After reading Bill Connelly’s game preview, I’m wondering if Auburn’s gonna score on Alabama.
It’s not just that Saban’s defense is freakin’ good – it is…
Even by Alabama’s ridiculous standards, the Crimson Tide run defense is fantastic. They rank first in Rushing S&P+ and first in Standard Downs S&P+, and even removing sacks, opponents are averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Bama hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since October 11.
Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson gained 123 yards in 33 carries (3.7 per carry); LSU’s running backs gained 137 in 41 (3.3). You aren’t going to rely on your ground game alone to set up scores against a disciplined Alabama front seven. You have to be able to throw. Alabama has allowed eight touchdowns in its last five games — three of eight possessions began in Alabama territory, and 64 percent of the yardage on those drives came through the air.
… it’s that Malzahn’s offense has been in a state of steady decline for several games now, since Duke Williams went down.
When Duke Williams sprained his MCL against Texas A&M, the passing game hit some bumps. Nick Marshall was 4-for-4 for 30 yards until Williams got hurt. On Marshall’s next 12 pass attempts against A&M, he completed five of 10 for 40 yards and was sacked twice. He rebounded to complete a couple of fourth-quarter bombs, but the consistency Marshall had established in his previous five games — 62 percent completion rate, 14.3 yards per completion, 10 touchdowns, three picks — was gone.
Against Georgia and Samford, Marshall completed 54 percent with one score and two picks. Including sacks, he averaged 4.9 yards per attempt vs. Georgia. The balance was gone.
Williams is expected to play tomorrow. That can’t hurt, sure, but how effective will he be coming off an injury and how smooth a transition does the offense make getting him back? Given the way the Tigers play offense, it’s weird to think that a receiver, even one as good as Williams is, is the key to scoring on the Tide.