Derrick Henry is the key to Alabama's SEC title chances
It’s tough to point to a team whose defense returned three interceptions for scores and say any other facet was the key to their 18-point win, but that was the case as Alabama racked up another road victory over a top-10 opponent in Texas A&M this week. Running back Derrick Henry (+3.6) earned his highest game grade of the season — churning out 236 relentless yards in in the process — and made it clear that the talent on this Tide team isn’t limited to its dominant D.
Henry’s huge first quarter set the tone, and he was still doing damage in the game’s final moments as Alabama fittingly kept feeding him, grounding out the clock and finishing with a show of force. Over the course of the contest he averaged over 7 yards per carry and picked up more than 100 yards after contact, breaking 10 tackles along the way.
Given QB Jake Coker’s uneven play (-7.6 grade, which ranks in the bottom third of college football) to this point in the season, the Alabama offense needs an anchor — and if this performance is an indicator, Henry looks to be taking that role and charging ahead.
At his best, he’s capable of winning with moves in the open field or simply plowing through defenders to move the chains, and this breakout game on the heels of four less impressive outings showcased all of that. The trick, of course, is to do it consistently. If he finds that next level on a regular basis, his contribution on the offensive side may be the piece that finishes the puzzle for this Bama team.
A matchup with LSU looms just a few weeks away on Nov. 7, and sights have to be set on that as the last real hurdle keeping Alabama from a return to the SEC title game. With four straight wins since their early loss to Ole Miss, the Tide have already begun their charge, but if Henry proves to be the balancing factor for their smothering defense — rounding out the Tide’s attack, giving their offense an identity — they’ll have no trouble reminding the rest of the SEC that a title run is still in their plans.