Tuesday Notebook: Alabama Offense

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Oct. 6, 2009

30-PLUS: For the first time since 1979, and just the third time in school history, Alabama has opened the season with five straight games of 30 points or more. The Tide also accomplished the feat in 1920. It is also just the seventh time in school history Alabama has had five consecutive games of 30 points or more with the most recent being the season-opening streak in 1979. The longest such streak is seven games, which came from Sept. 18 - Oct. 30 in 1971. The 1971 team also set the school record for most 30-point games with nine. Alabama had seven (tied for third) in 2008. In 2009, the Tide opened with 34 points against Virginia Tech, scored 40 vs. FIU and then hung 53 against North Texas - the most points for a UA team since 2001. The Crimson Tide then put up 35 points in the SEC opener against Arkansas and followed that with 38 points on the road at Kentucky.

Most consecutive 30-point games
1971      7 games                Sept. 18-Oct. 30
1975      6 games                Sept. 20-Oct. 25
2009      5 games                First five games of the season (current)
1979      5 games                First five games of the season
1978      5 games                Last five games of the season
1973      5 games                Oct. 13-Nov. 17
1920      5 games                First five games of the season

A BALANCED ATTACK: The Tide has shown tremendous balance in their offensive numbers, averaging 228.2 rushing yards (10th nationally) and 234.6 yards passing (48th nationally) per game, which gives UA the 14th-ranked total offense in the nation. On the ground, Alabama is rushing the ball an average of 43.8 times per game for 5.21 yards per rush. The passing game is averaging 26.4 pass attempts per contest for an average of 8.89 yards per attempt. In the end, those numbers mean more points on the scoreboard. UA averaged 30.1 points per game last season and is averaging 40.0 points per game in 2009 to rank eighth nationally.

MULTIPLE OPTIONS CREATE DIVERSE OFFENSIVE ATTACK: One of the keys for the Tide’s high-powered offense in 2009 has been its ability to find playmakers all over the field. UA quarterbacks, led by starter Greg McElroy, have completed 65.9 percent of their passes to an impressive 14 different receivers in the first five games of the 2009 season. That includes the SEC opener against Arkansas where McElroy spread out 17 completions to nine different receiving targets. The UA receiving numbers are headed by running back Mark Ingram and tight end Colin Peek, who have both caught 14 passes. Ingram also has three touchdowns and 147 yards while Peek has one score and 160 yards. Next is a duo of wide receivers, including junior Darius Hanks (9 catches, 160 yards & 1 TD) and sophomore Julio Jones (9 catches, 133 yards & 1 TD). Sophomore Marquis Maze (8 catches, 194 yards & 2 TD) and senior Mike McCoy (8 catches, 138 yard & 1 TD) are next. In all, the Tide has 40 receptions from its wide receivers, 28 from backs and 19 from tight ends.

TIME OF POSSESSION: An Alabama trademark over the past two seasons has been its ability to control the line of scrimmage offensively and, consequently, control the tempo of the game. This has played out with an impressive advantage in time of possession. A year ago, the Crimson Tide finished 11th nationally with an average time of possession of 32:08. In 2009, the Crimson Tide is off to another great start in that category, ranking ninth nationally at 33:18. The Tide held the ball for 37:02 in the opener against Virginia Tech, 31:38 against FIU, 30:43 vs. North Texas, 33:36 against Arkansas and 33:30 at Kentucky. The Crimson Tide has won the time of possession battle in 14 of the last 19 games overall and all five contests in 2009.

