When the Alabama football team takes the field this fall, the Tide will look to continue a storied tradition. After years of highs and lows, the Nick Saban era has reestablished Alabama’s position among the country’s elite winning 2 of the last 3 national titles bringing the schools total to 14. National pundits will look at the Tide’s defense as the biggest key in their title defense, however if Alabama is to maintain their winning ways look no further than the backfield.
In 2007, when Alabama finished 60th in rushing, they finished 7-6. In 2008, Alabama went undefeated in the regular season before falling to Florida in the SEC title game, then Utah in the Sugar Bowl after finishing 30th in rushing. 2009 featured the highest rushing production of any team during the Saban era in Tuscaloosa and culminated with a perfect season and a national title championship in Pasadena. The rushing attack slipped a bit in 2010 back to 30th and so did Alabama’s record back to 10-3. Finally last season, Alabama finished 16th in the country and again finished with another crystal ball.
The sparknote version of that last paragraph: when Alabama finishes in the top 20 in rushing, the Tide adds another trophy to the case. In fact, in the last 5 years the national champion finished no lower than 16th in the country in rushing.
This past offseason Alabama brought in Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier and his high-flying passing attack and Quarterback AJ McCarron is being heralded as having the potential to be the best Tide QB to step foot in Bryant Denny Stadium. But history has shown that if Alabama wants to make their move toward a January trip to Miami, the surest way will be running behind the best offensive line in the country.
Here’s looking at you: Eddie Lacy, Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart, and TJ Yeldon.Alabama’s title hopes are in your hands.