Statistically, Bama In A Good Place

Alabama Coach Nick Saban frequently comments on players or his team complimentary, then adds, "But we're not where we want to be," meaning there is always room for improvement. The Crimson Tide doesn't rank first in all statistics kept by the Southeastern Conference, but Bama is pretty good.

Alabama ranks at or near the top in most team statistical categories kept by the SEC, and the Crimson Tide ranks ahead of South Carolina in most.

Alabama, 6-0 and ranked second in the nation, hosts South Carolina, 5-1 and 22nd nationally, at 6:45 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama's homecoming game will be telecast by ESPN. Bama is 3-0 in SEC games, while the Gamecocks are 2-1.

Getting right to the heart, Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC in scoring offense at 37 points per game, South Carolina seventh at 27.3. The Tide also does better in scoring defense, ranking second and allowing 12.5 points per game, while the Gamecocks rank sixth, giving up 18.3.

Alabama's fourth-in-the-league rushing offense (223.5 yards per game) will be up against the Gamecocks' defense that allows 129.3 yards per game rushing, fifth in the SEC. Bama's rushing defense is best in the conference, allowing 65.7 yards per game, and it will face a South Carolina rushing offense that is ninth in the conference, 152.5.

Ol' ball coach? In passing offense, Alabama is fourth in the league, 221.2 yards per game, South Carolina fifth, 217.8. South Carolina has just about the same slight advantage in passing defense, third in the league, allowing 151 yards per game to Bama's fourth in the SEC giving up 154.8. Alabama ranks ahead of South Carolina in both passing efficiency and pass defense efficiency.

Bama is tied for first in the SEC in interceptions with nine, while SC has only three, tied for last in the league. Alabama also leads the conference in sacks with 15, one more than the Gamecocks, and the Tide has been sacked six times, South Carolina 15.

Alabama's fourth in the SEC total offense of 444.7 yards per game will go up against the Gamecocks fourth best total defense, allowing 280.3. South Carolina is seventh in total offense, 370.3 yards per game, and that will be going against the Tide's second best defense, giving up 220.5.

Coaches put a lot of stock in third down efficiency. Alabama is slightly better than South Carolina at converting third downs. The Tide is fourth in the league (37-93, 39.8 per cent), SC fifth (32-81, 39.5 per cent). Bama is second in third down defense, allowing 19-79, just 24.1 per cent. The Gamecocks rank ninth (33-87, 37.9 per cent). Incidentally, Alabama leads the league in fourth down conversions, 8-10.

Turnover margin is another key statistic, according to coaches. Alabama ranks first in the league at plus nine. South Carolina is plus two.

Alabama also does better in the Red Zone than the Gamecocks. The Tide is seventh in Red Zone offense, scoring 84.8 per cent of the time Bama gets inside the opponent 20, while South Carolina is ninth at 79.3. Defensively, Alabama is fourth, permitting scores 75 per cent of the time, and South Carolina is eighth, allowing 82.4 per cent.

Alabama gets penalized less than South Carolina 50 yards per game to 63) and the Tide leads the league in time of possession, 34:08, to the Gamecocks' 30:46, which is fourth.

The biggest surprise? In kickoff coverage, Alabama is ninth in the league, South Carolina is 11th.

In individual statistics, Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin leads the SEC in scoring at 10.7 points per game and in field goals (14-16). Tide tailback Mark Ingram, with 10 touchdowns, is second in scoring overall and first in touchdowns. Bama's Javier Arenas is tops in punt return average, 16.7 yards per runback. South Carolina's Eric Norwood leads the league in sacks with six.

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