Alabama Football: Four things you may not know about the Sooners


A closer look at four lesser-known keys that could have a significant impact on the Alabama football vs. the Oklahoma Sooners CFB Playoff semi-final.

A review of major comparative stats for Alabama football and Oklahoma shows a Crimson Tide advantage. There are other lesser-known keys which could influence the game’s outcome. We take a look at four of those keys.

The first one is more of a statement we have seen repeated several times in the national media. It is the Sooners are a strong fourth quarter team, implying an advantage over the Crimson Tide if the game is close late.

As compiled by the Sooners are strong in fourth quarter offensive scores, fourth best in the FBS. The flip side is the Sooners are No. 95 in the FBS in allowing fourth-quarter points. The implication is the Sooners ‘never take the foot off the pedal’ offense wears down defenses. What the pundits fail to mention is, unlike Alabama football, the Sooners played eight games in which fourth-quarter points were needed to decide the outcome.

The second key for review is generally known and accepted by Alabama football fans. Oklahoma will have an advantage in kicking, but perhaps not as much as is presumed. The major kicking fail for the Tide has been the eight missed extra points. The Sooners have only missed one. The other kicking stats favor the Sooners but the difference is not huge. The Sooners have made 88 percent of field goal attempts. Joseph Bulovas for the Tide has made 75 percent. Tide punter, Mike Bernier is punting for a 37.9-yard average, but the Sooners average is just 41.1-yards. The Sooners do not have a huge kicking advantage.

Our third key is not stat based and is solely subjective, but it is based on solid information. Thanks to our counterparts at Stormin’ in Norman we learned Ruffin McNeil simplified the Oklahoma defense when he was named DC in mid-season. The Sooners busted too many plays under Mike Stoops. The frequency of poor alignments and missed assignments has reportedly diminished. While the change may have aided the Sooners (stats show little defensive improvement) it also gives Tua and Jalen a big advantage in reading the Sooners defenses. Easier and quicker reads against less complex Sooner defenses is an advantage for the Crimson Tide.

The fourth key applies to a battle in the trenches. The Sooners have a better defensive line than most Tide fans realize. But it is undersized. Four of the top five OU defensive line, tacklers are under 290 pounds. One of them, Mark Jackson is not expected to play due to injury. The others weigh: Kenneth Mann (264 lbs.); Ronnie Perkins (254 lbs.); Amani Bledsoe (287 lbs.) They have quickness and some speed but only Neville Gallimore (330 lbs.) has the size to perhaps demand double-teams. Statistically, OU is better defending the run than the pass, but when the Tide runs or throws, the offensive line will have a size advantage.

Two other potential keys are only offered as questions. We have not found enough solid information to make any definitive statements. They are how successful have teams been ‘spying’ Kyle Murray? We don’t know, but if the Tide chooses to use a spy at all, we suspect the players best suited for the task are Dylan Moses and Xavier McKinney.

The other big question we have is how the ACC officials will call the game. Will holding and pass interference be called more tightly? To what extent will offensive linemen get away with being too far upfield on passing plays? The officials could play a key role in the game. Unfortunately, those are two more questions without answers.

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