03 September 2008
With all of the attention focused on the Bama defensive front totally eliminating the Clemson rushing attack the play of the Alabama defensive backs has been overlooked. When the opponent rushes for zero yards that is probably going to happen, but the Tide secondary also had a very solid game.
Glen55 likes to use average yards per pass attempt as a guage of how a quarterback has played, or conversley, how a defense has fared against the pass. With Clemson gaining just 188 yards on 38 attempts, that factors out to an average of 5.53 yards per attempt - horrible for the Tigers, but great for the Tide defense.
A closer look at things will tell you that Alabama was really even better than that. Of Clemson's 188 total passing yards, 46 came on their final drive when Bama was in prevent and had most of its second unit in the game. If you eliminate those 10 attempts and those 46 yards Clemson had 142 yards on 24 attempts - a slightly better average (5.9) but an extremely low total for a team that couldn't run the ball either.
Take that a step further, though, and consider that Clemson gained 47 yards on one pass play. Big plays are going to happen and giving up one does not signal a poor overall effort by a defensive backfield. In this case it really
doesn't signal that because the receiver was being covered by linebacker Brandon Fanney - a mismatch that the Tide will lose 99% of the time.
If you remove that one play from the discussion, along with the 10 on the final drive against the backups, and you end up with Clemson attempting 23 passes and gaining just 95 yards. That's an average of just 4.13 per attempt, an absolutely fantastic total for the Tide defense.
You can't just pick and choose which plays to eliminate, though, so the 188 total stands as is. This was a team that passed for better than 230 yards a game last year, so holding them 42 yards under that average is impressive. It becomes even more impressive when you consider that the Tigers were virtually a one dimensional team Saturday.
Throw in the fact that Marquis Johnson
recored his first career interception and that Bama was able to get experience for a ton of young guys, including true freshmen Robby Green
and Mark Barron
and you have to call the night a roaring success for these guys.
was very effective in his role as the defense's leader, moving guys around pre-snap to put Bama in good positions. Justin Woodall
had a solid, though relatively quiet debut. A defensive back having a quiet night is sometimes like an offensive lineman having a quiet night - it can mean that they didn't do anything bad. Kareem Jackson
was fantastic, with the only blip on his performance being a bogus interference call.
What to work on for next week: Catching the ball. Rashad Johnson dropped two easy interceptions, one on the Clemson's first play. Marquis Johnson missed a tackle on Clemson's one lone big play on offense, but one missed tackle isn't a cause for alarm.