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Jumbo Package: Offensive production was down across the board in 2021 — but not as much as attendance

There are too many entertainment options available to dilute the product and cheapen the season

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">NCAA Football: Toledo at Notre Dame

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama the nation’s best NIT team laid an absolute stinker in the Crimson Tide’s home finale last night, not even showing up in the second half over a very, very average Texas A&M team.

“They didn’t say anything tonight,” Oats said of his players. “They might have said some stuff before I got in there. I was hoping for them to say something. Nobody wanted to say anything. I think they’re embarrassed too. I’m embarrassed. They’re embarrassed.”

It’s not even a trend at this point: it’s just who and what this team is — they show up when they want to, are so arrogant as to think they can win based on their jersey, too many are uncoachable, there’s not a veteran leader, they loaf on defense and can get killed on the glass, they’re sloppy with the basketball...and when the shots don’t fall, they do all of these things at once.

We said after the Iona game that this team can beat anyone in country, and can also lose to them as well. Ten losses, and we’ve seen the same script 10 times.

When Alabama gets a 6-seed or something in the NCAA tournament, prepare yourself for that first-round exit to a hungry-as-hell midmajor that actually wants to be there. Even ignoring the fundamentals that Alabama fails at routinely, this team doesn’t do enough of the little things necessary to win tournament basketball: they’re not physical enough, they’re not tough enough; and they don’t have enough heart — all of those things are either in a Pelicans jersey or in Birmingham’s G-League team.

John Petty and Herb Jones apparently stored up all the effort that this team has been missing or does not care enough to exert.

If you want to read what Coach Oats had to say on the heels of another listless, lazy, despicable loss to a team that should have been run out of the building, 247 undertook that unenviable task. brought up a good point: Last season, two Alabama starting quarterbacks had the shadow of Deshaun Watson looming over them like a masseuse in a strip mall rub-and-tug shack (Be careful if he drops the towel).

While Philly’s offense has been evolving to suit Hurts’ more limited skills set, the hope is that this season the Fish will finally install an offense that caters to what Tagovailoa can do. You don’t hire an offensive mind, modernize the scheme, and then have him throw Joe Burrow 3-yard checkdowns 35 times a game.

I am optimistic for Tua’s future, but I do think that Hurts just is what he has always been: a fiery, dynamic, athletic player with a very limited ability in the passing game. So, I don’t think Jalen is done looking over his shoulder just yet.

The Under-Armour Camp is underway for the NSD Classes of 2023 and 2024, and some Tide targets had a very good showing, including Mario Craver, an instate-receiver prospect from ‘Bama feeder, Clay-Chalkville:

After a breakout 2021 season, helping lead Clay (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville to a Class 6A state championship, Craver’s recruitment as an explosive wide receiver has taken off. The rising-junior again flashed reasons why on Sunday, pushing defenders down the field with more success than any wideout our staff witnessed during the afternoon. Craver puts pressure on defenders right out of the gates and punishes most who don’t get hands on him for a re-route, and he has strong ability on the back end as well — evident by a pretty one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to wrap up his day. Most of the SEC, including in-state Alabama and Auburn, are already prioritizing the receiver and return talent.

Much more here, for you recruitniks

ICYMI: Defenses had a far better showing last season than they have done so in almost a decade.

Either defenses clawed back some of the turf they had lost during the ongoing offensive revolution, or offenses leveled off. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Either way, offense took a collective step back in 2021.

Scoring, total offense and rushing offense were at their lowest averages in a decade. The declines were minimal but significant in context. Scoring was down to 28.51 points per team, lowest since the 2011 average of 28.29, according to NCAA statistics. Total offense dipped below 400 yards per game (397.95) for the first time since teams averaged 392.4 in 2011. Similarly, rushing was down to 163.8 yards per game, the lowest in 10 years.

The whys are a bit more complicated, but I covered those in-depth in a piece over on my companion site, What Broke Football? But the TL; DR based on the data seems to be what manifested in 2021 was a function of safer defenses leading to longer drives and increased opportunities for turnovers or stops, and that in turn corresponded with a drop-off in quarterback play. And you likely so it with your own eyes. QB play was seriously assy last season.

I fully admit that I do not know if 2021 was a one-off. Though I do suspect it is an emergent trend. We will have to simply wait and see if veteran play by guys like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud takes it back into astronomical territory, and whether the next crop of gunslingers — your Ewers, and Arches, and Tys — can reestablish the offensive dominance we’ve seen of late.

Speaking of falling off a cliff, CFB attendance was down for the 7th straight season, marking the lowest attendance since 1981.

Not to belabor the obvious here, but last year was the 7th season of the College Football Playoff. Am I laying the decline solely at the feet of the CFB? Of course, not; there are many reasons for the decline. But it has cheapened the season. If Home Town U plays hard enough teams (or has enough media perception that its schedule is tough), then you get a built-in cushion.

And while expansion has been staved off for now, adding even more games to the mix is only going to further dilute and cheapen the product. But, hey, this is the world you wanted, not us.

Jamo’s rehab is going a lot better than anyone expected. “He’s ahead of schedule six weeks out of surgery and it’s been three weeks without crutches and two weeks without a brace.”

He also said that he’s the fastest player in the draft (likely true), and that Alabama would have beaten Georgia with him in the game (maybe; the cheap shot that took Phil Mathis out of the contest, opening up UGA’s running game was every bit as critical as Jamo’s loss).

That’s it. Just not much out there ATM. We covered Alabama’s dominant win over Troy on the diamond, and Alabama’s dismal loss to Aggie. Spring Football is just around the corner, so this is very much the deep breath before the plunge into the 2022 season begins in earnest.