Comparison: Alabama versus Clemson and Virginia Tech

Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. So with that in mind, let's take a look at Alabama versus Clemson last year and versus VT this year.

OFFENSE

On both this table and the upcoming defensive table, sacks have been removed from the rushing totals and put in their own place. They don't accurately represent rushing prowess, but I've never been a huge fan of subtracting sack yardage from passing yards either.

CATEGORY vs. CLEMSON vs. VIRGINIA TECH
Total Yards 419 503
Passing 180 230
Yds. per Pass 6.0 7.7
Rushing 239 273
Yds. per Rush 4.8 5.8
Turnovers 0 2
Time of Poss. 41:13 37:02
Sacks All. 0 2 (-5 yards)

 

The circumstances were a bit different, as Bama put Clemson away earlier and bled clock for much of the second half while VT hung around for the whole game. Still though, Alabama was better in its 2009 debut in every way except for turnovers (a Frank Beamer specialty) and a slight drop in time of possession.

John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy, interestingly enough, threw the exact same number of passes: 30. Wilson completed seven more than McElroy did, but this year's newbie still ended up with 50 more yards. He did have the one interception, which Wilson did not, but Clemson quit about 10 minutes after they walked in the door. Overall, there's not much to complain about. McElroy faced a tougher defense and was in his first start, but he ended up performing a little bit better than Wilson did.

DEFENSE

Same thing goes for sacks here. They're not in the rushing totals.

CATEGORY vs. CLEMSON vs. VIRGINIA TECH
Total Yards 188 193
Passing 188 91
Yds. per Pass 5.5 4.6
Rushing 28 102
Yds. per Rush 2.5 3.9
Turnovers 2 2
Time of Poss. 18:47 22:58
Sacks For 3 (-28 yards) 5 (-38 yards)

 

Alabama's defense was right on par with its performance from last season. Virginia Tech ran the ball much better, but the passing game was a disaster. Tyrod Taylor was sacked five times and passed for a worse average than Cullen Harper did last year. The Hokies held on to the ball for longer, probably thanks to the marginal rushing success, but they didn't do any better while trying hard and being in the game than a Clemson team quitting on its coach did.

This is only one game, but the early returns suggest that Alabama is at least as good as it was last season. The offensive numbers hint that the passing game might end up noticeably better, which then opens up the great rushing attack that everyone knew was there all along. The offensive line that was everyone's concern in the preseason paved the way for an extra yard per run against a tougher defense (though it did allow two sacks).

Based on this game, Alabama was no one year wonder. Even though turnovers and one special teams breakdown allowed the score to be closer, the Tide repeated its great performance in the Georgia Dome from last year.

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