Alabama notebook: Tide run game reaches historic low under Saban
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Sep 23, 2013 | 2456 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama running back T. J. Yeldon (4) makes a move to get past Colorado State linebacker Steven Michel on his way to a big gain.  (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama running back T. J. Yeldon (4) makes a move to get past Colorado State linebacker Steven Michel on his way to a big gain. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Through three games, top-ranked Alabama ranks last in the SEC and 90th in the nation with an average of 132 rushing yards a game. This is the lowest total through three games during Nick Saban’s tenure. The previous low came in 2012 at 186.67.

Sophomore T.J. Yeldon has carried the load with 273 of the Tide’s 396 rushing yards and has more than half the carries. Alabama currently has four rushing touchdowns. By this point last season, the Tide had nine.

The three teams the Tide has faced currently rank 15th (Virginia Tech), 105th (Texas A&M) and 55th (Colorado State) in rush defense.

“I mean, we’re a new team. I think people need to realize that,” Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said. “You’re not going to be the best at running every year. Some years, you’re going to be better throwing the ball than you are running – and vice-versa.

"I think people need to kind of realize that. We’re going to play to our strengths. If we got to throw the ball, we’ll throw it. If we’ve got to run it, we’ve got to run it. As long as we win.”

The Tide ran the ball just 21 times (out of 48 total plays) Saturday after running the ball less than 30 times just once last season (25 at LSU). It was the fewest attempts under Saban and lowest for Alabama since the 2004 Music City Bowl.

“Not necessarily the plays that we call, because as fans everybody thinks you called bad plays because they didn’t work,” Saban said. “But why didn't they work? I think that’s the most important thing. We had a few missed assignments, but more than that we probably had a lack of technique.”

Through three games, Ole Miss is allowing 114.3 rushing yards per game.

TEAM CHEMISTRY: Along with improving its play on the field, Saban said Alabama needs to work on its team chemistry.

“I think team chemistry comes from everybody buying into the principles and values of the organization,” Saban said. “Whether it’s respecting and trusting those principles and values, respecting and trusting each other and having a positive attitude toward a goal that you have.

“That vision that you have has to be important to you, because that’s where all your motivation comes from.”

Saban wants everyone to be responsible for their job. He said this team needs to continue to work on building the chemistry that past teams have had.

“Our team has made improvement in that area,” Saban said. “Are we where we need to be? I like to think that we’ll continue to improve and that these lessons that we learn in each one of these games, where we play well at times and play poorly at times, are all sort of lessons that sort of get people closer to understanding how important it is to buy into the process of what they need to do to play with consistency.”

INJURY UPDATE: After having several players sit out Saturday, Saban expects everyone to return to practice this week except senior safety Nick Perry.

Following the Crimson Tide's 31-6 victory over Colorado State, Saban said Perry hurt his shoulder during practice last week.

“We’ll get a call on what they want to do with (Nick Perry) long-term here very shortly,” Saban said during his Monday news conference. “So, I don't know exactly (what will happen). That decision is being made today.”

Perry wore a black, non-contact jersey during Monday’s practice.

Along with Perry, the injured players: wide receivers Amari Cooper (toe) and Kevin Norwood (lower leg), right guard Anthony Steen (concussion), safety Jarrick Williams (eye) and cornerback Deion Belue (toe).
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