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Could Alabama Beat The Monstars?

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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If Aliens stole the powers of the best players from the rest of the SEC, would Alabama still beat them?

There is, like, literally nothing unique or insightful left to write about the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide. Something, something quarterbacks, Saban, replacing six guys in the secondary, Quinnen Williams, blah, blah, blah -- it’s all been covered ad nauseum.

This is, obviously, not great for someone whose job it is to try to write unique, insightful things about college football. Like Michael Jordan in his heyday, without peer in this realm -- his greatest challenge coming from the fictional Monstars of Moron Mountain -- Alabama has transcended comparison to the mere mortals they actually “compete” against.

So, let’s not do that. Let’s compare them to the SEC equivalent of the Monstars. I’ll use the official Southern Pigskin Midseason All-Conference first team from a few weeks ago, making substitutions when necessary (for ‘Bama players on the team), and go from one position group to the next to determine who has the edge.

This is probably stupid, but there’s just nothing else to do, and we couldn’t not post something after they shut out #3 LSU in Death Valley. Whatever, anyways, I present Alabama vs. the Monstars (All-SEC Midseason replacements denoted by *):

QUARTERBACK

Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa
Monstars: It doesn’t matter. Jake Fromm* or Jordan Ta’Amu*, I guess. Who cares?

I won’t belabor the point, but Tua is having the best season of any passer ever. Plenty of folks have written about it, including our own B.J. Bennett. Twice. Wait, sorry, three times. Excuse me, four times. No one else ever had a chance in this one. Tua did finally throw a pick tonight, though, which is exciting.

Alabama 1-0 Monstars

RUNNING BACK

Alabama: Damien Harris, Najee Harris, Josh Jacobs
Monstars: Benny Snell, Trayveon Williams, Scottie Phillips*

I’m approaching this exercise more from an ability perspective than a production perspective, which is a little more of a nebulous endeavor, I suppose, but it’s the most practical way to do it. Also, I tagged Scottie Phillips on as the third back even though he wasn’t one of our two backs on the All-Conference team because it felt wrong not to include Josh Jacobs. I went with him over one of the Georgia guys, for example, not necessarily because he’s the better back, but he’s more “deserving”. It’s kind of like what the stupid playoff committee does, as opposed to what they purport themselves to do. That’s the approach I’ll take going forward with replacements or additions.

Individually, Snell, Williams, or Phillips’ raw production dwarfs that of any single Alabama running back, but if I was choosing three of them to start a team with it would probably still be two of the Alabama guys. Snell, yeah (get it?), but other than that it’s almost certainly the two Harris’s. They both have far superior marginal efficiency averages to Phillips, Williams, or even Snell, and would likely surpass any of them volume-wise on a similar workload.

Alabama 2-0 Monstars

PASS CATCHERS

Alabama: Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith, Irv Smith
Monstars: A.J. Brown, Kalija Lipscomb, Bryan Edwards*, Jace Sternberger

I really had a hard time figuring out a good replacement for Jeudy on the Monstars, especially with DK Metcalf out for the season. Bryan Edwards seemed as deserving as anyone else, which, frankly, does not bode well for our alien friends. Don’t tell me Alabama is going to shut them out, too. B.J. actually wrote about Jeudy last week. He’s just the latest South Florida wideout to make Saban’s trips to the beach so worthwhile. Alongside fellow sophomores Ruggs and Smith, plus freshman Jaylen Waddle, Alabama has four of the top five SEC pass catchers in terms of yards per reception. Tight end Irv Smith is sixth. Sternberger has arguably still been the best tight end in a loaded conference at the position, and I would probably take A.J. Brown over any receiver in the country from a talent standpoint, although he is a tough evaluation playing almost exclusively from the slot, but Jeudy isn’t far behind the latter, nor Smith behind the former, so Alabama’s depth gives them the edge yet again.

Alabama 3-0 Monstars

OFFENSIVE LINE

Alabama: Jonah Williams, Lester Cotton, Ross Pierschbacher, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills
Monstars: Andrew Thomas, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Lamont Gaillard, Bunchy Stallings, Greg Little*

Jonah Williams is one of the two best tackles in college football, but the other is Andrew Thomas. Something similar could be said about Ross Pierschbacher at center, but Lamont Gaillard is right there with him. Beyond those two, Jedrick Wills has blossomed into one of the better right tackles in the league and Lester Cotton still just grinds people into dust as a run blocker, but Alex Leatherwood has been a bit of a disappointment for my money, and Cotton still has some deficiencies in pass pro. While I’m not sure I vote the same way now that I did for the midseason team, it would be pretty close. The across-the-board consistency of the Monstar group gives it the nod here.

