It’s not entirely inaccurate to describe Alabama’s rushing attack as down right mauling.
The numbers come at you fast and stacked on top of one another it’s a bit dizzying. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC in yards per carry (6.66 yards) and yards per game (315.6) with those total both ranking fourth nationally. The team’s 1,578 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on the ground are overwhelming to think about. Now envision a defensive coordinator having to scheme a way to slow the rushing game.
It’s a four-headed monster at the running back position with Josh Jacobs’ return having added another dimension to the offense to go along with Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and talented freshman Najee Harris.
Damien Harris averages 8.4 yards per carry and leads the team with six rushing touchdowns. Scarbrough has four rushing touchdowns and 4.8 yards per carry. Najee Harris has made the most of his opportunities early in the season with 5.4 yards per carry and Jacobs’ early returns after coming back are strong with 12.1 yards per carry, buoyed by a 45-yard run against Ole Miss.
It’s unclear if Alabama can continue use all four in the rotation, but it’s likely at least three will get regular carries. In reality, UA subscribes to the more backs involved the better theory.
“Well, I think it helps each and every one of them,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “First off, we can always keep fresh players in the game. I think their variations of style might affect the defense a little bit, in terms of the type of runners that each one of them are, what their skill sets and strengths are may affect a defense to some degree. And I think it’s sort of unique to have that kind of depth, but I think we’ve done a good job of utilizing every one of those players this year, which hopefully we’ll be able to continue to do throughout the season.”
The running backs have been outstanding, but you can’t discuss the Alabama running game without starting with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts has certainly improved his passing ability, but the strength of his game is undoubtedly his legs.
Hurts is tied for the team lead in yards per carry (8.4) and his 92.2 yards per game is also a team beat. He’s rushed for four touchdowns, and his ability to leave the pocket on a scramble or on a designed run has given the opposition fits this season.
Offensive line coming together
All of this behind an offensive line that is beginning to find its footing.
In the Vanderbilt game, the lowest grade an offensive lineman received was an 88. All the others graded at 90 percent or better. Right tackle Matt Womack graded at 93, center Bradley Bozeman was at 92, left tackle Jonah Williams at 91, Ross Pierschbacher at 90 and right guard Lester Cotton at 88. For his performance, Pierschbacher was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
I think we’ve been doing a good job all year as an offensive line,” Williams said. “These last two weeks, we’ve ran the ball a lot. A lot of rushing attempts so we have a lot of rushing yards. I wouldn’t say anything has changed. It’s not like anything has changed. Just been working out well.”