Whoa there, Sparky.
After Alabama defeated Mississippi State, 31-24, last Saturday, UA coach Nick Saban considered running back Josh Jacobs the spark the team needed to win. The sophomore finished with 36 rushing and 18 receiving yards. He also scored a touchdown.
“I think Josh is kind of an easy guy to create a role for because of his versatility as a player,” Saban said Monday. “We certainly need to use him more now that he’s healthy, and he certainly was healthy in that game.”
It came down to quality over quantity. Jacobs didn’t play in the first quarter, and when he did in the following three he was only in for one drive each.
Jacobs’ stats don’t necessarily jump off the page, but when he was in the game, he made a difference. The sophomore was responsible for four of Alabama’s 19 first downs and one of its four touchdowns. He averaged 6 yards per carry and 9 yards per reception.
“Just seeing him make people miss and that type of thing, it’s what he does best,” Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams said. “It’s fun to watch.”
Oh, but that’s still not the best part.
Without Damien Harris’ 48-yard run, Alabama’s ground attack averaged 1.89 yards per carry in the first three quarters. Yes, Jacobs contributed to that with three carries for only 5 yards, but then something ignited inside him.
The Crimson Tide’s first drive of the fourth quarter opened with Jacobs running for 7 yards. It really went back and forth then between Jacobs and quarterback Jalen Hurts scrambling downfield until Harris had the last say with a 14-yard scoring run.
That drive alone tallied 82 yards on the ground, the same amount Alabama totaled in the first, second and third quarters combined. The fourth quarter alone saw 120 UA rushing yards and an average of 6.32 yards per carry. The tide had turned.
“(Jacobs) probably changed the game a little bit for us with his energy and enthusiasm,” Saban said. “He’s always been a great competitor, and we’re going to continue to try to expand his role so he can be more productive for us.”