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Alabama's new tailback tandem faring well

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)

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.

Tagged: Penn State, Alabama, Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson, Devon Still, Jalston Fowler

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