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Graphing the Tide vs. Ole Miss: 4th Quarters good. Red Zones bad.

The Tide almost sunk into a hole in the 2nd quarter, but recovered to get an SEC win.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Wow! After that first half lull, things were a real bummer around here. But the 2nd half looked more like what we’d hoped for in a bounce-back game. Time will tell if this is the new trend for the rest of our SEC slate, but for now I’ll enjoy the second half, and a conference win.

Box Score: Alabama at Mississippi State

Stat Alabama Mississippi State
Stat Alabama Mississippi State
Points 40 17
Total yards 357 261
Rush yards 193 154
Rush attempts 43 35
Yards per rush 4.5 4.4
Pass yards 164 107
Pass attempts 10-13 15-27
Yards per pass 12.6 4.0
1st downs 15 15
3rd down eff 5-12 5-13
4th down eff 0-0 0-3
Turnovers 0 3
Tackles 1 2
Sacks 4 4
Penalties-Yds 6-40 3-15
Possession 30:10 29:50

In the box score, it’s interesting to see that the total yardage gap between Alabama and Ole Miss wasn’t that great (356 to 301), but it’s nice to see that the Tide’s yards per rush and yards per pass were — if not high in the grand scheme of things — significantly higher than the Rebels’.

For the first time this season, the Tide had a notable time of possession advantage ... which is interesting given that the teams ran basically the same amount of plays. Look to the run/pass mix (chart to come later) for an explanation ... the Rebels threw the ball a lot and so stopped the clock more often.

Ole Miss’s 3-for-4 on 4th downs was frustrating, but pair that with 3-for-14 (!) on 3rd down and you’re still looking as a pretty bad rate. You’d rather have the Tide’s line in that one (and the points followed).

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Team Success Rates over time (cumulative)

Whew, these numbers started pretty strong for the Tide — that 1st quarter only yielded a field goal, but we started very efficient — but then slipped into a mid-game malaise. The 2nd quarter was especially cranky, but then things started to pick up late. We still ended up with just-above-average efficiency, but managed sink Ole Miss’s late in the game to a well-below-average mark.

Funny enough, Alabama’s Success Rate didn’t climb that much in the second half, given how much better the unit appeared to play late in the game. But there are at least few things going on here:

  1. It’s a cumulative rate for the entire game, so the numbers are just harder to move late given the volume of data.
  2. That XR (explosiveness rate) number did climb a few points going into the 4th quarter, which is the metric that likely had an outsized influence on the second half scoring
  3. The 2nd quarter was bad, and had a lot of plays in it (more on that soon).

Rushing and Passing Success (cumulative)

Each phase of the game took some swings in the early quarters, but they ended up pretty even for the Tide. The running game started off great — really, that first drive was pretty marvelous until things fell apart after a few first downs — but then lulled a few times in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to put us back below average in efficiency.

That second quarter passing line is a real bummer, and starts to stink of a bit of a pattern with Jalen Milroe — seen also late in the loss to Texas — where most passes are unsuccessful, but every once in a while we land an explosive one. This “roll the dice against the odds” offense isn’t as fun to watch as one that paces it with some plain ol’ efficient plays.

Fortunately, that happened in the 3rd quarter, with Alabama actually completing some successful short pass plays before landing a few more explosive ones (to Hale, then to Outz). That sequence in particular — 4 successful pass plays in a row in the middle of some rushing doldrums — really swung things for the Tide. And the rushing game followed right when the clock flipped to the 4th quarter, letting Alabama seal the deal.

On the Ole Miss chart, the passing game started out explosive and strong, but then neither phase achieved all that much efficiency for the remainder of the game.

Rushing rate (cumulative)

Alabama started rush-happy with that strong start on the initial drive, but then we evened out into the slightly-rush-leaning mix we’ve been seeing this season.

On the Ole Miss side ... that is one pass-happy offense.

Success and Explosiveness by Play Type

That rushing gap is a marvelous sight to see: Alabama wasn’t exactly “lights out” in the rushing game, but a good late spree put us back into above-average territory. The passing game ended up right about there too (44% - 45%), and was much more explosive.

Unfortunately, Ole Miss’s passing game was also quite explosive, but the Tide won on the rest of the gaps in this chart.

Play Map: Yards and Result by Play

The Play Map is a little odd and grim for the tide. Those clusters of success truly happened in localized runs. The first drive started well, then some sprinkles in the early second quarter ... then just a few big plays before that nice drive early in the 4th.

Looking that Average Extra Yards line, we were at a pretty depressing place going into halftime, with a negative Avg Extra Yards measure at that point — a few negative plays definitely come to mind — while the Rebels boasted a slightly positive one at that point (after having a really strong showing in the 1st quarter).

Frankly, this years’ offense seems to be more susceptible to going negative in this metric compared to our better offenses the past handful of years — though last year’s loss to LSU did include a negative dip in the first half — which is fitting given most of the TV product so far.

Success and Explosiveness by Quarter

I’ve been alluding to these effects in a few other charts so far, but this one really tells it: the Tide was pretty efficient in the 1st quarter (and put up some explosiveness too). We didn’t get the points requisite with that, though, and the 2nd quarter really lulled on efficiency (and explosiveness). That was the one quarter where the Rebels actually put up higher efficiencies on offense than the Tide did.

