Alabama Football: Leadership and the Necessity of Upperclassmen, Part II


Bama Hammer continues its look into leadership in the Alabama football program and the importance of upperclassmen.

Today, we’re going to evaluate the numbers of five Alabama football teams that didn’t win the national title and see if there are any discrepancies between them and the ones that did.

If you haven’t read the first part of this series, please do. If only to get an idea what the “Upperclassmen Ratio” is.

We’ll start with one of the most perplexing (and talented) Alabama football teams of the Nick Saban era; one that I will have to write about prior to the 2020 season, as it will be its tenth anniversary. Yes, folks, let us begin with the last time a Nick Saban-coached team lost more than two games in a season: 2010.

The Numbers Don’t Lie (But Maybe They Do?) Continued


Offense: Greg McElroy (redshirt senior), Mark Ingram (true junior), Julio Jones (true junior), Marquis Maze (redshirt junior), Preston Dial (redshirt senior), Michael Williams (redshirt sophomore), James Carpenter (true senior), Chance Warmack (true sophomore), Williams Vlachos (redshirt junior), Barrett Jones (redshirt sophomore), D.J. Fluker (true sophomore)

Ratio: 9:2

Defense: Marcell Dareus (true junior), Josh Chapman (redshirt junior), Damion Square (redshirt sophomore), Chavis Williams (true senior), Dont’a Hightower (redshirt sophomore), Nico Johnson (true sophomore), Courtney Upshaw (true junior), Dre Kirkpatrick (true sophomore), Dee Milliner (true freshman), Mark Barron (true junior), Robert Lester (redshirt sophomore)

Ratio: 8:3

Overall 2010 “Upperclassmen Ratio”: 17:5


Offense: A.J. McCarron (redshirt senior), T.J. Yeldon (true sophomore), Amari Cooper (true sophomore), Kevin Norwood (redshirt senior), DeAndrew White (redshirt junior), O.J. Howard (true freshman), Cyrus Kouandjio (true junior), Arie Kouandjio (redshirt junior), Ryan Kelly (redshirt sophomore), Anthony Steen (redshirt senior), Austin Shepherd (redshirt junior)

Ratio: 8:3

Defense: Ed Stinson (redshirt senior), Brandon Ivory (redshirt junior), Jeoffrey Pagan (true junior), Denzel Devall (true sophomore), C.J. Mosley (true senior), Trey DePriest (true junior), Adrian Hubbard (redshirt junior), Deion Belue (true senior), Cyrus Jones (true sophomore), HaHa Clinton-Dix (true junior), Landon Collins (true sophomore)

Ratio: 8:3

Overall 2013 “Upperclassmen Ratio”: 16:6


Offense: Blake Sims (redshirt senior), T.J. Yeldon (true junior), Amari Cooper (true junior), DeAndrew White (redshirt senior), Christion Jones (true senior), O.J. Howard (true sophomore), Cam Robinson (true freshman), Arie Kouandjio (redshirt senior), Ryan Kelly (redshirt junior), Leon Brown (true senior), Austin Shepherd (redshirt senior)

Ratio: 9:2

Defense: A’Shawn Robinson (true sophomore), Brandon Ivory (redshirt senior), Jarran Reed (true junior), Xzavier Dickson (true senior), Trey DePriest (true senior), Reggie Ragland (true junior), Jarrick Williams (redshirt senior), Eddie Jackson (true sophomore), Cyrus Jones (true junior), Landon Collins (true junior), Nick Perry (redshirt senior)

Ratio: 9:2

Overall 2014 “Upperclassmen Ratio”: 18:4


Offense: Jalen Hurts (true freshman), Damien Harris (true sophomore), Calvin Ridley (true sophomore), ArDarius Stewart (redshirt junior), Gehrig Dieter (redshirt senior), O.J. Howard (true senior), Cam Robinson (true junior), Ross Pierschbacher (redshirt sophomore), Bradley Bozeman (redshirt junior), Korren Kirven (redshirt senior), Jonah Williams (true freshman)

Ratio: 7:4

Defense: Jonathan Allen (true senior), Da’Ron Payne (true sophomore), Dalvin Tomlinson (redshirt senior), Ryan Anderson (redshirt senior), Reuben Foster (true senior), Shaun Dion Hamilton (true junior), Tim Williams (true senior), Minkah Fitzpatrick (true sophomore), Marlon Humphrey (redshirt sophomore), Eddie Jackson (true senior), Ronnie Harrison (true sophomore)

Ratio: 8:3

Overall 2016 “Upperclassmen Ratio”: 15:7


Offense: Tua Tagovailoa (true sophomore), Damien Harris (true senior), Jerry Jeudy (true sophomore), Henry Ruggs III (true sophomore), Devonta Smith (true sophomore), Irv Smith, Jr. (redshirt sophomore), Jonah Williams (true junior), Lester Cotton (true senior), Ross Pierschbacher (redshirt senior), Alex Leatherwood (true sophomore), Jedrick Wills (true sophomore)

Ratio: 5:6

Defense: Raekwon Davis (true junior), Quinnen Williams (redshirt sophomore), Isaiah Buggs (true senior), Christian Miller (redshirt senior), Mack Wilson (true junior), Dylan Moses (true sophomore), Anfernee Jennings (redshirt junior), Trevon Diggs (true junior), Patrick Surtain, Jr. (true freshman), Xavier McKinney (true sophomore), Deionte Thompson (redshirt junior)

Ratio: 8:3

Overall 2018 “Upperclassmen Ratio”: 13:9


It would appear that I’ve hit an impasse in my statistical analysis. The hope, here, is that the above five Alabama football teams would have a lower upper-to-lowerclassmen ratio than that of the five championship teams, but save for last year’s team, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference.

2010 is puzzling due to the eleven starters/contributors from that team (true freshman Mosley wasn’t a starter, but he did have two pick-sixes in meaningful game situations that season) who ended up being first-round draft picks. Was it malaise from the previous undefeated season?

Yes, there were seventeen third-to-fifth year players starting that season, but six-to-seven (depending on how you view Upshaw’s standing in the ’09 defense) were not starters on the championship team from the season before.

Should previous starts (versus class designation) matter? Quinnen Williams was a first-year starter and he was arguably the best defensive player in the country in 2018. That doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of the guys around him on both sides of the ball were still one-to-two classes behind him.

Next. Top 10 players not named Tua. dark

Just look at the number of true sophomores that started for the 2018 team. We’ll be taking a closer look at the 2017 recruiting class in the next installment, but the players from that class could be the tipping point for why Alabama football was largely outplayed the last three games of the 2018 season and how things could be different in 2019.