Sidelines with John Clay

Alabama running back Damien Harris could get his chance Saturday

Damien Harris (34) took the hand off from Deondre Francois (3) at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Football game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fl on January 2, 2015.
Damien Harris (34) took the hand off from Deondre Francois (3) at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Football game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fl on January 2, 2015. Lexington Herald-Leader

Poor Charleston Southern. The FCS team may be 9-1 on the season but it travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Saturday for a matchup with the third-ranked Crimson Tide. What figures to be a rough day for the Buccaneers could be a good day for former Madison Southern running back Damien Harris.

Alabama figures to rest star running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Derrick Henry as much as possible. Meanwhile, fellow running back Kenyan Drake is out with a broken arm. That means Harris, a freshman from Richmond, along with fellow freshman Bo Scarbrough, could see plenty of carries.

“Both guys are going to play a role, no question about that,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday in his weekly press conference.

Harris has carried the football 34 times for 126 yards on the season. He carried three times for four yards in Bama’s 31-6 win over Mississippi State last week, which was Harris’ first rushing attempts since Alabama’s win over Arkansas on Oct. 10.

Harris’ most productive game came agianst Middle Tennessee on Sept. 12 when he carried eight times for 55 yards. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back had a season-best 41-yard run in that game.

3Number of rushing attempts by Damien Harris over Alabama’s last four games.

Harris has returned eight kickoffs for 144 yards this season, with a long of 24 yards. With Drake injured, Harris may also return more kicks on Saturday.

Rated as the No. 2 running back prospect in the Class of 2015 by ESPN, Harris was the subject of a tough recruiting battle between Kentucky and Alabama with Saban winning out over Mark Stoops in the end.

Meanwhile, Henry has rushed for 1,458 yards on the season. He has rushed for 200-or-more yards in three separate games this season, including a 204-yard effort against Mississippi State, preceeded by a 210-yard game in Alabama’s win over LSU the week before. Henry carried the football 38 times against LSU. He’s carried the ball 240 times on the season.

Damien Harris game-by-game rushing

  • S5 Wisconsin 9-23
  • S12 Middle Tennessee 8-55
  • S26 UL-Monroe 4-23
  • O3 @Georgia 7-8
  • O10 Arkansas 3-(-4)
  • N14 @Miss State 3-4
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