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Alabama photo by Kent Gidley / Alabama fifth-year senior running back Brian Robinson Jr. rushes for some of his 147 yards in last Saturday night's loss at Texas A&M.

When it comes to his size and his star status coming out of high school, Alabama fifth-year senior running back Brian Robinson Jr. will never be confused for former Crimson Tide standout Derrick Henry.

Yet the workload Robinson has assumed this month is very reminiscent of the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner who continues to shine for the Tennessee Titans.

In Alabama's past two games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder from Tuscaloosa has pounded out 60 carries for 318 yards and four touchdowns. That translates to 5.3 yards per carry, and all four of those scores occurred in the 42-21 thumping of the Rebels on Oct. 2, making him the first Crimson Tide rusher with four touchdowns in a game since Trent Richardson in 2011.

"I just feel like I've been in a physical fight," Robinson said this week on a Zoom call. "I don't feel like anyone in this league would be feeling great around this time, but I feel good enough to prepare myself for another week."

Alabama was 5-0 and No. 1 in the country this time last week, but the Crimson Tide stumbled Saturday in a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M that ended the program's 19-game winning streak. With an adjusted ranking of No. 5, Alabama will look to begin a new streak this weekend with a trip to Mississippi State.

Robinson leads the Crimson Tide with 97 carries for 526 yards (5.4) and six touchdowns, and he's rushed 11 more times than Alabama's other running backs combined.

"I think that B-Rob has played really, really well the last two weeks — really well," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He's been an outstanding performer for us. We have confidence in the other guys, and we want to play the other guys.

"We're going to continue to try to use B-Rob and help him be as effective as possible, because he's been extremely effective in the last two games, but we also want to utilize the talents of the other players maybe more and more as we go on."

Sophomores Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams are next in line with 40 and 26 carries, respectively, but McClellan was lost for the season with a knee injury against Ole Miss.

Robinson, who has already surpassed his 483-yard rushing output from last season as the backup to Najee Harris, enhanced his value in College Station by collecting four receptions for 60 yards in addition to his 24 carries for 147. He entered the Texas A&M game with four catches for just 17 yards.

"I catch a lot of balls in practice, and I run a lot of routes in practice," Robinson said. "There are a lot of plays in our playbook that allow me to get out of the backfield and run a lot of routes and catch the ball, so that's a strong part of my game that I haven't really gotten going. It was good to catch a few balls out of the backfield last weekend to kind of show people my pass-catching abilities."

Although Robinson did lose a first quarter fumble against the Aggies, there was the sense he wasn't used nearly enough in the red zone, where Alabama traveled six times but only came away with two touchdowns. Saban essentially hinted as much this week without openly criticizing offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, stating, "I don't know if we challenged them running it maybe as much as we could."

Regardless, Alabama no longer has any room for error if the Crimson Tide are to make their seventh trip to the College Football Playoff in its eighth year of existence.

"All the little things matter, and they matter most in big-time situations," Robinson said. "If you don't buy into the little things that it takes to be a winner, then it will come back and bite you at a bad time. Coach Saban is always on us about staying on the little things.

"I feel like this team will respond in a great manner."

 

Critiquing Young

Through the midway mark of the regular season, Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young ranks ninth nationally in passing efficiency, having completed 136 of 196 passes (69.4%) for 1,734 yards with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.

"I think Bryce has done a great job so far," redshirt junior receiver Slade Bolden said. "He's becoming a good leader for us on offense. He's very smart with the ball. He makes great plays. He finds his receivers and does a good job of checking with the O-line and making sure everybody is in the right position at the right time, and I think he'll continue to do that."

Said redshirt junior guard Emil Ekiyor: "Bryce has done a tremendous job. I think it's highly documented how well he's done this season. He's done well in two tough environments — as tough as it gets in the SEC — and pretty much had poise those entire games and delivered for us when we needed him to."

The Crimson Tide have scored at least 31 points in all six games under Young's guidance.

 

Tide tidbits

Alabama holds a commanding 85-17-3 series lead over Mississippi State. ... The Crimson Tide have played MSU more than any other team. ... Last weekend's loss ended Alabama's 45-game winning streak when scoring a touchdown on its first offensive possession.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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