These are numbers that drive Nick Saban wild and will make Bama fans shudder.
Alabama Stats That Will Blow Your Mind – In a Bad Way
By Larry Burton
Alabama fans have become accustomed to having No. 1 recruiting classes, having teams contend for a national championship and having one of the nation’s top defenses every year.
Are Alabama fans ready to settle for two out of three?
Currently Alabama ranks as the nation’s 56th best defense. Let me say that again for the fans who didn’t believe it, No. 56. In passing defense, Alabama comes in as the 83rd best. Bama fans, that’s the lower third of the country. That means 66 percent of all the teams in the FBS are better.
So if you’re trying to console yourself with the fact the rushing defense must still be top notch, well their No. 38. All that is a far cry from No. 1
The good news for Alabama fans is that having the nation’s 56th best defense is a lot better than what it was rated before they played a pitiful Colorado State last week. Prior to that game, they were the nation’s No. 85 defense.
And with the Tide facing Ole Miss this weekend, another up-tempo offense that have put points up all season, it may not get much better when next week’s numbers come out.
Even team discipline is suffering. The usually mistake-free Crimson Tide has been one of the most penalized. For least penalized team, Alabama comes in at a staggering No. 60 out of 125 teams.
“Well,” say the Tide fans, “Thank God we have AJ McCarron and such a great offense!”
As Lee Corso would say at this juncture, “Not so fast my friends!”
Presently the Alabama offense comes in at No. 85. Let me say that number again, 85. That means almost 70 percent of all the teams in the country are better. But what about the vaunted Alabama rushing attack, that stable of the best runners in the SEC will pull the Tide through won’t it?
They haven’t shown that could happen so far. Presently they are the nation’s 91st best rushing offense. That means only 33 teams are worse. Teams that Alabama fans might usually make fun of like North Texas, Texas State, Troy, South Alabama, UAB and even the team they beat last week, Colorado State are all rated higher. Really want to feel bad Alabama fans? Auburn is 65 places higher at 26.
“OK, so maybe we miss Eddie Lacy more than we thought we would, but we still have AJ McCarron, a two-time national champion, surely he’s leading in the stats.” the Bama fans may say.
Well, uh, no, not really. McCarron is guiding the nation’s 60th best passing attack. That’s just barely inside the top 50 percent of the top passing attacks in the country. And for just one more kick in the gut, when it comes to third-down conversions, Alabama comes in at No. 100. That means in all of the FBS, only 25 teams are worse and most of them have a losing record.
These are some of the worst numbers ever for any team that is holding onto the nation’s No. 1 ranking after four weeks.
Now for the good news, in kickoff returns Alabama comes in tied at No. 11, punt returns No. 18 and punting is No. 8. Also Vinnie Sunseri has himself atop the nation’s interception returned for touchdown stats, tied alongside a few players with two.
Well, that’s about it for the good news, except for the fact that they are still undefeated as well. But before Alabama fans head for the nearest cliff to jump off of, you must look at the following considerations.
Alabama’s offensive line is still working out communication issues and once that is fixed, these players have the size, strength and talent to be one of the nation’s best.
Alabama’s offense has played less than half of the sets they can go out of. Saban has been playing his card very close to the vest with just what this offense is capable of doing.
Saban has used the deep ball very sparingly despite the fact that McCarron has proven to be deadly with it.
Both McCarron and Cooper, Alabama’s big pass-play combination, haven’t been at top form so far this season and once they do, the stats will quickly change. Add to that, McCarron is just finding out that his tight ends aren’t a rebuilding project, but a great asset that can pay dividends the rest of the season.
Now for the defense.
The defensive numbers are so bad for one big reason, that is the amazing 628 yards of offense that Texas A&M put up on the Tide in that second game. While Ole Miss is sure to put some numbers on the board, they won’t come close to that number and then Alabama coasts through some of their easier contests until the LSU game. The numbers will be back within reason by that date.
Alabama’s defense has a large fast motor in it, but it’s sputtering badly. Saban is a master mechanic who is troubleshooting it by lots of methods. He’s swapping parts and tuning it up. Once it does start running smoothly, it’s fine, strong engine that can tow this team to another championship.
But the main reason Tide fans should refrain from becoming despondent is that things are going this bad for them and they’re still No. 1 still undefeated and still thought of by the great majority of the best minds that vote for teams in the ranking to be the No. 1 team in the country.
Voters know that this is a team who can have an off day and still beat 99 percent of the teams in the country. They realize that Alabama plays down to the level of their competition, but also play up to the level of their competition when they play a great team.
Here are some other things the voters know. They know that this isn’t a team that’s interested in running up the score on opponents, go into a conservative mode with a lead and constantly rotate second, third and even fourth string players in the game at any given time without much of a lapse in play quality.
They know that this is a team that looks statistically bad, but can beat the No. 6 team in the nation.
They know that McCarron have a bad looking day until the game is on the line and then go 9-for-10 in a game-winning drive and look like a million dollars. They know the whole team is like that when the game’s on the line, because in the chest of this team beats the heart of champions. Winning is not just expected on this team, but is something that is automatically second nature.
And until some team comes along to finally stop them, all the statistics in the world won’t matter. The only thing that will are the wins. At least to the fans. The stats will always give Saban heartburn, still bother the members of the team who have grown to imitate their coach and still give opposing teams hope.