It is still just under two weeks away from the first game of the season against the Michigan Wolverines and signs have pointed that the Alabama Crimson Tide may have to rely a bit more on standout freshman TJ Yeldon at running back.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced after the second scrimmage Saturday that junior running back Eddie Lacy missed the practice, injuring his ankle in a previous session. During the same gathering with the media, Saban was quick to praise Yeldon, as it was later revealed the freshman delivered 16 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.
The Crimson Tide have been known for their running back play in recent years. Glenn Coffee went from a relative unknown to a 3rd round draft pick, while Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson joined the program amid plenty of praise and lived up to the hype. This year Eddie Lacy is expected to take the reigns of the number one job in the Tide backfield, but fate has not been to kind to the junior running back.
After redshirting his first year on campus, Lacy battled his way into the rotation in his freshman season, but struggled with fumbling issues. Once again Lacy battled in his sophomore season, this time overcoming the fumbling issues but was plagued again; this time with a turf toe injury. The Geismar, Louisiana native had his touches limited through the latter part of the season as he fought to finish out the season after a fast start.
Now in his junior season, with the remnants of his turf toe injury lingering, Lacy is now forced to overcome a recently sprained ankle.
Before Tide fans work themselves into a panic, Lacy is considered day-to-day and head coach Nick Saban didn’t seemed too worried when he spoke of the injury after practice Saturday. However, history has shown that Lacy has a tendency to get nicked up throughout the course of the season.
With that fact ever present, the importance of incoming freshman TJ Yeldon may never be greater.
Yeldon is a different type of runner standing tall at 6-foot-2, while his lean frame of 216lbs has drawn comparisons to NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. Yeldon gave a glimpse of his potential with just under 180 yards of total offense in the spring scrimmage.
Yeldon has continued to impress into the fall. “TJ played very well today as a runner” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after Saturday afternoon’s performance.
If Saban’s rare praise of a freshman wasn’t enough to get your attention, Jalston Fowler, the 3rd running back for Alabama last season has been splitting time with the tight ends and h-backs. When Alabama’s 3rd leading rusher in 2011 is no longer working exclusively with the running backs, it makes you think the coaching staff must hold Yeldon in high regard.
Alabama coaches and fans alike are hoping Eddie Lacy can stay healthy throughout the course of the season. But if anything were to happen, Alabama has one heck of a backup plan at tailback in Yeldon.