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
Success by Runner
In his last game in Bryant-Denny stadium, Damien Harris was, in a fitting farewell, the lead rusher on the day. He only had 9 rushes—and all 3 running backs didn’t get much going in terms of efficiency—but he got a nice 44% success rate as a runner against a quality SEC defense that’s used to slowing down the run. Roll, Damien, Roll.
Najee Harris had one big run, but I was surprised to see that he didn’t actually generate any success otherwise in his 5 other attempts. Shame, but that 2nd-half explosiveness can still come in handy again in the postseason. Josh Jacobs was serviceable with a 40% SR, too.
The QBs didn’t get many attempts (thankfully, perhaps), but Tua Tagovailoa showed out in his, including his early TD run and soon after a 21-yard scramble. It was great to see him without his knee brace against a real defense; for now, he’s looking downright spry.
Success by Passer
And, hey, Tua passed the ball, too! Very well, in fact, with a 59% SR and an impressive 18% big play rate. That explosiveness rate isn’t as crazy-high as in some of his performances early this season, but it’s on-par with his 21% XR vs. LSU, and is an encouraging leap from his 8% XR vs. Mississippi State.
Jalen Hurts picked up where Tua left off, with a huge explosive TD pass to Jaylen Waddle on his first play in the game. And... that was it for him. That’s his first 100% XR performance that we’ve seen!
Success by Receiver
Henry Ruggs III leapt to the front of this chart after 2nd-place and 4th-place finishes in the LSU and MSU games, respectively. He’s a fun one to watch, and this game was no different: his 50% SR wasn’t as high a success rate as Jerry Jeudy’s 57%, but Ruggs did get an extra attempt over Jerry, which is remarkable itself.
The ball was spread around more successfully in this game: instead of the long-tail of unsuccessful one-offs we’ve seen in the past few SEC games, we got to see some real contributors all over this receivers list; see Irv Smith Jr., Devonta Smith, Josh Jacobs, Jaylen Waddle, and Damien Harris. Hell, Devonta, Josh, and Jaylen all had 100% catch rates and each had 1+ explosive play. That’s a trend I’d love to see continue... what a nightmare to try and defend the FIVE proven big-play threats that Alabama threw the ball to on Saturday.
Success by Tackler
This tacklers data is delightfully topsy-turvy from what we’ve seen so far this season. For one, Mack Wilson and Quinnen Williams are down at #7 and #11 on the list of tacklers, while we had a few younger leaders up top.
LaBryan Ray seems to have filled in nicely for Isaiah Buggs, who was injured in the game... though it’s interesting that Ray had so many tackles on successful plays: he must’ve been chasing Tigers down from behind.
Dylan Moses has appeared up here a few times, and is turning out to be a huge contributor week over week. Good thing he got all that emergency experience during his freshman year last season, eh? On the flip-side, upperclassman Anfernee Jennings has continued his November trend of big numbers in big games.
Here’s to hoping that Jennings and his teammates can do it again vs. the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. Roll Tide!