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Graphing the Tide vs. Texas: The Tide got worse every quarter

But somehow the advanced metrics still look close

Texas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Box Score: Alabama vs. Ole Miss

Stat Alabama Ole Miss
Stat Alabama Ole Miss
Points 24 10
Total yards 356 301
Rush yards 131 56
Rush attempts 45 29
Yards per rush 2.9 1.9
Pass yards 225 245
Pass attempts 17-21 21-36
Yards per pass 10.7 6.8
1st downs 20 17
3rd down eff 6-13 3-14
4th down eff 0-0 3-4
Turnovers 1 1
Tackles 39 38
Sacks 4.5 4
Penalties-Yds 6-60 8-69
Possession 34:23 25:37

Alright, let’s get this over with. Texas beat Alabama on all of the meaningful categories in the traditional box score, with the most important being the number of points. It was a miserable game to watch and the advanced stats are ... well, we’ll get to that.

A few notes on the box score:

  • Sometimes the tackles just don’t show up in the data. I don’t know why! I’ve only seen it in a game or two so far, but for some reason this data source isn’t counting tackles.
  • The Horns were actually 2-3 in 4th down efficiency, due to the refs saying ... something ... to keep them from getting a free 3rd conversion on that magical fumble non-play they ran in the 4th quarter.
  • The most glaring gaps here: the yards differential, passing yards, turnovers, and Sacks (zero to 5). TOP actually wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought.

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Team Success Rates over time (cumulative)

Often after a loss, I’m here to say something like “well we really shoulda coulda won the thing, you see these advanced metrics here say Bama was actually the superior team on a play by play basis” yada yada.

I really didn’t expect to say that in this one. It was a terrible game and I thought the stats would bear that out plainly: Texas finally whipped the Tide, of course it stings, and of course it’ll show up in all the metrics that way.

But ... somehow they don’t, and I’m here with something like my usual lines. Looking at this chart, Alabama was indeed pretty much as efficient and explosive as the Texas Longhorns in this game ... sigh ... and were even superior on both counts for stretches of the game.

Sure, the first quarter carried some of that through — these are cumulative stats, after all — but it’s still a weird result to end up with after watching this game. Let’s dig in further.

Rushing and Passing Success (cumulative)

The Alabama rushing attack started out strong. It was as we’d been promised! And you’ve got plenty of folks here on this Tide site that’ll tell you why they think this happened ... but it just stopped at some point. We got a few scrambles and successful rushes after that initial drive, but they were few and far in between, while our rushing SR just sunk and sunk as the game wore on.

As for Alabama’s passing efficiency ... it wasn’t good. But it wasn’t as terrible as you’d think either! We floated around “mediocre” (low 40%s) for much of the game and ended up technically more efficient than the ‘Horns in passing. Yeah I dunno.

On the Texas side of the chart, they show some remarkable balance in success rates across the two phases of the game, but aside from a rushing blip in the 1st quarter, then a passing one in the second, they never really spiked cumulatively in efficiency in this game.

Rushing rate (cumulative)

The Tide chose to run more, and the Longhorns chose to pass. We were told this is what we wanted ... so why doesn’t it feel good!?

Success and Explosiveness by Play Type

Texas had literally zero explosive rushing plays. In all the other Hell and mayhem, I didn’t actually notice that tidbit. Otherwise, they were technically more efficient than the Tide in the rushing game, but technically slightly less efficient and less explosive than Alabama in the passing game. Again, strange when cast against the tone of the game.

Play Map: Yards and Result by Play

I think the Play Map is illustrative here, in that it gives some sense of the extremity of the explosive plays that each team got. For Alabama, it was a few series of explosive play sprinkled in, sometimes just enough to keep things interesting on the scoreboard.

But for the ‘Horns, their big plays were slightly bigger. And twice they came in these awful one-two punches (see the 2nd quarter, 3rd, and somewhat in the 4th too). And if you hover of the plays with your mouse cursor to see the play descriptions, you’ll note that two of those longest passes were touchdowns ... which turned out to be quite important.

