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Smart Talks Hurry-Up; Numbers Suggest Bama’s “Struggles” Slightly Exaggerated

gfx - by the numbersEver since Texas A&M made Alabama’s defense look mortal last season, hurry-up offenses have been hailed as the chink in the Tide’s otherwise impregnable armor.  Unfortunately for the rest of college football, that theory appears to be a bit overblown.

“You guys have made a big deal about this up-tempo,” said Bama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart yesterday.  “Several teams in our league are very effective at it.  You’ve got to address the issue but it’s always been an issue.  For us, it’s more about how to get better at it more often.  Seven times in a year instead of two times in a year.”

Smart then added: “I’d still rather that than the triple-option Georgia Southern come running through here.”  The Eagles ran for 302 yards against Alabama in a 45-21 2011 loss.

While Texas A&M did hand the Crimson Tide its only defeat while using the hurry-up last season, the results for other fast-paced teams have been mixed:


*  Over the last three seasons, Alabama has faced six FBS teams that averaged more than 69 plays per game.  Of those six teams (Ole Miss, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M last year as well as Duke and Mississippi State in 2010), only A&M scored a victory.  Of those five teams that lost, none of them scored more than 14 points.  (A&M scored 29 in their 29-24 win in Tuscaloosa last November.)

*  Since 2010, only seven FBS teams have managed to top their season average in plays-per-game against the Tide: LSU in 2012 (a UA win), Kent State and Penn State in 2011 (both UA wins), and Duke, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State in 2010 (only LSU beat Alabama).

*  Over the last three seasons, 16 FBS teams have managed to run 60 or more plays against Alabama (though not all of those teams ran a hurry-up).  Of those 16, only three won their games with the Tide (Texas A&M in 2012, LSU and Auburn in 2010).  On the flipside, that does mean that three of Alabama’s five losses since 2010 have come against teams that were able to get off 60+ plays.

*  Finally, those 16 FBS squads that managed to run 60+ plays versus Bama averaged just 13.1 points per game.  The 21 FBS schools who failed to hit the 60-play mark averaged just 9.3 points per game against the Tide.


Did Texas A&M have success in the hurry-up against Alabama?  Yes.  Georgia had some success going up-tempo only to lose 32-28 in the SEC Championship Game.  Ole Miss faired better than most with Hugh Freeze’s hurry-up, but the Rebels could still muster just 14 points against Alabama.

Texas A&M was a unique combination — a fast team with a tremendous quarterback who happened to catch Alabama after an emotional road win at LSU.  Other fast-paced teams haven’t been so lucky when battling Smart’s defense.  That might be why he doesn’t seem to be frenzied as the media when it comes to the “Bama versus the hurry-up” storyline.

“When teams go fast tempo there’s a lot of things they can’t do at the line,” Smart said.  “We try to create an advantage for us by being able to give them negative plays and I think if we can do that it can hurt them with their up-tempo.  We’re excited about the challenge of facing it.”



John, your FCS should be FBS. Great article. Thanks for the information.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


You are correct.  And I have corrected.  I have no idea how I typed FCS instead of FBS 10 times... aside from the fact that my mind is slipping.



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