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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Great win, Roll Tide, all that... but I’m surprised at how well Texas A&M shows up here! That 39% overall SR is near-NCAA-average, and is the the highest the Tide has given up this season so far. I suppose that makes sense, given that they’re the toughest opponent we’ve had to date, and they did score some points.
Really this was a big game for the offenses in general: for once, it felt like the Alabama defense was giving up some plays, but we had more than enough Offense to keep ahead (albeit after an early tussle). And that 22% big play rate is huge — more than 1-in-5 Bama plays (not including penalties) went for 15+ yards! I’m pretty sure this is the highest XR we’ve seen Alabama put up these past few seasons... certainly against power 5 opponents, and perhaps overall. Thanks, Tua.
This chart... just isn’t as interesting this time around, in part because the Aggies stuck around and put some plays together across every quarter. Kudos to them (though a good portion of that success is clustered in the 4th quarter garbage-ish time).
The explosive plays are interesting, as Texas A&M actually had more of those running than passing early on — looking at you, Mr. Kellen Mond. Bama got a lot of explosive plays, too, but only two of those were rushes (one from Damien Harris, one from Najee Harris). Tua had himself a day passing, though.
Running and Passing
Now here’s a new look for the Tide: we threw twice as many successful passes as successful rushes in this game. Whoa!
And, to round out this new look, Alabama had a sub-50% run rate for the first time this season. We also had significantly more success passing the ball. Oh, you know, that ol’ high-flying Crimson Tide offense. Jalen Hurts threw Alabama’s final pass at the very beginning of the 4th quarter, with the the final passing success rate a surprisingly-high 61%.
Part of this just has to be an outcome of Texas A&M’s defensive strategy: apparently, they didn’t want us to run. Well, shucks, I guess we’ll have to pass... we’ve got a guy for that.
Running and Passing, Texas A&M
The Aggies, similarly, had to lean on the Pass to succeed... though their success rate was notably lower. Between both teams, there were only 18 successful runs in this game, which is less than Alabama alone ran vs. Louisville and Arkansas State (plus 17 vs. Ole Miss). Weird, for two teams than ran the ball so well last season.
Texas A&M did get to a near-50% run rate midway through the game, which was interesting given the scoring disparity in the 2nd quarter, but as the gap widened they changed their tune quickly (and dramatically) to oh-no-let’s-pass comeback (attempt) mode.
As for their success rates over the game... again, it was nothing dazzling, but they hung in there through the game. That’s likely the last time we’ll see that from an opponent until mid-October, though, when Mizzou comes to town.