Notebook: Eddie George praises Richardson
GAINESVILLE, Fla. | No less an authority than Eddie George believes Trent Richardson is not only the top running back in the Southeastern Conference, but the top back in the nation, along with South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.
Now a color radio analyst for Westwood One, George travels the nation to the top college football games each week, and hasn't seen a back better than Richardson and Lattimore.
"It's between Trent Richardson and Marcus Lattimore," George said. "To me, you can have the talent, the speed, vision and power, and the ability to break tackles, but they're running with a different mindset. A determination and a spirit - both of them possess that."
Richardson entered play Saturday night with three consecutive games of over 100 rushing yards, including 126 against Arkansas last week. The former Pensacola-Escambia star, who was heavily recruited by Florida, scored eight rushing touchdowns in UA's first four games.
"Trent, you can stop him for most of the game, but in the third or fourth quarter, he's going to pop one big and rip one off," George said. "That's the type of back he is, and he can hit it between the tackles. I'm very impressed with his power and speed. I think between he and Eddie Lacy, that's a great running combination."
George knows a thing or two about running backs.
He won the Heisman Trophy as a senior at Ohio State in 1995, then won the National Football League's Rookie of the Year award a year later with the Tennessee Titans. He posted seven seasons of 1,000-plus yards with the Titans and finished his career with more than 10,000.
He also posted the second longest streak of consecutive starts for a running back in NFL history (128), behind the late Walter Payton (170). As one of the most durable running backs the game has known, George said he recognizes the value in the way UA coach Nick Saban manages the cumulative toll on his running backs by sharing carries.
"It's effective. You're still able to get your yards and do what you have to do, and keep guys fresh," George said. "It's a fascinating idea, but personally, I enjoyed getting all the carries."
Just as former UA star Mark Ingram shared carries with Glen Coffee as a young player, Richardson shared them with Ingram, and now Lacy shares them with Richardson. Lacy is averaging only 10 carries per game in the support role that Richardson found himself in the previous two years.
"Those 10, 12 carries a game, they might still get 150-some yards. These days, you don't see too many running backs getting a huge load," George added. "The game has changed. Especially at the next level, it's geared more to the passing attack."
Already this season, George has covered key national games such as Oklahoma-FSU and LSU-West Virginia. Saturday night, he was in Gainesville taking in the Crimson Tide for the first time this season.
"I love it," he said. "Really, it doesn't even feel like work."
Williams comes up big
Michael Williams is no longer just a tantalizing prospect in the Crimson Tide's offense. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound tight end is perhaps the most impressive physical specimen on the UA roster. Now he is becoming a weapon.
The former Pickens County standout grabbed fans' attention with his 37-yard touchdown grab on a fake field goal last week against Arkansas. It was his second touchdown of the season with the first coming on Alabama's first points on the road against Penn State.
Williams caught just eight passes for 100 yards and a score in 2010 and has already equaled that total this season. Counting through the first half of the Florida game, Williams has recorded eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, leading UA's tight ends in those categories.
He had two catches on Alabama's opening drive and made another grab for 22 yards in the second quarter. Williams finished the game with three catches for 32 yards.
Four penalty flags were thrown in the first 10 seconds of the game Saturday, two on offsetting penalties on the opening kickoff, another when kicker Cade Foster's subsequent kickoff rolled out of bounds, and a false start called on UF on its opening snap. ... Alabama entered the game with only two road losses in its entire series history with Florida. The first came in 1991 when the Gators handled Alabama 35-0 in what was the Crimson Tide's only loss that season. The second came in Mike Shula's last year as UA's coach, 28-13 in 2006. ... Game captains for the Crimson Tide against Florida were linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Mark Barron, running back Trent Richardson and offensive tackle Barrett Jones.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196