Tailbacks to handle own substitutions

How do you divide playing time amongst two players with equal talent at the same position? That's a question Bama coach Dennis Franchione has left up to his two star running backs.

Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard combined to rush for 1,514 yards last year with Galloway gaining the bulk of the carries. With Beard's emergence towards the end of last season, Franchione has decided to not plan in advance how often each gets in the game. Instead, he has confidence the position will be productive with the two tailbacks calling the shots.

Galloway gains yardage versus Vanderbilt.

"We're going to rotate ourselves," says Beard. "If (Galloway) needs a rest I'll come in. If I need a rest he'll come in."

That method of coaching dates back to Franchione's stint at TCU when he allowed runners LaDainian Tomlinson and Basil Mitchell to rotate themselves during the 1998 season. The result of the rotation made Mitchell a fourth-round selection in the 1998 NFL Draft and Tomlinson a first-round pick in the 2000 draft.

Franchione said he just wants to take as much advantage of that position as possible because it is the biggest offensive strength the team has.

"Our tailback is going to get touches," he said. "We want that position to get touches because that's one of the strengths of our offense. That position will always produce yards in our offense."

Franchione used that method successfully towards the end of last year, but really hopes it will flourish in 2002.

"It worked well last year and it will work again this year," said Beard. "It's cool because we'll rotate every couple of plays. We both know if the other gets hot we'll let him go. Some plays he is naturally better at than I am and there are some plays that I'm better at."

Beard says what makes Galloway such a great runner is his ability to be good at every aspect of the offense while Beard's biggest strength is going after the big play every time he touches the ball.

Beard talks with Franchione at practice.

"(Galloway is) consistent all over the board," says Beard. "He may not be spectacular at any one thing, but he is consistent with every aspect. I'm good at trying to hit a homerun. Whether it's a 90-yarder, an 80-yarder. Whatever it is I'm trying to get the score."

The two tailbacks have also developed into some of the better leaders on the team. Receiver Antonio Carter said Beard's leadership came from Galloway's relentless work ethic.

"That's two great leaders right there," says Carter. "Santonio learned a lot from Ahmaad. Ahmaad is a guy that carries his weight and then some. If he has to run five laps, he's gonna do seven. People look at that and it's big. Santonio learned that from him and has become a great leader himself."

"They talk about the one-two punch all the time," says redshirt freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle. "We definitely have a good problem with all of the quality running backs we have. If they have any animosity they don't show it.

"They don't seem to mind sharing the spotlight."

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