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Graphing the Tide vs. LSU: it wasn’t a fluke (at least not by these measures)

Bryce wasn’t quite able to save this one late

Alabama v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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Pardon the late Graphing post this week, folks; I was traveling somewhere where I couldn’t run these charts ... and where I couldn’t even watch this game!

It was a rare moment for me, but it provides an also-rare opportunity. Look, I saw the score, the articles and comments, the ranking; I get the shape of things. It’s gross. Depressing. I absolutely hate it. But this was a chance to get to know a game through the charts, especially given that what I’m seeing here leaves me with no motivation to watch the game on DVR. So let’s get into it, loss or not.

Team Success Rates over time (cumulative)

You know, knowing the end result, I was almost relieved to see this breakdown. I’d thought that surely this was another one of those losses where Alabama played more efficiently and consistently, yada yada, but lost due to some flavor(s) of weirdness.

But it appears that we did not! LSU ended up with higher Success Rates and Explosiveness rates, and it was that way, cumulatively speaking, since late in the 2nd quarter. The Tide offenses numbers were as consistently low as we’ve seen them for a while (kinda, the Texas game before the late rally).

So, the “good” news is that this isn’t some random slip up — think basically every Auburn home win, the last Clemson title, Texas or A&M shenanigans this year — that’s stopping this team from achieving postseason greatness. The bad news it that it was more like a real loss where the other team played better down by down on average. It’s thankfully rare for the Saban-led Tide, but the last it happened was in 2019, also against LSU.

Success and Explosiveness by Quarter

So much for halftime adjustments. Instead, we saw the now-recurring “wait until 4th quarter Bryce saves us” bit. It seems to have worked until it didn’t. That overtime line is absolutely disgusting; the play by play makes me understand some of the game thread angst.

Play Map: Yards and Result by Play

Hey, Bama had the three longest gains of the day! They also had a nice initial drive and then an explosive sequence for a late rally.

That’s where the good news ends: this chart is inconsistent and pretty ugly otherwise. And if you flip over to LSU’s chart, you see a more consistent and even performance. That’s the kind of stuff that’s supposed to win games.

SR, XR, and Play Count by Drive

This is an echo of the prior chart: the Tide drives were miserable early and unpredictable late. The three-and-out drives were not only three-and-outs; literally none of those plays were successful at all. Bad. Meanwhile, the Tigah’s charts show that same contrast as the Play Map: pretty consistent drives throughout.

Success and Explosiveness by Play Type

Ugh, not even a reprieve here: LSU was both more efficient and explosive in both the rushing and passing games. The Heisman-QB-led passing game was the worst performer (at least by efficiency) across phases and teams. Bad.

Success and Explosiveness by Down

In a close loss you’ll often get some intrigue in this Downs chart, but not so much here: the Tide didn’t “lose” on 3rd downs so much as it lost on pretty much every down.

Success and Explosiveness in the Red Zone

Same story here: this Red Zone chart is often where you look to explain losses. And, sure, LSU was notably better in the RZ than the Alabama offense was. But they were also more efficient and explosive across the rest of the field too. No flukes that I can see here.

Success and Explosiveness by Distance to go

Nothing particularly sticks out here. Alabama converted well on short yardage, which isn’t always the case, so that’s good news.

Rushing and Passing Success (cumulative)

Again, Tigers were consistent and even across categories, and the Tide was inconsistent and apparently failing against the passing game again and again. I’m often with the #RTDB crowd when given charts like these, so I’m wondering why I haven’t heard more rumblings of that from this here family blog.

Rushing rate (cumulative)

Again, we were passing more than rushing, and didn’t change our mind even after passing wasn’t working all that well. This Rush Rate sank in the 1st quarter and stayed in the low-30s throughout. Bad. Run the damn ball, please.

Top Rushers

Funny enough, our lead rusher had a pretty weak line. Two explosive rushes is nice — and often expected of Gibbs — but the efficiency wasn’t there. It was, instead, picked up by the other backs, including a surprising (to me, at least) featuring of Roydell Williams as the second-up back.

Top Passers

Bryce technically had more successful passes than LSU’s Jayden Daniels. But ... it was on a lot more passes, so delivered at an inefficient rate. The short unsuccessful catches really piled up in this one — nearly as many as non-explosive successful catches — and the interception hurts even worse.

Top Receivers

Well well, Mr. Gibbs showing up again right after I wrote off his inefficient rushing performance. Gibbs’ catch count here is impressive, but a little depressing given that this reads like a “plenty of check-downs” gameplan. Holler in the comments if that doesn’t ring true.

I still enjoy seeing Ja’Corey Brooks as WR #1, but his two explosive and two successful catches weren’t enough to make up for an uninspiring receivers list overall. It’s odd how we saw so many explosive catches across different targets — an odd compliment to playcalling? Or to Bryce? — while seeing so little sustained success otherwise. At least Cam Latu showed he can catch again.

Well, that was depressing. Thanks for sticking around through this one. We’ll hope for some righting of the ship as the season finishes — these conference games are still rivalries, in my eyes, especially the you-know-who’s — but I’m certainly missing some of the momentum that I’ve been lucky to feel through all of these recent Tide seasons. Let’s take it one game at a time — one chart at a time? — and I’ll see you back here next weekend. Roll Tide anyway.