Alabama’s Damien Harris sheds Honey Buns, tacklers
Damien Harris has sacrificed some carries playing in Alabama’s offense, and he is OK with that. The tailback said that doesn’t hurt nearly as much as giving up one of his favorite snacks this summer.
“Honey Buns,” he said, wistfully.
Harris opted to give up one of his favorite sugary snacks to help shed a few pounds before the season. He doesn’t seem to mind nearly so much giving up some carries to ’Bama’s other runners, including quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Harris ranks seventh in the Southeastern Conference with 500 rushing yards despite averaging just under 10 carries a game.
“The way I look at it is, on every run you want to make the most of the opportunity, because you never know when someone is going to come in with fresh legs,” Harris said. “So any time you get the ball you want to do the most that you can, not only for yourself but for the team. Gain the most yards, get as close to the end zone, make the offense as efficient as you can and make the offense have positive plays.”
He’s done all that, emerging as the Tide’s go-to back during the first half of the season. Harris is averaging 8.5 yards per carry with seven touchdowns on 59 carries. He’s upped that to 10-plus yards a carry in three SEC games.
Up next for Harris and Alabama is Arkansas (2-3, 1-2).
The 5-foot-11, 221-pound Harris racked up 151 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt . Two weeks later, Harris ran for 124 against Texas A&M with a season-high 14 carries, breaking tackles on big runs.
He also had a career-long 75-yard touchdown run against the Aggies.
Harris splits carries with preseason second-team AP All-American Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs and freshman Najee Harris. Not to mention Hurts, who holds a slim team lead with 517 rushing yards.
“Damien Harris has been probably our most consistent guy,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
Harris said he just changed up his diet some and ran a little more during summer conditioning. There was undoubtedly some extra motivation.
He was run down twice by USC cornerback Adoree Jackson last season, albeit at the end of long runs. A little extra speed can’t hurt, nor can teammates’ friendly barbs.
As guard Ross Pierschbacher joked, one motivator was “just not getting hogged down by Adoree Jackson.”
But Pierschbacher has high praise for Harris’s running abilities.
“He is just a really smart, tough back. He’s running hard,” the lineman said. “He knows where to hit the hole. I think he is very patient as well. If something opens up maybe backside, he’ll cut it back and make the right read and makes us look good. We like that.”
Harris still might not win footraces with some NFL-bound cornerbacks (Jackson is now with the Tennessee Titans). But he’s doing quite well, even without Honey Buns.
“I love Honey Buns,” he said. “I haven’t had one in months, since probably June or July, and it hurts to talk about it.”
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