Alabama, for the most part, doesn’t choke close to the goal line.
When it comes down to it, the Crimson Tide converts in some way, shape or form. It has put up points after all but two of its 27 red-zone appearances. Nineteen finishes were touchdowns.
“We use tempo down there to help us get the other team off guard a little bit,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It’s obviously one of the things in the offseason that we wanted to do better on both sides of the ball. I think we have made some improvements.”
Alabama’s 92.59 percent efficiency rate is the program’s best mark under Saban. He took over in 2007. The original bar was set at 90.32 percent thanks to the Crimson Tide’s 2012 performance, which resulted in a national championship.
Up until this season, Alabama hadn’t cracked 90 percent in red-zone efficiency since.
“A lot of it is just coach (Brian) Daboll preaching to us that we need to convert whenever we’re inside the 20,” tight end Hale Hentges said. “He’s brought a lot of NFL terminology and stats and numbers to this, and the biggest part is that the teams that have success are teams who can get out of the red zone with six points.”
This is Daboll’s first season as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator. Saban thinks the team has been able to do well in the red zone because the offense has a good balance with what it’s capable of executing. It runs the ball well, too.
Inside the 20, Alabama has run the ball into the end zone 15 times. Four passes have been caught for scores.
“I think teams will make it more difficult for us to run,” Saban said. “So, we’re going to have to be effective in the way we throw the ball down there as well.”
A quick look forward: Texas A&M has allowed its opponents to put up points in the red zone 90.48 percent of the time.
Except, while Alabama’s overall red-zone efficiency looks good, the percentage of red-zone moments ending in six isn’t as pretty – 70.37.
“Early on, actually the Florida State game, we didn’t do a good job in the red zone,” Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said.
Actually, the Crimson Tide was 4 for 4 on red-zone scores against the Seminoles. The part Hurts didn’t like was the fact only one was a touchdown.
“So when I think about that, maybe I’m being overcritical, but we want to do it every time,” Hurts said. “I just think about the times we didn’t do something.”
In that case, a game Hurts should be happy with is the most recent. Alabama went 8 for 8 on red-zone conversions against Ole Miss. No field goals necessary.
Points are points, but red-zone scores and red-zone touchdowns should be differentiated.
“We’re not satisfied with getting field goals in the red zone,” Hentges said. “We want to score. That’s just a locked-in, dialed-in mentality.”