That makes it easy to overlook how good the Tide offense has performed before its gets to the red zone, a fact that makes the troubles all the more puzzling. The Crimson Tide ranks 44th in the country on total offense, averaging 369.4 yards per game. Alabama has 105 first downs in its five games for an average of 21 per game, which is among the highest in the country. Additionally, Alabama is now fourth in the country in time of possession, and ranked 16th in third down conversions, normally a reliable indicator of offensive performance.
So, instead of looking at the negative, we posed the opposite question to Antoine Caldwell, asking him what makes Alabama's offense so effective between the 20s. The answer sheds new light on why things might tend to bog down inside the red zone.
Q: What makes you as good as you've been from 20 to 20?
AC: "I've never even thought about that. You put me on the spot with that one. I really couldn't tell you. I don't understand it myself. I think what our offense does – I think it's an offense, we do good from 20 to 20. We spread out the field. We run misdirection plays. The routes our receivers run – we run all kinds of multiple routes and stuff. It's hard to do that inside the 20. They run zone, cover 2 (defense). They've got the middle sewed up, the outside sewed up. It's tough to run routes that we run inside the 20. That's just from watching film, I just know that. Our coaches like to call plays and let our receivers get out there and run different kinds of routes and it's hard to do inside the 20 when a team goes zone and leave both safeties back in the back. I feel like in those situations we probably need to run the ball a little bit more. And I'm not saying what to do. I don't know all that stuff.
Q: Is it fair to say that – Keith and DJ being your two biggest weapons – it's fair to say that it kind of takes them out?
AC: Definitely. Definitely. Those guys play hard; they work hard. Just when you get down there and you've got a corner and a safety on him, a corner and a safety on him. You've got two linebackers sitting in the middle of the field. I mean, it's tough to do. It's real tough to do, and I feel like we've just got to maybe change it up, switch it up a little bit inside the 20.
Later, Caldwell added, "I kind of try to stick to the offensive line. I really don't know what all they do receiver wise and all that stuff."