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Alabama Crimson Tide

How Good (or Bad) is the Alabama Secondary?

Coming into the season, the Crimson Tide had a combined two starts from their entire secondary. Both of those starts came from junior safety Deionte Thompson when starting strong safety Hootie Jones was lost for the last two games of the season with a knee injury. The Tide lost FIVE starters to the NFL. Alabama has no seniors on this year’s and lost starting junior cornerback Trevon Diggs to injury in the Arkansas game back on October 6. In short, they are young and inexperienced.

Down on the bayou, there has been a great deal of hootin’ and hollerin’ from the folks about their football team and in particular, their defensive backfield. Many of the Tigers fans keep referring to their team as #DBU as in Defensive Back University. They are mighty proud of their starting secondary as well as the ones who have moved on to the NFL. But are they really heads and toes above Alabama?

NFL

LSU has sent their share of defensive backs to the next level. But so has Alabama. If you count former safety converted to linebacker Mark Barron (and I do), the scales tip towards Tuscaloosa.

ALABAMA (13):

PLAYER TEAM POSITION
Anthony Averett Baltimore Ravens Cornerback
Tony Brown Green Bay Packers Cornerback
Marlon Humphrey Baltimore Ravens Cornerback
Cyrus Jones Baltimore Ravens Cornerback
Dre Kirkpatrick Cincinnati Bengals Cornerback
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Washington Redskins Safety
Landon Collins New York Giants Safety
Minkah Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins Safety
Ronnie Harrison Jacksonville Jaguars Safety
Eddie Jackson Chicago Bears Safety
Kareem Jackson Houston Texans Safety
Mark Barron Los Angeles Rams ILB (moved from safety)
Levi Wallace Buffalo Bills Cornerback

LSU (12):

PLAYER TEAM POSITION
Jamal Adams New York Jets Safety
Rickey Jefferson New Orleans Saints Safety
Ronald Martin Indianapolis Colts Safety
Tyrann Mathieu Houston Texans Safety
Eric Reid Carolina Panthers Safety
Morris Claiborne New York Jets Cornerback
Donte Jackson Carolina Panthers Cornerback
Jalen Mills Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback
Patrick Peterson Arizona Cardinals Cornerback
Rashard Robinson New York Jets Cornerback
Kevin Toliver Chicago Bears Cornerback
Tre’Davious White Buffalo Bills Cornerback

But maybe it’s not about the NFL. It must be about the current rosters at the two schools.

INTERCEPTIONS:

While the LSU defense leads the nation with 14 interceptions, Alabama is close behind with 12. Interestingly, the Bayou Bengals have returned their picks for all of 126 yards and scored only once – by a linebacker. The Tide on the other hand have a boisterous 268 return yards and leads the nation with four picks taken back to the house – all by members of the secondary.

A deeper look at the positions of the recipients of errant passes makes the numbers a little closer.

ALABAMA:

CB Saivion Smith 3 (1 TD)
CB Shyheim Carter 2 (2 TD)
CB Trevon Diggs 1
CB Patrick Surtain II 1
S Deionte Thompson 2
S Xavier McKinney 2 (1 TD)
LB Mack Wilson 1

Interceptions by Secondary: 11

LSU:

S Grant Delpit 5
S John Battle 3
S Ed Paris 1
CB Greedy Williams 2
CB Kristian Fulton 1
LB Jacob Phillips 1
OLB Michael Divinity 1

Interceptions by Secondary: 12

OTHER STATS BY SECONDARY ONLY:

  • Forced fumbles: ALA – 6 / LSU – 3
  • Fumbles recovered: ALA – 1 / LSU – 1
  • Pass Break Ups: ALA – 23 / LSU – 23

[Sources: rolltide.com and lsusports.net]

ALA vs LSU:

Alabama is tied for 11th best in FBS and tied for 7th in P5 in Opponent Yards per Play at 4.5. LSU is at 4.9 (t-27th; t-19th). [Source: teamrankings.com]

In summation, these two are pretty darn close stats-wise with perhaps a slight advantage to the Tide.

OPPOSING QBs:

Take a look at how certain opposing quarterbacks did against Alabama versus the rest of their opponents. (I left out Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano since he was knocked out of the game but he was 7 of 18 for 164 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT.)

