Alabama's backfield remains in good hands

Associated Press Modified: September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm •  Published: September 6, 2012

TUSCALOOSA ,Ala. (AP) — T.J. Yeldon's Alabama teammates weren't surprised by the freshman's praiseworthy debut for the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Tight end Michael Williams said he realized Yeldon was special in his first spring practice. Center Barrett Jones believes he might claim the title of Alabama's "next great running back" and knows he's not alone in that regard.

With starter Eddie Lacy limited by a gimpy ankle, Yeldon was the star of a running game that spread the carries four ways in an opening win over Michigan.

He broke tackles, sometimes several, on a number of his 11 carries, gained 111 yards and had a 26-yard catch. Jalston Fowler and Lacy also showed some brawn in a backfield that clearly is in good hands even with the departure of Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson going into Saturday's visit by Western Kentucky.

Yeldon was the star of the show, just like he was in earning MVP honors during the spring game after enrolling in January.

"Honestly, we weren't surprised," Jones said. "We had been seeing that out of him for a long time. I don't think it's a secret that he might be the next one kind of in line to take over that title of our great running back. We feel good about the future with him."

The present appears pretty strong too, for both Yeldon and 'Bama's backfield. Tide coach Nick Saban said he didn't decide to start Lacy (36 yards, one touchdown) until the junior tested his ankle before the game. Yeldon would have taken his place.

"We had total faith, trust and confidence in T.J.," Saban said. "If Eddie couldn't have gone, T.J. was going to start. Eddie played well in pre-game and in practice for two or three days, so we played Eddie."

Lacy also thrived as Richardson's backup last season and has averaged 7.1 yards a carry the past two seasons. However, he was limited the past two weeks of preseason camp by the ankle injury.

Yeldon proved a capable understudy, as Williams quickly figured out in the spring.

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