TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama had 15 freshmen play in its season opening win over Southern Cal on Saturday, according to the official game book.
Three players — right tackle Jonah Williams, quarterback Blake Barnett and tight end Miller Forristall — earned starting roles on offense while Trevon Diggs served as the kickoff return man.
The rest of the group includes: QB Jalen Hurts, RBs B.J. Emmons and Joshua Jacobs, WR T.J. Simmons, OL Matt Womack, LBs Terrell Hall, Keaton Anderson and Anfernee Jennings, and DBs Jared Mayden, Deionte Thompson and Aaron Robinson.
The list produced for the official game chart may not be exact, as Mayden and Hall are listed but were not observed in the game. The fourth quarter went by fast, so there’s a chance they could have played and we missed it.
Also, LB Lyndell “Mack” Wilson and DB Shyheim Carter were not listed in the game book, but were spotted on the field.
Hurts entered the game after Alabama’s second offensive series and played the majority of the snaps. He accounted for 4 touchdowns (2 passing, 2 rushing). Hurts completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards. Hurts’ best attribute is his ability to extend and make plays with his legs. Alabama coach Nick Saban said the quarterback competition is still open.
Barnett earned the start at quarterback but was quickly replaced in favor of Hurts. Barnett played well when he re-entered the game. Barnett completed 5-of-6 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He hit receiver Gehrig Dieter in stride for a 45-yard score. Barnett also found tight end O.J. Howard streaking down the field for a big gain that set up an Alabama rushing touchdown.
Williams earned the start at right tackle. He is just the second true freshman to start at offensive tackle during Nick Saban’s tenure.
Emmons totaled 18 yards on six carries in his debut. Emmons’ longest run was six yards. Emmons had one fumble but was able to recover it.
Jacobs carried the ball four times for 20 yards. His 5 yards per carry was the second highest among Alabama’s running backs. Jacobs’ longest run was 8 yards.
Southern Cal’s offense only scored two field goals, so Diggs didn’t get many opportunities to return kickoffs. He gained 24 yards on Alabama’s first return.
Jennings finished with three tackles including one for loss. Look for him to earn a bigger role as the season progresses.