NASHVILLE – Alabama’s rushing total against Vanderbilt was garish. The celebration will be subdued.
It will be a dinner or a movie for the offensive linemen, courtesy of the running backs.
“Whatever they want,” junior Damien Harris said. “They won’t have to pay for anything. I really want to reward those guys.”
Alabama’s blocking was rewarded by 496 total rushing yards in the 59-0 win against the Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. It was the most rushing yards Alabama has posted under coach Nick Saban, and among the top 10 rushing performances in school history. The total briefly topped 500 yards before the Crimson Tide took a knee three straight times to finish the game.
UA posted six rushing touchdowns, the most since it scored it ran the ball in six times against Missouri in 2012.
Five different Alabama running backs all made headlines in the win. Harris led the way with 12 carries for a career-high 151 yards and three touchdowns, doubling his total on the season. Bo Scarbrough ran 11 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Freshman Najee Harris had 10 carries for a career-high 70 yards, too. Sophomore Josh Jacobs played his best game of the season, carrying four times for 28 yards. Hillcrest High School product Brian Robinson Jr. made his freshman debut, rushing five times for 51 yards with a touchdown.
But the running backs talked about their offensive line after the game.
“They did their job,” Scarbrough said. “They pushed the line up front.”
Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher, Bradley Bozeman, Lester Cotton, and Matt Womack all got credit. Even into the third and fourth quarter, with the backup offensive line in the game, Alabama continued to mash the ball on the ground.
“I think you have to say something about the offensive line,” Saban said. “We talked a lot about how good their defense was. For our offensive line to control the line of scrimmage the way they did, I think the runners ran well. I think everybody did a good job. Bo and Damien both. I think Najee did a good job when he was in there.”
The team averaged 8.1 yards per carry on its runs other than the kneel downs at the end of the game. There were plenty of highlights mixed among the 63 other carries.
Harris had a 61-yard touchdown run. Scarbrough broke a tackle from a Vanderbilt defender while he was off-balance on one leg. Harris turned the corner for a 17-yard gain in the second half. Junior Ronnie Clark, who had nine career carries for 34 yards entering the game, ran 10 times for 48 yards.
“It was a group effort,” Pierschbacher said of the running backs. “They made some great plays too. Made some guys miss, broke some tackles. To have all those talented running backs is a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Every running back who played in the game could find something to celebrate on Saturday. When the party happens, they’ll include their blockers.
“They opened up all the holes,” Harris said. “We just made it look pretty.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.