It’s about to be date night for the Alabama offensive line, and running back Damien Harris is treating.
The Crimson Tide picked up 496 yards on the ground last Saturday at Vanderbilt, its highest total of the season. Dinner is Harris’ way of showing his gratitude. Left guard Ross Pierschbacher voted for Chuck’s Fish or DePalma’s Italian Café. Harris didn’t hesitate over the choices despite them being pricey for a college budget.
“Those guys did a great job all game, the O-line,” Harris said. “They really set the tempo of the game. They moved the line of scrimmage. They moved people in the run game. They protected the quarterbacks inside out.
“So, we kind of have to give them credit for our success on offense.”
Not all the credit, though.
Harris actually led the Crimson Tide over the Commodores, carrying the ball 12 times for 151 yards. He scored a career-high three touchdowns, one from 61 yards out.
Sure, that was the longest touchdown run of Harris’ career. But the best part about it was that he wasn’t caught from behind, something he was criticized about in the past.
“Forget the fans, I heard enough from my own teammates last year,” Harris said. “But I mean, it’s something that I tried to work on in the offseason, something that I always keep in the back of my mind.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban noted that Harris has been the Crimson Tide’s most productive running back this season, but the entire crop from last season is back. Along with Harris, fellow junior Bo Scarbrough and sophomore Josh Jacobs return experience to UA’s backfield. Freshmen Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. add even more depth to the already-deep pool of talent.
Last season, Alabama averaged 245 rushing yards per game. It’s ahead of that mark after four games with a 303.2 average.
“I really like the roles that these guys have played at running back and embraced and been very productive in all regards,” Saban said. “I think it helps them long term to be healthy for the season, stay fresh.”
The word to describe this mentality would be selfless.
It doesn’t matter that Damien Harris has rushed for 309 yards compared to Scarbrough’s 221, or that Scarbrough has gotten the ball six times more than Harris. What matters is that the running backs, all five of them, altogether have produced 771 of Alabama’s 1,213 rushing yards.
“Nobody cares who makes the play, who scores the touchdown, who gets the most yards, as long as it gets done,” Harris said. “That’s just a testament to how close we are.”
That unselfishness also bleeds back into the offensive line, where the run game truly starts. Although the SEC singled out Harris and Pierschbacher as players of the week, Pierschbacher credited the entire offensive line and thinks it would’ve been even better if all of the members were recognized.
At least Harris is inviting all of the linemen.
“We’ll gladly accept his offer,” Pierschbacher said.