Who would have thought that Alabama's best offensive player on Thursday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl would be a running back who entered the game with 27 carries this season?
Freshman running back Derrick Henry ran for a 43-yard touchdown and turned a swing pass from AJ McCarron into a 61-yard touchdown and totaled 161 yards on nine touches during Alabama's 45-31 loss to Oklahoma on Thursday night.
Throughout the season, Henry had 27 carries for 282 yards and two touchdowns. A limited sample size, sure, but a big yards-per-carry average that he backed up.
Henry owned the second half. His 6-foot-3, 238 pound size and speed combination showed not only on the 43-yard run, but especially on the pass. After catching the ball from McCarron by the numbers, Henry cut inside to make a defender miss, unleashed a stiff-arm and then pulled away from the Oklahoma secondary to cut the Sooners' lead to 31-24. Though Alabama got no closer.
A four-star recruit out of high school, according to Rivals, Henry set the national record for career rushing yards with 12,124 and ran for 4,261 as a senior at Yulee (Fla.) High School.
His explosion Thursday night also continues Alabama's trend of loaded backfields. Both T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, the two backs ahead of him on the depth chart for most of the season, are sophomores and all three will be counted on to help take pressure off McCarron's successor.
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