Alabama has yet to play a complete game.
Virginia Tech exploited some issues with the offensive line, and Colorado State put the clamps down on the running game and total offense, allowing just 17 points through three quarters and finishing with 66 total rushing yards for the game.
The Tide have played exactly 25 percent of their games this season, and the real Alabama offense has yet to show up. What is wrong with the running game? What’s wrong with third down production?
Ole Miss comes to town this weekend, and they aren’t LSU, but they also aren’t Texas A&M. The Rebels have enough athletes on defense to give this Tide offense trouble. In fact, the Rebels are third in the SEC in allowing just 114 yards on the ground per game and are fifth in total defense.
Take a look at the Tide’s offensive numbers through four weeks and how they compare to the rest of the SEC:
- Scoring offense: 38.3 points per game (5th)
- Rushing offense: 132 yards per game (14th)
- Passing offense: 238.7 yards per game (10th)
- Total offense: 370.7 yards per game (13th)
The Tide’s running game is averaging 4.13 yards per carry, down from 5.59 last year. The last five years, the running game has finished 227.50 (2012), 214.46 (2011), 182.92 (2010), 215.07 (2009) and 184.64 (2008) yards per game. They’re averaging just 132 per game this season. TJ Yeldon has 49 carries for 273 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Yeldon and company didn’t get worse, but it’s clear the running game hasn’t been effective enough through three games. The Tide are dead last in the SEC averaging just 32 rushing attempts per game, and the offense is averaging an SEC-low 58.7 offensive plays per game, down from 64 plays per game in 2012.
In addition the running game, third downs have hampered the offense. Against Colorado State, the Tide finished 2-10. For the year, Alabama is 13th in the SEC with a 33.33 percent conversion rate, way down from 47.9 percent last season. With the lack of a running game, the offense is set up for failure on third down, and outside of Texas A&M, AJ McCarron hasn’t been as sharp as last season, already with two INTs compared to three in 2012.
Replacing three All-Americans in DJ Fluker, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones has proven more difficult than expected. Combine that with senior Anthony Steen out with a concussion last Saturday, and that’s four total starters from last year’s team. Even can’t-miss, first-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio hasn’t been playing up to his expected All-American standard either.
The good thing for Alabama is the offense has the luxury of finding itself with one of the top defenses in the SEC, but it better happen fast with Ole Miss coming to town Saturday.
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