Kenyan Drake and T.J. Yeldon fumbled on consecutive drives in the first quarter, both in the redzone.
“Your running backs, how did you think they recovered after those two fumbles?” a reporter asked him.
Nick Saban answered the question with a question of his own.
“How did you think?” Saban said. “I thought they did pretty well. They didn’t fumble anymore.”
Yeldon and Drake both did a lot more than just not fumble the rest of the game. The pair went for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns each in a dominating 48-7 win over Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium.
“I think that says a lot about the offensive line and what they did,” Saban said.
On a day when two of college football’s undefeateds fell, No. 1 Alabama took care of business in a big way with a lot of help from its rushing attack.
AJ McCarron also threw for a career-high 359 yards, marking the first time in Alabama history that the Crimson Tide has had a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard rushers.
“I was really proud of the way we dominated the line of scrimmage offensively,” Saban said. “AJ had a really good game, made a lot of plays, made a lot of explosive plays passing. Everybody’s got to be accountable to do their role so that we can be the best team than we can be.”
A two running back rotation has been a staple of Alabama championship teams under Saban. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson carried the load in 2009. Richardson and Eddie Lacy were the workhorses in 2011. And last season Lacy and Yeldon split carries nearly evenly.
Drake looked like he could be the dominant No. 2 option Alabama has been looking for behind Yeldon this season.
“I like the type of runner Kenyan is,” left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said. “He’s [a] downhill, quick guy. It’s great blocking for those two running backs. It makes you want to block that much harder.”
Yeldon and Drake had to bounce back from early mistakes before putting up big numbers. Both fumbles came in the red zone, preventing the score from being much more lopsided than it was.
“We’ve just got to forget about it,” Yeldon said. “Keep the ball high and tight. Our teammates helped us out, told us, ‘Don’t worry about it. Keep running the ball.’”
Drake scored the first touchdown of the game on a one-yard run up the middle. Yeldon followed with a bruising 24-yard touchdown on the next possession. Drake scored once again, leaping over the line of scrimmage to cross the goal line. Yeldon opened the second half with a three-yard run.
“It’s always big to have balance on offense,” McCarron said. “That’s our number one thing. We made plays in the running game and passing. So at the same time we didn’t make some plays when we had chances. We just have to capitalize.”