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Graphing the Tide vs. Austin Peay

Cupcakes are still fun!

Austin Peay v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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Alright folks, it was SEC cupcake week (at least for some: Ole Miss didn’t get the memo), so it’s that time of the year again when the Graphing article is at it’s least interesting.

So let’s dive in! (But let’s keep it quick, hmm?)

Team Success Rates over time (cumulative)

Honestly, watching the game live I thought Austin Peay started with some spunk; I was even worried for about a quarter there that they’d make things pretty embarrassing for the Tide. Even after Alabama had racked up some points, it still didn’t feel sure.

The charts are something of a relief: yes, this 35-0 victory was indeed also a decisive sweep in efficiency and explosiveness over an overmatched opponent. But the Governors did show some surprising efficiency in the first quarter or so before folding after halftime.

If you showed me this chart without telling me the game, I’d have guessed it was something more like an overmatched SEC opponent (think, Arkansas or Tennessee during the early-mid Saban years, or Miami last year) rather than a cupcake game per se. The only thing that really tips it, though, is that low explosiveness rate: with Power 5 talent, you tend to at least slip a few more of those through, but cupcakes deliver lower explosiveness.

Rushing and Passing Success (cumulative)

The Governors’ chart compliments their efforts in both phases of offense: they started through the air before picking up a running game, and spent the early 2nd quarter in above-average territory for efficiency in both. The rushing game absolutely cratered after that, but they kept making noise against our defense in the passing game, delivering a few explosive ones and getting a >30% passing SR for their efforts. (Pretty good for a cupcake!)

The Tide chart makes you wish we’d run the ball more (and, to be fair, better) this season. We’ve gotten used to the “Bryce Young pass-first” offense around here, but every once in a while you get a game like this (see the Cincinnati playoff game last year; though funny enough that one was even better).

Rushing rate (cumulative)

And would you look at that; we had a “run first” offense (if barely, at times) in this one, topping out near a 70% rush rate early in the game before coasting into “balance.” We saw a bit of the late-game-blowout rushing bounce, but actually not as much as you’d think.

Success and Explosiveness by Quarter

So much for game dynamics. The Tide was significantly more explosive and efficient across every quarter ... except for explosivness in the 4th quarter. DYNASTY OVER.

Can we talk about this blue, though? I’m not usually one to compliment blues in this sport, but I find this one to be pleasing (and a really nice contrast to the reds I use for Alabama in these charts). I use some automation to change team colors to make sure we have sufficient contrast in these charts — most teams in Crimson/Navy/etc. have colors too dark and dull for effective graphing, so you end up seeing them converted to Reds and Blues here — and I’m pleased with the blue that got spit out for this opponent.

But, funny enough: Austin Peay is a red team these days! I must’ve had some outdated colors in the old chart that I work off of. I’ve never graphed Austin Peay, so this was a surprise and one that, honestly, I’m not going to correct. There are already too many red teams.

Play Map: Yards and Result by Play

Anyway, the football game. Alabama’s Play Map looks lovely, with pretty even performance across quarters, some explosive plays sprinkled across tastefully, with few negative plays (outside of a bad run in the second quarter; weird!).

The governors’ chart looks especially sad because it starts late and ends early based on the possessions. Such a small play map. But they did have a good first-drive script and came out in a little flurry there!

SR, XR, and Play Count by Drive

The Drives chart says basically the same thing. The Tide had a few weak drives in the mix but mostly long and reasonably efficient ones. We didn’t have many great drives, interestingly enough, but rather a lot of good ones.

The Governors’ chart is spare, but is a nice moment to show off that lovely blue again. You know, it kind of reminds me of the Detroit Lions’ Honolulu Blue, at least the one they used a few years back. That was also a rich and saturated blue that represented an often overmatched football team, too. Maybe I should write Austin Peay’s administration and ask that they reconsider their colors based on a mistake that an Alabama blogger made.

Success and Explosiveness by Play Type

Run the damn ball! And don’t let them run the damn ball! Ok thank you.

Success and Explosiveness by Down

Heyo, the script has flipped on our Fire Trucks 3rd down offense. We’re now an early-downs team, coming out the game strong on every series and only converting the 3rd downs we need to when we come across them.

Also, in case you didn’t get the memo, we’re definitely a team that goes for it on 4th down, now! Personally — as a qualitative opinion rather than stats, to be honest — I’m here for it. Go win the dang game.

Success and Explosiveness in the Red Zone

You know, after those first few Austin Peay drives I thought we were going to see a huge Red Zone gap here (this time in favor of the Tide). But it’s actually a pretty even trend across, with the Tide relatively underperforming in the Red Zone, but the Governors actually doing the same.

Success and Explosiveness by Distance to go

These distance charts have been less consistently meaningful than I was hoping, to be honest. This one doesn’t tell me much. Sometimes we’ll see a wild swing that might tell us something about the game, but I’m not sure that play-calling responds enough to these fragments of needed yardage to really have a back-and-forth with an analysis like this (e.g., “well obviously we started [doing X] and that’s why we did so well in 3-6 yard situations).

Top Rushers

Heyo Jase! I was considering featuring Jermaine Burton as the image in this article, given his unusual WR1 performance in this game. But I scrolled back through these Graphing articles and I was shocked to find that I’ve never gotten to feature Mr. McClellan despite his obvious talent and contributions. Part of that was that he was injured so much of last year, but I really thought he’s gotten a feature this season.

So let’s fix that. He goes up top! Last week I was complaining that our running backs’ lines — including McClellan’s — were puny compared to Quinshon Judkins. And it seems Jase has given a rebuttal! His running was fun to watch and gratifying to see graphed out. That’s three explosive rushes (a lot for a single back in a game — see Judkins’ one last week), for 11/17 and a 65% rushing success rate.

I really hope he stays one more season (but maybe that’s a pipe dream).

Top Passers

The Tide mixed it up with a few QBs getting attempts, but Austin Peay’s Mike DiLiello kept slinging it and racked up more attempts than all of ours combined.

Bryce had a high 21% passing XR, and was otherwise his usual efficient-but-not-other-word-ly self.

Top Receivers

And there’s ... a lot of receivers. But Jermaine Burton stands out from the pile in an important and unusual way. 3 explosive catches for 7 total successful catches — none of them short enough to be unsuccessful catches — is a great line.

Some freshmen and others got into the mix, including apparently hybrid WR/RB Emmanual Henderson Jr., who honestly I’d forgotten about. This was a great spread across a lot of receivers in general, which is in keeping with a cupcake game but nice to see anyway.

Next week we’ll hopefully have a similar graphy conversation about the Iron Bowl. But that’s a funny rivalry with some weird teams this year, so it may just be the most interesting Graphing article yet. I’ll see you then!

Roll Tide.