The Alabama rushing attack isn't solely a one man show but it certainly could be. Sophomore running back Kenyan Drake is just seven carries shy of a hundred for the season and is averaging 7.5 yards per carry with eight touchdowns. However, he's not the guy on Alabama's roster that keeps defensive coordinators up all night. That distinction goes to the other sophomore running back, T.J. Yeldon.
A terrific running back has three key characteristics and Yeldon possesses all of them. He's got speed, vision, and quick feet, all of which will make him one of the nation's top backs, and most likely a Heisman contender, next fall. For now, though, he's Oklahoma's problem and its a big problem.
Speed - I'm not sure what his official 40 time is but if you watch any film on him at all it won't take you long to see him running away from defenders. Its goes without saying that Oklahoma needs to keep him from getting into any open spaces but his abilities make that a tall task. Don't confuse speed with finesse either because because Yeldon can definitely run with power.
Vision - Often times running backs get tunnel vision and only see the assigned gap that they're supposed to run through. That doesn't seem to be the case at all with Yeldon who does a fantastic job at cutting back or bouncing his run to the outside. He sees the entire field, instead of the assigned gap, and does a great job at finding another lane or blocker to run behind.
Quick Feet - Good field vision is just one part of "improvising" a run. In order to do as consistently as Yeldon does you have to have quick feet. He's able shift back inside, or bounce back out, while keeping his shoulders squared and rotating his hips (keeps him from losing power) because he's able to keep his feet squarely under him which allows him to keep balance. Essentially he's able to cut and change directions without losing speed and that makes him incredibly dangerous.
We've mentioned Alabama's balance on offense multiple times and my opinion is that putting the breaks on Yeldon has to be the primary focus of Oklahoma's defense. For the Sooners to attempt to do so will but their defensive tackles and linebackers at center stage. The Tide are averaging 212 rushing yards per game this season and Yeldon is averaging 105 per contest. If they hit those numbers against OU then it won't be a good sign for the good guys.