Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) It's pretty obvious that certain players have to have a big year for the Tide to roll again in 2011. Of course either A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims will have to step up and of course Trent Richardson will have to step up to prove he can be the man without Mark Ingram.
But who else will have to step up that may not be a main man? In the first of a series, let's look at Eddie Lacy.
The Tide rolls best when the Tide has a one-two punch at running back and they've had that for the last two years. So for Alabama to have the same impact this year, Eddie Lacy is going to have to step up, stop the fumbles and at least match the production that Trent Richardson had last year and that could be some big shoes to fill.
Lacy has certainly shown glimpses of what he's capable doing but he hasn't proven his consistency yet and then there's those nagging fumbles that came early in his career.
Richardson and Ingram spoiled the Tide by putting the ball on the ground less than any two running backs in the nation as a duo. Saban's philosophy is simple, do your job, don't make mistakes, give 100 percent all the time and finish.
The starting quarterback battle may not be won by the man with most talent at his disposal, but will be won by the man that makes the fewest mistakes.
The same can be said for the backup running back. Eddie Lacy may have more talent and experience, but if he makes mistakes, like fumbles, then look to the next one down the line as the backup.
Fumbles, showboating, not giving total effort and breaking team rules are all things that can land a player in Saban's dog house and history has shown the Tide faithful that this is a tough place to escape from.
Eddie Lacy has a brilliant career path laid out in front of himself. In all likelihood, Trent Richardson will either win or garner much Heisman talk and put up some great numbers this year and like his predecessors, Glenn Coffee and Mark Ingram, leave early for the NFL.
That puts Lacy in the spotlight position for the 2012 season where he will have a chance to be the starter and like the others before him running behind those big intimidating Nick Saban offensive lines, will showcase his talent and have a chance to leave early for the NFL himself.
But it all starts this year. It all starts the first carry of the Kent State game. There's more than Lacy's future on the line this season, the whole Alabama season could come down to him being the man that keeps that powerful one-two punch banging into opponents with the success it has been doing for the last several seasons.
Many think Lacy is a capable man for this role, for the Crimson Tide's sake this season, he'd better be, especially now with Dee Hart being out for the remainder of the season. That injury made Lacy's role even more vital now that two other running backs have transferred to other schools.