Dutchtown High graduate Eddie Lacy is now Alabama’s No. 1 tailback. This week, he’ll play in a very familiar place
“You know they have the crowd and they’re going to come out, and they’re going to have all the energy, really. Just their stadium — especially if you play at nighttime, it’s a different effect.” EDDIE LACY, Alabama tailback
T USCALOOSA, Ala. — For Eddie Lacy, the Alabama junior running back, the question always comes up.
What does it mean for the Dutchtown High graduate to play against LSU?
Last year was one thing, when the Crimson Tide fell to the Tigers 9-6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, or when Alabama beat LSU 21-0 in the BCS title game in New Orleans. But an evening spent at Tiger Stadium brings the competition closer to home.
“You know they have the crowd and they’re going to come out, and they’re going to have all the energy, really,” Lacy said Monday. “Just their stadium — especially if you play at nighttime, it’s a different effect.”
While the conflict is huge for both teams, for Lacy, it’s no different.
“You know, it’s a big game,” Lacy said. “We don’t really factor records into the game. We know they’re going to come out and give it their best shot. As a team, we’re just going to come out and play like we’ve been doing all season.”
Lacy is part of Alabama’s continued tradition of a splitting the rushing load. The Crimson Tide featured the duo of Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram in 2010-12, while last season saw the pair of Ingram and Lacy.
Lacy and T.J. Yeldon bring no new strategy. Against Missouri, the Lacy and Yeldon duo combined to rush for 321 yards and five touchdowns, the first rushing tandem to score two or more touchdowns in the same game since Richardson and Jalston Fowler combined for six against Ole Miss in 2011.
“It’s worked for us for a long time, and I think this is no exception,” offensive lineman Barrett Jones said of Alabama’s running back philosophy.
For Lacy, splitting the time with Yeldon is beneficial for the team, as well as his individual performance.
“I think of it, like, future-wise,” Lacy said. “A lot of running backs will get the ball 20 or 30 times a game. At the same time, it wears your body down, and you don’t really know how long your career will last. So splitting carries, that’s not a bad choice at all.”
With 617 yards on 109 attempts this season, the 6-foot, 220-pound Lacy hasn’t had trouble showing his strengths.
“The less hits, the better. That’s how I see it,” Lacy said. “So why not go where you can split a carry?”
During is senior year at Dutchtown, Lacy rushed for 1,024 yards with 12 touchdowns his senior year, despite missing four games.
He was courted by LSU, but chose to play at Alabama.
“Eddie’s been a really good player for us,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who added the pair of Yeldon and Lacy has been the most effective combination.
“I think durability is such a critical factor in running backs, that if you play one guy all the time, it enhances his chances of maybe not being able to play at the same level. It’s always been our goal to play two guys.”
Lacy has continued to build, overcoming a sprained ankle and knee he suffered during preseason practice. Against Missouri, he opened the scoring with a career-long 73-yard touchdown, the longest for Alabama since Richardson’s 76-yard run against Ole Miss in 2011.
Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said he’s looking forward to watching his former player line up against the Tigers.
“Eddie was one of my favorite players, along with Landon (Collins) and Eric (Reid), who will all be playing in this game,” Saia said. “People like to ask, ‘Who are you pulling for?’ I’m pulling for all of them. I’d like to see all of them do well.”
He added that watching the progression of the player that is the most meaningful.
“Eddie and Eric, being towards the end of their careers, you want to see them do well so they have some memories to take with them, as well as creating a résumé for the next level,” he said.
Lacy brushed off the idea of getting any negative remarks on returning to his hometown after the BCS win.
“It was normal,” Lacy said about going home after winning the BCS title in January. “Nobody said nothing to me, and I didn’t say nothing to nobody.”