Alabama’s new tailback tandem faring well

This Alabama tailback tandem of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy
isn’t nearly as famous as the last one, but so far it’s been
formidable enough.

Richardson has pounded his way to five touchdowns in the
second-ranked Crimson Tide’s first two games and Lacy has nearly
doubled his more well-known backfield mate’s yards per carry.

So far Alabama (2-0) has been just fine without the star power
of the Richardson-and-Mark Ingram combination that churned out
yards and headlines the past two seasons.

Richardson hasn’t put up dazzling numbers against Kent State or
Penn State, averaging a somewhat pedestrian 3.8 yards a carry so
far. But he powered his way to 111 yards on 26 carries against the
Nittany Lions to help the Tide control the ball and take pressure
off new starting quarterback AJ McCarron.

Not surprisingly, Richardson said opposing defenses have been
putting extra defenders – ”however many they can get in there,”
he said – near the line of scrimmage to challenge the runners and
maybe dare Alabama to take more shots with the young passer.

”I knew it was going to be like this,” Richardson said.
”Everybody was going to key on me, just because they think I’m the
running back, or man of the show, which I like. I’m glad they do,
because Eddie Lacy gets his carries and he does just as good as me.
He does better than me. I’m not the one they have to worry about,
because of those two monsters (Lacy and Jalston Fowler) I’ve got
behind me. And that offensive line, they’re doing pretty good,
too.”

If Richardson’s numbers – 148 yards rushing, 35 receiving – seem
somewhat mundane other than the touchdowns, Alabama coach Nick
Saban said sometimes that’s the fault of the blockers.

”Trent’s done a good job so far,” Saban said Monday. ”When
you carry the ball, it’s a little bit how well did we block and
what did we do.

”Early in the game especially, two games in a row we haven’t
done a very good job up front. We did a much better job from an
offensive line standpoint as the game went along. We got hat on
hat, had some movement on people and got some holes to run through,
and Trent took advantage of that. Eddie took advantage of it as
well.”

Then there was the first-half play where Penn State defensive
tackle Devon Still planted Richardson for a 5-yard loss the instant
he took the handoff, showing that `Bama’s offensive line is still
working out some kinks.

”Trent had some tough yards,” Saban said. ”When you don’t
block the (defender) and he runs through and hits you as soon as
you get the ball, you can be Superman, you’re still going to lose 5
yards. So whose fault is that?”

Lacy has inherited Richardson’s role as a prominently used
backup. He’s averaging 7.5 yards on 19 carries and 20.5 yards on
four catches.

With North Texas visiting Saturday and No. 14 Arkansas awaiting
after that, Lacy could be in line for his most significant action
if the Tide can build a big lead.

He and Richardson are both physical, 220-pounders. Lacy has
several times displayed the spin move already that led teammates to
nickname him ”Circle Button” after the video game controller.
Even third-teamer Jalston Fowler had a 49-yard touchdown run
against Kent State.

”Everybody combines different styles,” the 246-pound Fowler
said. ”Trent with the speed and power, Eddie with the moves. Me? I
just got power.”

A spring knee injury to top tailback recruit Dee Hart, a
5-foot-9, 187-pounder, has so far left the Tide without a true
change-of-pace runner. It hasn’t mattered much to this point.

Penn State’s defense made Richardson work for his yardage, but
the most stressful part of his trip came in the air not on the
field. Tide noseguard Josh Chapman describes him as ”the most
nervous of all time” when it comes to flying.

Richardson doesn’t dispute that label. In fact, he said teammate
Dont’a Hightower has taken pictures and video of him during
takeoffs for laughs.

”I hate flying,” he said. ”If I could’ve driven, I would’ve
went on and drove. If I could’ve walked, I would’ve walked. I hate
flying.”

Luckily for Alabama, he’s more comfortable on the ground.