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Walsh’s Last Word: 10 things you might not have noticed from Mercer at Alabama

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In terms of numbers, there were more than enough to turn one’s head from the University of Alabama’s 56-0 victory against Mercer on Saturday.

Among them, the Crimson Tide had nine different players credited with a rushing attempt, 10 made a reception and 25 players were in on at least one tackle.

While the senior class already has tied the NCAA record for most wins over a four-year period with 51, set by Alabama’s senior class last year, the Crimson Tide set an FBS record with the program’s 73rd straight victory against an unranked opponent.

But the most remarkable statistic may be that Alabama has scored in every quarter played this season. As noted after the game the streak has reached 49 quarters, dating back to the College Football Playoff semifinal against Washington.

It’s a big reason why Alabama leads the SEC in scoring offense, with Missouri a surprising second ahead of Auburn and Georgia.

Play of the game: It’s not very often you see a wide receiver make a move that’s so good the defender falls to the ground, but junior Calvin Ridley did so on his 66-yard touchdown off a play-action.

Player of the game: He missed some assignments/reads, but true freshman linebacker Dylan Moses was still all over the field. He was credited with 11 tackles, 10 solo, including four for a loss. Moses also made an interception in the red zone and the tackle on 4th-and-4 in the third quarter to snuff out Mercer’s two best drives.

Statistic of the game: Alabama needed just four possessions to top Auburn’s point total against Mercer earlier this season. The Crimson Tide averaged 12.6 yards per snap and they collectively took 7 minutes and 53 seconds of game time.

10 things you might not have noticed

1. Home Sweet Home: Alabama has scored 455 points this season and is closing in on last year’s school record of 582. It’s averaging 41.4 per game, which his just shy of the Crimson Tide’s long-established record of 43.0, which dates back to 1945.

But Alabama won’t have another game at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season. Here’s the difference statistically (with the neutral-site Florida State game considered an away game):

CATEGORY HOME AWAY
Scoring 44.8 35.3
Rushing 267.1 275.8
Passing 236.6 160.5
3rd-down conversion 39-81 (48.1) 19-55 (34.5)
Margin of victory 36.0 22.8

2. Can we play too? For the second straight week Alabama had a major deficit in time of possession (34:48-25:12), only it was primarily due to the Crimson Tide scoring so proficiently. For example, Mercer had the ball for 10:06 of the second quarter, but Alabama outscored it 21-0. Nevertheless, opponents have clearly been trying to play keep-away since the Texas A&M game with Alabama only having the ball 27:32 at the Aggies, 25:53 vs. LSU and 21:04 at Mississippi State.

3. Yards after the catch: For the second straight week Alabama topped the 100 mark as Ridley had 50 by himself. Overall, the Crimson Tide unofficially had 121 yards, giving them 1,187 of 2,298 total receiving yards (51.5 percent). This will be an area to watch, though, as Alabama is doing some jet sweeps again and slant routes.

Incidentally, while Ridley leads the Crimson Tide in every major receiving category except for touchdowns (freshman Henry Ruggs III), different players are second in catches, yards and yards after the catch. Senior Cam Sims has 13 receptions, freshman Jerry Jeudy has 208 yards and running back Bo Scarbrough has 127 yards after the catch (although Josh Jacobs is closing fast).

4. Who was thrown at: Mercer had only 7 completions out of 22 attempts, with the longest receiving gain just 13 yards. It had one catch on both starting cornerbacks, seniors Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace, and one screen pass was stopped for a loss. Alabama didn’t register any sacks, but tallied 3 interceptions to go with 8 tackles for a loss.

5. Turnovers tracker: With two lost fumbles against Mercer, Alabama went from having the outright lead to being tied with LSU for fewest lost turnovers in the nation with seven. The Crimson Tide have had just two passes intercepted, and five lost fumbles. Alabama’s unofficial record for fewest lost turnovers is 12 in a 14-game season (.86 average). This year’s team is averaging .636 per game.

6. Jalen Hurts’ passing day: Hurts completed all seven attempts, but the interesting part was the play-selection. Two were on shovel passes, he connected with sophomore tight end Irv Smith Jr. and sophomore running back Joshua Jacobs for touchdowns, and hit Ridley on a crossing route, screen and play-action. You don’t think Alabama was trying to give future opponents some extra things to think about, do you? Nah.

7. Tua Tagoavailoa’s passing day: The true freshman quarterback was 7-for-11 for 85 yards and 3 touchdowns, but his longest throw was the 21-yard sideline out to freshman tight end Major Tennison. Three of his incompletions were in the 2-minute drill, when he nearly had one picked off and left senior wide receiver Robert Foster vulnerable on a slant route — signs of his inexperience. One thing coaches had to like, though, was he was 4-for-5 in the red zone.

Also, strange but true, Alabama didn’t attempt a pass on third down.

8. Surprise, surprise, surprise: Hurts has moved up to 11th in the nation in passing efficiency, which is used to determine the annual passing champion, with a rating of 160.4. Last year he was 44th with a 139.1 rating. As a team, the Crimson Tide are fourth in the statistical category, trailing only Oklahoma, UCF and Oklahoma State.

9. Penalty tracker: Alabama was flagged for just one penalty, an offside call when senior defensive back Tony Brown didn’t time his blitz correctly. Since the bye week the Crimson Tide are averaging just 2.3 penalties per game. Mercer was called for just two infractions, an illegal block on a kick return and for delay of game.

In a continuing effort to track the penalties of Alabama’s opponents, the Crimson Tide are on pace to finish near the bottom of the statistical category for the fifth time in seven years.

YEAR PENALTIES (RANK) YARDS RANK/TOTAL TEAMS
2017 4.5 (118) 31.1 130/130
2016 4.0 (128) 32.9 128/128
2015 6.4 (54) 50.7 85/128
2014 4.3 (125) 34.5 127/128
2013 5.4 (65) 42.5 93/125
2012 4.7 (110) 40.1 113/124
2011 4.5 (114) 34.7 118/120
2010 5.7 (76) 45.5 90/120
2009 6.4 (45) 53.8 60/120
2008 6.2 (42) 49.9 61/120
2007 7.8 (6) 66.5 10/120

10. Who played? According to Alabama’s participation chart, it used 53 players including numerous walk-ons during the final minutes. The quarterback, senior Austin Johnson, hails from Elba, Alabama. Some of the others to see action included wide receivers Mac Hereford, Jonathan Rice and Daniel Skehan, defensive back Bo Grant, tight ends Hunter Bryant and Jacob Parker and defensive lineman Vohn Keith Jr.

Despite the foot injury to defensive lineman LaBryan Ray last week, the coaches did not take the redshirt off Phidarian Mathis to fill his spot. He’s one of just seven players with his redshirt intact, the others being Markail Benton, Hunter Brannon, Joseph Bulovas, Kendall Randolph, Tyrell Shavers and Chadarius Townsend.

Alabama has played 17 true freshmen this season, which heading into the weekend was the fourth-most in the nation behind Illinois (22), LSU (20) and Texas A&M (18).

The post Walsh’s Last Word: 10 things you might not have noticed from Mercer at Alabama appeared first on SEC Country.

Christopher Walsh – SEC Country

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