Joshua Jacobs has gone from a backup running back to potentially the next star in the backfield for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Jacobs, a freshman from Tulsa, OK (McLain), has run for 197 yards and three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s past two games. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry against Kent State in a 48-0 beat down, a game that saw him score two touchdowns in relief of injured starter Damien Harris.
Last weekend against Kentucky, Jacobs rushed for 100 yards on 16 attempts, scoring one touchdown in his first career start. Harris did play, but he was limited in action.
Jacobs also played a role in the passing game these past two weekends, catching two passes for 23 yards against Kent State and three catches for 54 yards against the Wildcats. His day through the air included the below swing pass that saw him make defenders miss and flash some burst en route to a whole bunch of yards.
Not bad for a freshman in his first career start. Not bad at all…
In fact, so far this season, Jacobs has been great for the Crimson Tide.
He’s currently third on the team in rushing, only behind Harris — who began the season as the starter — and fellow freshman, quarterback Jalen Hurts. Harris leads the way so far with 356 yards, Hurts has 276 and Jacobs isn’t far behind with 250. Jacobs is actually tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns so far in 2016 with three. Hurts has notched three of his own as has sophomore running back Bo Scarbrough.
Even through the air, the freshman has made an impact for the Crimson Tide. On a team that features Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, Gehrig Dieter and O.J Howard, Jacobs checks in with the fifth most receiving yards on the team. Sure, he’s yet to get over 100 and he’s yet to find the end zone as a receiver, but he’s been able to do things like this in his limited time so far:
Consider the above juke and then watch the below play in which Jacobs lowers his shoulders, drives his feet and picks up some tough yards for Alabama. Even at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, he has what it takes to play in Alabama’s smash-mouth offensive scheme, and that’s a very exciting statement for his future with the Crimson Tide.
There’s no time quite like the present, though, and in the here and now Jacobs has the opportunity to make a huge name for himself with the Crimson Tide. It’s kind of fitting considering Alabama’s freshman revival. There was a point in time when it seemed as if Nick Saban was content to lean on the experience of upperclassmen and let the young guns sit on the bench and learn — no matter how talented they were. Hurt and Jacobs have challenged that thinking, though, not to mention Ridley, who put up 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a freshman.
The youth movement in Tuscaloosa is real.
Outlook vs. Arkansas
VIP reports coming out of Tuscaloosa suggest that Harris has been running with the first team in practice, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get the start against a tough opponent in Arkansas. With that said, with he way that Jacobs has stood out the past few weeks, Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would be crazy not to get him a fair share of time in Alabama’s backfield, especially considering that Harris is not that far removed from being limited.
Jacobs will have to compete with Scarbrough for second-string snaps, but right now the freshman is the player with momentum, so one has to imagine that the Tide will roll with Jacobs — though don’t count out all three players getting a healthy amount of snaps.
Arkansas is ranked 10th in the SEC, giving up 163.40 yards per game on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns so far, so it’s not as if there won’t be opportunities for Harris, Jacobs and Scarbrough to succeed.
Still, considering what Jacobs has shown the past few weeks, especially as a pass-catcher, it would be surprising if he doesn’t end up making another big impact for the Crimson Tide. He can be extremely valuable as a third-down back for Alabama in passing situations, and the smart money would be on him being able to take a screen play the distance if Kiffin was to dial one up.
So no, he likely won’t be the starter. That doesn’t mean the expectations should be any lower for Jacobs though.
In some way, shape or form, expect another big game from the Crimson Tide freshman.