Analysis: Joshua Jacobs has career night
Coming into Saturday’s game, true freshman running back Joshua Jacobs had 18 career carries, 11 of which came last week mostly out of necessity when starting running back Damien Harris went down with a high ankle sprain during the first drive of the game against Kent State.
With Harris still being held back during the 34-6 win over Kentucky, Jacobs carried the load for the rushing attack, carrying the ball a career-high 16 times for a career-best 100 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career but certainly not the last if he continues to progress at the rate he has since he’s been on campus.
With the downfield passing game mostly a work-in progress in the first half, and the game tied at 3 in the second quarter, Alabama went to work on the ground, rushing the ball seven consecutive times, including six straight by Jacobs. Every run had one thing in common: They went behind the left side of the offensive line, which opened nice-sized holes for Jacobs.
The drive covered 61 yards, 57 by Jacobs, and gave Alabama a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Harris took the first carry of the drive, going 4 yards over left end, before left tackle Cam Robinson opened a massive over over left tackle that Jacobs took 28 yards (his career-long rush) to the Kentucky 29. Jacobs followed that up with runs of 8, 12, 5 and 3 before plunging in from a yard out for the touchdown.
On the night he averaged 6.2 yards per carry and for the season has a 7.35 yard-per-carry average. He also added three catches for 44 yards to bring his all-purpose yardage to144 on just 19 touches. Not bad for a player who just got to campus in late-May.
“Joshua is a very hard-working, very-instinctive player,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “He really understands how to press the hole and make cuts. He’s got quickness and a little burst. He’s got good hands.
“We needed one of our freshman backs to step up this year because we only had two guys left. We’re pleased with the progress both have made, but Josh has certainly done a really good job for us.”
Bo Scarbrough had five carries on the night for 21 yards, including a 14-yard run. The other true freshman back, B.J. Emmons, got in the game late and had three carries for 16 yards. True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts supplemented the running game with 25 yards, but most of his yardage came on scrambles and not designed read-option runs.
Harris had just two rushes for 11 yards.
“We have a lot of confidence in Damien Harris, who has played extremely well for us all year long,” Saban said. “He was coming off a little bit of a high ankle sprain. He wasn’t able to practice as much this week. He’s OK and was cleared to play in the game, but we decided to spot play him and use him in third down.
“That gave Josh more opportunity and he certainly took advantage of it and did a great job.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.