Six down and six to go for Alabama Football to reach Atlanta. Saturday afternoon gave solid indications that what lies ahead will have very different results than what came before, as the Tide fought through adversity and reached 5-1. And different means better; perhaps much better.
As Ross Dellenger wrote on Saturday night,
"The Tide isn’t dead. The King hasn’t fallen. Alabama isn’t perfect. Alabama isn’t pretty."
Fortunately, success in football requires more than “pretty” and to the extent it does, Alabama is getting prettier each week.
One reason why pretty does not have to be the main goal is the Alabama Crimson Tide defense. Nick Saban and Kevin Steele, along with the other defensive assistants have the Tide’s defense back to what Alabama football fans cherish. One particular stat stands out.
In Alabama’s run of great defenses during 2011-2016, what often occurred during halftime of games was the Alabama defense was given adjustments that produced victories. Jump forward to 2023 and look at the stats below from, 247’s Brett Greenberg.
Alabama Football Points Allowed After Halftime
Since the Texas game, Crimson Tide defenses have locked down teams after halftime adjustments.
- At South Florida, the Bulls scored zero second-half points
- Against Ole Miss – Three second-half points
- At Mississippi State – Seven second-half points
- At Texas A&M – Three second-half points
Another interesting defensive stat is in conference games, Alabama and Georgia are tied in Scoring Defense at 15.7 points per game. Some Crimson Tide fans will point out the SEC offenses Alabama has played score more points than Georgia’s opponents.
Alabama Football Defensive Restoration
Accompanying the Crimson Tide’s defensive restoration is the emergence of Jalen Milroe as a real passing threat. To the surprise of no one, the Aggies dared Milroe to beat them with his arm. He did just that, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns. His completion percentage against the Aggies was 63.6% and except for three plays, one being the next to last play of the game and two sacks that should have been throw-aways, Milroe was very good in one of the most difficult road environments in college football.
Milroe is now No. 12 in the FBS with a Pass Efficiency Rating of 174.82. That stat puts Milroe at No. 3 among SEC quarterbacks, behind only Jayden Daniels and Brady Cook. In yards per attempt, Milroe is No. 2 in the SEC, trailing only Daniels. Only three healthy SEC quarterbacks are ahead of Milroe in ESPN’s QBR calculation that measures the complete performance of quarterbacks. Milroe has a QBR of 78.6. Jaxson Dart is at 81.1; Carson Beck is at 88.3, and Jayden Daniels has a QBR of 90.1 and is 4th among FBS QBs.
The two biggest obstacles in the way of Milroe’s continued improvement are, to borrow a word from Nick Saban, fixable. One is game experience and with each game, Milroe will add more. The other is the Tide’s offensive line which remains a work in progress but shows growing promise of coming together.
Maybe the 2023 Alabama football offense will be a mix of ugly and pretty. Whether it blossoms much or not, the Crimson Tide’s defense and special teams can lead the Tide to Atlanta.