Justice Hansen, Arkansas State

OPP RESULT CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
SE Missouri State W 48-21 26 36 423 72.2 67 6 1 220.4 93.1 78.1
@Alabama L 57-7 15 36 140 41.7 23 1 1 77.9 10.3 36.8
@Tulsa W 29-20 20 33 191 60.6 30 0 0 109.2 73.7 70.1
UNLV W 27-20 19 27 199 70.4 34 3 0 168.9 32.7 14.4
@Georgia Southern L 28-21 38 50 376 76 32 1 0 145.8 79.4 81.8
Appalachian State L 35-9 25 40 209 62.5 24 0 3 91.4 17.4 16.8
Georgia State W 51-35 17 28 257 60.7 35 3 0 173.2 95.3 81.7
@Louisiana L 47-43 17 30 270 56.7 73 1 1 136.6 76.9 51.6

Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss

OPP RESULT CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
@Texas Tech W 47-27 22 32 336 68.8 58 2 0 177.6 75.5 84.8
Southern Illinois W 76-41 23 33 448 69.7 55 5 0 233.7 96.4 87.6
Alabama L 62-7 7 22 133 31.8 75 1 2 79.4 4.9 16.4
Kent State W 38-17 28 38 442 73.7 45 2 1 183.5 73.7 63.2
@LSU L 45-16 19 38 178 50 35 0 1 84.1 25.1 54.7
UL Monroe W 70-21 21 24 374 87.5 62 3 0 259.6 99.7 98.9
@Arkansas W 37-33 26 35 387 74.3 66 2 1 180.3 91 92.9
Auburn L 31-16 27 46 324 58.7 51 1 0 125 54.3 69.8

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

OPP RESULT CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
Northwestern State W 59-7 17 25 184 68 34 2 0 156.2 85 60
Clemson L 28-26 23 40 430 57.5 69 3 0 172.5 83.6 94.7
UL Monroe W 48-10 16 24 210 66.7 25 1 0 153.9 83.4 59.9
@Alabama L 45-23 16 33 196 48.5 26 1 2 96.3 46.8 81.7
Arkansas W 24-17 17 26 201 65.4 26 0 2 114.9 33.6 36
Kentucky W 20-14 (OT) 18 29 226 62.1 46 2 1 143.4 43.5 55.2
@South Carolina W 26-23 25 37 353 67.6 53 1 0 156.6 74.6 85.9
@Mississippi State L 28-13 23 46 232 50 38 1 1 95.2 41.8 70.9

Drew Lock, Missouri

OPP RESULT CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
UT Martin W 51-14 19 25 289 76 70 4 0 225.9 96.0 86.4
Wyoming W 40-13 33 45 398 73.3 36 4 0 177 94.6 95.0
@Purdue W 40-37 26 43 375 60.5 59 3 1 152.1 82.8 90.3
Georgia L 43-29 23 48 221 47.9 25 0 1 82.4 26.5 42.1
@South Carolina L 37-35 17 36 204 47.2 44 0 2 83.7 33.9 51.6
@Alabama L 39-10 13 26 142 50 24 1 2 93.2 8.2 31.1
Memphis W 65-33 23 29 350 79.3 58 4 0 226.2 98.8 98.4
Kentucky L 15-14 15 27 165 55.6 32 0 0 106.9 38.2 49.8

[Source: espn.com]

These quarterbacks were not cherry-picked for their stats. They are the best four the Tide has faced so far this season. Lock is projected to be drafted in the first or second round of the NFL Draft. Hansen is a potential 6th or 7th rounder. Ta’amu should get some free agent offers.

As you can see in all four instances, the opposing quarterback had his lowest number of completions of the season. Bama picked off all four of these QBs with two picks against three of them. Three of the four had their lowest completion percentage. In addition, these opposing signal-callers had minuscule QB ratings. Ta’amu had a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game but the longest after that was only 17 yards. None of the other three had a completion of longer than 26.

THE EXPERT:

I like the below stat because it doesn’t just reflect that Team A held crappy Team B to a low number because Team B has that low number against everyone. It reflects that the low number was counter to Team B’s norm.

And where is LSU on the above stat line? Dunno.

SUMMATION

Wrapping up this crazy chart-o-rama, this is a pretty good secondary. There was many a hand-wringing over the unit during the offseason, but they have for the most part held their own against some pass-happy teams.



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