College Football Championship Recap: Clemson vs Alabama 2019 - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

College Football Championship Recap: Clemson vs Alabama 2019

College Football Championship Recap:  Clemson vs Alabama 2019
by B.R. Battle
BattleStat Number Definition
The BattleStat Number (BSN) for the analysis of a team showcases how efficient a team is by calculating the offensive and defensive productivity of a team. These numbers are categorized into two sections…Offense (BSN-OFF) and Defense (BSN-DEF). To calculate the BSN-OFF and BSN-DEF, Offense and Defense Success Rates (OSR and DSR) will be analyzed to illustrate how successful and effective a team is.  OSR and DSR are calculated by accomplishing successful plays.  Successful plays occur when a play gains enough yardage to keep an offense progressing towards a 1st down (50% of yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd down, or 100% on 3rd/4th down).  A higher number equates to a better overall score

The Clemson offense was truly amazing.  It was the single most dominant performance that I have ever witnessed against any Nick Saban coached team.  Clemson posted a 63.5 point BSN-OFF, more than 23 points higher than the NCAA average.  Quarterback, Trevor Lawrence was sensational; becoming the first true freshman starting quarterback since Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway to win a national title.  Clemson recorded a near perfect BSN-OFF in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to the tune of 88.4 and 90.2 points, respectively.  The Tigers were a highly explosive team from their 2nd drive of the game until the finish.  Although their offense was on the field for 9 less plays than Alabama, Clemson was able to complete 1 more explosive play than the Tide.  The Tiger's average yards per explosive play spanned nearly a third of the football field, totaling 32.4 yards per play.  As stated earlier, this was a dominant show of power, especially by the Clemson offensive line, performed on an Alabama team many deemed to be one of the greatest teams assembled.

Alabama finished the game with a slightly above average 44.4 point BSN-OFF.  I know you may be wondering how the Tide was able to field an above average offense with a team that scored only 16 points. Not evident by the final score, Alabama was able to move the ball down the field.  The Tide out-rushed Clemson and tallied 443 yards of total offense.  The difference between Alabama's offense, as opposed to Clemson, were their 2 turnovers committed, as well as their 2 failed goal line stances that resulted in zero points while having multiple times to score from within the 2 yard line.  The Alabama offensive line was completely man-handled by the Tiger's front four. The lack of control of the line of scrimmage resulted in 2 sacks and an additional 5 tackles for loss...a trend that the Tide is not used to experiencing.

We all knew the Clemson defense was a really good unit; however, few thought they would outperform Alabama on this national stage.  The Tigers posted a 57.7 point BSN-DEF, just shy of 13 points higher than the NCAA average.  They were in complete control of this game from the Tagovaiola interception returned for a touchdown on the Tide's 3rd offensive play from scrimmage. Clemson's defense forced 2 turnovers, sacked the Tide quarterback's twice, and tallied another 5 tackles for loss, independent of the sacks already recorded.  The Tiger's defensive line continually exerted pressure on Alabama, limiting the Tide to their lowest offensive point total of the season.

Alabama posted a very underwhelming 32.6 point BSN-DEF against Clemson; nearly 13 points less than the NCAA average and representing a near 26 point gap between Clemson's historic performance.  For as much praise as Alabama's defensive line received throughout the season, they applied nearly any pressure to Trevor Lawrence during the game.  The lack of pressure resulted in Lawrence having enough time to carve up the Tide's weakest position group...Alabama's secondary.  Considering an average of 7.5 yards per pass attempt is really good, Clemson's 10.8 yards per pass attempt was truly extraordinary.  Additionally, the Clemson offense scored 5 touchdowns, resulting in Alabama's highest allowed total this season.

Entering the game, I was anticipating a defensive slugfest.  The only team who showed up for this fight was Clemson.  Alabama's performance was mind boggling, to say the least.

This game showcased two of the brightest stars in college football.  After seeing the miraculous comeback from Tagovailoa in last year's championship game, one could suggest that a more experienced Tua would outplay the true freshman Trevor Lawrence.  This was not the case in this year's championship game.  Lawrence did not look like a true freshman.  On the contrary, he looked like the first pick of the 2019 draft.  The problem for all college football teams not named Clemson, is that Lawrence still has 2 more years before he's eligible to declare for the draft.

The key differences in this game between Tua and Lawrence were Tua's 2 key turnovers, compared to Lawrences none.  Although Tagovaioloa was more successful on 1st down, Lawrence was extremely more successful than Tua on the money down...aka 3rd down.  Lawrence was successful 67% of the time on 3rd down throughout the game, compared to Tua's 40% success rate.  Lawrence's ability to prolong drives allowed for the Alabama defense to tire and become susceptible to Clemson's high powered offense.  After Clemson took the lead in the 2nd quarter, Lawrence never looked back, creating an uphill battle for the Tide defense to overcome.

As I stated earlier, Lawrence is going to be a force to be reckoned with over the next 2 years.  Although Alabama did not showcase their 'A' game, they'll be back...strong as ever.  Do not be surprised if we see the fifth rendition of this instant classic series in January 2020.

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