What Is Division Of Offensive Labor?

In last week’s win over Southern Miss, Alabama had touchdown drives directed by three different quarterbacks. A quartet of Crimson Tide tailbacks rushed 49 times for 333 yards, which is 6.8 yards per carry. Bama accumulated 547 yards in rolling to 31 first downs and a 42-12 win over the Golden Eagles.

What’s not to like?

In truth, Alabama could be fairly said to have three working tailbacks, although the bulk of the carries have gone to two, and even though five have been used in the first three games of the season. Is the Crimson Tide really in a “two quarterback situation,” as Coach Nick Saban was asked Wednesday? A case can be made either way.

Saban said that the running backs “are really goodguys. They get along well. They’re hard workers. We try to create a role for each.

“We’ve never had an issue,

“I think they understand at their position that our philosophy is we’re not going to wear you out. If we have two or three guys that can play this position, it only improves your chances of staying healthy and your long-term shlf life is better, and that’s better for your career.”

The rotation at tailback is about as expected pre-season. T.J. Yeldon has the most carries and the most yards, 39-225, which is 5.8 per carry, and two touchdowns. Derrick Henry ended last season as the No. 2 guy and that’s where he is going into the fourth game of the year. He has 33 carries for 209 yards, 6.3 yards per carry, and one touchdown. It then drops down to Kenyan Drake (18-97, four TDs), Tyren Jones (11-90, one TD), and Altee Tenpenny (7-42).

Nothing has happened to indicate there will be a change in that rotation when the Crimson Tide hosts Florida at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a game that will be televised by CBS.

Saban didn’t dispute the suggestion that Alabama has a two-quarterback system, although fifth-year senior Blake Sims has started all three games and played the majority of the snaps.

“I’m comfortable with the guys we have,” he said, “and I think they've handled the situation extremely well as demonstrated by Blake Sims being the first guy to congratulate Jake when he threw his first touchdown pass.

“If you're trying to do what's best for the team being successful, I think you've got to sort of check some of that ego stuff at the door and do what's best for the team. And as long as we can do that and players are going to continue to support one another and help each other that's going to help us be a better team.”

Sims has completed 48 of 64 pass attempts for 646 yards and four touchdowns with only one interception. Jake Coker didn’t play until late in the third quarter last week. For the year Coker has completed 20-31 for 248 yards with one touchdown and has not been intercepted.

The real one-man position is one that shouldn’t be – wide receiver. Alabama has basically three wide receiver positions – split end, which is played by Amari Cooper; flanker, and slotback. Cooper has 33 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns.

The remainder of the wide receivers (Christion Jones, DeAndrew White, Chris Black, Ardarius Stewart, and Robert Foster) have 25 receptions for 331 yards.

As for the tight ends, Brian Vogler has one catch for five yards and a touchdown, Ty Flournoy-Smith 1-4, and Michael Nysewander 1-9.

The missing man in that tight end group is O.J. Howard, who caught 14 passes for 269 yards (an impressive 19.2 yards per catch), and two touchdowns last year. In 2014 he does not have a pass reception.

Saban said Bama’s fourth game, the first in Southeastern Conference play, is exciting because it is the beginning of SEC competition.

“Obviously,” he said, “there are some really, really good teams that we have to play, starting with Florida that I think is vastly improved and really off to a good start. They've got a lot of really, really good football players.

“They're showing great balance on offense and really playing well on the defense, like they typically do. This is a really, really good all-around team. It'll be challenging for us but the SEC is always that way.”

An interesting feature of this game is that Saban is once again going against a former assistant coach in Florida’s Will Muschamp. And as was pointed out in a question to Saban, there are some in the Florida camp who think Muschamp could be in trouble. Saban was asked about coaching against a former assistant.

He said that first of all, “My responsibility is to Alabama football and what we have to do to try to be successful here.”

As for going against Muschamp, Saban said, “It’s never personal with me when it comes to the opponent. I never try to make it personal. We compete against each other and we're still friends, and that's the way it's going to be.

“I never like to see anybody not be able to continue to do the things they've worked hard to do for a long time. I personally think Will's doing a really, really good job. He was dealt a tough hand and got a lot of players hurt last year, which affected their season.

“I think they have a really good team this year.”

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