TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Bo Scarbrough hasn’t exactly picked up where he left off last season.
No. 1 Alabama’s bruising tailback has dropped 15 pounds, is catching a few more passes and isn’t piling up rushing yards nearly as rapidly. The 6-foot-2, 227-pounder still feels like his game has improved since last season ended with a fractured lower right leg in the national championship game against Clemson.
”My body feels more clean,” Scarbrough said. ”It feels more stable so I can move the way I want to move and I’m able to do some of the things I couldn’t do.”
Neither he nor backfield mate Damien Harris have racked up big numbers yet this season heading into Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt in a matchup of 3-0 teams. They haven’t had to.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has run for back-to-back 100-yard games and easily leads the team in rushing.
A preseason second-team Associated Press All-American, Scarbrough ranks 15th in the Southeastern Conference with 142 yards. He’s averaging a modest 4.3 yards per carry with just one touchdown while Harris has produced 158 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Najee Harris also is getting regular carries, a divvy that combines with Hurts’ production to limit their chances.
It’s hardly cause for concern for the Tide offense.
Scarbrough was a slow starter last season – not reaching 100 yards total until the fifth game – and a terrific finisher.
Scarbrough had touchdown runs of 25 and 37 yards in the first half of the title game before limping off the field. That followed an MVP performance in the Peach Bowl and a strong SEC championship game that had him looking like the latest big star among ‘Bama backs , following in the lines of 2009 and 2015 Heisman Trophy winners Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry among others.
Scarbrough found little room to run in the opener against No. 12 Florida State , producing just 40 yards on 15 carries. He has run just 18 times in the two games since, one more than Damien Harris and Najee Harris .
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason figures defending the `Bama tailbacks is a big task. Damien Harris topped 1,000 yards last season while Scarbrough racked up nearly half of his 812 in the final four games.
”Between Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, I mean those dudes can get it,” Mason said. ”They’re physical, they run downhill. It’s going to be a great challenge for us in this defense.”
New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is finding other ways to keep Scarbrough involved in the offense. The junior has already caught six passes, which ranks second on the team and is two more than he caught the previous two seasons combined.
”Everyone knows I been can catch the ball since high school days, so it’s great to be back out there to be able to catch the ball,” Scarbrough said.
In the meantime, he seems OK with the fact that even the quarterback has more rushes than him through three games. Damien and Najee Harris are close behind.
”We try to get the ball to a lot of guys,” Scarbrough said. ”And we have a lot of athletes on this team, so we’re trying to get the ball in everyone’s hands possible.”
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker contributed to this report in Nashville, Tennessee
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