14 Alabama Players Make Crimson Tide Debuts in Wisconsin Win
ARLINGTON, Texas – Leading into Saturday’s 35-17 win over Wisconsin, everyone just wanted to know who was starting at quarterback for Alabama.
Fifth-year senior Jake Coker did, with sophomore Cooper Bateman playing in the latter stages of the game, but others, particularly younger players, also made a contribution on the field, too.
Of the 59 total players who saw action for the Crimson Tide in its season opener, 14 were making their team debut. Among those 14 players, nine were true freshmen, four were redshirt freshmen and one was a graduate transfer:
- True freshmen: Calvin Ridley, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Daron Payne, Shawn Burgess-Becker, Damien Harris, Lester Cotton, Dallas Warmack and Hale Hentges
- Redshirt freshmen: Ross Pierschbacher, Marlon Humphrey, Christian Miller and Keith Holcombe
- Graduate transfer: Richard Mullaney
Two players in that group -- Pierschbacher and Humphrey -- started. Pierschbacher helped Alabama gain 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries at left guard, while Humphrey was credited with three solo tackles at cornerback.
At wide receiver, Mullaney, who arrived this summer from Oregon State, caught two passes for 38 yards. Ridley, a five-star prospect out of high school, made three receptions for 22 yards.
Fitzpatrick, the team's listed starter at the Star position on defense but not an official starter in this game, had five total tackles, a sack and a pass breakup.
But while Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t drop specific names, it’s likely at least a few of the new faces were the subject of his postgame criticism, many of whom only came in after the first-team units were pulled due to the team’s sizeable lead.
“I was not particularly pleased with the way the second guys went in the game and played at the end of the game,” Saban said. “We wanted to play a lot of players, they left their good players in, and I didn’t think our guys played with the kind of poise and competitive character that is our standard and expectation, but they’ll certainly learn from that and we’ll get better and improve.”
Dome, Sweet Dome
With Saturday’s win, Alabama is a perfect 6-0 in season openers played inside a domed stadium under Saban.
In those contests, the Crimson Tide has outscored opponents 212-98.
Of the six dome season openers during Saban’s tenure, now in its ninth season, four have been played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (2008-09, 2012-13) and two at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of the Crimson Tide’s most recent game against the Badgers.
All time, Alabama is 18-7-1 in domed stadiums, including a 9-2 mark since 2009 and a 10-4 record under Saban.
In its previous AT&T Stadium appearance, in 2012, Alabama beat then-No. 8 Michigan, 41-14.
Saban gave a quick shoutout to the season-opening venue in the opening statement of his postgame press conference Saturday.
“This stadium, AT&T Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, is a magnificent place,” Saban said. “Everything is done first class and as an organization, the University of Alabama really appreciates all that you do and how you do it.”
Center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson were Alabama’s captains on Saturday.
Kelly and Ragland are seniors, while Robinson is a junior. All three return as starters from last season’s team.
Blake Sims, Amari Cooper, Landon Collins and Jalston Fowler were immortalized as permanent captains of the 2014 season prior to the team’s A-Day game this past April.