If BCS championship game star Eddie Lacy declares for the NFL draft, Alabama fans needn’t worry about any drop-off in the running game next season.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns as the other half of Alabama’s tandem running-back system, including 108 yards and a TD against Notre Dame on Monday.
If Yeldon replaces Lacy in the featured role, Kenyan Drake is next man up to co-star. Drake averaged 6.7 yards a carry while running 39 times for 273 yards and five TDs this season, including a season-high 67 against Auburn.
Like Yeldon, Drake was a freshman.
Now imagine if Lacy comes back for his senior year after being named offensive player of the game for his 140-yard, two-touchdown performance against Notre Dame. He ran for 1,322 yards and 17 TDs for the season.
The stockpile of running backs at Alabama is reminiscent of the embarrassment of riches Nebraska enjoyed at the position while winning its three national titles in four years in the 1990s.
No doubt, Yeldon-Drake could be just as good in 2013 as duos Lacy-Yeldon in 2012, Trent Richardson-Lacy in 2011 and Mark Ingram-Richardson in 2010.
YOUR 2012 STAT CHAMPS: Alabama dominated the major defensive categories, ranking first in total defense (250 ypg), rushing defense (76.4 ypg) and scoring defense (10.9 ppg). Florida State had the top pass defense (161.9 ypg).
Team leaders in offense: Louisiana Tech in total offense (577.9 ypg) and scoring (51.5 ppg), Army in rushing (369.8 ypg) and Marshall in passing (365.1 ypg).
Individual leaders were Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey in rushing (148.4 ypg), Marshall’s Rakeem Cato in passing (350.1 ypg), Baylor’s Terrance Williams in receiving (140.9 ypg), and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in total offense (393.5 ypg).
SPARTAN WORKHORSE: Remember when Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell carried the ball 44 times against Boise State? That was back on Aug. 31 in one of the opening-week showcase games.
It also was a precursor. Turns out no one had more rushing attempts in any game the rest of the season.
In fact, Bell’s 382 carries for the season were 200 more than he had last season and the most in major-college football since Javon Ringer of, yes, Michigan State ran 390 times in 2008.
Bell had 35 or more carries in five games and accounted for 92 percent of Michigan State’s rushing yards (1,793 of 1,942).
Bell, who has declared for April’s NFL draft, ran for 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns in 40 games.