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Graphing the Tide vs. Ole Miss

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It was a story of two halves, but we didn’t need the second one anyway.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi Matt Bush-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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Well, that was over fast. This one looked much more like a cupcake game for most of it, though that second half was a stinker for the Tide offense.

According to overall success and explosiveness, this was the offenses’ worst overall performance of the season (Bama had 50%+ SRs vs. Louisville and Arkansas State). Albeit, that’s including garbage time with second and third-stringers playing... the first half was the offenses’ best so far this year, with an eye-popping 25% big play rate in the first quarter and nearly a 70% success rate in the second. Holy moly.

That second half was boring, though, and the 4th quarter saw both teams just burning clock to get this thing over with. This 2nd half produced Alabama’s first below-league-average quarters this year, as the prior 10 quarters all saw the Tide achieve >40% SRs.

On the other hand, the defense had its best game so far this year! That 5% XR and 25% SR for Ole Miss is, like, cupcake-level performance. Funny that the supposedly-best-offense that Bama has faced this year underperformed the prior two (Louisville and Arky State had 36% and 32% SRs, respectively, against Alabama).

Play Map

Both teams came out hot in the 1st quarter, with 7 explosive plays during the first 15 minutes of game time (and one just barely missing, with a 15-yard Tua Tagovailoa run to start the 2nd quarter). Ole Miss was only responsible for two of those, though, including that opening long play... a rare black eye on an otherwise-impressive chart for the Tide defense.

Like I said, the second half got boring and there just weren’t as many plays run. The Tide offense did manage to squeeze a few more explosive plays in: both were passes, one Jalen Hurts to Devonta Smith, one Mac Jones to Jaylen Waddle. Ole Miss, however, had their third and final explosive play of the day early in the 2nd quarter! Those last two quarters were the first this season that the Alabama defense has given up zero explosive plays, which is lovely.

Running and Passing

These are... very reminiscent of a blowout win for Bama. Lots of running, with a slowly-climbing run rate and a slowly-falling rushing success rate.

Also, I did change up these charts from earlier in the season: I’m hoping these line graphs are easier to read than the area graphs I was using previously.

Running and Passing, Ole Miss

Ole Miss’s numbers are pretty much the familiar “other side of the coin” in a blowout. Though there are a few exceptions.

For one, Ole Miss gave up midway through the second quarter to some extent, with that run rate quickly climbing into clock-burn territory.

Also interesting was the relative success Ole Miss had running the ball: this is an offense that is traditionally bad at rushing, against a defense that normally doesn’t allow for that sort of thing. They still didn’t have a “good” success rate running in this game, but that rush defense will be something to keep an eye on as we face better running teams.