power opponent) ULL: the passing remained awesome, and the running this week was slightly better against Arky than against ULL.

Alabama’s flurry of rushing success at the end of the game was funny: usually that’s when you just drain the clock out and the rushing SR dives, but Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. were really having a field day in the 4th quarter. I guess when your cupcakes are actual SEC West opponents, you keep your 2nd and 3rd running backs in to close things out, instead of the usual 4th and 5th strings.

Running and Passing, WOO PIGGIES

Well, hey, they ran the ball some too (if less often), and it looks like they had a pretty good day of it with a 53% rushing SR. Usually if Bama fans gripe about our defense after a game, it’s about the passing game and/or mobile QBs; but folks, we’ve had to discuss this running defense a few times in the last few weeks, and it might be the (relatively) weaker link.

Admittedly, this is still inflated by late-game shenanigans—seeing as their rushing SR rallies in the 4th quarter with 5 successful runs in a row—but it’s something to keep an eye on as the season gets into “we better have good depth” territory.

As for passing: the piggies got mixed success there too, putting in a 41% passing SR by passing on seemingly every drive. This isn’t terribly surprising given that Arkansas was down 4 TDs in the 1st quarter, but we let them hang around more than we’d like to, especially in the 1st half with the starters in.

Hopefully the relative sturdiness of this passing defense will serve us well next weekend against Drew Lock and the Mizzou Tigers, especially given that we are down one Diggs :(, but we might be in for that shootout that people ‘round here have been murmuring about.