There were very few surprises on the depth chart, and why should there have been? Each year Alabama Coach Nick Saban issues a depth chart on the Monday before the season-opening game. And each year it comes with a number of positions where the first team and/or the second team positions include more than one player.
That can’t happen in a game, of course, so we’ll know a little more about it after Alabama plays Wisconsin Saturday in Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington,Texas, Saturday night. The game is at 7 p.m. CDT with television coverage by ABC.
One reason there were no great surprises is that Nick Saban has discussed all positions throughout the preseason, including discussion of the important quarterback spot at every opportunity. And that position was just as expected. The first team men are senior Jacob Coker, sophomore Cooper Bateman, and junior Alec Morris. The second team had true freshman Blake Barnett and redshirt freshman David Cornwell.
There were other positions with more than one first team man. At right guard there is Alphonse Taylor and Bradley Bozeman. At the tight end-H back spot are O.J. Howard and Ty Flournoy-Smith. (Dakota Ball was listed first at the traditional tight end spot with true freshman Dale Hentges second.)
The offense listed 12 positions because Alabama sometimes has three wide receivers. At split end, both Robert Foster and true freshman Calvin Ridley were listed first team and at slot receiver were fifth-year senior transfer Richard Mullaney and Chris Black.
The rest of the first team offense was as expected: left tackle Cam Robinson (backed by true freshman Lester Cotton), left guard Ross Pierschbacher (true freshman Dallas Warmack behind him), center Ryan Kelly, and right tackle Dominick Jackson.
Derrick Henry was No. 1 tailback, followed by Kenyan Drake and true freshman Damien Harris. ArDarius Stewart was first at flanker, followed by true freshman Daylon Charlot and Cam Sims, though Sims was in the “questionable” category as he is recovering from a knee injury suffered last spring.
On defense, the biggest news was that redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey is listed as first team at left cornerback with Tony Brown and true freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick listed behind him. Fitzpatrick was a bit of a surprise as the number one Star (nickel back), followed by Brown and Maurice Smith.
This depth chart had A’Shawn Robinson at end rather than nose tackle, which put Jonathan Allen as the number two man at end. Against spread team, it could be that Robinson would be in the middle.
For this game Darren Lake and true freshman Daron Payne were listed co-first team. Jarran Reed was listed as the other number one end.
As expected, the four starting linebackers are Dillon Lee at strongside, Denzel Devall at Jack (the two outside spots), Reggie Ragland at middle, and Reuben Foster at weakside (the two inside spots). The backups are Rashaan Evans at Sam, Ryan Anderson at Jack, Shaun Dion Hamilton at Mike, and Keith Holcombe at Will.
Cyrus Jones is the returning starter at right cornerback with strong safety Eddie Jackson (backed by true freshman Ronnie Harrison) and Geno Matias-Smith at free safety (with Jabriel Washington ahead of Hootie Jones as the back-up).
On special teams, returning starters are listed first with placekicker Adam Griffith, punter JK Scott, snapper Cole Mazza, and holder Cooper Bateman. The return men are Cyrus Jones as punt return man and Kenyan Drake and ArDarius Stewart as kickoff returners.