Alabama's dynamic duo

After Alabama's running game lost Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart to knee injuries, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon knew they'd have become a productive tandem in the Tide's backfield. And they have, both having rushed for over 500 yards seven games into the season.

Some call him Feets, some call him Circle Button, some call him Alabama's leading rusher, but his real name is Eddie Lacy.

The 6-foot, 220-pound junior running back with a raspy voice is a fan favorite, always comes in for media interviews smiling and giggling, and wows crowds with his signature spin move (hence the aforementioned nicknames).

"Eddie's been spinning ever since I've known him," said head coach Nick Saban. "It's a part of his style for his size that he has really good quickness and really sudden change of direction, especially in the hole where he can make somebody miss. You have to have really good balance and body control and quickness to do it."

After Alabama won the national championship in January, Lacy was immediately labeled the next Mark Ingram, the next Trent Richardson. But he had a laundry list of injuries heading into the season—turf toe, sprained ankle, sprained knee, and there were probably more—that limited him through the first three games.

Though he stated in the preseason that nothing could keep him out of a game and he'd play through any pain, it was clear he was hurting that first month, amassing just 126 yards rushing total against Michigan, Western Kentucky and Arkansas.

But after breaching the 100-yard mark for the first time this season in Week 4 against Florida Atlantic, he hasn't looked back. Lacy has finally found his stride and leads No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) with 570 rushing yards, 444 of which have been grinded out since that FAU game.

In a 42-10 win over Missouri two weeks ago, he rushed for 177 yards, including a 73-yard burst that ended in the end zone on the second play of the game. He'd go on to score two more touchdowns. Then last Saturday in the Tide's 44-13 win over Tennessee, Lacy ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns and busted out his best spin move of the season on a long run in the first half.

"He's a tremendous player and he has a great attitude," said left guard Chance Warmack. "He just loves to play the game. That's what I like about him most. Regardless if it's a good play or a bad play, he's smiling and that makes me smile. I appreciate the energy he brings to the offense."

Part of the reason Lacy has been able to get back on track and stay as healthy as any dinged up football player midway through the season is thanks to his partner in crime—true freshman T.J. Yeldon.

Yeldon, a former four-star prospect out of Daphne, Ala., made a cannonball splash in Week 1 against Michigan by running for 111 yards, becoming the first freshman in Alabama history to do so. He's run over 100 yards three times this season and has racked up 565 yards and six touchdowns.

As a basis of comparison, Ingram finished his freshman year with 728 yards and 12 touchdowns and Richardson's numbers were 749 and eight in those respective categories. Yeldon is poised to have better stats than those two by season's end.

When the Tide lost Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart to season-ending knee injuries, it was crucial for Lacy and Yeldon to step their game up in order to keep the rushing attack on track. And they've done nothing but that.

"I knew it would be important that those two guys would have to be sort of the tandem that carries the load," Saban said. "Both are very productive. I'm very pleased with the way those two guys have complemented each other this year."

Sans Fowler and Hart, Lacy and Yeldon have been sharing carries more, too. For example, against Mizzou, they had 18 apiece and last week against UT Lacy had 17, while Yeldon got 15.

Lacy was asked what the plusses and minuses are when sharing the ball that evenly.

"I don't think there's a minus at all, it's all positive," he said. "You last longer throughout the year, you don't bang your body up as much. Whoever's coming in, the next person, they're going to pick up where you left off."

Part of the Tide's developing identity is that it needs every guy to play an equal role in order to have success, and Lacy and Yeldon are a prime example of how unselfish this team is.

"Whether it's making a block or rushing for additional yards, it's not really about how many yards they accumulate, but more so what they can do to help the team," Warmack said.

Alabama prides itself on its perfectly balanced offense (219.4 yards rushing per game, 220.1 yards passing per game) and that would not be possible without its newfound backfield tandem.


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