Before the season, Phil Savage's curiosity woke up.
"I'm really interested to see how much Jalen [Hurts] is incorporated into the offense as a running back," said the Alabama radio analyst in August.
By the time Crimson Tide left a field swarmed by Auburn fans last month, Savage had received his answer.
No player on the Alabama roster executed the ball more than its starting quarterback.
In 12 games, Hurts had 137 overtime attempts, 27 more than Tide's leading rusher, Damien Harris, who won 906 yards in 2017.
During the loss to Auburn, when the offense scored 14 points and saw disarticulated, Hurts had three times more carries than Harris.
It was a strange development, considering that Harris entered the game with an average of 8.2 yards per attempt. But it was also a continuation of a trend; Harris has not been handed the ball more than nine times in a game since the end of October.
"Whatever the coaches consider best for this team, that is what they are going to do and it is our job as players to believe in them, trust them and believe that they have the best interest of the whole team in the heart "said Harris.
It was a diplomatic response from Harris, who heard the fan talk about his light workload. Even with a scandalous rate of productivity, Harris has never run more than 14 times in a game this season. Instead, he had to share opportunities with Hurts and fellow running back Bo Scarbrough, the hulking, corpulent young man whose career total falls 357 yards below the one Harris compiled despite carrying the ball only two times less than his teammate. 19659002] When a reporter openly wondered if Harris could figure more prominently in the Alabama College Playoff semifinal showdown against Clemson on New Year's Day, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was irritated by the question.
"You're asking me." Do I believe that everyone is getting enough carries? & # 39; "Saban responded earlier this week." Then you ask if one of the boys can get more carries. There is still only one ball, and we are only going to run it so many times. We're going to have a plan on how we want to play the boys. in the game. The guys who play well in the game tend to play a little more and maybe get some more touches. "
But often that was not the case with Harris and Scarbrough, Harris outperformed Scarbrough in wins over Florida State, Texas A & M, Louisiana State and Auburn, however, in each of those games, Harris received less or equal attempts to hurry than Scarbrough.
"I'm here to do what's best for the team," Harris said. "One part of that is trusting the coaches, relying on the game plan they have set, so I do not think about that."
Almost everyone following Alabama, however, has pondered whether Harris You can escape from the great shadows of your teammates and steal a bit from the spotlight on New Year's Day.
Rainer Sabin is a beat writer from Alabama for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin