Vandy Defense Good, But Tide Great

One thing that's for sure Saturday is that Alabama gets back to playing in front of 100,000-plus. Last week in Gainesville, "only" 90,888 – the second largest crowd in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium history – saw the Tide trounce the Gators, 38-10. That's the smallest crowd to watch Bama this year, the only attendance number under 100,000.

Alabama will host Vanderbilt for homecoming Saturday and 101,821 will be on hand, as is always the case when the Crimson Tide is playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPNU will televise the game, which begins at 6 p.m. CDT. Alabama, ranked second in the nation, is 5-0 overall, 2-0 in Southeastern Conference games. The Commodores are 3-1 overall, 1-1 in league play.

Talk from Alabama Coach Nick Saban this week has been complimentary of the Vanderbilt defense, particularly noting that the Commodores lead the nation with 14 interceptions. As a matter of fact, though, the Tide leads Vandy in almost all statistical categories.

The name of the game is scoring, and Bama ranks second in the SEC at 38.4 points per game, Vandy 10th at 25.5. But it doesn't matter how many you score if you are good enough on defense, and the Tide is best in the league, allowing just 8.4 points per game. The Commodores rank fourth, giving up 15.8 per game.

Both teams run the ball better than they pass and stop the run better than they play pass defense.

Alabama is leading the league in rushing offense, 229.8 yards per game and is also first in rushing defense, allowing just 39.6 yards per game. The Commodores are eighth in rushing, 133.8 yards per game, and fourth in rushing defense, 97.0 yards per game.

Alabama is fourth in passing offense, 208.2 yards per game, and third in the league in passing defense, giving up 152 yards per game. Vanderbilt is last in the league in passing offense, 124.2 yards per game, and sixth in the conference in pass defense, allowing 182.2l. In pass efficiency, Bama is seventh, Vandy ninth, and in pass efficiency defense, it's Alabama first, the Commodores second.

That makes the totals heavy on Alabama's side. The Tide is third in overall offense, 438 yards per game, and Vanderbilt is 11th, 258 yards per game. Bama is first in total defense, allowing just 191.6 yards per game, and the Commodores are fifth, giving up 279.2.

Vanderbilt does lead Alabama in a couple of important categories. In turnover margin, the Commodores are plus 7, second in the league, with two fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions against five fumbles lost and four interceptions against. Alabama is sixth at plus one, three fumbles recovered and five interceptions against three fumbles lost and four passes intercepted.

Vandy is tops in the league in Red Zone defense, allowing opponents just three scores in six trips inside the 20-yard line. Bama is fourth, giving up five scores in seven trips. Alabama is a little better in Red Zone offense, scoring on 20-22 trips to rank third in the SEC. The Commodores are seventh with 8-9 success.

The Tide ranks third in both successful third down conversions (28-64 for 43.8 per cent) and in defense on third downs (allowing 25-83 for 30.1 per cent). Vanderbilt is 12th in third down success, making just 11-55 for 20 per cent, and sixth on third down defensive plays, allowing 22-64 for 34.4 per cent.

Alabama makes 21 first downs per game, Vanderbilt 12.5. Bama opponents make 11.2 first downs per game, Vandy opponents 15.2.

Bama's Trent Richardson leads the SEC in scoring at 13.2 points per game and is second in rushing at 124.4 yards per game. A.J. McCarron is fifth in the league in passing, 183.8 yards per game, and seventh in passing efficiency. Jeremy Shelley is fourth overall and second in kicking points, 9.6 per game. Marquis Maze is fourth in the conference in receptions with 22, second in punt returns at 15.2 yards per runback. Shelley leads the league in extra point kicking, 24-24.

Vandy's top rusher is Zac Stacy, ninth in the SEC at 70 yards per game. Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith doesn't rank in the league's top 10 in passing yards, but is 10th in passing efficiency.

Vanderbilt punter Richard Kent is fifth in the SEC at 43 yards per kick and Bama's Cody Mandell is 10th at 38.5.

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