Yeldon, Drake latest dynamic Alabama running back duo - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Yeldon, Drake latest dynamic Alabama running back duo

Posted: Updated:
Alabama's lastest running back duo, T.J. Yeldon, left, and Kenyan Drake, right, are pounding at, or running away from, opposing defenses. (AP Photos/Butch Dill/Timothy D. Easley) Alabama's lastest running back duo, T.J. Yeldon, left, and Kenyan Drake, right, are pounding at, or running away from, opposing defenses. (AP Photos/Butch Dill/Timothy D. Easley)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's string of formidable tailback tandems continues unabated.

Now, it's sophomores T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake pounding at, or running away from, opposing defenses. The top-ranked Crimson Tide's Tailback 1 and 1A have been piling up yards and touchdowns at a clip that would make the Trent Richardson/Mark Ingram and Richardson/Eddie Lacy combos proud.

It's business as usual in the Alabama backfield. One goes in, one comes out, and the Tide keeps rolling.

"It's not really competing because coach sees us as two people that can come in at any given time," Drake said. "Whether he's in or I'm in, we're both excited for each other. He scores a touchdown, I score a touchdown. He gets a big run, I get a big run. Or any of our backs. We're just happy for each other because we're helping the team win regardless."

They've been powering the way lately for an offense whose biggest star is quarterback AJ McCarron and deepest position is wide receiver.

Yeldon has run for 333 yards and four touchdowns in the last three SEC games going into Saturday's visit from Tennessee. Drake's production has been similar with 309 yards and five touchdowns, and both have been effective catching passes too.

"They're similar in terms of stature, and they play with a high level of physicality," Tennesssee coach Butch Jones said Monday. "Both have great speed. I think the one thing you can say about their program — it's what we're building here at Tennessee — it's based on competition. It's a competitive environment every day you walk in there. That's what we're building here, kind of the next-guy-in mindset."

The next guy in has been Drake, who has shed a slow start and squashed any speculation about whether a member of the latest group of hotshot running back recruits could overtake him on the depth chart.

Drake had 53 yards through three games and was held out of the opener against Virginia Tech for unspecified reasons. Now, he has seven touchdown runs and is averaging 8.2 yards a carry, the highest among the SEC's Top 15 rushers.

Since those three games, Alabama's running game has climbed from last in the Southeastern Conference in rushing to fifth.

The Tide is pounding away at a clip of 271.5 yards per game and 7.2 yards a carry since those early struggles and ran for 352 yards against Arkansas.

"I think those two guys have played well," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Both tailbacks complement each other in terms of their style. One guy's a little bit faster (Drake). The other guy's more of an inside, make you miss, hard to tackle."

"I think the change of pace that the two guys complement each other with is really something that's good for our team. I think it's good for both of them as well."

This is starting to look like Saban's typical Alabama backfield. The Tide's tailback duos during the three national championship seasons under Saban have averaged 2,423 yards and 27 touchdowns. The only "down" year in the past four seasons was 2010 when Ingram and Richardson combined for 1,575 yards and 19 touchdowns and the team went 10-3.

Those two were both first-round picks — Ingram won the 2009 Heisman Trophy and Richardson was a finalist in 2011 — while Lacy was a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers this year.

Lacy and Yeldon both topped 1,000 yards last season.

Yeldon and Drake have some ground to make up to match those numbers. Yeldon is sixth in the league with 686 yards while Drake's 402 ranks 13th. Both have run for seven touchdowns.

But their recent tear has still been impressive. Plus, Yeldon also has 11 catches for 104 yards and Drake eight for 101 yards.

"They are both great running backs and I have confidence in anybody we have really as a running back when they step in, they'll do the job needed," McCarron said. "Both of those guys have been playing great for us. The things that I'm happiest about is they do a really good job in protection and get out when they are supposed to and give me a check-down option, because a lot of teams know we have a lot of vertical threats, so they drop a lot of people back in the zone now.

"The check-down has been big for us. They've done an excellent job."

___

AP Sports Writer Steve Megaree in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

___

Follow John Zenor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jzenor

  • Auburn University SportsMore>>

  • Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:33:03 GMT
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.More >>
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.
    More >>
  • CB Chris Westry commits to Auburn

    CB Chris Westry commits to Auburn

    Thursday, July 24 2014 2:22 PM EDT2014-07-24 18:22:20 GMT
    Auburn added some size to the future of it's defensive backfield.Cornerback Chris Westry of Oakleaf High School in Florida committed to be part of the Tigers recruiting class of 2015. The 6-foot-4, 180 pound Westry is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.Oakleaf High School announced the commitment on it's twitter page,2015 DB Chris Westry has committed to Auburn #WarEagle --Oakleaf Football ?, July 24 Westry is the 18th commitment for Auburn's 2015 signing class.More >>
    Auburn added some size to the future of it's defensive backfield.Cornerback Chris Westry of Oakleaf High School in Florida committed to be part of the Tigers recruiting class of 2015. The 6-foot-4, 180 pound Westry is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.Oakleaf High School announced the commitment on it's twitter page,2015 DB Chris Westry has committed to Auburn #WarEagle --Oakleaf Football ?, July 24 Westry is the 18th commitment for Auburn's 2015 signing class.More >>
  • Josh Donaldson nominated for MLB Heart and Hustle Award

    Josh Donaldson nominated for MLB Heart and Hustle Award

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-07-23 22:37:43 GMT
    Josh Donaldson earned the Oakland A's Heart and Hustle Award. It's the second consecutive season Donaldson was chosen for the honor.More >>
    Josh Donaldson earned the Oakland A's Heart and Hustle Award. It's the second consecutive season Donaldson was chosen for the honor.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • UCLA wades through damages from pipe flooding

    UCLA wades through damages from pipe flooding

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:04:52 GMT
    The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself suddenly steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some eight million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the...More >>
    The quiet summer campus of UCLA suddenly was steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some 8 million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball...More >>
  • Police: Naked intruder grabbed soda then fell asleep in couple's bedroom

    Police: Naked intruder grabbed soda then fell asleep in couple's bedroom

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:16 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:16:10 GMT
    A New Mexico man faces charges after authorities say a couple found him naked and sleeping in their bed.More >>
    A New Mexico man faces charges after authorities say a couple found him naked and sleeping in their bed.
    More >>
  • Reward offered in McCalla church arson

    Reward offered in McCalla church arson

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:33:44 GMT
    Investigators have released a sketch of the suspect in a Saturday church arson in McCalla who may be responsible for other fires in the area. They are also offering a five thousand dollar reward for information leading to his arrest.More >>
    Investigators have released a sketch of the suspect in a Saturday church arson in McCalla who may be responsible for other fires in the area. They are also offering a five thousand dollar reward for information leading to his arrest.More >>
  • Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:49:10 GMT
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
  • Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:22 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:22:59 GMT
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
  • Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:13 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:13:13 GMT
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
  • Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:19:22 GMT
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
  • Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:26:35 GMT
    To guard against another Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>
    To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>