10 September 2009
If you just saw the final score of the Alabama vs. Virginia Tech game, you might think that the Tide defense struggled. After all, Virginia Tech scored 24 points, a total reached by only three teams in 2008.
The reality is that the Bama defense was dominant.
The stat that will jump off of the page for anyone is Virginia Tech's 155 yards of total offense. It's damn hard to win a game when you put up that little of a total. The Hokies got practice winning games with very little offense in 2008, when they ranked 103rd in America in total offense.
As bad as that number is, Tech still averaged 303.43 yards per game - almost double what they put up against Bama on Saturday. So while the word "anemic" could be used to describe Tech's 2008 offense, they were far more potent last year than what they managed on Saturday night in Atlanta.
The numbers go deeper than that, though:
- Rushing offense: 2008 - 174.36 ypg -- against Bama - 64
- Passing offense: 2008 - 129.07 ypg -- against Bama - 91
The Hokies were a one dimensional team in 2008, and Bama made them no dimensional on Saturday. Take into consideration that of Tech's 64 rushing yards, 32 came on one play.
Giving credit where credit is due, the Tech coaching staff made a late adjustment, calling an audible from the sidelines just prior to the ball being snapped on that play. Then running back Ryan Evans made a beautiful run capped by a show of great athleticism to get the ball over the goal line.
Including that run, Tech averaged 2.1 yards per attempt. Take that one away and they managed just 32 yards on 30 attempts. You don't have to be a math wiz to get that average of just over one yard per carry. And you don't have to be a football genuis to know that it's tough to win when you can only average one yard per carry.
The reality is that Tech actually managed 121 total yards rushing on the day, if you take out the negative runs. Unfortunately for the Hokies, then managed to also lose 57 yards on the day. They spread those losses out over nine plays, which means that when they gained yards, they 121 yards on 22 carries.
The big culprit? Tyrod Taylor. The Tech quarterback averaged 61.5 yards per game last year, and was a point of much discussion heading into the game. There was a fear amongst many Alabama fans that Taylor might cause problems for the Tide defense with his rushing ability.
To say that Bama contained him would be an enormous understatement. He only managed to rush forward for 26 yards, mostly because Bama limited him to just one gain of 16 yards. Otherwise, he gained just 10 yards on his other three carries.
The problem for Taylor was that he also lost 52 yards on six carries. Of those six carries, five were sacks by the Bama defense, and the other was the 14 yard loss on a fumbled optoin that preceded Rolando McClain's meltdown.
All in all, the dangerous Hokie quarterback finished the day with the following line - 10 carries for -26 yards.
Throw in the fact that he completed just 9 of 20 passing attempts, for just 91 yards, and it's pretty easy to see why Bama won the game. A very dangerous player was held to 65 yards of total offense, with no touchdowns.
The 155 total yards allowed was less than the stellar 2008 Bama defense allowed in any game last year. That squad's low mark came against Arkansas State, when they allowed just 158. Let's just say that ASU wasn't a top ten team, and leave it at that.
When I said earlier that the Bama defense was dominant... well, I meant it.
Virginia Tech had 13 offensive possessions, and only managed to run 51 offensive plays. The Hokies had four total drives that went for longer than three plays. Don't think those were long, sustained scoring drives, either. All but one of those drives ended in punts.
The Hokies scored four times in the game:
- A kickoff return for a touchdown
- A fumble after an interception, where they managed to gain 3 yards before having to kick
- A 7 play drive for 15 yards and a TD that was aided by:
- a personal foul by Tyrone King on the kickoff return
- a pass interference call on Marquis Johnson on third down, where the catch would not have resulted in a first down
- a 43 yard pass on a broken coverage assignment,
- two Rolando McClain penalties at the goal line that kept the Hokies from having 2nd and goal from the 20
- A two play 37 yard drive for a TD that was aided by:
- a 47 yard kick off return
- a 15 personal foul penalty by Chris Jordan on that kick return
- the aforementioned beautiful run by Williams for 32 yards
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