What it takes to beat Bama...

uafan4life

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Everybody and their brother in the media seems to have one of a number of opinions - almost all involving a "mobile" quarterback - about what it takes to beat Bama. Few of them, however, ever seem to actually give anything but a singular, anecdotal example as evidence for their claims. So, let's take a look at what it's taken to beat Bama over the last 9 football seasons...

I'm going with the last nine seasons as that constitutes the 11 losses since the 2011 loss to LSU - which is the veritable exception that proves all rules and is as much of an outlier as one could really envision. Even going back that far, it should be noted that there has been a significant shift in both offensive and defensive tendencies and strategies for Bama from the early part of this stretch to now but there are enough similarities that they warrant inclusion.

So, here's the list:
2019 - LSU
2019 - Auburn
2018 - Clemson
2017 - Auburn
2016 - Clemson
2015 - Ole Miss
2014 - Ole Miss
2014 - Ohio State
2013 - Auburn
2013 - Oklahoma
2012 - Texas A&M

First, let's dispel the notion that the terms "mobile quarterback" and "running quarterback" are synonymous. If they were, then opposing QBs would have been doing significant damage against Bama in most, if not all, of Bama's last 11 losses. However, here are the aggregate rushing stats by QBs against Bama in those losses:

165 attempts for 627 yards (3.8 yards/rush) for 6 TDs.

Only once did opposing QBs break 100 yards rushing or score more than a single, rushing touchdown (2017 Auburn).
Only thrice did opposing QBs average at least 5.0 yards per rush (2019 Auburn, 2017 Auburn, & 2012 Texas A&M).

So, if Bama's kryptonite isn't simply a quarterback with running ability, there must be other factors. What about the most consistently telling stat we have as a correlation to winning or losing - turnovers? I'm glad you asked...

In those 11 losses, Alabama has turned the ball over 18 times to its opponents 7. Yes, those 11 losses resulted in a -11.0 turnover margin.

Only once did Alabama win the turnover battle (2016 Clemson).


But why would all the talking heads talk about quarterbacks so much when talking about what it takes to beat Bama? Again, I'm glad you asked. Because there's something very interesting about what all those opposing quarterbacks have done in Bama's last 11 losses. Here are the aggregate passing stats of Bama's opponents in those 11 games:

246 completions in 379 passes (64.9% completion) for 27 TDs and 2 INTs for an NCAA Passer Rating of 156.49.

To put that passer rating into perspective, only 15 quarterbacks in all of FBS averaged that high a rating for the 2019 season, only 14 in 2018, and only 12 in 2017 - and that includes all the creampuff games where they got to pad their stats.

Only twice did opposing QBs have a passer rating below 140.0 (2019 Auburn & 2014 Ohio State).
[Not coincidentally, Bama lost the turnover battle in both of those games.]
Only twice did opposing QBs throw for less than 240.0 yards (2019 Auburn & 2013 Auburn).
None of the opposing QBs failed to throw at least one TD pass.
Only twice did opposing QBs only throw a single TD pass (2019 Auburn & 2017 Auburn).


And, while we're talking about scoring TDs and since the scoreboard is the most important thing, here's another tidbit about those 11 losses:

Never did an opposing team's quarterbacks score fewer than 2 TDs in the game.
Only three times did an opposing team's quarterbacks score fewer than 3 TDs in the game (2019 Auburn, 2014 Ohio State & 2012 Texas A&M).



TL;DR
----------------------------------------------------------
So, based on Alabama's 11 losses over the last nine seasons, here's what it takes to beat Bama:
(You need at least 4 out of 5.)
- Win the turnover battle.
- Throw for at least two touchdowns in the game.
- Have your QBs account for at least three total touchdowns, running or passing in the game.
- Have your QBs throw for at least 240 yards in the game.
- Have your QBs throw efficiently, earning a passer rating of at least 140.0 for the game.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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So, if Bama's kryptonite isn't simply a quarterback with running ability, there must be other factors. What about the most consistently telling stat we have as a correlation to winning or losing - turnovers? I'm glad you asked...

In those 11 losses, Alabama has turned the ball over 18 times to its opponents 7. Yes, those 11 losses resulted in a -11.0 turnover margin.

