Crimson Tide has been an unbeatable force for a while now, and much of this is attributed to the head coach, Nick Saban. He has netted more success than many other coaches throughout the 21st century – and the players have been responsible for winning a number of national championships. Over the last six years, Alabama has consistently ranked at the top of its class for the nation. They will be on top again in 2016.
Here’s what’s really interesting. There is no star quarterback. They have a talented starting lineup, but the talent runs deep as well. In addition, the team seems to have no issue reloading another impressive defensive line for the following fall.
This means you have to ask the question – could Alabama’s backups actually beat an average football team? We know the starters are good enough to make the SEC title game, but how about the players on the bench?
Our money is on YES and here’s why.
Alabama was hands down the best team in 2015. They were also the champion. These are two big points to consider and it’s important to realize that there is a difference. Sometimes the best team doesn’t win because things happen. That wasn’t the case with Crimson Tide for 2015. They were the winners through and through.
Bill Connelly with SB Nation and Brian Fremeau with Football Outsiders calculated that Alabama ranked the highest in FEI, S&P+ and F/+ rankings. Clemson was within a field goal of the scoring margin, but as for the others, they were heads above the competition.
When you look at what’s considered the “average” football team, this would be the Northern Illinois Huskies. They ranked number 66 out of 128 teams. They were as close to a perfect neutral as you could get. It makes more sense to use the Huskies as opposed to Boston College because there is a major imbalance with offense-defense and Georgia Tech makes a poor choice as well because they have a crazy offensive scheme.
So, there’s the Huskies as the average team. If they went up against the backups for Crimson Tide, who would win?
Well, it’s best to look at the recruiting rating for the backups. This includes Cooper Bateman as quarterback and Damien Harris as running back. Both have amazing recruiting ratings, and this is one of the best stats to look at.
There’s really no bad player when it comes to the backup players, and this is something that Nick Saban prides himself on. Everyone trains, everyone plays. By not having a star player, it allows everyone field experience and this means that the “backups” are groomed in the best possible way.
Now, when you look at recruiting ratings, the Alabama players are in the fours and fives. Northern Illinois’ players, however, are consistently rated two or three. For sure, this says that an NFL team would rather draft any of the backup players for Crimson Tide over any of the starters for the Huskies. That says a lot right there and if all of them were to get out on the field together, it’s almost a sure victory for the backup players of Alabama.
The backup players have backups, too. For example, if Bateman were put into the game as QB and he became injured, it’s easy to turn to Jalen Hurts, who is also a four star. Why him? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he impersonated Deshaun Watson, a Clemson Heisman finalist during his first week on the Alabama campus.
The reality is that Alabama doesn’t lose, at least not to teams who are not in a Power 5 conference…and if they do, it’s certainly not often.
It just shows that Alabama is a powerhouse of players and will continue to be, at least while they have Nick Saban as the head coach.