But, then Ole Miss had a lull of their own ... and their third quarter was the worst that either team mustered for the game. Their 4th quarter had some explosive “comeback material” in the works, but also had a sub-30% Success Rate, which just isn’t gonna cut it in most circumstances.

SR, XR, and Play Count by Drive

Seeing a few long drives from the Tide was encouraging here. We did see a few 3-and-outs in the game (two with zero percent SR’s, ugh), but a few high-efficiency drives towards the end put us in a good place to win the thing.

On the Ole Miss side, they had a few respectable drives but 4 three-and-outs of their own. That 12-play drive of theirs in the second half would’ve been the most frustrating one of the play ... except their final drive had fifteen plays off of a sub-30% SR. That’s about as low as you can get while sustaining a drive, so it makes sense that they had to convert multiple 4th down plays (including 4th and very long) to keep it alive.

Success and Explosiveness by Down

The “2nd down lull” is back, but relatively subtle here. The Tide did pretty well on 3rd downs, and importantly kept the Rebels at a very meager SR on the same down. Unfortunately that bright blue bar at the end exists, representing Ole Miss’s 75% SR (with and explosive play, to boot) on 4th down. Gimme a break.

Success and Explosiveness in the Red Zone

The good news: Ole Miss was putrid in the Red Zone, with a shocking ~11% SR on only 9 attempts down there.

The bad news: Alabama wasn’t good in the Red Zone either. All of that efficiency we were accruing between the 20s was not necessarily turning into points once Alabama got near the end zone: We had just 14 attempts down there, but only delivered a 29% SR there ... bring on the field goal unit, I guess.

Success and Explosiveness by Distance to go

We’ve started to see this trend for the Tide this season so far — call it a bright spot in otherwise rough seas — and it really doubled down here: we’re efficient in short yardage situations! Maybe that’s what happens when all of your offensive lineman are a thousand pounds and your QB is a big dude too.

Otherwise we see similar trends week over week. We’ve got a lull at 7-9 yards per usual for some reason (maybe something about bad drive momentum after unsuccessful short gains), but relative success otherwise.

Top Rushers

Jase McClellan re-asserted himself after Roydell showed off last week: his solid 56% SR is pretty good for a leading back. I was especially excited to see him really fighting for yards on several occasions, often salvaging a successful play out of a bad situation. For that, he gets the article image feature (even if I did consider WR Jalen Hale, too).

Top Passers

Jalen Milroe did throw another interception ... so he gets the little black bar on the end of his passing line. Otherwise, he was pretty efficient with a 52.4% passing SR, and connected for five explosive catches. Really, he didn’t throw all that much (especially compared to Jaxson Dart).

Oddly, we seem to be seeing more “caught, but unsuccessful” catches this season so far. Maybe something about the timing of routes and check-downs for Milroe, I’m not sure.

Top Receivers

The receivers chart is strange; I don’t recall seeing an Alabama receivers chart that was so flat across the board. I guess you could call it a win for ball distribution — this is ten receivers targeted across only 21 passes — but it’s unusual to not have an obvious starter or two at wideout visible in this chart.

If there was a leader, I think you’d have to point to freshman WR Jalen Hale, with his 100% XR from two huge catches. These weren’t his first in the season — he had a catch against MTSU and played against USF — but even so, this was quite the way to enter stage left on the season. Hopefully we see more of these huge catches in the coming games.

Alabama Tacklers vs. Ole Miss

Team Player SOLO TOT
Team Player SOLO TOT
Alabama Terrion Arnold 6 8
Alabama Jihaad Campbell 7 7
Alabama Malachi Moore 5 6
Alabama Jaylen Key 3 5
Alabama Dallas Turner 3 5
Alabama Caleb Downs 2 5
Alabama Kool-Aid McKinstry 3 3
Alabama Justin Eboigbe 2 3
Alabama Tim Keenan III 2 3
Alabama Kendrick Blackshire 1 3
Alabama Trezmen Marshall 1 3
Alabama Chris Braswell 1 3
Alabama Tim Smith 1 2
Alabama Jaheim Oatis 1 1
Alabama Jamarion Miller 1 1
Alabama Deontae Lawson 0 1
Alabama Damon Payne Jr. 0 1

Hey, we have tacklers data again!

  • Terrion Arnold really showed out in this game, both in tackles accrued — 6 is a lot of solo’s for a DB — and in his highlights breaking up passes and coming down with that interception. Heck, maybe I shoulda put him as the feature image!
  • He was joined by a few other DBs towards the top of the list: Malachi Moore, Jalen Key, Caleb Downs, and Kool-Aid. Usually it’s bad if your DB’s are accruing all of the tackles, but Ole Miss just passed and ran outside a lot, so they added up.
  • It was a relief to see Jihaad Campbell fill in so well after Deontae Lawson went down ... and he acquitted himself very well with a team-leading seven solo tackles (all without even starting the game).
  • I’m surprised that Jamarion (Jam) Miller appears in this list. Was that off of the interception? Or maybe it was a play-by-play notation error.

Whew. Happy with the win, and for once not taking any opponent — even the flagging Mississippi State Bulldogs next weekend — for granted. Roll Tide, all.