Only once did Alabama win the turnover battle (2016 Clemson).
Not to be "that guy" and in no way does it detract from your fine presentation that argues largely what I've said for years - this whole "mobile QB" thing is largely an anecdotal evidence myth - but we did beat Auburn in the turnover battle in 2013, 1-0.

The most telling aspect is almost always whether Alabama helps you beat them. You can have everything necessary, but a lot of times it comes down to capitalizing on Alabama mistakes...mistakes in this case meaning turnovers, stupid penalties that cost drives/touchdowns, and missing short field goals.

We've been "blown out" twice in that time frame, 2010 S Carolina (which was still relatively close) and the Clemson shellacking we took in January 2019. But even then - as good as Clemson played that game - we aided and abetted in ways large and small.

Beating Alabama is largely:
a) play your best game
b) hope Alabama plays their worst game
c) do whatever you can to ensure b
 

81usaf92

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Not to be "that guy" and in no way does it detract from your fine presentation that argues largely what I've said for years - this whole "mobile QB" thing is largely an anecdotal evidence myth - but we did beat Auburn in the turnover battle in 2013, 1-0.

The most telling aspect is almost always whether Alabama helps you beat them. You can have everything necessary, but a lot of times it comes down to capitalizing on Alabama mistakes...mistakes in this case meaning turnovers, stupid penalties that cost drives/touchdowns, and missing short field goals.

We've been "blown out" twice in that time frame, 2010 S Carolina (which was still relatively close) and the Clemson shellacking we took in January 2019. But even then - as good as Clemson played that game - we aided and abetted in ways large and small.

Beating Alabama is largely:
a) play your best game
b) hope Alabama plays their worst game
c) do whatever you can to ensure b
It’s more of a mobile quarterback that can pass. We destroyed several Dan Mullen quarterbacks that were mobile. But even then it’s a great offensive day vs a complete blunder on offense by us.
 

lowend

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Here's my TL;DR:
  • QB has the game of his life
  • Bama is uninspired or has uncharacteristic penalties
  • Bama has injuries at key positions resulting in undeveloped players seeing significant playing time
 

TideEngineer08

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I had this exact thought as I was listening to a radio host out of Huntsville make the claim that you have to have a mobile QB to beat Alabama. And then he lists all the QBs that beat Alabama. Hardly any of them are what I would consider mobile, and certainly few of them actually used that mobility.

It takes us throwing up all over ourselves, usually in the form of turnover disparity. In almost all of these games, even though you'll find where our defense had its struggles, if the offense would have just not turned the ball over, or converted third downs, we win.
 

selmaborntidefan

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One of the things that irks me is that to make their case, the pundits always ONLY COUNT THE GAMES WE LOST! Never once will you ever see them look at the games we won and see if a QB was super talented or extraordinary or anything. Let's go through the losses real quick.

2008 Florida - they were obviously the better team, no argument
2008 Utah - a game that meant everything to them and nothing at all to us
2010 SCAR - letdown on the road against a rested team after an emotional win vs UF
2010 LSU - we turned the ball over, they didn't
2010 Auburn - failre to thrive early, failure to survive late...and it was their year
2011 LSU - everything that could go wrong...did
2012 ATM - lousy playcalling, post-LSU letdown, lost turnovers 3-0
2013 Auburn - failed to execute
2013 Oklahoma - meant a lot to them, meant nothing to us
2014 Ole Miss - turnovers
2014 Ohio State - they were simply better than us
2015 Ole Miss - turnovers and plays you couldn't script in a cartoon
2016 Clemson - injuries, pick plays, and a QB that couldn't throw
2017 Auburn - outplayed us in the final 24 minutes
2018 Clemson - they were simply better than us
2019 LSU - although they were better than us, it felt a lot like 2011, too
2019 Auburn - two turnover pick sixes and officials sniffing glue

3 times the team was indisputably better - 2008 Florida, 2014 Ohio St, and 2018 Clemson and MAYBE 2019 LSU

The rest were turnover-fests or emotional letdowns
 

selmaborntidefan

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Appears to me that Gary D has it right for a change -- a hot quarterback is essential.
The problem we have is that he basically developed that because of Stephen Garcia waking up one morning after worshipping Satan and selling his soul for abilities he never had before or after that day.

