How Alabama football plans to slow down Auburn football's Tank Bigsby in Iron Bowl

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

If Alabama football wants to avoid the upset in the Iron Bowl, stopping Auburn running back Tank Bigsby should be among the top priorities. 

He not only has a great name but is also a great running back. The sophomore is fifth in the SEC in rushing yards (940) and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (10). 

And Bigsby is fresh off his best performance of the season against South Carolina, having run for 164 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. 

Bigsby and the Tigers (6-5, 3-4 SEC) will be tested against No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) on Saturday (2:30 p.m., CBS)  at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"Tank Bigsby is as good as anybody in our league relative to his production, his performance," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "He can make you miss. He runs behind his pads." 

Whether Auburn decides to use him as its main source of offense Saturday remains to be seen. The Tigers have passed slightly more than they have run this season. The split is 392-374 in favor of passes. 

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Plus, the Crimson Tide have the nation's No. 5 rushing defense in yards allowed per game. Alabama has given up an average of 85.9 yards on the ground. So running might be difficult.

Nonetheless, with a talent such as Bigsby, Alabama will have to stop him to some degree to slow Auburn's offense. 

"We know he is a great running back," safety Jordan Battle said. "We know up front, it starts up front in the trenches. We have to strike blocks, get off blocks in the secondary and inside linebackers. And everybody is going to have to come off our blocks and make good tackles in the open field." 

Linebacker Will Anderson Jr. said Crimson Tide defenders have to gang tackle, with all Alabama players getting to the football. 

"He has a big strong lower body," Anderson said. "He’s able to extend plays to his legs, you know, run through defenders and stuff like that, and be able to you know, get more yards on his tackles and stuff like that. So I think that's a big part of his game." 

Facing a top running back in the SEC is nothing new for Alabama's defense. It has the opportunity to face one of the best in the SEC every practice in Brian Robinson Jr. 

Of course Robinson isn't preparing to face Bigbsy, but he's impressed from what he's seen. 

"Tank, he's a fast, elusive guy," Robinson said. "Powerful guy. I think he's a very explosive player if you ask me. Pretty good running back for them." 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: nkelly@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly