Alabama better in the red zone
September, 22, 2010
By Ben Lerner | ESPN.com
Alabama won the national championship last season, averaged over 400 yards of offense per game, and scored better than 32 points per outing. This season it appears quarterback Greg McElroy and the offense have fixed a glaring weakness in the Tide's attack. A scary thought for the rest of the country: The Alabama offense is better this season.
Alabama finished last season ranked 108th in red zone touchdown percentage. No one would expect to see the national champion ranked alongside the likes of Duke, Ball State and Washington State in any statistical category, but that's right where the Crimson Tide found themselves in 2009. Alabama scored just 28 touchdowns in 59 red zone trips, a 47.5 percent TD conversion rate.
McElroy had his own struggles inside the 20 last season. He completed just 35 percent of his passes (sixth worst in FBS) in the red zone and couldn't connect with star wideout Julio Jones. McElroy was just 1-of-14 when targeting Jones in the red zone, and 13-of-26 to all other players. McElroy completed only 1-of-11 when looking for Jones in the end zone, and Jones' only catch came against FCS opponent Chattanooga.
McElroy and Alabama have turned the page on last season's red zone struggles and are much improved so far this season. The Tide have 10 touchdowns in 15 red zone trips in 2010, good for a 66.7 percent TD conversion rate, and tied for 35th in the country. Being alongside the likes of Boise State, Nebraska and Utah is a more expected spot for this talented offense.
McElroy is 6-for-10 inside the 20-yard line this season, and has already connected with Jones on two passes, including a touchdown. With McElroy having success in the red zone, defenses might have to think twice before stacking the box to stop Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson from scoring. Scary thought.