LSU didn't have a hot quarterback with that Jefferson/Lee group, but they made his list.

Cam Newton was an elite QB and Auburn had enough besides him - plus we helped them.

Gary has been saying this since that Garcia mess. Then he adds Manziel 2012 to the list.


There's "something" to it (and I think Gary is a fine analyst myself), but it's not as simplistic as folks pretend. I don't think he believes that, I just think he has limited time and vocabulary on the broadcast. They have to make sure they get in all those Chick-fil-A cow commercials - oh, and "the Home Depot", too.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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It’s more of a mobile quarterback that can pass. We destroyed several Dan Mullen quarterbacks that were mobile. But even then it’s a great offensive day vs a complete blunder on offense by us.
Or as an alternative to "can pass" it's more of "can pass well enough to get it to a good receiver who knows what to do with it." Mike Evans and Ryan Swope had as much to do with JF2 against us is he did.
 
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81usaf92

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The problem we have is that he basically developed that because of Stephen Garcia waking up one morning after worshipping Satan and selling his soul for abilities he never had before or after that day.

LSU didn't have a hot quarterback with that Jefferson/Lee group, but they made his list.

Cam Newton was an elite QB and Auburn had enough besides him - plus we helped them.

Gary has been saying this since that Garcia mess. Then he adds Manziel 2012 to the list.


There's "something" to it (and I think Gary is a fine analyst myself), but it's not as simplistic as folks pretend. I don't think he believes that, I just think he has limited time and vocabulary on the broadcast. They have to make sure they get in all those Chick-fil-A cow commercials - oh, and "the Home Depot", too.
Gary and Klatt dwell on it but really most of those games we lost because of offense.

Take 2019 LSU. I know everyone on here wants to blame Goldfinger for it but the god to honest truth is we lost the game because of the first drive and the final 2 minutes of the first half. If Tua just throws the ball away or whatever we win by 10. I’m not blaming Tua for the loss. I’m blaming two turnovers and a bad 4th down attempt.

Most losses are more of what we don’t do on offense and less of the spectacular things the other team does.
 

selmaborntidefan

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Gary and Klatt dwell on it but really most of those games we lost because of offense.

Take 2019 LSU. I know everyone on here wants to blame Goldfinger for it but the god to honest truth is we lost the game because of the first drive and the final 2 minutes of the first half. If Tua just throws the ball away or whatever we win by 10. I’m not blaming Tua for the loss. I’m blaming two turnovers and a bad 4th down attempt.

Most losses are more of what we don’t do on offense and less of the spectacular things the other team does.
Yeah, I agree with this.

But I'll tell ya what. Woulda been REAL interesting if we'd beaten Auburn with Mac Jones to see if we got picked for the four-team playoff, too.
 

uafan4life

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Not to be "that guy" and in no way does it detract from your fine presentation that argues largely what I've said for years - this whole "mobile QB" thing is largely an anecdotal evidence myth - but we did beat Auburn in the turnover battle in 2013, 1-0...
Interesting. I had that one as 0-0 because there are no fumbles or interceptions listed in either team's official box score.

Did you remember the details of that turnover?
 

uafan4life

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It’s more of a mobile quarterback that can pass. We destroyed several Dan Mullen quarterbacks that were mobile. But even then it’s a great offensive day vs a complete blunder on offense by us.
I'd say it's more a mobile quarterback than can be an elite passer on a given day.

The only two losses where the other team's QB didn't have an I'm-beating-anyone-today type of game through the air, they still played one of their best games overall.
 

bamaga

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I think we are missing the point with a mobile QB. It’s not necessarily what they do in the game as far as running, but the threat of running that puts defenders in conflict, especially with the RPO’s . That alone allows for big , game momentum changing plays. more so in Nick’s older defensive alignments.

I still take exception to the 2018 Clemson game. we were beaten soundly, but I believe that was a confluence of events. There was something not right about that team in that game. Nick actually conceded the game late in the third quarter, even though statistically it was a dead heat. that game is an outlier that really can’t be explained away by a simple explanation. And I believe if that game was played in December, Bama wins by double digits.