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
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We had a pretty good mix of the Harris’s (Damien Harris and Najee Harris) against the Aggies on Saturday, but, per our game review yesterday, the Aggies really looked to stop the run... and it shows. This is the most sparse runners chart we’ve seen since, gosh, the LSU game last year (though we didn’t run that well in the Iron Bowl either, despite Jalen Hurts making some gains in both of these games).
This is also the shortest runners list we’ve seen so far in 2018. Brian Robinson Jr. has gotten some time on the field in each of the earlier games this season (especially Robinson in the Louisville and Ole Miss games), but neither he nor the the “cleanup guys” (Jerome Ford and Ronnie Clark, so far) registered a carry against Texas A&M. Let’s hope and expect to see more of them in October.
Success by Passer
Well, well, that’s where all of them plays went! This is the most dramatic example we’ve seen so far of the Tua vs. Jalen effect: Tua Tagovailoa’s stat-line here is downright special for an Alabama QB, especially playing against a bonafide in-conference defense. That’s a 60% success rate* from Tua throwing the ball on Saturday, which, yep... when’s the last time you watched Bama play in a big game and knew that when your guy threw it downfield, most of the time it was going to work out great? #BuckleUp (am I doing that right?)
Again, we’re looking at a shorter list this week, with Mac Jones not getting his obligatory one-pass-and-handoffs this time around. We’ll see you next game, Mac!
* Jalen actually put in a 66% rate passing, with the lone non-success still being a catch, but it’s such a small sample size that it’s more of a technicality to giggle at. Roll Jalen.
Success by Receiver
Alright, fine — I’m finally not surprised this week seeing Mr. Jerry Jeudy at the top of this list. After seeing Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III have so much fun in the national title game, I thought we’d be seeing one of those names atop this list every week come 2018; but nope, Judge Jeudy (TM) has headlined this list in 3 of 4 games this season (and in the other game vs. Ole Miss, he was a close second and had a 100% explosiveness rate... you could call him the most contributing receiver in that game, too). What a dude.
It’s also been tremendous fun to see real-life tight ends show up here... and this week we got two of them! Irv Smith Jr. did his usual 2018 routine of showing out on a handful of really good plays; but this time we got Hale Hentges in on the fun, too. Hale’s two touchdown catches are a hilarious reminder that, by now, a 3rd of the way into the season, you still haven’t seen all of the Tide’s offensive weapons. Hey coach, we got any more TE’s back there?
Also in the “good ol’ fashioned fun” category: two running backs registering explosive plays catching the ball out of the backfield brought a tear to mine eye and nostalgia for those T.J. Yeldon screens (you know the one...) from a few years back.
Success by Tackler
Per prediction last week, we did see our number of tacklers drop in this game—though dropping to 16 tacklers isn’t all that dramatic from the 21-25 we were seeing so far this season. I guess that’s the nature of keeping those starters in late.
These last few weeks we’ve seen some interesting game-to-game changes for individual tacklers: Dylan Moses has generally been in the top handful of tacklers each Saturday (Deionte Thompson, too, until this week), but otherwise tacklers are sliding way up and down this list week over week. Interesting stuff, and likely an effect of small sample sizes. Here are a few of the biggest movers this week:
- Quinnen Williams: 3.6 average >> 0.5 vs. Texas A&M
- Trevon Diggs: 0.6 >> 6 (this was a tougher game for lil’ Diggs)
- Xavier McKinney: 2.5 >> 6 (perhaps similar to what Diggs was seeing)
- Mack Wilson: 3.3 >> 2.5
- Saivion Smith and Patrick Surtain II have moved a lot too, but they’re trading spots so far this season, so that’s not surprising.
In general, the defensive line wasn’t as involved in this game — though I’ll give a shoutout to Isaiah Buggs as the man, and the notable exception here — and the DBs were kept busier. Related? Probably.
And it likely has something to do with the mobility of Kellen Mond, who’s quick enough to get around the big boys (and even a linebacker or two, unfortunately). I guess it’s a good thing we won’t see another QB like that until... until... Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State? Or, maybe later, Dwayne Haskins from OSU or Kyler Murray from Okie?
Anyway, I guess it’ll be a while. In the meantime, Roll Tide, all.