Before diving into the numbers, before declaring Alabama’s offense was better or worse with Lane Kiffin as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator, let’s make one thing clear:
We’re talking about Alabama. Saban’s teams were good with Kiffin running the offense and good without him.
With Kiffin as his offensive coordinator, Saban is 39-3 with three SEC championships, a national title and a chance to win another one this season.
In the three seasons prior to Kiffin’s three in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was 36-4 with a pair of BCS championships.
That being said, here’s a look at how Alabama performed offensively with Kiffin calling the shots compared to the three seasons prior to his arrival.
Lane Kiffin: By the numbers
|Category||2016 (13 games)||2015 (15)||2014 (14)|
|Points per game||40.5||35.1||36.9|
|Rushing yards per game||247.2||199.9||206.6|
|Passing yards per game||224.08||227.1||277.9|
|Total offense per game||471.3||427.1||484.5|
|Average yards per play||6.6||5.9||6.7|
|Time of possession||31:23||33:35||31:45|
— This season is Alabama’s highest-scoring one in the six years observed here. And yes, 40.5 points per game is good — it ranks 13th in the country — but that’s not all offense. Keep in mind that Alabama returned five fumbles for TDs, five more interceptions for scores and took back four punts, too.
— Without a 1,000-yard rusher this season, Alabama’s 2016 rushing offense was the best of the six seasons. With at least one game remaining, RB Damien Harris is 17 yards from 1,000 and QB Jalen Hurts is 159.
— Kiffin’s biggest passing season came in 2014 with QB-turned-RB-turned-QB again Blake Sims throwing for a school-record 3,487 yards. Most of those throws went to Amari Cooper, who set Alabama records with 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 16 TDs.
— Alabama’s third-down conversion percentage is ridiculous. Seriously, 52.0 percent in 2014? With T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, a mobile QB (Sims) and a Heisman finalist (Cooper), it’s amazing Alabama isn’t playing for a third consecutive national title this season.
Before Lane Kiffin: By the numbers
|Category||2013 (13 games)||2012 (14)||2011 (13)|
|Points per game||38.2||38.7||34.8|
|Rushing yards per game||205.6||227.5||214.5|
|Passing yards per game||248.5||218.0||215.2|
|Total offense per game||454.1||445.5||429.6|
|Average yards per play||7.1||6.9||6.5|
|Time of possession||32:00||32:16||32:48|
* The offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013 was Doug Nussmeier.
* The offensive coordinator in 2011 was Jim McElwain
— Again, efficiency is the name of the game. Average yards per play, third-down conversions, red zone success and time of possession point to one overall thing: Many Crimson Tide victories.
— QB AJ McCarron completed 66.9 percent of his career passes. That had a big part in Alabama’s success throwing the ball these three seasons. He holds the school record with 77 TD passes.
— How did Alabama average only 214.5 rushing yards in 2011? With Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy in the backfield, you’d think that number would be even higher. But again, that’s just being nit-picky. Richardson ran for 1,679 yards and 21 TDs; Lacy added 674 yards with 7 touchdowns.