Christopher Walsh’s All Things CW notes column will appear in five parts this week, one each day like Alabama. The Crimson Tide is enjoying a bye week.
This is …
The 2021 Alabama Crimson Tide was considered one of the best teams in program history. If it had avoided an injury or two and not played in the national championship game with its top two receivers and both starting cornerbacks, it might have been a little different.
The season also featured the first Crimson Tide quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.
Eight games into the 2022 season and Alabama has played three close games, lost one at Tennessee and Bryce Young suffered a shoulder injury. The Crimson Tide can still win the SEC title and make the College Football Playoff if they can run the table, but it’s generally known that this team isn’t as good as last year’s, at least not yet.
The numbers say otherwise and that the teams are, at least statistically, fairly balanced.
Here are the major league averages for last season and the Crimson Tide’s first eight games of 2022.
Category, 2021; 2022
- Haste 4.1; 6.0
- Income 13.4; 12.4
- Pass Effic. 166.5; 157.1
- Universal 546.4; 567.1
- Total Yards 488.2; 485.1
- Haste 2.7; 2.7
- Income 11.0; 10.8
- Fold. Effective. 132.5; 109.3
- Universal 336.8; 345.7
- Total Yards 295.6; 304.1
- Kick returns 25.3; 20.7
- Punt Returns 7.9; 19.3
- KR Opponents 19.0; 17.3
- PR opponents 6.1; 6.9
With that in mind, here are five reasons why the 2022 Crimson Tide could be better than the 2021 version:
1) The offensive line is better
it just is. Alabama is averaging significantly more yards per carry and has given up just 12 sacks so far. Last year, opponents recorded 42 of them (2.8 per game).
Go to Continue
2) Bryce Young’s injury
Despite his shoulder dropout, Alabama’s total offensive yards are almost exactly the same as last season. The one exception is third-down conversions, as the Crimson Tide is at 47 percent after posting 52 percent in 2021, but there’s definitely potential for improvement down the stretch. Last year, Young’s numbers took a nosedive after the bye week as the Crimson Tide’s opponents toughened up significantly. This year, the opposite may be true.
3) Pass rush
It doesn’t show in sacks, as Alabama is only registering 2.9 per game so far after posting an impressive 3.8 last season, but we can see the difference in passing efficiency. The Crimson Tide has seen significant improvement because the quarterbacks know they have to make quick throws or else. Additionally, opponents convert only 26 percent of their third-down opportunities. That’s less than 31 percent.
4) Special teams
Only in punt returns alone is the Crimson Tide vastly better. Punter James Burnip also improved significantly.
The game in Knoxville stands out because the defense struggled in a crazy environment and it was only a three-point loss. But Alabama made adjustments and nearly shut out the potent Air Raid offense last week in a 30-6 victory over Mississippi State.
LSU will likely try to attack the Crimson Tide in a similar fashion to the Volunteers, and in an extremely hostile environment. So on November 5th, we’ll probably get a pretty good look at the defense and whether the UT loss was more of an aberration or a sign of things to come.
Bottom line: If Alabama can avoid major injury issues, both the offense and defense could improve significantly in the final month of the regular season.
At least that’s what the numbers say.
Take 1: Does Alabama Have Bryce Young’s Go-To Receiver?
Take 2: Why Alabama Turnovers Key Stat to Watch
Take 3: Did Alabama’s Defense Set Records With 15 Passes Against MSU?
Want to see the Crimson Tide or other teams? SI tickets