Power Football Prevails: Alabama’s Ground Game Triumphs with ‘Run the Ball
In a realm where for a time, the mantra seemed like it would be nothing more than a phrase on a hat, photographed and pinned to the social media profile of offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, a striking transformation has emerged. “Run the (dang) ball,” read the hat—a rallying cry that once merely symbolized hope for Alabama football fans, has now evolved into a thunderous declaration of dominance.
That navy cap with gold letters, embodying the essence of relentless power football, once stirred the imagination of fans. Perhaps, just perhaps, Rees would resurrect the glory days of joyless murderball in Tuscaloosa, solidifying his status as a legendary figure in the making—a hero for those yearning for the unyielding run-first offenses of bygone eras.
Astoundingly, the inspiration for this resurgence was sparked not by elaborate speeches or grand proclamations, but by the mere sight of the hat on Rees’ social media profile. Yet, when the Crimson Tide stepped onto the field against formidable competition, the running game had more often than not fallen short, leaving fans somewhat disheartened.
However, a remarkable transformation occurred last Saturday. Alabama unleashed a relentless ground assault, pummeling the LSU defense and delivering its most spectacular rushing performance of the season—a staggering 288 yards and six touchdowns in a resounding 42-28 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“That’s a lineman’s dream,” exclaimed center Seth McLaughlin. “That was awesome.”
Both the yardage gained and the touchdown count marked season highs for the Crimson Tide (8-1, 6-0 SEC), surpassing the previous records set against Middle Tennessee State in the season opener.
Head coach Nick Saban praised the offensive line’s exceptional performance, highlighting their remarkable ability to create movement. The running backs exhibited their prowess by expertly exploiting the openings, pressing the holes, and executing the game plan to perfection. The result was a truly exceptional display of efficiency in the run game—an embodiment of execution at its finest throughout the year.
The precision blocking, the downhill running style of the backs, and the tenacity of quarterback Jalen Milroe culminated in a truly outstanding performance. Milroe found the end zone four times and racked up 155 rushing yards, etching his name in history as the first Crimson Tide quarterback to achieve such a feat in a single game.
“He’s not afraid to lower his shoulder, and he’s not afraid to make people miss,” noted McLaughlin, emphasizing the danger Milroe posed in open space.
Witnesses could attest to the defenders left in his wake, outrun or left helpless by his elusive jukes. LSU defensive back Javien Toviano discovered the hard way what unfolds when confronting Milroe—a powerful, shoulder-lowering force knocking him off his feet.
Milroe’s message to the entire Alabama offense was clear: If he can impose his will on the defense, so can they.
The running backs embraced this call to action. Roydell Williams averaged a remarkable 9.3 yards per carry, accumulating 56 yards and a touchdown. Jase McClellan contributed 63 yards and another score with 14 carries.
Their collective impact was particularly felt in the second half. As they entered the third quarter, Coach Rees emphasized the importance of a vertical running style to wear down the LSU defense.
McLaughlin summarized the strategic shift succinctly, saying, “We definitely came out in the second half, and Coach Rees said we needed to start to run this ball vertically. He called a great game today. We mixed things up, sending the ball to the edges to open up space in the middle. It really started rolling there.”
In a nutshell, Alabama did exactly what the hat proclaimed—Alabama ran the dang ball, rekindling the fervor of a dominant ground game and igniting the hopes of a championship-hungry fan base.
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