There were four players with 20-plus-yard runs during the Alabama-New Mexico State game on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide’s top two running backs — Najee Harris and Brian Robinson — weren’t among those four players.
While Alabama ran for 318 yards as a team Saturday and while Harris and Robinson both ended up averaging better than five yards per carry, the Tide running game is still very much a work in progress.
“I think we’ve still got to work on running the ball a little bit more efficiently and effectively,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
The final rushing numbers don’t tell the full story.
Besides a 19-yard run from Harris, those top two running backs for Alabama ran for just 3.6 yards per carry during the first half Saturday (50 yards on 14 carries).
Making it worse is that those two were contained like that by a New Mexico State defense that ranked sixth-worst nationally last season against the run and that gave up an average of 12.8 yards per carry to Washington State’s top running back last week.
Still, Saban felt the running game took a step forward Saturday from where it was last week against Duke, when Harris ran for only 52 yards on 12 carries and Robinson was limited to nine yards on nine carries.
Harris finished with 68 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries Saturday after rushing for 22 yards and that touchdown on three carries during the third quarter. Robinson added 34 yards on five carries during the third quarter to finish with 57 yards on 11 carries.
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