It’s important, as well, that Alabama had four explosive plays all at or below 20 yards: so the XR’s (explosiveness rate) were slightly swelled from plays that were good but not really back breakers like several of Texas’s.

Success and Explosiveness by Quarter

Honestly, I think if you watched this game then nothing on this quarters chart is going to feel surprising. But it’s interesting that the Longhorns didn’t actually deliver an above-average-efficiency quarter all night ... they just had the kind of play that got more points from given opportunities.

Also, the Tide pretty much got worse every quarter. Yeah, yeah, I get that the 4th quarter represents a bump, but my does it look desperate. Really ... the only successful plays the Tide could deliver in the 4th quarter were also explosive? I think I’d prefer a few more points of efficiency over this breathless comeback attempt. (Though, angel on the other shoulder suggests that there was indeed some fight left in this squad — players and playcallers — during this quarter, even if it was for naught).

SR, XR, and Play Count by Drive

The drives chart does a nice job of adding specificity to the “momentum” felt during this game. The Tide started hot and bled and bled as the drives went on, delivering increasingly lower efficiency before some high-insanity drives towards the end. Meanwhile, on the Texas side, there was an early push, then a hopeful lull of 3-and-outs, before this swell of performance came via 5-6 drives to end the game.

And those Texas drives included two “anaconda” drives — #7 and #24 — that just choked the Tide defense with tons of plays and just-barely-enough efficiency to keep a drive going. These are so frustrating because they involve so many late-down conversions off of middling early downs success (including 4th downs, given Sark’s aggressive posture in this one). That last 12-play drive, especially, was the absolute damndest, with a paltry 25% drive success rate still getting them just enough to bleed out the clock with a 12 play drive.

Success and Explosiveness by Down

Some of the Tide’s efficiency advantage came on 1st downs, which is usually impressive — as it usually requires delivering 5+ yards to accrue success on 1st down — but also less meaningful than late downs success rates.

And while the somewhat continued it’s trend of performing better on 3rd downs than earlier downs — see that XR, for example — the Longhorns did a little better. And they did well enough on 4th downs to seal the deal.

Success and Explosiveness in the Red Zone

The Red Zone count (2 plays) was shockingly low for Alabama, which is really a microcosm of how this offense went. The technically delivered a higher SR there, but the ‘Horns speent a lot more time in the Red Zone. The Alabama defense could be commended for holding them below SR league averages there, I suppose ... and that’s where those Texas FG attempts came from (instead of even more points).

Success and Explosiveness by Distance to go

The Tide only had two attempts within 0-3 yards, which is again so strange. I guess the prior Downs chart did show a very weak 2nd down SR, so that’s likely one culprit for not finding ourselves with short yardage to go very often. It seems like we did fine on the rare occasions we faced short yardage, but Texas also did well on many more attempts, similar to the finding in the Red Zones chart.

Top Rushers

No big stars in this chart. The rushers had their moments, with both McClellan and Milroe delivering the only explosive rushes in the game, but otherwise were quite inefficient.

Top Passers

Jalen Milroe had a respectable 26% explosiveness rate — see the desperate drives late in the game — but was otherwise bad and put up two interceptions.

Quinn Ewers passed a lot more, and was actually less explosive (21%) and less efficient (37%) than Milroe on average. But he didn’t throw interceptions, and his explosive plays were bigger, and those really count for something. Ewers also had a lot more catches overall, though ten of those were deemed “not successful” as they were too short.

Top Receivers

If you’re being optimistic, you could give credit to the Tide offense for spreading the ball around: seven pass-catchers got involved, with five of those catching explosive passes. And sophomore Kobe Prentice got three of them despite showing up a little later on this list (it’s in order of when they caught their first pass in the game).

(Don’t look, but Texas had more pass-catchers — albeit some only for unsuccessful catches — and a few standout receivers that ended up winning the game)

Per my prior comment in the box score section, unfortunately there wasn’t sufficient tacklers data available in this week’s game data, so I can’t print that chart. Add that to the list of things that were terrible in this game!

Here’s to a bounce-back ... if not a total one, at least a season with brighter moments ... and to trying to relax more the next time the Tide loses a game. Roll Tide all, I’ll see you next week.