The story you are about to read is true.
The names have been changed to highlight the statistics.
– Joe Saturday
Team A entered the game with the nation’s 80th passing offense and a first-year starting quarterback ranked 69th in passing efficiency. Team A, however, boasted the nation’s highest scoring running back.
Team B entered the game with the nation’s 11th total defense, ranked 4th in pass efficiency defense while leading the nation in interceptions.
Offensive gameplan should be easy, right? Run the ball, then run it some more. Throw just enough to keep the defense honest.
Instead, Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain dialed up a passing extravaganza for quarterback A.J. McCarron, daring the vaunted Vanderbilt turnover kings to stop the air attack. They couldn’t. This was a Commodore defense that four times picked off SEC East favorite South Carolina, and was averaging three interceptions and three passes broken up per game. They left Tuscaloosa with zero in both categories.
Vanderbilt had allowed only three passing touchdowns on the SEASON. McCarron surpassed that number with four touchdown throws to three different receivers, while sustaining consecutive scoring drives of 78, 94 and 81 yards. He strong-armed the vertical game, including a highlight reel, perfectly executed 39 yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in heavy traffic. The game also propelled A.J. into the record books tied for the second-highest single-game touchdown pass total in Bama history. The most recent games a Tide quarterback had that much touchdown success? 2007 and 1989.
Coach Mac was sending a message to future SEC opponents (we’re looking at you, LSU). Load the box and his offense will make plays over the top. And it’s not like the playcalls were short yardage screens or dump-offs. Bama used five-wide sets with an empty backfield and still imposed its will on the Vandy secondary. McElwain showed a great deal of confidence in McCarron’s decision-making. Defensive coordinators must now plan for an Alabama offense led by a cool head in the pocket. Throw in surgical strike ability, a disciplined, physical offensive line, and explosive playmakers in the receiving corps to complement a Heisman-contention backfield, and the Tide can pass or run at will.
Oh, and Bama also rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown, also a season high against Vanderbilt.
Said running back Trent Richardson, “We really just want to be relentless and have every team fear us, just don't want to play us.” Gouging and shredding a statistically juggernaut defense tends to have that effect.
Stats from CFBStats.com and NCAA.org.
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