Alabama 2010

Alabama (2009 Statistics)

  • Head Coach Nick Saban is in his 4th year and coming off of a National Title win for Alabama in 2009.  Saban also won a championship as head coach of LSU in 2003, but left shortly after that for a brief stint in the NFL at the Miami Dolphins (2005 and 2006).  But when he returned to college football in 2007 to coach Alabama (a fellow SEC team) LSU fans felt betrayed and basically hate him now.
  • When people talk about Alabama football, they mention their longest win-streak in the nation, their great defense, their Quarterback Greg McElroy and their head coach Nick Saban who led this team to its first national championship since 1992.  Plus, they haven’t lost a regular season game since 2007.  It’s no surprise that entering the 2010 season that Alabama is ranked 1st in the polls.
  • Their Quarterback Greg McElroy is in his second year as a starter for Alabama and everyone in the media is going to point out the fact that (as of September 2010) he has never lost a game as a starter, including playing high school football in Texas).  But why might Greg McElroy not be as good as his record indicates?  McElroy (pronounced Mac-el-roy) is NOT the reason why Alabama won the title last year.  Statistically he was okay, but his 2500 yards passing were just 52nd in the nation.  I will point out here that this statistic isn’t necessarily critical though because it simply shows the ability to move the ball which is an indication of success but inconclusive on its own.  The statistics I like are completion percentage, which shows if you accomplished what you set out to do and touchdown to interception ratio, which shows if you scored compared to how often you gave up your opportunity to score.  McElroy finished the season with a 61% completion ratio (consider 60% the guideline and consider anything below that a negative and anything above that a positive). But when you break it down, those numbers were bolstered by early games against weaker and/or rusty opponents.  He performed very differently during those games versus the later part of the schedule, when his completion percentage hovered around 54% and in the last 10 games he only threw 10 touchdowns and had 3 interceptions.  And the passing game hardly did much to further Alabama’s position on the field as they were 92nd in the nation. These are not statistics that win championships.
  • But Running Back Mark Ingram did have championship-winning statistics, which is why he won the Heisman Trophy (and was the first player from Alabama to ever win it).  That is thanks in part to his running abilities and in part to a strong Offensive Line that helped pave the way for 5.0 yards per carry.  While it might not sound like a lot, 5.0 ypc is quite impressive, especially against the tough SEC defenses that Alabama plays, and that number actually tied for 11th in the country.  Again, credit here is given to the Offensive Line because without those five guys in front of Ingram blocking and keeping opponents away, he wasn’t even going to have a chance to do anything.   This year Alabama loses two of their starters on the line, including their top player, but they have the talent to replace them and it will just come down to how this unit gels. The line really needs to be in sync with each other and have a feel for how one another is going to move.
  • Defense is precisely why Alabama won the national title last year—and that defense is almost entirely gone. They had an extremely experienced defensive unit in 2009, but this year they have just two starters returning, including Dont’a Hightower who didn’t actually play last year as he was injured after just four starts. I think their biggest loss is Nose Tackle Terrence Cody who is now in the NFL playing for Baltimore.  Nick Saban will still produce a winning team, but their identity is completely shifted and this is not the best team in the country.
  • Games to watch out for: Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, LSU and Auburn…look for Alabama to lose their first regular season game since 2007.