NCAA FB

Yeldon key for No. 3 'Bama in Sugar Bowl, beyond

Share This Story

   
 

NEW ORLEANS (AP)

T.J. Yeldon is a man of many yards and few words, which so far has suited third-ranked Alabama quite well.

After this Thursday night's Sugar Bowl against No. 11 Oklahoma, though, some of the program's leaders, namely quarterback AJ McCarron, will be leaving school. Then Yeldon, whether he wants to or not, is expected to become the face of the Crimson Tide.

''We've got to try to get him to talk more, step up and be in a little more of a leadership role,'' McCarron said after the Tide's arrival in New Orleans this week. ''But he's an unbelievable back. He's done a lot for us in two years.''

No one's arguing with that last part.

He gained over 100 yards in his very first Alabama game as a true freshman in 2012 and hasn't looked back. This season, he inherited the starting role that opened up when Eddie Lacy turned pro, gaining 1,163 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns on 190 carries, an average of 6.1 yards a carry.

But for Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, those stats didn't tell the whole story of the 6-foot-2, 218-pound sophomore's development.

''T.J. is a guy last year as he came in had instant success early, and one of the things that people see when you talk about the running back position is they see what the player does with the ball in his hands,'' Nussmeier said. ''But there's so much more to playing the position. I think T.J. has really grown in that aspect, his attention to detail and protections, his understanding of the overall scheme, the blocking schemes and how we're doing things up front to create holes for him. He's really grown in that way this season.''

Yeldon said he placed increased emphasis this season on ''learning the game and understanding more of my blocks.''

He figured if he did that, the yards, touchdowns and wins would take care of themselves.

''I didn't really set goals,'' Yeldon said. ''I just came out wanting to help my team and be a better player this year than I was last year.''

If Yeldon plays in the Sugar Bowl the way he has most of this season, he'll likely be among the first mentioned in the discussion of 2014 Heisman Trophy hopefuls.

His teammates expected that because of his performance on the field. As for how much Yeldon will buy into any publicity campaigns to keep Heisman voters focused on him, well, that remains to be seen.

''I don't think too much about that,'' Yeldon said.

Offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio called Yeldon, ''camera shy.''

''All he wants to do is just dominate. That's all that's on his mind,'' Kouandjio said. ''So I can see him as a Heisman candidate.''

With the emergence this season of Kenyan Drake in the `Bama backfield, Yeldon has taken on somewhat of a power back role. He takes pride in the balance and strength he exhibits while bulling his way through tacklers for tough yards. But he adds: ''I've got some speed, too.''

Sooners defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue said he fully expects Yeldon to be the best running back he's faced this season.

''For a guy to be that strong, you don't expect him to be able to move side-to-side,'' Ndulue said. ''You need more than one guy to bring him down on most of the film we've watched and that's what jumps out to me.''

Kouandjio said he has often marveled Yeldon's lateral quickness.

''That's the most remarkable thing,'' Kouandjio said. ''He just runs straight and a second later he'll be over there and two guys are on the floor where they thought he was going to be.''

Whether Alabama can get Yeldon to be a little less elusive off the field remains to be seen, but McCarron said he intends to stay in touch with the running back and offer whatever advice he can.

''T.J. just kind of goes with the flow. He doesn't really tell anybody what to do or get on to them,'' McCarron said. ''So I'll try to teach him as much as possible.''

Tagged: Alabama, Oklahoma, AJ McCarron, Cyrus Kouandjio

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash