The Crimson Tide Defense – By the Numbers
If there's been one consistent part of Alabama's game so far this season, it has definitely been their defense. But with the influx in high-powered offenses, how do they stack up against the rest of college football, and can their defense lead them to another national championship?
In this day and age of college football, it's almost a necessity to have an unstoppable offense. Scoring points has become the name of the game for the most part, but elite defensive play is still being taught, it's still hanging around as an integral part of some teams.
Through five games, Alabama's offense hasn't looked anywhere near "unstoppable," so they have relied on great defensive play to help set up the offense in favorable positions (bailing them out with crucial turnovers, setting them up with great field position, etc...).
Elite defense in today's game isn't the same as it was 10 years ago, nor even just four years ago, but possessing a top tier defense can still help you win plenty of games in college football.
And Alabama has one of them this season.
One of the most telling statistics of a great defense is their ability to limit big plays and also contain offenses to gaining minimum yards per play, and Alabama has done just that. They rank eighth in the country in yards/play at 4.00. To put this in perspective, the 2012 Crimson Tide that defeated Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game averaged 4.13 yards/play. I'd say that this Tide team is on a pretty good pace to equal or best that number.
The Tide's defense has played 342 total plays so far this season, which ranks as the 51st most in college football. *It's worth noting that some teams have only played four games so far.*
But that's not all. Alabama's defense has been able to get teams off the field on third down, showing that they are bend but don't break on the first two downs of each resetting of the sticks. They rank 13th in the nation in 3rd down percentage on defense, sitting at 26.19%, which is also tops in the Southeastern Conference.
As mentioned earlier, having a top tier offense is the trend in college football now, and part of having a solid and efficient offense is being able to score touchdowns in the redzone. Conversely, if a defense can prevent teams from scoring touchdowns inside the redzone, then that will increase the chances of that team winning any single game, and Alabama has done an above-average job of keeping teams out of the endzone inside the redzone.
When teams have driven the ball inside Alabama's 20 yard line, the Tide have only allowed them to score touchdowns 41.67 percent of the time. This seems like a lot, but considering those teams have made it inside Alabama's redzone 12 times and score field goals at the same rate (41.67%). In today's game, if you can play damage control on the scoreboard (giving up three points instead of seven), then that reduces the amount of pressure offenses are under throughout the game.
All of this is without mentioning the sheer amount of talent on Alabama's defense. Loaded down with four and five star talent at every position, and boasting one of the, if not the best defensive lines in college football, the Tide's defense is as stingy as it comes in college football. Teams need to run the ball against Alabama in order to attempt to manage the game clock, but that's easier said than done. Giving up only 84 rushing yards per game and 2.75 yards per rush, they lead the SEC in rushing defense. In order to score on Alabama, teams need to throw the ball, but there has to be balance if they plan on defeating the Tide.
Well, Alabama turning the ball over five times is another way to beat them, but the Ole Miss game was an anomaly.
If Alabama's defense keeps this up, it's going to be extremely difficult to beat them again.