Among college football pundits, LSU is a sexy pick this season. What the pundits miss is, even with its youth, the Alabama football roster has the edge in talent.
What follows in this post will please most Alabama football fans. Admittedly, the conclusion reached is subjective. A review on certain, player statistics was used, but they only offer clues to our conclusions.
The stats can be misleading because of unequal strength of schedule and so far, no common opponents. We accept LSU has played a tougher schedule, though with the Texas Longhorns floundering, not as tough as most pundits claim.
Our review is, in a way, a throwback to the 2011 ‘Game of the Century.’ Perhaps never before had one game showcased so many truly outstanding players. That game, with its 9-6 outcome and the National Championship rematch that followed, catapulted college football into today’s four-team Playoff format.
What gets lost in that story is of the 22 players on defense in the 2011 game, 16 were drafted by the NFL. Beyond the Alabama Crimson Tide’s four missed field goals, there was a reason for such a low score. The game had no touchdowns because both defensive units were phenomenal. In total, more than forty competitors in that game were drafted by the NFL. Arguably, a greater abundance of talent than anything before or since.
Will the 2019 game have as much talent competing in Bryant-Denny? Future NFL Drafts will provide the answer.
What is important for Nov. 9 is the Alabama football advantage in player talent. Let’s break it down by position groups.
Quarterback – Slight Edge to LSU
Joe Burrow is having a great season. He is, no doubt, one of the top quarterbacks in college football. In our view, Burrow gets the edge, based only on doubt Tua will be fully recovered. Tua Tagovailoa at 100 percent equals a big edge to the Crimson Tide.
Running Back – Slight Edge to Alabama
Najee Harris and Clyde Edwards-Helaire pretty much cancel out each other. The Crimson Tide has more backup power in Brian Robinson and Keilan Robinson.
Receivers – Big Edge to Alabama
LSU has some good receivers. Alabama football has the best group in college football and they go four-deep.
Offensive Line – Edge to Alabama
The Crimson Tide unit, if Evan Neal is healthy and with Landon Dickerson at center, has become a fast-improving unit capable of controlling the LOS.
Defensive Line – Toss Up
Purposely, the description ‘even’ was not used. LSU has a strong d-line. Rashard Lawrence, Glen Logan, Neil Farrell Jr. and Tyler Shevlin are very talented players. With LaBryan Ray missing the game for the Tide, it appears the edge goes to LSU. Raekwon Davis and freshman, D. J. Dale are quietly having strong seasons for Alabama. The Tide freshmen defensive ends, Justin Eboigbe and Byron Young are loaded with talent. The wild card for the Tide is Christian Barmore. Barmore will be the most talented, unproven defensive lineman in the game. His ability to push the pocket could be a game-changer, largely negating LSU’s d-line advantage.
Linebacker – Edge to LSU
Because of the Tide’s youth and inexperience at inside linebackers, this position appears to be a big edge to LSU. That is before calculating the impact of the Tide’s Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. Over the last two games, a finally healthy, Terrell Lewis has played and looked like one of the best linebackers in the nation.
Defensive Backs – Even
The Bengal Tigers get the hype and Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr. are tremendous players. So are Surtain, Diggs and McKinney for the Crimson Tide.
Special Teams – Edge to Alabama
If Will Reichard was recovered from his hip pointer, this would be a ‘big’ edge to the Tide. Tyler Perine has established the Tide’s punting game. Joseph Bulovas has been competent. Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs III are sensational.
Counting up the assessments of the position groups, the Alabama Crimson Tide has a talent advantage. Of course, talent alone does not win games. Schemes matter – execution matters even more. Even luck can shine on a less-talented team.