Alabama is 7-0, so there is no questioning the substitution plan of Coach Mike Shula and his staff. Still, one can't help but think of the advantages of playing back-up players when it's possible. For one thing, it protects starters against injury in a game that should be considered to be won. It gives back-up players valuable–make that invaluable–game experience for when those players are needed, be it in a future game this season to take over for an injured starter or be it in some future season.
Former Coach Paul Bryant said, "When we've got the game won, I start thinking about next week and next year," which is why Alabama frequently played 70 or more players in a game.
Coach Bryant also knew that the back-ups had earned playing time, too. It is good for morale if that second teamer who is practicing all week gets a chance to enjoy playing in the game on Saturday. Football isn't like golf or tennis. It's fun to practice those sports. Football practice isn't much fun.
Thus far this season, Alabama has had 464 offensive plays and 408 defensive plays. Additionally, there have been 34 punts, 46 punt returns, 36 kickoffs, 20 kickoff returns, 16 field goal attempts, 8 opponent field goal attempts, and 19 extra point kicks and 8 opponent extra point kicks, for a total of 187 special teams plays.
The man with the most plays this year is offensive right tackle Kyle Tatum. The junior from Prattville has participated in 474 plays, 12 more than left guard Antoine Caldwell. Tatum also has the most plays in a single game, 85 against Southern Miss, which was one more than Caldwell had.
Here is a rough depth chart with number of plays for the season. There is no breakdown of plays on offense or defense and special teams, but we have listed those who play only or primarily on special teams.
Wide Receiver–Keith Brown (284), Matt Caddell (174), Zeke Knight (191)
Left Tackle–Chris Capps (409), Cody Davis (116)
Left Guard–Antoine Caldwell (462), Justin Moon (50)
Center–J.B. Closner (441), Taylor Britt (66)
Right Guard–B.J. Stabler (363), Marlon Davis (60), Mark Sanders (20)
Right Tackle–Kyle Tatum (474)
Tight End–Nick Walker (344), Travis McCall (181), Charles Hoke (20), Greg McLain (4)
Quarterback–Brodie Croyle (434), John Parker Wilson (22), Marc Guillon (7)
Halfback–Kenneth Darby (276), Glen Coffee (75), Jimmy Johns (72)
Fullback–LéRon McClain (344), Tim Castille (167)
Wide Receiver–D.J. Hall (279), Tyrone Prothro (246), Marcus McKnight (11), Will Oakley (10)
Right End–Mark Anderson (297), Keith Saunders (95), Bobby Greenwood (75)
Tackle–Jeremy Clark (161), Justin Britt (82)
Nose Tackle–Rudy Griffin (220), J.P. Adams (69), Dominic Lee (68)
Left End–Wallace Gilberry (294), Chris Harris (95)
Strongside Linebacker–DeMeco Ryans (430), Terrence Jones (84)
Middle Linebacker–Freddie Roach (330), Matt Collins (119)
Weakside Linebacker–Juwan Simpson (427), Demarcus Waldrop (130)
Right Cornerback–Anthony Madison (348), Simeon Castille (314)
Left Cornerback–Ramzee Robinson (377)
Strong Safety–Charlie Peprah (438), Jeffrey Dukes (225)
Safety–Roman Harper (439)
Punter–Jeremy Schatz (28), Jeffrey Aul (6)
Placekicker–Jamie Christensen (60), Ryan Saxby (11)
Holder–Matt Miller (127, which includes other special teams functions and wide receiver)
Snapper–Drew Lane (69)
Coverage and Returns: Brandon Brooks (21), Marcel Stamps (90), Cory Reamer (40), Lionel Mitchell (40), Marcus Carter (23), Aaron McDaniel (1), Bryan Kilpatrick (8), Chris Keys (71), Eric Gray (50), Justin Ballard (3), Juke King (42), Kyle Bennett (15), Rashad Johnson (120), Theo Townsend (69), Vic Horn (14)