Alabama 3-1 Monstars

DEFENSIVE LINE

Alabama: Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis
Monstars: Montez Sweat, Jeffery Simmons, Armon Watts*

I had a tough time deciding between Derrick Brown and Armon Watts to replace Williams from the midseason team. Ultimately, I went with the Razorbacks’ breakout star simply because of what he has done with such a limited supporting cast and it follows my theme of “deserving”, although Brown is probably the better player in a vacuum. This might be the most hotly contested battle we have. This is, after all, the year of the defensive lineman, which really makes what Quinnen Williams has done that much more unfathomable. In the season of Ed Oliver at Houston, Simmons at Mississippi State, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence at Clemson, Jerry Tillery at Notre Dame, Brown at Auburn, Rashard Lawrence at LSU, and countless others wrecking interior offensive linemen on a regular basis, Williams has been better than any of them.

We knew, coming into the season, about Buggs’ incredible pass rushing efficiency in 2017, and Davis was being hailed as a potential top five draft pick, although I always did and still feel that he’s a bit overrated due to his physical attributes, and yet those two, good as they’ve been, have become secondary to this out of nowhere redshirt sophomore. As the comparison goes, it’s tough to argue against the Mississippi State guys, but if you’re telling me I can have the best defensive linemen in the country with a side of Davis and Buggs, I’m taking it every day of the week. This is ridiculous.

Alabama 4-1 Monstars

LINEBACKERS

Alabama: Anfernee Jennings, Christian Miller, Mack Wilson, Dylan Moses
Monstars: Josh Allen, Devin White, De’Jon Harris, Jachai Polite*

To be clear, none of the Alabama guys were on the midseason team, I just couldn’t stomach putting Deshaun Davis on there over either Polite or Georgia’s D’Andre Walker, with all due respect. I don’t really know why it happened then, but these are my Monstars and I can do whatever I want. It was splitting hairs between Polite and Walker, but this one is going to be all Monstars anyway, so it’s fine either way.

‘Bama’s linebacking corps does rank second in the country in havoc rate, but that group greatly benefits from the defensive line play in front of them. Dylan Moses is still a superfreak, and Mack Wilson is one of the most versatile linebackers in the league, but no one on the Monstar squad is individually in as favorable a scenario as the Tide’s LBs. Most of them are actually the benefactor, as a opposed to the beneficiary, for their respective squads. Josh Allen has probably been the most valuable defender in the SEC. De’Jon Harris has to play for Arkansas, for heaven’s sake. Polite might work harder on a down to down basis than anyone in college football, and Devin White is about as good a pass rushing off-ball linebacker as I have ever seen. Tack one on for the Monstars.

Alabama 4-2 Monstars

CORNERBACKS

Alabama: Patrick Surtain, Saivion Smith, Shyheim Carter
Monstars: Deandre Baker, Greedy Williams, CJ Henderson

Let’s not spend too much time here. Alabama’s best cornerback is a true freshman. Surtain is a superstar in the making, if not one already, but he still makes some freshman mistakes on occasion. The Monstars have the two best cornerbacks in college football. Baker hasn’t given up a touchdown in two years. Williams gave up his first one of the season tonight. No contest.

Alabama 4-3 Monstars

SAFETIES

Alabama: Deionte Thompson, Xavier McKinney
Monstars: Grant Delpit, JR Reed*

Deionte Thompson is the best safety in the nation and this feels wrong to say, but, if we’re being honest, his 2018 campaign thus far is ever better than any of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s. One of the big concerns about Alabama coming into the season was replacing its top six defensive backs from a year ago, but Thompson has almost single handedly assuaged all those worries. McKinney didn’t start as fast as Thompson, but he’s really rounded into over the past month and change, as well. Delpit has blossomed into the next best safety in the SEC, behind Thompson, and is an absolute physical specimen, while Reed has continued to be a bastion of consistency for Georgia, but I’ll play my suited Ace-Ten against your Jack-Queen off any day.

Alabama 5-3 Monstars

SPECIAL TEAMS

Alabama: K Joseph Bulovas, P Skyler DeLong, KR Josh Jacobs, PR Jaylen Waddle
Monstars: K Cole Tracy, P Braden Mann, KR Deebo Samuel*, PR Freddie Swain*

Look, even Alabama has one weakness. It’s the same one Saban uses every year, definitely on purpose, so he always has something to yell about, just in case everything else goes perfectly (like tonight, against LSU). Their kickoff coverage and return game is actually quite good, but the punting and place kicking are just a nightmare. The Monstars, to their fictional credit, have no real weaknesses.

Alabama 5-4 Monstars

 

Well, there you have it. After that whole dumb exercise, even if an alien race came from Moron Mountain to steal the abilities of the best players from the rest of the SEC, they still probably wouldn’t have the guns to beat ‘Bama.

Like Michael Jordan in his era, the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide are beyond compare.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP