Coffee Knows Vols Tough On Runners
Glen Coffee, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated following Alabama's season-opening victory over Clemson, ranks third in the Southeastern Conference this year with 760 yards on 108 carries. Tennessee's trio of Arian Foster (381), Montario Hardesty (199) and Lennon Creer (186) combined have six more yards than Coffee, 766. In Coffee's two previous seasons of play for Bama, he had 177 carries for 724 yards.
Coffee is a primary reason that Alabama leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing with 209.3 yards per game.
Coffee has the two longest runs in the SEC this year, 87 yards against Arkansas and 78 yards against Kentucky. He has five rushing touchdowns.
No wonder they call him "Mister Coffee."
Alabama's running game will be challenged this week. Tennessee ranks third in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing on 95.7 yards per game.
"They have a tough, physical defense and think they can stop anyone's running game," Coffee said.
Alabama, 7-0 and ranked second in the nation, goes to Knoxville Saturday to face the Vols. Although Tennessee is 3-4, this is a rivalry game, historically the most important game in Southern football history. ESPN will be there to televise the game nationally. Kickoff from Neyland Stadium is at 7:45 p.m. EDT (6:45 p.m. central time).
While Coffee has great respect for Tennessee, he doesn't "put much on so-called rivalry games. I think you should be ramped up for every game." Coffee has been an Alabama offensive player of the week in four games this year.
Still, he's excited to be playing this year. "Last year (while suspended) I had to watch the game from my coach. I was excited to see my team win, but I wanted to be a part of it."
Coffee will be working on two Alabama winning marks against the Vols. Bama is 1-0 in games in which he has played (the 6-3 result in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2005) and the Tide is attempting to win in consecutive years for the first time since 1993. Last year Alabama won 41-17 in Tuscaloosa.
Although Alabama has a high national ranking, there has been much discussion about the Crimson Tide not being impressive in winning several games. "Some people may not realize that we are playing in the Southeastern Conference," Coffee said. "Everyone is physical. You have to bring your ‘A' game every week. Last week, Ole Miss played hard. We may have left some yards out there, but they did a good job on defense." Alabama escaped with a 24-20 win against the Rebels.
The Tide might have had an easier time with Ole Miss except that Coffee gave up a fumble in the fourth quarter with Bama holding a 24-10 lead. The Rebels turned that turnover into a touchdown.
Later, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said the fumble "might not be on Coffee" because of some missed blocking assignments. Coffee didn't take the pass.
"No matter the situation, the running back has to hold onto the ball," he said. "It's all on me. No matter what happens, that's part of a running back's job. I have to hold it tighter."
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