Alabama Football: Too much Bo a ‘no-go’ for the Crimson Tide

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Bo Scarbrough
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Bo Scarbrough /

Alabama football no longer has a potent offensive weapon in running back Bo Scarbrough. Too many carries for Bo will be a ‘no-go’ in the national championship game.

Alabama football would be playing for a three-peat Monday night except for three reasons. Take your pick of reasons. The first reason was the loss of Eddie Jackson to injury in the 2016 Ole Miss game. The second was the loss of Shaun Dion Hamilton to injury in the SEC championship game. The third was the loss of Bo Scarbrough to injury in last season’s national championship game.

In a small sample of games this season, it appears losing Shaun Dion Hamilton and Hootie Jones to injury may not destroy a 2017 national title chance. Then there is Bo. For whatever reasons, the Bo of 2017 is not the Bo of 2016.

Bo was a Tide ‘hammer blow’ in 2016

Late in games in the 2016 season, a fresh Bo against tiring defenses was a hammer blow. Unleashed earlier against Clemson in the title game, Bo rushed for 76 yards in the first half at an average of 6.3 yards-per-carry. Bo got four more carries in the third quarter, gaining another 17 yards. A leg fracture removed him from the game in the third quarter.  Absent Bo’s offense, the Tide struggled to move the ball and lost.

Bo has not been the same since the Clemson game last season. He has been productive at times. He is a weapon on flare passes. As the Auburn game showed, get him outside the tackles with a full head of steam and he can still be a force. Otherwise, he has looked slow-footed, unable to make quick adjustments to find an interior hole in a defense.

Against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, he had 12 carries for a net 24 yards. He also gained 15 yards on a swing pass. The 2016 Bo Scarbrough whose average-yards-per-carry was 8.3 yards (Florida), 9.5 yards (Washington), and 5.3 yards (Clemson) last season – is not the Bo of 2017.

What has happened to Bo?

What happened? Perhaps it is conditioning related to a long injury rehab. Perhaps the accumulation of the multiple knee injuries and the leg fracture has diminished his quickness. Perhaps, too many career injuries have taken a mental toll. Paul Bryant encouraged his players to compete with ‘reckless abandon’  but such an urge is not evident in Bo.

Count us in the group of fans who would love to see Bo run wild on Georgia. Unfortunately, we are not optimistic. Should anyone think our assessment of Bo in unfair, consider this. In SEC running back carries on third-and-short runs (three yards or less), Bo averages 3.67 yards. That is 37th best in the SEC. Jalen Hurts averages 3.9 yards and Damien Harris 4.44 yards.

Certainly, offensive line push is a major factor in short yardage runs. Still, Bo is not the best option for the Tide in such situations. None of the other Tide running backs have enough carries to compare but it is possible, Bo is not even the third best Tide option. Against Georgia, Josh Jacobs or Najee Harris may get more done for the Tide.

For those wondering what SEC running backs are best in short-yardage situations. That would be Nick Chubb and Sony Michel who average 9.33 and 8.63 average yards-per-carry respectively.

Next: Will Monday be a 'Rose Bowl' or a 'Sugar Bowl'?

Need a boost of good news about an Alabama football running back? Per Pro Football Focus, Damien Harris in the No. 1 running back in the nation in yards-after-contact at 5.28 yards per attempt.