It was good that Alabama was playing a non-conference opponent for homecoming. That means the ridiculous Southeastern Conference rule on squad limits was not in force and the Crimson Tide could have all deserving players in uniform for the game. This week the SEC limits will have Alabama, the home team, limited to 95 dressed, of which 80 will be designated as eligible to play, and lvisiting Mississippi State will be limited to 70 players.
Against Florida International, Alabama played 69 men. Alabama opened the game in normal offensive and defensive alignments, meaning two wide receivers, two running backs, and a tight end on offense and four linemen, three linebackers and four backs on defense. Bama used 26 on offense, 35 on defense, and eight just on special teams.
Sophomore right guard Marlon Davis got his second career start, and first since the second game of 2005 against Southern Miss. He started in place of B.J. Stabler, who was held out of the game in order to rest his injured knee. Stabler had started 18 consecutive games. Keith Brown missed his second consecutive game as Will Oakley got his third straight start at wide receiver. Safety Rashad Johnson got his second consecutive start.
Four players made a playing debut Saturday. They are junior linebacker Kenneth Vandervoort, freshman snapper Brian Selman, freshman defensive tackle Brandon Fanney, and sophomore quarterback Trent Dean on kickoff coverage. Junior defensive lineman Justin Johnson saw his first action of this season.
Center Antoine Caldwell, halfback Kenneth Darby, and defensive end Wallace Gilberry extended their starting streaks to 20 games, longest of any current Tide players. Defensive end Chris Harris played in his 38th game, the most by any Alabama player without a career start.
Here are those who played against Florida International with starters listed first and the number of plays in parenthesis. If there are two numbers, the second is the number of plays on special teams.
Left Guard—Justin Britt (39), Mike Johnson (11-5)
Center—Antoine Caldwell (38), Evan Cardwell (22-5)
Right Guard—Marlon Davis (55)
Flanker—Will Oakley (34), Matt Caddell (16-2)
Left End—Wallace Gilberry (30), Chris Harris (24), Justin Johnson (1)
Safety—Rashad Johnson (25-8), Marcus Carter (23-5), Sam Burnthall (3-18)
Punter and Holder—P.J. Fitzgerald (6 punts, 1 field goal, 4 extra points)
Snapper—Luke Spaulding (6 punts, 1 field goal, 3 extra points), Brian Selman (1 extra point)
Coverage and Returns—Javier Arenas (9), Trent Dean (1), Danny Barger (2)