Last week, leading up to the Georgia Southern game, I posted an article highlighting Georgia Southern's various minimum/maximum statistics and asked you how we thought 'Bama would do in each of the categories.
This is a list of the eight statistics, and a breakdown of what factors contributed to the success or failure in changing them.
The main reason they only threw for 60 against WCU was that they also rushed for 634 yards, and didn't need to pass.
That was basically the case against 'Bama as well. Though they "only" had 39 passing yards against 'Bama, it was a 39-yard TD pass against a busted coverage. So, while the Tide did stifle the passing game a bit (they only attempted five), they had more total success than most of the other teams they played.
Georgia Southern runs the triple option very well. If your first two options are working, why use the pass? I recognize that Saban had youngsters on the field to get experience and all that, but not all the busted coverages were busted by freshmen on Saturday.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? Yes, but on a TD pass, is it a win?
App State held Georgia Southern to 135 yards on the ground. 'Bama learned about their weakness in defending the option when they played LSU. With these two truths, I think all 'Bama fans were expecting to see the Tide from the 2009 SEC Championship game (the year after they got burned by the Florida option game).
That didn't happen, and many people argue that 'Bama busted coverages and allowed themselves to get run over for 302 yards. While that is certainly half the equation, the other half is that Georgia Southern put the ball right where the coverages were missed almost every time (i.e. the 82-yard TD "dive" play). Putting the ball exactly where it needs to be is simply excellent football, congrats to Georgia Southern on this one!
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? No, they missed by 167 yards. (Hope 'Bama learned something about the option, as LSU will still be running it as long as Miles has an option quarterback on his staff.)
Fewest passing yards gained: 'Bama took it from 60 to 39.
Fewest rushing yards gained: 'Bama missed the 135 mark by allowing 302.
Fewest total yards gained: 'Bama missed the 202 mark by allowing 341.
Appalachian State was Georgia Southern's only loss this year until 'Bama, and 'Bama certainly allowed them to show the SEC fanbase why that was the case.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? No, and they missed by 139 yards.
'Bama passed for 190 yards against the Eagles on Saturday. They're a run-centered team, so fewer passing yards is to be expected. However, they entered the game needing confidence in the passing attack.
I don't know when they're going to have the opportunity to take risks with him again, but I'm betting it's not going to be in the postseason.
That being said, with a final score of 45-21 and GASO putting up three touchdowns against a team that hadn't allowed more than 14 points all season, I'm not sure turning him loose again would have been the wisest plan for Saturday. I just want to see the short game open up for a full four quarters again.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? No, and they fell short by 131 yards.
'Bama is very heavy on the rushing game. It's to be expected, but the Eagles weren't giving the yards up easily. Many times, though not enough, the Eagles were on top of the game so much that it seemed they were never going to see the yards they would have liked.
'Bama has a very deep corp of running backs, starting with the best one in the country. With their hands on the ball repeatedly, it's not a surprise that they altered this stat for the Eagles this past Saturday, but it is an accomplishment.
Again, this is not your "typical" FCS school. These are the best boys in the Southern Conference, which 'Bama was a part of until the SEC was created in 1933.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? Yes, with three very good reasons: T.R., E.L. and J.F.
'Bama got 462 yards off of Georgia Southern. That increased their stat by only 54 yards.
Georgia Southern has a reputation to uphold, and I didn't expect them to let 'Bama roll all over them, but this was impressive. (Bama's first string stayed out on the field much longer than they normally do against such teams, so that's another point in the Eagles' favor.)
Ultimately, 'Bama rolled over the Eagles, but not too badly if you're a SoCon fan.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? Yes, but only by 54 yards.
This is the biggest surprise of the game for me, as the option has been Bama's weakness all year. Even against LSU, the option ran produced 100-plus yards in the second half. The defense stiffened, and didn't allow LSU into the end zone.
Georgia Southern took advantage of a busted coverage on an 82-yard dive play for a TD. They threw their only completed pass of the game for a TD. Thirdly, they ran a kickoff back for a TD. This game was a lot closer than the 45-21 final score would lead one to believe.
I believe that, on any given Saturday, a team is in danger of losing if they don't bring their "A-game." This Saturday was definitely proof of that.
Georgia Southern scored more points than any other 'Bama opponent all year. Also, while 'Bama generally doesn't allow TDs at all, the Eagles took them for three.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? No, though I'm sure special teams will catch a bunch of crap, simply because the defense allowed their two touchdowns first.
Most points allowed previously belonged to Chattanooga, who also owned total yards before 'Bama.
'Bama scored 45 on the Eagles, bringing home the win. I would have liked to see a "prettier" win, but all we needed was the win.
Did 'Bama change this stat for the Eagles? Yes, but they were also only the Eagles' second loss, so they are not big fans of getting scored on at all.
So, to sum up, Alabama changed four of the eight stats I was looking at before the game. In order for me to be looking forward to the possible championship rematch, I needed 'Bama to change almost all eight.
All-in-all, 'Bama came out with a win, and is sitting in control of their destiny for the BCS Championship once again. I just hope that LSU doesn't watch a whole lot of Georgia Southern video before that game.
Roll Tide Roll!
* Statistics from espn.com were used in this article