Alabama Football: 10 Startling Statistics of the Tide's Season Thus Far
With top-ranked Alabama sitting at 5-0 and currently enjoying a bye this week, a look at the Crimson Tide’s body of work to this point reveals a team that has been mostly dominant in all three phases this season.
There have been periods of struggle sprinkled in, but for the most part, Nick Saban’s club has been balanced and efficient on offense.
The defense—which is ranked in the top five in the four major defensive categories—has, at times, resembled last season’s historic unit.
The Tide's special teams’ unit—which failed them in last season’s lone blemish—has proven to be a strength a year later.
So which numbers posted by the team thus far should raise eyebrows for Tide fans?
Some of them serve as evidence to the Alabama’s fast start, while others may hint that improvement is still needed over the second half of the season.
Here are the 10 most startling statistics of the Tide’s season thus far.
10. Turnover Margin
Perhaps the biggest reason for Alabama’s dominant start has been the fact that it has made few mistakes while its opponents have floundered thanks to the number of miscues forced by the Tide’s defense.
Alabama has picked off 12 passes and recovered three fumbles thus far.
Conversely, the Tide has lost only three fumbles of its own.
Of teams that have played at least five games, Alabama leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-12.
9. A.J. McCarron's TD/INT Ratio
Part of the reason the offense has turned it up a notch this season has been the play of junior quarterback AJ McCarron.
The junior has remained an efficient passer (completing nearly 66 percent of his passes), but even though he is seeing more pressure (more on that later), he has thrown 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Equally as impressive is how he has spread the wealth, with six different players having been on the receiving end of McCarron's scoring tosses this year.
8. Fumbles/Fumbles Lost
While Alabama has been a team that has excelled at minimizing its mistakes since Saban took over the program, this season has proven that luck plays a role in not turning the ball over.
The Tide have put the ball on the ground an alarming 10 times this season, and while they have only lost three of them, they simply have to do a better job at holding onto the ball with the schedule getting tougher in the second half of the season.
7. Receiving TDs by WR Unit
Alabama won the national title last season despite minimal production from its receiver unit.
In fact, that group was responsible for less receiving touchdowns (seven) than the combination of running backs and tight ends (nine).
Through five games, the Tide’s group of pass-catchers have stepped up to grab 11 scoring strikes.
Despite the recent loss of DeAndrew White, there is plenty of depth and talent capable of stepping up and keeping up the production level from that unit.
6. Sacks Allowed
The offensive line entered the season as the perceived strength of the team, and with three preseason All-Americans leading that unit, that logic was understandable.
While the offense has not missed a beat and is actually averaging five points per game more than last season, the line has surrendered 11 sacks through five games.
By comparison, that unit gave up 17 sacks in 13 games a year ago, and the alarming reality is that the Tide have faced just one defense (Western Kentucky—who rang up six sacks) that ranks in the top 25 nationally in total defense.
Three of its defeated opponents fall below the top 50 in that category, but with teams like LSU and Mississippi State looming, the line needs to work out its kinks during the bye week.
5. Field Goals Allowed
Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense, having only allowed 35 points through five games.
That equates to five touchdowns being the only points registered against the Tide all season.
With a defense as stingy as Saban’s unit, it would figure that teams would have to kick field goals to get on the board.
But opponents have missed the only two attempts tried this season, and Alabama has not allowed a three-point score in the last nine games dating back to last season.
In fact, the last kicker to make a field goal against Alabama was LSU’s Drew Alleman, who kicked the game-winner in the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime victory in last season’s "Game of the Century."
4. Scoring Quarters Streak
Another impressive streak that was carried into the season was a string of consecutive quarters that Alabama had put up points in—which ended at 33 straight periods after the Tide put up a donut in the third quarter of last weekend’s 33-14 win over Ole Miss.
That third quarter remains the only quarter Alabama has failed to score in.
Nearly as impressive is the fact that the defense held the opposition scoreless for 24 quarters during that span.
3. Red Zone Scoring
Even though Alabama struggled in its last two games in the red zone, it's practically nitpicking considering that Alabama has come away with points on all 22 trips inside its opponents’ 20-yard line.
The offense has gotten in the end zone on 16 of those drives, but four of the six field goals have come in the last two weeks.
Considering how tough it has been to score on the Tide’s defense, the most important thing for Alabama's offense is to maintain its efficiency when it reaches scoring territory—and it's hard to beat 100 percent.
2. Dee Milliner's Pass Breakups
Alabama lost three starters in the secondary from last season’s top-ranked defense, and that was a concern for most preseason pundits when assessing the Tide’s chances to repeat as national champions.
Five games through 2012, it's clear that not only has Alabama reloaded, it could very well have the best cover corner in the entire country in junior Dee Milliner.
Despite sitting out the Western Kentucky game with an injury, Milliner has been flat out dominant in the four games he has played in.
His two interceptions are tied for the team lead with Deion Belue, but his nine pass breakups lead the team (tied for third nationally in that category) and equal his 2011 season total.
Simply put, he has played lights out thus far and will probably earn a considerable amount of respect from opposing quarterbacks as the season moves forward.
1. Margin of Victory
Alabama’s players were likely motivated to be ready for the season when they saw two games scheduled against teams in the preseason Top 10 in the first three weeks of the season.
While Michigan has struggled and no one could possibly envision the Arkansas program crumbling before our eyes, it's worth noting that Alabama handled its business by looking nothing less than dominant against both teams.
Alabama is winning by an average of more than 33 points per game, which is a testament to how strong it has looked in the first half of the season.
Bonus: First Quarter Scoring
Last year, Alabama had a few games where it came out flat and struggled to find a rhythm early.
This season, the Tide have made a habit of storming out of the gate and pouncing on their opponents early.
Alabama has outscored its opponents 62-0 in the first quarter and has led each game by at least 20 points at halftime.
The schedule will get tougher in October and November, but judging by the body of work exhibited by Alabama thus far, the Tide will be ready for whatever challenges that lie ahead.
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