TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama ran for more yards against Florida Saturday than its defense has allowed through five games combined. And while the Crimson Tide's rushing total of 226 yards against the Gators was impressive enough, that it has allowed only 198 ground yards in the season to date is even more so.
At an average of 39.6 rushing yards allowed per game, Alabama leads the NCAA in that category by a margin of nearly 20 yards over the nation's No.2-ranked rush defense, which belongs to Virginia Tech.
"One thing we knew we had to come into the game to do was out-physical them at the line of scrimmage," nose guard Josh Chapman said of the Florida game. "Our goal was to stop the run and affect the quarterback."
While UA coach Nick Saban has been pleased with his team's defense against the run, he pointed out that the NCAA's stats-keeping policy on rushing yards, which subtracts yardage lost on quarterback sacks, can skew the numbers.
"I look at how we play the run on the running plays, and when that quarterback scrambles for 27 yards, that's a pass play to me, and we messed it up," Saban said. "That really doesn't go on our rushing yards."
UA's pass rush has cost opponents 71 yards in rushing losses this season with quarterback sacks. Without sack yardage factored into its rush defense, which is the way the National Football League compiles stats, UA would still be leading the nation at 53.8 rushing yards per game.
Florida ran for 15 yards on Alabama, 45 with sack yardage removed.
"I was happy in the last game. I think we can tackle better, keep leverage on the ball better. We missed some tackles in the last game," Saban said. "We need to keep doing what we do, but what we need to do is the defenses that we play, that we stop the run in, we have to convert to pass rush better on play action passes. That would be the big point of emphasis that I would make."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.