McELROY ON THE MARK: McElroy has been impressive in his first five games as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback, completing 65.5 percent (78 of 119) of his passes for 1,086 yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception. The junior boasts a 165.48 passing efficiency rating, which ranks sixth nationally. He has now won his last 21 starts at quarterback, going 16-0 as a high school senior in 2005 and 5-0 for the Tide in 2009. In his collegiate starting debut against Virginia Tech, the Southlake, Texas, native threw for 230 yards on 15-of-30 passing with one touchdown and one interception in leading the Crimson Tide to a win over the No. 7 team in the country. The 230 yards rank as the fourth-highest total by a quarterback in his UA debut behind Brodie Croyle (285), Andrew Zow (272) and John Parker Wilson (253). McElroy completed 18-of-24 attempts for 241 yards and one touchdown vs. FIU and then threw for 176 yards on 13-of-15 passing and two touchdowns in two quarters against North Texas. He showed that starting SEC play would not have an effect either, going 17-of-24 for a career-high 291 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas. In his first SEC road start, McElroy overcame a slow first quarter to finish with 148 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-26 passing.

McELROY STREAKING: McElroy has strung together some pretty impressive passing numbers during his first five starts at quarterback for the Tide. Since halftime of the season opener against No. 7 Virginia Tech, McElroy has completed 73-of-101 passes for 992 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. That computes to a 72.3 completion percentage, a 184.19 collegiate passer rating and a 132.94 NFL passer rating over those 18 quarters of play. He set a new Alabama record for consecutive completions against FIU by connecting on 14 straight passes. Then against North Texas, he tied the school mark for highest completion percentage with a minimum of 10 completions, going 13 for 15 (86.7 percent). McElroy has not thrown an interception in 107 pass attempts, dating back to a second-quarter pick against Virginia Tech in the opener. That streak of 107 passes ranks fourth in the Alabama record book, behind Brodie Croyle (190), Jay Barker (155) and Freddie Kitchens (135).

INGRAM OFF TO THE RACES: Sophomore running back Mark Ingram is off to an excellent start in 2009. He has rushed for 487 yards and six touchdown through five games this season to rank 23rd nationally in rushing. Ingram has also added 14 receptions for 147 yard and three scores. In week one, he showed a national television audience why he was named to the watch list for the Doak Walker Award by rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown against No. 7 Virginia Tech. He came off the bench (due to flu-like symptoms) against FIU with 103 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). He followed that with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown on just eight carries (11.4 yards per rush) against North Texas. He accounted for 129 total yards vs. the Mean Green with three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. Against Arkansas, he ran for 50 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 21 yards and a score. Ingram was again the workhorse at Kentucky with 140 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

INGRAM FINIDING THE END ZONE: Mark Ingram has shown the ability to find the end zone both rushing and receiving during his Alabama career. The sophomore has at least one rushing touchdown in eight of his last nine games and at least one in each game of the 2009 season. He also has a receiving touchdown in 3-of-5 games this season. Overall, Ingram has scored at least one touchdown in 14 of his 19 games for the Tide. He had 21 career touchdowns (three receiving), including a freshman record 12 (all rushing) in 2008. Ingram ranks first in the SEC in touchdown scoring and second in total scoring at 10.80 points per game while ranking tied for seventh nationally. He has six rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores this season, which is three more touchdowns than anyone else in the league.

BALL SECURITY: Mark Ingram has also developed another impressive reputation during his 19-game Alabama career as the Flint, Mich., native is an expert at holding onto the football. The sophomore has not lost a fumble in 226 career rushing attempts and 21 career receptions for a total of 247 career touches. He has only put the ball on the ground one time (at LSU in 2008), which was recovered by the Tide. He has 1,215 rushing yards in those 19 games with 18 rushing touchdowns while also catching 21 passes for 204 yards and three scores.

RICHARDSON HAS IMPRESSIVE ROOKIE CAMPAIGN: True freshman running back Trent Richardson has enjoyed an impressive rookie season for Alabama. The Pensacola, Fla., native has rushed for 306 yards and four touchdowns on just 52 attempts. He is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 60.8 yards per game. He rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against FIU in just his second career game. He followed that up with 87 yards on 11 carries (7.9 ypc) against North Texas and 65 yards and a score vs. Arkansas. Richardson scored on runs of nine and 35 yards in the second half vs. FIU, plunged in from one-yard out against North Texas and then broke five tackles en route to a 52-yard touchdown vs. Arkansas.