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
Seeing this many runners on the list is generally a good sign, and it was no different in this blowout win that featured 8 runners (6 of them running backs).
Brian Robinson Jr. has actually topped this chart before, last year vs. Mercer where he turned in 7 rushes and a perfect success rate. His outing in this one wasn’t quite as impressive, with a 37.5% success rate, but it’s good to see him getting so many attempts in conference play.
Also encouraging is the number of attempts going to our “depth,” with our senior back Damien Harris coming in with fewer attempts than Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs (the latter being so fun to watch now that he’s been healthy for a stretch). Damien led the day on rushing efficiency, though, and looked great in his limited touches.
It surprised me seeing Tua Tagovailoa coming in with the most explosive runs on this one. That speaks to the opportunities available to him given the threat of his arm: Tua is a good runner, but Saturday’s game was a good reminder that Jalen Hurts is another step up when running in space. Plus, after the first few plays I thought Damien Harris might rack up a dozen explosive runs himself.
Success by Passer
It’s no surprise seeing Tua at the top of this list, with the most attempts and the most explosive plays... some of those being real, real explosive to boot. But don’t look now: Jalen Hurts turned in the most successful passes on the day! Combined with the running stats, Tua and Jalen had similar days.
Per usual, Mac Jones just got a few attempts in, but this time he threw his first successful pass of the season. And that 30-yarder to Jaylen Waddle was an explosive play, to boot! Roll Mac, Roll.
Success by Receiver
Once again, that’s our tight end Irv Smith Jr. up at the top of the list! The ordering is a bit funny here (work in progress, it’s complicated) but Irv did tie with Devonta Smith for the most receiver attempts in this one.
Jerry Jeudy going pure explosiveness is an interesting one — ever since the Devonta Smith OT catch in the title game, we’ve actually seen Jeudy be the more prominent long-play threat for the Tide. Here’s to hoping we get more similar highlights in the weeks to come.
And wouldn’t you know it, Damien Harris also shows up big on the receivers chart (yep, he gets the article photo this week). It’s difficult to say that we’ll miss this guy next year given all the talent in the RB corps, but at least I will. He’s awesome and under-appreciated.
We’ve got ten receivers on this one, but there was an interesting concentration of attempts around those top 5. This probably reflects the pacing on this one, where the first half saw lots of offensive success (presumably with those top starters), then a lot of slowdown in the second half and a focus on running (and burning clock).
Success by Tackler
At first glance this seems like another long list of tacklers for the Tide—which I suppose it is, though we’ll learn more when we see Alabama play tougher conference opponents—but this is actually the shortest tacklers list we’ve had this season, with 21 vs. the 25 we saw vs. Arkansas State and the 22 vs. Louisville.
Quinnen Williams made himself known yet again, and finally topped this chart this week. And in a dramatic change, Christian Miller was suffocating on Saturday, taking the second spot here. Really, seeing the two tackling leaders up there with two blank bars (no successful plays) is pretty magnificent.
Your other top tacklers are the usual suspects from this season, with Deionte Thompson, Mack Wilson, and Dylan Moses showing up big. We had some fun ones bubble up towards the top this week too: sophomore Joshua McMillon and freshman Eyabi Anoma are two that come to mind.
In a pleasant development, we only start seeing cornerbacks late in the chart: Saivion Smith had a rough opening quarter, but Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II only had to make one tackle each vs. the well-regarded Ole Miss receiving corps. Diggs was especially great, with some broken up passes on big plays. Daniel Wright, Shyheim Carter, and Xavier McKinney did show up here and there, most mostly on unsuccessful plays—kudos especially to freshmen Surtain and Wright, who have been surprising us with some solid early contribution.
It won’t surprise me if these charts tighten up next week, as we keep in starters longer and more concentrated reps and tackles. But I’d love to be surprised with a similar set of results! Roll Tide, all.