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November 19, 2012

Anatomy of a Play

The fact that Alabama is challenging school records for points in a season is due to a number of factors, not least of which includes a stable of talented athletes at each position. It's also thanks to the Crimson Tide's tremendous balance, which has become a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Without being able to key on any particular part of the Alabama offense, opposing defenses must play more honest, enabling offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier incredible play calling options. The results speak for themselves.

Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense at 428.45 yards per game, behind only Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia, respectively. UA averages 209.36 yards rushing a game and 219.09 passing. Incredible balance.

With the potential of three games remaining, the Tide should eclipse the school single season points record. Currently UA is 58 points shy (419) of 1973's record of 477. Of course the '73 team did it in 12 games. Also UA currently ranks fourth on the school list of points per game at 38.1.

In a new feature, I breakdown a play from a recent game and illustrate what made the play succeed or fail. Today I look at one of the staples of the Alabama offense: the draw.

Alabama comes out three-wide in the shotgun with Kenny Bell at the left of the formation, Christion Jones is in the slot and Amari Cooper at the top. Bell is off the line as to not cover up tight end Michael Williams and T.J. Yeldon is right of AJ McCarron. Western Carolina gives a 4-3 look with the outside linebacker showing a potential blitz.

At the snap, the outside linebacker releases on a blitz and the UA offensive line sets him loose. D.J. Fluker takes the defensive end while Anthony Steen positions himself to take the defensive tackle in front of Barrett Jones. Left guard Chance Warmack takes a couple of steps back, Cyrus Kouandijo blocks the other tackle and Williams prepares to block the defensive end.

McCarron shows handoff to Yeldon as the wide receivers release down the field. The outside linebacker continues unchecked on the blitz. Warmack pulls to the left and the middle linebacker recognizes run. Kouandijo has already turned the defensive tackle, Williams has his hands inside the defensive end while Jones releases to the second level to block the middle linebacker. Steen takes the tackle that was initially lined up over Jones and Fluker is in good position with the defensive end.

Yeldon takes the handoff and heads left with Warmack leading the way and lining up the weakside linebacker. Bell cuts off his route and heads toward the safety. Notice that Williams, Kouandijo, Steen and Fluker have already completely turned their men and Jones squares up the middle linebacker.

Warmack engages with the weakside linebacker and Bell makes contact with the safety, leaving Yeldon man-on-man against the cornerback. Alabama has completely sealed the end as Yeldon sizes up the one defender he has to beat.

The weakside linebacker does a nice job of not letting Warmack get completely into him while Bell has neutralized the saftey. Yeldon hits the corner still with the cornerback to beat.

Yeldon prepares to put a spin move on the cornerback as Bell continues his block on the safety. The weakside linebacker has disengaged from Warmack, which might be the single most impressive thing about the play. The rest of the UA offensive line has completely neutralized the interior of the Western Carolina defensive and the blitzing linebacker is too far back to make a play.

Yeldon makes the cornerback whiff, but he is now off balance and no longer at full speed. The weakside lineback continues his pursuit after getting off the block of Warmack. Bell continues to do a great job of blocking the safety.

The weakside linebacker makes the tackle and Yeldon goes down at the Western Carolina 3 for a gain of 15 yards. Yeldon scores the next play and Alabama leads 14-0.

Reach Aaron Suttles at Aaron@TideSports.com or at 205-722-0229.

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