The numbers being put up by Alabama’s offense are insane. Just berserk. There’s no stopping the Crimson Tide. No, really. If ‘Bama is really trying to score points, the offense is virtually unstoppable.
It depends on the mood of coach Nick Saban; does he feel charitable in the second half? The Mizzou Tigers may be wondering about that on Saturday evening when facing Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
It would take about 5,000 words to list all of the crazy stats being generated by Alabama’s offense, but I’ll try to go with the most wicked selections from the Tide’s 6-0 start. And believe me, there are some wild numbers that I don’t even know about.
1. An average of 56.3 points per game.
2. An average of 39.6 points in the first half, outscoring opponents 238-34.
3. An average of 26.1 points in the first quarter, outscoring victims 157-21.
4. Alabama has scored 238 points in just the first half this season, which is more than 108 FBS teams have scored in total — all four quarters — including Michigan (228), Oregon (228), Notre Dame (209), West Virginia (207), and Mizzou (195.)
5. Alabama’s first-quarter total of 157 points is more than what 60 FBS teams have scored, in total, this season including Purdue, Stanford and Michigan State.
6. The average score of an Alabama game after three quarters: Crimson Tide 50.3, Victims 9.
7. The average score after three quarters in ‘Bama’s four games against Power 5 opponents: Crimson Tide 49, Victims 11.8
8. After running only three plays on offense last Saturday, Alabama led 14-0.
9. Alabama leads the FBS with 40 offensive touchdowns. And the 40 TD drives averaged just 5.4 plays to cover an average distance of 63.5 yards to reach the end zone.
10. The average time of possessions on the 40 touchdown drives was only 2 minutes 6 seconds.
11. Alabama has scored four touchdowns on a one-play “drive,” and four other touchdowns on a two-play “drive.”
12. The Tide has averaged 11.8 yards per play on its 40 touchdown drives. They average 8.6 yards per play overall, second to Oklahoma’s average of 8.9 yards per play. But Alabama has owned such huge leads in its games this season, Saban slows things down at some point in the second half to avoid running up the score. But ‘Bama runs up the score, anyway. Not intentionally. They just can’t help but score.
13. Alabama has produced more than 500 yards in all six games this season, the longest such streak in program history.
14. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation with nine plays of 50-plus yards. In case you’re curious, Mizzou’s defense, which ranks 75th overall nationally, has given up six plays of 50+ yards which ranks 113th among 130 teams.
15. Alabama scores so quickly (and early, and often) that it’s become a problem — yeah, for Alabama. “Trust me, as an offensive player, sometimes it’s even frustrating how fast we can score,” tight end Hale Hentges told reporters. “It’s like, ‘OK, let’s get in a rhythm, let’s get in a groove.’ You throw a block and you’re like, ‘OK, that was one play’ … touchdown.”
16. Alabama isn’t putting up many junk-yardage stats, either. A whopping 80.5 percent of Alabama’s total yards have come on scoring drives.
17. Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the first-year starter, has been on the field for only one double-digit touchdown drive so far this season.
18. Alabama is averaging 9.8 yards per play when Tagovailoa is in at quarterback. He hasn’t taken a snap in the fourth quarter this season; Saban removes Tua during or after the third quarter to lessen the risk of injury in a blowout win.
19. Tagovailoa is zeroing in on Baker Mayfield’s NCAA record for single-season pass efficiency. The record is 198.92 (set in 2017) and Tua has a preposterous rating of 258.40.
20. Tagovailoa hasn’t had a single-game efficiency rating of lower than 223 yet this season; that’s absolutely nuts.
21. Tua is on pace to set new NCAA single-season records for yards per attempt (he’s at 14.8) and completion percentage (75.2, tied for No. 1 in the nation.)
22. Tagovailoa has 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions. On average, one out of every four passes completed by Tua this season has gone for a touchdown.
23. The 18 TD passes by Tua are impressive. This may be even more impressive: He’s had only 25 incompletions. Have you ever seen a ratio like that? I mean, 18 touchdowns and 25 incompletions?
24. Short game: On throws that travel 9 yards or fewer, Tagovailoa has completed 43 of 46 passes … and one of the incompletions was a dropped pass.
25. When Tua has faced a third down and 10 or more yards to go, he’s completed 9 of 11 for 181 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also the highest-rated passer in the nation on attempts that travel 20+ yards in the air.
Mizzou may see more of No. 2 quarterback Jalen Hurts than Tagovailoa, who has a slight knee sprain. Saban says Tagovailoa hasn’t missed a snap in practice this week, but don’t surprised if Tua departs earlier than usual. ‘Bama is “only” 26-2 with Hurts as its starting quarterback in 2016 and 2017.
And all of this is another reason why Saban is the greatest coach in college football history.
Saban’s teams have won six national championships: One at LSU, the other five at Alabama. And that’s five in the last nine seasons. Incredible.
Saban has won championships with defense. He’s won championships with a physical rushing attack. He’s won a national title using a spread offense. But with Tagovailoa’s speed, elusiveness and freakish all-around ability including his sick downfield passing accuracy — Saban has opened up his offense as never before.
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is making frequent use of the “11” personnel package (three WRs, one tight end) as opposed to the standard “12” which features two wideouts and two tight ends. Alabama has no hesitation to attack with deep passes, moves the pocket, and deploys the run-pass option. But the Crimson Tide can also lean on their forceful run game and pound defenses with their big backs. The talent, creativity and versatility of this offense is killer.
“They have very fast wide receivers and they can stretch you really vertical with that RPO game, which adds a dimension,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said earlier his season. “I think you see that in the points they’re scoring and how explosive they are. It definitely puts a lot of pressure on you because you know you have to stop the run. With that added dimension it makes it very, very tough.”
Saban has an inexperienced, injury-walloped defense that’s thinner than his recent defenses. I suppose that’s one downside — I’m kidding — of ‘Bama having eight defensive players drafted in the first round over the the last two years.
This unit isn’t as loaded, and The Tide has been more vulnerable than usual defensively, giving up big plays in the passing game and more 10-yard and 20-yard runs than accustomed. In fairness to Alabama, much of the damage being done to its defense is coming after opponents are hopelessly behind in the game.
To compensate for the anticipated problems in stopping opponents with the usual level of consistency, Saban is dialing up this frightening passing game to build substantial early leads that cushion his defense.
It’s remarkable, really, to watch Saban evolve … again. He’ll be 67 at the end of the month but remains enthusiastic about embracing new ideas, new strategies. And that’s that’s why he’s the best.