No understating McElwain's impact

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- You could probably win a lot of bets if you asked a group of fans who leads the SEC in scoring offense and total offense this season.

If we were talking defense, the answer would be simple … Alabama.

But the Crimson Tide also lead the way in four of the main offensive categories: scoring offense (39.4 points), total offense (457.6 yards), rushing offense (229.2 yards) and third-down conversions (50.9 percent).

It’s a reminder that Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is one of the more underrated coaches in college football, and it’s just a matter of time before he gets a head-coaching gig.

Since his arrival in 2008, Alabama has improved each season in points per game, rushing yards and passing yards. The Crimson Tide are currently averaging 12.3 more points per game this season than they did in 2007 and 83.8 more yards per game.

Each of his last two quarterbacks, John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy, are on NFL rosters, and McElwain's doing it this season with a first-year starter at quarterback -- AJ McCarron.

“We don’t get caught up in numbers here,” McElwain said. “We try to go out on a daily basis and get better, and for the most part, we’ve done that.”

Third down will be huge on Saturday night, particularly with both defenses being so good at getting off the field.

“Trying to keep control of the football and winning on third down … that’s where you do it,” McElwain said. “And trying to make sure you have answers for all the different things they do. We spent a long time last night and this morning putting that plan together with things our kids feel comfortable with.”

Over and above Alabama’s productivity on offense, the balance has been even more remarkable.

The Crimson Tide are averaging 229.2 rushing yards and 228.4 passing yards.