High Goal For Alabama: Regain Identity

The Sports Xchange

September 01, 2015 at 10:50 pm.

Derrick Henry (27) is ready to shine for Alabama.  (Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

Derrick Henry (27) is ready to shine for Alabama. (Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Throughout the offseason, Alabama coach Nick Saban and some of the Crimson Tide’s players have talked about regaining the program’s identity.

But what does that mean exactly?

“We want to be a team that no one wants to play,” Tide linebacker Dillon Lee said. “We want people to hate playing us, and really just be a nightmare for our opponents.”

Alabama built its dynasty around that mantra from 2009-12, but that hasn’t been the case in the last two seasons. But the Tide will get a chance to take a step toward changing that perception against Wisconsin on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

While No. 3 Alabama is a double-digit favorite against the Wisconsin, Saban isn’t looking past the 20th-ranked Badgers.

“This is obviously a very, very good team that we’re playing,” Saban said. “They won 11 games last year and they’ve got a significant number of starters back — five or six on offense, five or six on defense. They have their quarterback back. They have a very good runner, even thought that wasn’t their starter, he gained almost 1,000 yards a year ago. … One of the top defensive teams in the country. They’re very well coached.

“They do a really, really good job of executing and playing together on defense and play with a tremendous amount of toughness and really, really play with a lot of energy and effort.”


–RB Derrick Henry. Henry was Alabama’s leading rusher last season with 990 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’ll be the centerpiece of the Tide’s offense this season.

–LB Reggie Ragland. After totaling 95 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss as a junior, Ragland turned down the NFL to return for his senior year. He’ll be the Tide’s defensive leader.

–RB Kenyan Drake. Drake is a wild-card on the offense. He’ll see a lot of time at both wide receiver and running back. If he can stay healthy and hold onto the ball, Drake could replace some of Amari Cooper’s production.

SERIES HISTORY: Wisconsin leads the series 1-0. The last meeting came on Nov. 3, 1928. (Wisconsin 15, Alabama 0)

QUOTE TO NOTE: “In some kind of way, I feel like we’ve gotten away from that — playing with more effort, playing with more toughness, getting more turnovers sometimes have resulted from that. Some of the things we have to improve on go right back to that core of, this is the kind of team we want to be. I think that may have more to do with the success of this team than maybe anything else. And I’ve been pleased with the progress that we’ve made in that and the commitment that we have. But the challenge is always, can you sustain it?” — Alabama coach Nick Saban

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