Pat Dye: T.J. Yeldon + Kenyan Drake Better Duo Than Mark Ingram + Trent Richardson
Former Auburn head coach Pat Dye joined The Game for his weekly college football conversation but stirred up social media when he compared Alabama running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake to former teammates Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
I really think that Yeldon and Drake, right now, are better than Ingram and Richardson,” Dye said Monday night. “I just think they are. I just think they’re better running backs.
Many Alabama fans disagreed immediately with the rival coach, but let’s take a look at the statistics and see how much they support his opinion.
Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson played together in the same backfield during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. During the national championship year of 2009, the duo rushed for nearly 162 yards per game (2,407 total rushing yards) and 25 touchdowns while Ingram went on to win the school’s first Heisman Trophy. The following year, the two combined for 1,575 rushing yards with 19 touchdowns.
With Eddie Lacy carrying the majority of the load in 2012, this is the first season that Alabama fans have seen Yeldon and Drake as the two primary ball-carriers. Through the first eight games, the duo is averaging 161 rushing yards per game with a total of 17 combined touchdowns. To Dye’s credit, they are on pace to match the numbers from Ingram and Richardson’s best year. And if things continue to improve on the ground, as they have, the numbers could surpass their predecessors.
While it’s still too early to declare the current backfield a superior group, Dye’s comments do highlight just how dominant the Crimson Tide has been at the position during the Nick Saban era in Tuscaloosa. You could even make an argument for the Richardson-Lacy backfield, which totaled over 2,300 rushing yards and 28 total touchdowns.
If you have to pick one Alabama backfield, which year are you choosing?