Alabama vs. Missouri: Do Crimson Tide Need to Change Offensive Focus?
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The words "Alabama" and "thin" rarely belong in the same sentence. But after running backs Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart were lost for the season, the Crimson Tide find themselves with only three scholarship running backs, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake.
H-back Brent Calloway has taken some practice snaps at running back following Hart's injury, according to AL.com, but he's probably more of an insurance policy than part of the game plan.
Alabama prides itself on winning by running the ball and playing defense, but with depth now an issue at running back, is it time for the Crimson Tide to change their offensive focus?
Lacy has worked his way through nagging injuries to become a force in the Alabama backfield. The junior has rushed for 314 yards and four touchdowns, with 188 of those yards coming in the last two games.
It was his show before, and it's going to be his show moving forward. Yeldon and Drake will have their moments, but Lacy's the feature back for a reason, and he's going to have plenty of opportunities to prove it down the stretch.
Yeldon is no slouch, either, and will play a key role—as he has all season long.
After a phenomenal spring game, the true freshman burst onto the scene with 111 yards and a touchdown in Alabama's opener vs. Michigan and has rushed for 292 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Whether Alabama's offense is being run by former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain or current Doug Nussmeier, the feature running back needs a break from time to time. Trent Richardson thrived in the role in 2009 and 2010. Lacy did as well in 2011, and Yeldon is doing so this season.
With 13 carries, 126 yards and three touchdowns this season, Drake hasn't seen a lot of action. That will increase from this point forward, after Hart tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of Alabama's last game vs. Ole Miss.
Alabama's offensive line hasn't lived up to its preseason billing as being one of the best offensive lines in the country, but it's still a strong unit that is loaded with talent.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron has been nearly flawless, but running the ball and playing defense is still the path of least resistance for a team like Alabama, even if it's down to three running backs.
Should Alabama protect its RB depth and pass more vs. Missouri?
Plus, it's not like the passing game is absent of question marks as well.
Amari Cooper is the only Alabama wide receiver with more than nine receptions, but the true freshman waited until Alabama's most recent contest vs. Ole Miss to have his breakout game. Against the Rebels, Cooper caught eight passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Unless either of the two primary running backs can't go, Alabama shouldn't change up its offensive philosophy.
The Crimson Tide have hoisted the crystal football in two of the last three seasons, and a solid running game has been the foundation of each of those teams.
As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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