Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 May 2011

Alabama 1992 Defensive Game Charting

1992 Alabama Defensive Game Charting

We don't have much college data pre-dating 2003, but Sports Illustrated's Andy Gray posted an image from the SI vault that would make any stat geek drool. It is a snapshot of head coach Gene Stallings' 1992 Alabama "Defensive Quality Control" chart (click here for larger view), documenting dozens of defensive standards charted throughout the Crimson Tide's undefeated championship season. Some of the metrics are self-explanatory, others appear to match some of the data we're charting now, and others are a bit of a mystery. Also an intriguing mystery: what appears on this chart beneath 'Pistol Force' and what do the missing 'Q ~ Quality' metrics entail?

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 25 May 2011

18 comments, Last at 28 May 2011, 10:15am by DoubleB


by Bill Connelly :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:43pm

What I'm dying to know is what their definitions of "run situation" and "pass situation" are.

Well, that's one of many things I'm dying to know, I guess...

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:52pm

It doesnt go furthee down so have to giess. Maybe shotgin force

by chrisM (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:54pm

What are C and TG?

by Geer (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 6:04pm

C is contest and TG is total games? If you look, the Vandy game has nothing in the TG column, and then the So. Miss TG is a total of the C column from Vandy and So. Miss.

by NOLEmercy (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 6:06pm

I'd use the Rifle and Pistol Force are classify the way the ball carrier was brought down(Rifle-long distance travled by defender, Pistol - short gap, they were in the right place. Distances/Time in open field/defenders on the pile, etc. See how 'open' things where for the offense by seeing how soon the closed the gap on types of places.

Imagine if he had modern XOS system.

by Travis :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 8:10am

This site's explanation of "pistol force" and "rifle force":

[Stallings] changed his pass coverage by changing his forces. If he was in pistol force, the corner was forcing the ball, the safety was playing the pass, and the linebacker was on the cutback. This was 1/2's coverage. He could control these forces independently on both sides. This was an early form of the split-safety coverage that is employed today.

If the call was rifle force, the safety played the force, the corner was on the play pass, and the backer played the cutback. This is the same force package that modern quarters teams employ.

Finally he would have box force. This was backer force. The safety played the cutback, and the corner was on the play pass. This force was used on the weak side of cover 3, and man coverage.

by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 9:30am

But I'm having a hard time reconciling that information with the stat notations. 3.0 is the guide for Rifle Force, and anything above that is marked in red as though it failed to meet the guide. So it must have something to do with success in the particular pass coverage, and success is defined by a number at or under 3? Receptions in that particular coverage? First downs? Can't be a whole number because the cumulative total after LSU is 3.3. Receptions or first downs per coverage?

by Travis :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 10:21am

I'm stumped too.

Here are the Alabama game-by-game statistics for 1992.

They held Tulane to 11 completions on 27 attempts for 107 yards with 4 interceptions, and yet that game had the second-worst rifle and pistol force ratings of the year.

by DoubleB :: Sat, 05/28/2011 - 10:15am

I would guess the Rifle Force and Pistol Force numbers are Yards per Run Attempt based on the given defensive play call.

by Bob in Baltimore (not verified) :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 3:20pm

Back in the long-ago day when I played football, pistol force meant the LB was responsible for outside contain ("force" the ball back to the center of the field), and rifle force meant the CB was responsible for outside contain.

by kleph :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 7:56pm

This is actually on display at the Paul W. Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa. I believe the photo is from that exhibit given the lighting.

by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 10:35pm

Any other photos of it that you know of? Is there any context to some of the data provided in the exhibit? Is there an offensive one too?

by Alabama ManDance (not verified) :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 12:23pm

there is a football card with Ken stabler dry humping a snake very near to this, and some of those pom pom things

by Nathan Forster :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 10:44pm

I agree wholeheartedly with the central premise that college football statistics, especially defensive statistics, have been poorly kept in general. If there is anybody out there who is hording this information, it really should be released to the football-loving public.

However, I am a bit curious as to why Brian indicates that 2003 is the cut-off. Most college team web sites maintain final season statistics on their websites as far back as at least 2000, although there are some maddening exceptions where the team only posts the statistics from the past year.

Sorry JPP!

by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 10:55pm

There are final season stats on most sites dating back to 2000, but 2003 appears to be the cutoff for readily and comprehensively accessible play-by-play data.

by Nathan Forster :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 11:14pm

Ah. Thanks for the clarification.

Sorry JPP!

by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 11:34am

And if we're looking for full play-by-play that includes tackler data, 2005 is the furthest back we've been able to go with online resources. I'm hoping for 2004 one day, but we'll see.

by Cro-Mags (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 11:15pm

I think the most important defensive play of that season wouldn't show up on any stat sheet, as it was negated due to penalty (but prevented a TD nonetheless).