TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson noticed a change when watching film of Texas A&M this week.
The addition of true freshman running back Trayveon Williams has changed the Aggies offensive approach. Anderson called Williams an “elite” running back.
“They’ve always been a spread team, throw first and run second,” Anderson said. “This dude changed that, man. They’re more committed to the run. They’re going to make you stop the run before they pass it.”
Anderson and top-ranked Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) host Williams and sixth-ranked Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) on Saturday in a matchup that could decide the SEC West. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Williams leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (117) and is second in yards per carry (8.59).
Williams has rushed for 90 or more yards in five of the Aggies’ six games this season.
His best performance of the season came two weeks ago when he piled up 217 rushing yards and a touchdown against Tennessee.
“The guys’s got great speed and quickness, he’s got great vision as a runner,” Alabama coach Nick Saban. “The field is spread quite a bit when you play them so if everybody doesn’t fit it exactly right, there’s a lot of air between him and the next defender and he certainly know how to take advantage of it.
“He’s got a great burst and speed, great cutting ability so this guy is the real deal, in my opinion.”
Add in Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight and the Aggies have one of the best rushing attacks in the country. The Aggies sit at No. 7 in the nation with an average of 274.33 yards per game. That’s No. 1 in the SEC (Alabama is 10th in the nation, second in SEC).
Knight has rushed for 502 yards and 9 touchdowns.
“Trevor Knight makes all the throws and can run,” Anderson said. “He can hurt you with his legs and his arms, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
Texas A&M certainly has improved its running game, but Saturday afternoon won’t be easy.
No one has run on Alabama this season.
Alabama once again fields the nation’s top run defense. The Crimson Tide are holding teams to 63.86 yards per game. That’s good for No. 1 in the country and 20 yards better than the second-ranked team.
Further, Alabama allows a nation’s best 2.04 yards per carry. Alabama is tied for third in the country with 3 rushing touchdowns allowed.
If Alabama is able to stop the Aggies rushing attack, it could be a long day for Texas A&M’s offense.