Alabama rolls out running backs like General Motors rolls out automobiles, and the latest model to roll off the assembly line is Kenyan Drake, who continues to get better with every game for the Crimson Tide.
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga. led the Tide with 89 yards on 14 carries as Alabama put up the most points vs. Tennessee at Tuscaloosa in their long rivalry with the Volunteers with 45. Their previous high was 43 in 2003.
Drake is averaging 87.6 yards per game with five rushing touchdowns over his last five games, continuing a trend since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa that the backup running back can put up numbers synonymous with a starter. When Mark Ingram won the Heisman, it was Trent Richardson putting up big numbers as his backup. Then Eddie Lacy did it as Richardson’s backup, and it was T.J. Yeldon doing it in relief of Lacy last season.
This year, it’s Drake in relief of Yeldon, who had 72 yards on the ground on 15 carries and reached the end zone three times in Alabama’s 45-10 win over Tennessee.
“I think Kenyan Drake is going to be a guy that’s going to be a contributor long-term to our team,” Saban told Al.com before the season opener. “He can be a very good player for us.”
Prior to the season starting, it was a question if Drake would be the No. 2 running back with five-star running back Derrick Henry, who broke a 51-year old rushing record in high school, enrolling early to win the job. However, Henry was injured in the spring and Drake literally ran with his opportunity and offers a different look to the offense than when Yeldon is in the backfield.
“I think they complement each other and both guys have a little different running style … I think it’s a real change of pace that they both present to the defensive players.”
Next year’s rushing attack should only be better as Yeldon and Drake return with Henry, commanding more touches in the Alabama backfield that could be more run-oriented than ever before with a new starter at quarterback. If there was any question about who can proclaim themselves as ‘Running Back U’, look no further than Alabama.