You often hear coaches talk about "staying on schedule" or " keeping ahead of the chains”. This is an offensive term that references moving the ball for first downs while not getting in “long yardage situations". When an offense is in second or third and long it is usually advantage- defense. When the offense is in second or third and short, it's likely advantage offense. So how do you "stay on schedule"? Win first down.
Whether you’re a run first team like Alabama, or a pass first team like Texas A&M, the key to success is gaining yards on first down. By having success the offense will be able to dictate what they want the defense to do and stay consistent on their play sheet. However if they struggle running or throwing the ball on first down, then the offense is in a “bind” and gives the defense a clear advantage.
Alabama led the SEC in rushing on first down at 5.45 yards per clip. Combine that with an explosive 10.9 per pass on first down and they were rarely “off schedule”. The Crimson Tide’s ability to run the ball on first down led to 23 pass plays (likely play action) of over 25+ yards on the season. This is the definition of having a defense in a “bind”.
Georgia had an explosive offense last season and should have one again in 2013. They were especially lethal on first down in which they threw for 2,043 yards equating to around 11.5 yards per pass attempt. The Dogs had two less “explosives” than Alabama with (21) 25+ pass plays on the initial down. The Dogs averaged over 5 yards per carry on first down and finished second in the league with 15 runs over 20 plus yards on first down.
At the other end of the spectrum is Kentucky and Arkansas. The two squads combined for just 11 runs of 20+ yards on first down for the entire season. They also combined to throw 12 interceptions on first down as well which meant a short-lived drive most of the time. The fact that defenses could shut them down made them predictable and very tough for either team to have sustained success.
Texas A&M and their balanced attack showed it could be efficient and ball control-esque by averaging nearly 28 first downs a game while getting 180 via the pass and 149 via the ground. To put into perspective the 149 was the 2nd best total in the SEC behind Alabama.
Five SEC teams either rushed or passed for less than a 1,000 yards total during the season on first down. These are the teams by categories. Florida, LSU and MississippiState had winning seasons.
Teams that need to improve the rushing first downs and rushing yards on first down are:
Teams that need to improve the passing first downs and passing yards on first down are:
This and That...
The Tim Davis (Florida’s offensive line coach) comments about Nick Saban certainly caused a firestorm last week. I don't like his use of the work "devil" and don't condone that whatsoever. However, this was much ado about nothing. This was another case of a coach at a booster setting with fans making fun and it turns into a story. Davis is a good guy and a great coach and I am sure he didn't mean much by the comment. I thought Saban handled it well and understands the business better than anyone. Booster Clubs are fighting for their lives to get Coaches to come speak and the more this happens the less likely they will agree to go.
Lindy's college football magazine hit the newsstands with six SEC teams ranked in the top 12. Alabama #1, Texas A&M #5, Georgia #6, LSU #8, South Carolina #9 and Florida #12. It was the highest I have heard if LSU so far considering the defensive losses. The Tigers did have a great spring on offense and get Texas A&M in Baton Rouge this year. Georgia is the favorite to win the East and while their schedule is much tougher than last year they get SC and LSU at home while looking for three in a row in Jacksonville against the Gators. The projected BCS bids are Alabama vs. OhioState for the BCS Title and Texas A&M vs. FSU in the Sugar Bowl
By the way Bob Stoops may want to grab a Lindy's because four of the bottom 10 in their Top 25 are from the Big 12 (***Zero Big 12 teams in Top ten)including the Sooners at #15. That's four more than the SEC has between 15-25 and proving his point that their league has a tough "bottom “corps of teams, or is it that their top teams match up with the SEC bottom six? Heck I'm so confused, Bobby what did you say?