Alabama is looking for answers on answers. Execution issues led to missed opportunities in week one.
But a more extensive look at the offense over the last three games dating back to the 2016 College Football Playoffs reveals a stunning lack of efficiency on third downs. The offense is converting just 20 percent (9 of 45) of third downs combined against Washington (4 of 14), Clemson (2 of 15) and Florida State (3 of 16).
For context it’s important to note the caliber of defenses UA faced during that stretch, but lack of production on first and second down has left the offense in trouble on third down.
During those three games, the offense has averaged 9.3 yards to go on third down.
Against Florida State third down was invitation for the Seminoles to bring pressure, and UA didn’t take advantage of it.
“We might have missed somethings,” junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley said.
The problem isn’t targeted at any one particular area. Rather it’s the offensive unit not performing in sync.
Take for instance several plays from the Florida State game. One play saw a wide receiver running open, but the pass protection didn’t hold up. On the second play from scrimmage, Jalen Hurts threw out of bounds when Ridley had his man beat down the right sideline.
“If all 11 guys don’t do their job, the play usually doesn’t work very well, especially if it’s a pass,” Nick Saban said. “Everybody has to protect the right guy. Everybody has to run the right route. The quarterback has to deliver the ball to the right guy. There’s a lot more things that can go wrong when you throw the ball.”
Much has been made about Hurts’ 96-yard passing performance, but lack of production on first and second down in the run game didn’t help. Against Florida State, UA had 11 third downs of more than 5 yards.
Out of sync
“We had some big plays in the passing game that we did not make because people didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” Saban said. “People usually give the quarterback more credit than he deserves when he does well, and they also criticize him more when he doesn’t. But sometimes it’s not all on him.
“We need to do a better job overall of executing some of those plays so that we can make more of explosive plays on offense. When you’re a play caller, a signal caller, things work when you execute. I thought that we learned something about our team. There’s things that we can do differently and better. We’ll all grow and learn from it and do better this week.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.