Alabamas offense controls the game
TUSCALOOSA | There have been times this season that the University of Alabama defense has helped to carry the UA offense through some difficult times.
Saturday was the offense's turn to take some pressure off the defense. And in a 45-21 win over Georgia Southern, the Crimson Tide offense did exactly that. Alabama never trailed, piling up 462 total yards while the defense scrambled to contain an old-school option offense that Georgia Southern ran efficiently enough for 341 total yards of its own.
"The defense has always had our backs. They faced a tough team that runs a triple option and is very good at what they do," wide receiver Brandon Gibson said. "We took the initiative as an offense to go out and put some points on the board."
Leading the way for the offense was running back Trent Richardson, who rushed for 175 yards and scored three touchdowns. He broke Alabama's single-season record for rushing touchdowns with his 20th, a mark that had been held by Shaun Alexander, and tied a career high - set the week before - with 32 carries.
Richardson said the Georgia Southern offensive production put some pressure on the UA offense to keep scoring.
"You've got to know how to control the game. You've got to be a point guard out there," Richardson said. "A point guard has to go fast, or slow the ballgame down. That's one thing I had to do, just make sure my blocks were set up."
Reserve running backs Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler added 86 yards between them.
"That was our goal going into the game - to run the ball. We did that. We had some very well-blocked plays, and (Richardson) obviously had some great runs that are a credit to him," center William Vlachos said. "The expectation is that when you play a D-II team, you'll get a 10-yard gain every play and score a touchdown every other play. That's not realistic. But I think overall, we did well."
Vlachos had one of the tougher assignments on the UA offensive line, blocking Brent Russell, an Football Championship Subdivision All-American for the Eagles. Russell made five tackles, including 1.5 for losses, but Russell needed more help on a day that Alabama punter Cody Mandell never took the field.
"He plays really hard. He was a good player," Vlachos said. "He never gave up on a play. He was an effort guy, and you appreciate and respect the effort he put into every play."
Quarterback AJ McCarron contributed with three touchdown passes, two to tight end Brad Smelley, and 190 passing yards on a 14-of-19 effort. UA coach Nick Saban said the offensive production was a key factor but added that the UA lead never pulled the Eagles out of their game plan to run the football.
"It was really important in the game that our offense did a fantastic job of controlling the ball. They were always able to answer the bell and do a really good job of not allowing (Georgia Southern) to have a lot of time of possession," Saban said. "That was really good for us, and I was really pleased with the way the guys competed. We played a lot better in the second half than we did the first. We did a good job on third down to keep a lot of drives going. And always answered when we needed to."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.