1. Clayton Davis

    The run game though is a good point by Quigley, mainly because of how everyone else views the run game. Because Bama had a solid run game and great O Line and great defense, they got the benefit of the doubt in the polls over teams that were better at the pass, most notably in 2011. There’s still such a strong press bias for the classic downhill running team with a good defense that even last year people kept excusing Bama’s 2018 loss to Clemson as a total fluke.

    • ianaboyd

      That’s true, people were also convinced that Ohio State was the greatest team assembled and they couldn’t even reach LSU to receive their whipping.

      Still, if you want to win tough games against great defenses you’ll invest in the passing game and let our sports commentariat figure it out as they will.

  2. quigley

    We mostly agree, but for the sake of discussion during this dark period, I’ll nitpick.

    1. Black swan: there have been instances where an offensive coach or defensive coach is well ahead of the opposition in strategy, development, et al, but rarely (I can’t recall another time) are coaches on both sides of the ball significantly better than the competition. That’s the rare event I’m talking about. If you can provide other examples, please let me know.

    2. Diminishing returns of talent: here is a point that’s important. Personality, specifically the ability to suppress ego for the sake of the team (Bill Simmons calls it the “secret”) is part of talent.
    Geno Auriemma is on the record for saying he won’t take the most “talented” player if that player won’t sacrifice for team.
    Michael Jordan is another great example of this. Dean Smith was known as the only guy who could keep MJ under 30, and Smith did this so that the teams would win. Jordan had to learn to sacrifice to win. Humility is part of talent.

    3. Elite talent…sustained sucess…using Alabama is small sample size.
    Certainly, elite recruiting isn’t sufficient, as any UT fan knows. I used Alabama only because it is the easiest example. But Ohio St, LSU, and more recently Clemson could be used to bolster the Alabama narritive.

    4. Sustained success = running the ball.
    Being able to run the ball effectively against even numbers is like good pitching in baseball, it raises the floor of the team.
    It is common for elite teams to have multiple NFL RB on the roster at once (Alabama, Clemson, and OU have each recently had three NFL backs simultaneously on a roster. They’ve also all sent many OL to the pros.
    How common is it for a team to have multiple outstanding QB simultaneously? OU is an example of the (Mayfield, Murray), but two NFL QBs on the roster together is rare at this point.

    • ianaboyd

      If you recruit good tackles and receivers and have a pass-heavy system you won’t be without great QBs for any sustained period of time.

      But if you don’t, you’ll always be at the mercy of teams that do.

      • quigley

        What we’re talking about is resiliency. If Mayfield had been injured in 2017, I don’t think an OU team led by Murray would’ve had the same success.

        While the upside of a great passing game is higher, the synchrony required to achieve it also is greater. Injuries, personality differences, and luck can all play a greater role in derailing it.

        The 2019 LSU Tiger are hailed as one of the best teams ever, but do they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa if Tua isn’t injured vs Miss St?

    • System Poster

      I think Clemson actually cuts against the Alabama narrative. They’ve only very recently, in the last class, entered the very top tier of elite recruiting teams (and of course that class hasn’t played yet). They recruited well before that, and it’s been improving over time since their first national championship appearance, but they’ve built their program and sustained their success with borderline top ten to top 15 classes, a solid tier below the Alabamas and Ohio States of the college football world.

      And in their first NC game appearance that they barely lost in a shootout to Alabama, they didn’t meet the blue chip ration threshold and then barely met it the next year when they were on the other side of the shootout.

      • ianaboyd

        Clemson hit a nice window in time before top defenses had figured out how to adjust to spread passing attacks. Window still exists, really, but now that LSU is running that offense there’s more competition.

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