There were a few mini-themes that came out of Alabama vs. Ole Miss this weekend: the return of the pass-heavy offense, Alabama’s bendy defense, and both teams just running the dern ball. These are matters that you don’t necessarily need charts to see (but you will!).
But the outstanding storyline is still the obvious one: DeVonta Smith—a sometimes-sort-of-forgotten piece of our uncanny receiving corp—was responsible for 5 touchdown catches (!) and 274 yards (!!), creating an entire game’s worth of highlights all on his own.
This is another one where you don’t really need charts to understand DeVonta’s impact on this game... but we’re gonna do it anyway. Roll Tide!
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Smitty and the Boys
Alright, so we’ve got Jerry Jeudy: check. And would you look, there’s our tight end Miller Forristall with a 50% SR/XR on two explosive catches; well isn’t that a pleasant surprise?
And then, that’s, uh... well that’s. Is that Smitty!? The Smitty who comes up a handful of times every season to remind us that it isn’t just the “Jeudy and Co. Show”? That very Smitty just put up a 75% success rate (nine of twelve attempts in a single game), and a 58.3% explosiveness rate!?
This is incredible: it’s like DeVonta pulled a “good Jerry Jeudy” game... and then he added a few more explosive TD catches to the mix just to show ol’ JJ how it’s done. Given that the remaining usual suspects didn’t do much on the receiving end during this game (we’ll skip over that anti-Gump fun fact for now), Smitty stands nearly alone as a major, major contributor. Cap tips towards you, my good man.
Success and Explosiveness by Quarter
Wait a minute, isn’t this just the normal quarters chart you print out every week!?
Why, yes, my observant fellow Gump, it is. And you might notice that Alabama had four pretty solid quarters of success and explosiveness.
“That’s good,” you think, “I’m sure plenty of the Alabama skill players were contributing across all of these quarters, this is a great team full of talent.” And you’re partially right: of course it’s a good team with good skill players that are contributing!
But one player was duly present for every one of these quarterly offensive spikes:
Smitty’s successful plays
|1Q||74||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith runs 74 yards for a touchdown.|
|1Q||10||successful||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith to MIS 17 for 10 yards (31-J.Jones).|
|2Q||45||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith to MIS 37 for 45 yards (31-J.Jones).|
|2Q||25||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith runs 25 yards for a touchdown.|
|2Q||23||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith runs 23 yards for a touchdown.|
|2Q||33||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith runs 33 yards for a touchdown.|
|3Q||27||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith runs 27 yards for a touchdown.|
|4Q||15||explosive||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith to BAMA 40 for 15 yards (21-A.Finley).|
|4Q||11||successful||13-T.Tagovailoa complete to 6-D.Smith. 6-D.Smith to MIS 39 for 11 yards (36-A.Cistrunk,99-C.Wiley).|
Whew. The dude tallied explosive plays in every quarter of the game, and nearly had a touchdown catch in every quarter! Don’t mind those three explosive touchdown catches in the 2nd quarter alone. For every one of his successful plays, he tallied double-digit yards. Lawd.
Rushing and Passing Success (cumulative), Alabama
Alright, so let’s get back to reality for a moment: the passing game was good, but not as sky-high successful overall as the last few cupcakes have given us. Even against Duke—apparently the second-best team in the ACC—Tua Tagovailoa was putting up 70+% passing SRs into late in the game. Really, we ran the dern ball a lot more efficiently than we passed it in this game. We had some slowdown through the air ... obviously except for the contributions of one receiver.
(You tired of this yet?)
Of the 12 explosive passes you see on that passing line (the dark crimson triangles) DeVonta Smith came down with seven of them. That’s a breezy ~60% of the team’s explosive output for the game, all on the shoulders of one receiver. And these aren’t the days of lone-star receivers Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley: these days, Devonta is more often the third-most-productive receiver on the Tide’s offense, but Saturday he showed something else entirely.
I guess he’s been practicing his paper-rock-scissors. (I pretty much always go paper—it’s easy on the hand—but don’t tell my brother.)
BONUS: Najee Harris and the other rushers
Oh, and there were other standout talents on the field during this game too; mostly in Crimson. Najee Harris really snuck into a statistically great performance in this game! While he didn’t tally a single explosive play—thereby taking him out of consideration for the usual “replay porn” TV sports analysis—he was successful on eight of his nine runs for a downright unusual 89% rushing success rate.
That’s a huge number! Sure, it’s not the fastest way to get touchdowns, but that’s the kind of consistency that can help manage the clock, the game, and open up passing all over the field. For their part, the other rushing contributors did well in this game, too: Keilan Robinson, during the statistically-unfriendly mop-up-duty time slot, was the only rushing contributor to tally a rushing success rate under 50%. Given our collective grumbles over #RTDB in this early part of the season, that’s got to be encouraging.
(Also — Slade Bolden with the rushing attempt? I do not remember whatever 4th-quarter play this was, but I’m guessing it was a sweep or something that ends up counting as a rush instead of a pass.
Let us know below if you recall it, or you rewatch the game.) Update: fellow bammer acttom recalls the play as a successful 3-yard run (for a 1st down) out of the wildcat. Wish I’d been paying attention during that one!
Let’s enjoy DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris, Tua Tagovailoa, and the rest while we’ve got ‘em here. Make sure to take a look at the “all graphs” article from this game—we’ve got other great players doing great things, but obviously some areas to improve on as well.
Otherwise, enjoy the first bye week, y’all.