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September 18, 2011
TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama got its breakthrough rushing performance of the young season Saturday night in a 41-0 win over North Texas as the Crimson Tide offense recorded a season-high 347 rushing yards.
Running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy broke four touchdown runs - two each - of at least 43 yards as the Alabama ground game took command in the second half.
"I had a pretty good day out there, thanks to the O-line and the wideouts blocking downfield," said Lacy, a sophomore. "We still have to get better. Today, we proved we can play four quarters, but now we have to continue to play like that and practice like that."
Richardson rushed for 167 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns, giving him eight scores for the season, while Lacy ran for 161 yards on only nine attempts for the top two individual rushing efforts of the season for UA. Lacy broke a 43-yard scoring run in the second quarter to open a 17-0 lead, and finished the scoring with a 67-yarder in the fourth quarter. Richardson broke touchdown runs of 58 and 71 yards.
For about a half, it appeared the breakthrough performance might not happen.
UA had only 76 rushing yards at the half, and coach Nick Saban expressed concern at halftime about his team's rushing efforts. After the game, Saban was pleased with how the second half unfolded, but indicated there is still work to be done as the Crimson Tide enters Southeastern Conference play.
"We really ran the ball effectively, made some big plays running. We had two guys gain over 150 yards. I think that's pretty good," Saban said. "But we also have to get rid of the negative plays. I think the big message here is, every time you don't pay attention to detail, every time you don't do the little things right, the consequences can be bad. That's happening too many times. We need to get that cleaned up in every part of the game, but most especially on offense in terms of some of the bad plays we're making."
The Mean Green held Richardson to 26 first-half yards on eight carries and hit him and Lacy for losses of 2 yards each before the half.
Once the Alabama offensive line began to wear down the smaller North Texas defense, however, the second half provided some big holes for the running backs. Richardson and Lacy each had touchdown runs on which they were untouched by the defense.
Asked if that's the sign of a properly blocked play, center William Vlachos answered in the affirmative.
"It's a sign of everybody knowing who they're responsible for, who they've got to block," Vlachos said.
Reserves Jalston Fowler and Blake Sims saw late second-half action and rushed for 20 and 13 yards, respectively. The rushing performance overall was exactly what Vlachos had been looking for since the season began.
"They did a great job. They got to the second level. I think we expect that type of stuff from them," Vlachos added. "It shows, as far as us on offense, when we pay attention to detail, that's what we're capable of."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.