Red Zone? Make That 'Dread' Zone

Alabama has become a team that nobody wants to play. They play tough, consistent, football and always finish strong, Another thing the Crimson Tide is becoming known for, however, is struggling in the Red Zone.

The Red Zone is a football term used for the area inside the 20-yard line that is considered scoring territory. Lately for Alabama it has become the Dread Zone.

Alabama scoring problems in the Red Zone began in the Ole Miss game and continued through the LSU game.

During that period Alabama has had to settle for field goals on almost every trip into the Red Zone. In fact Alabama has only scored one touchdown in the four games from inside the 20.

That touchdown came against South Carolina where Mark Ingram took the ball in from the four yard line in to take a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter.

This story originally appeared at

If there is one positive note to take from all of this, it has been Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin. Tiffin has become a scoring machine by kicking 14 field goals in the last four games and accounting for 46 points including extra points.

Tiffin became the all time scoring leader in University of Alabama history with his final field goal in the LSU game. The kick also secured a nine point lead and effectively ended any chances of an LSU comeback as time was winding down.

Alabama's Red Zone problems will be the focus of Nick Saban and his staff in the coming days. Saban feels it is more a problem in the execution rather than the strategy.

That makes sense considering the problem waited five games to reveal itself.

Alabama currently ranks No. 36 in Red Zone Offense. That is not terrible, but I would imagine that ranking would be much worse if it only included Alabama last four games–those being the games where this Dread Zone problem first came to light.

Another disturbing statistic is the fact that Alabama has had no passing touchdowns from inside the 20 since September.

Whether it is execution, play calling, or just a mental block, Alabama must break this trend if Bama has aspirations of contending for the SEC Championship, or going to the BCS Championship in Pasadena, Ca. in January.

When I use the term "mental block" I refer to things like players trying too hard or forcing the ball, which often leads to problems like interceptions, fumbles, false starts, procedure penalties, etc.

There is no doubt that Alabama has the weapons to put more points on the scoreboard in the Red Zone.

There is also no doubt that this is becoming an issue with the players, the coaches, and media, and is creating a controversy.

Alabama must find a way to solve this problem before its second season begins with this week's match-up with Mississippi State and ends with the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in December.

That is when Alabama plays Florida in the SEC Championship to decide the SEC representative to the BCS Championship.

Every game counts from this point on as far as reaching the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2010.

So the question is: since we know Alabama can move the ball down the field, then why are they having so much trouble inside the 20-yard line?

If I knew the answer to that I might have a job coaching football. Instead I am just like the rest of you, watching Alabama and wondering what the heck the problem is.

I do notice things though.

I notice things like, the plays and players Alabama uses to move the ball down the field are not the same plays and players we use down around the goal line.

For example, Alabama moves the ball well running out of the Wildcat formation with Ingram at "quarterback," but the Wildcat is seldom used in the Red Zone.

I also notice things like, Alabama becomes a little pass happy inside the 10-yard line. Why go there when Ingram and Trent Richardson are such deadly runners outside the tackles?

I do know this, the playing field shrinks inside the Red Zone and that means less ground to cover for the defensive back, safeties and linebackers. That allows the defensive backfield to crowd the line of scimmage which helps in stopping Alabama's rushing game in the Red Zone.

That creates problems as far as using same tactics that moved you down the field in the first place.

So what is the answer then?

Who really knows, but I can just about guarantee there is a room full of coaches in Tuscaloosa working on Alabama's Dread Zone problem right now.

Editor's Note: From time-to-time we use articles from For more articles on Alabama at go to

BamaMag Top Stories