The strength of No. 1 Alabama is its depth of talent. Losing running back Jalston Fowler to a knee injury for the season compromises some of that team strong point.
Fowler, who is second on the team with 86 yards rushing, was sent to the ground in writhing pain late in the fourth quarter of the Crimson Tide’s 35-0 win Saturday against . He had to be helped off the field and later carted to the locker room.
“I know he feels badly and we feel badly for him, too,” Saban said.
The 6-foot-1, 242-pound tailback is one of the Tide’s biggest and most diverse weapons on offense. In addition to being the No. 2 running back on the depth chart, the junior splits time as a lead-blocking fullback/H-back.
“We’re going to miss him,” Saban said. “It’s going to take a number of people to replace him on the various roles he played on our team.”
Given starting running back Eddie Lacy’s injury troubles, the loss of Fowler is especially painful for the Alabama backfield.
Lacy missed the entirety of spring practice recovering from surgery to fix a turf toe injury, only to sprain his ankle near the end of fall practice. The coaching staff has been cautious with Lacy so far this season, limiting his carries.
Fowler’s loss leaves Alabama with three fully healthy running backs — all freshmen.
T.J. Yeldon, a four-star prospect from South Alabama who enrolled in February, made a splash in his first two games. He became the first freshman to run for 100 yards in his debut, doing so against the then eighth-ranked Michigan in Arlington, Texas.
He followed up that performance Saturday by leading Alabama in receptions with four. He is second on the team in total offense with 136 yards.
Fellow rookies Dee Hart and Kenyan Drake have seen some mop-up duty as the Tide’s third and fourth running backs. Hart, a redshirt freshman, has carried the ball 12 times for 36 yards.
Drake, a true freshman, scored his first career touchdown in Alabama’s final offensive series Saturday, taking the ball 32 yards to pay dirt. He has carried the ball twice this season.