With its 35-17 whipping of Wisconsin, the Alabama Crimson Tide answered several questions that had been posed going into the season. The most obvious had been the quarterback position. A second would be how the Tide would replace 90% of its offensive production from the year before with the departures of Blake Sims, Amari Cooper, and T.J. Yeldon, not to mention the steady production of Jalston Fowler, DeAndrew White, and Christion Jones. But with almost 500 yards of total offense, much of it right up the gut into the teeth of a stingy, physical Badger defense, the answer to that question would appear to be “fairly well.”
But a second question that has been in the minds of everyone watching this team centered on Kenyan Drake, the speedy running back/receiver hybrid who Tide fans saw statemate defenses the year before. That is, before his gruesome injury against Ole Miss.
In his weekly Monday press conference, Saban was asked about Drake, and his impression on Drake’s return to action from injury. In true Nick Saban form, he used the opportunity to drive home a point.
“I’ve seen him out there at practice,” Saban said in response. “I’ve been trying to convince you all that the guy is fine. So now you know it, how do you feel about it? Because I’ve been feeling this way since spring. So how do you all feel about it? I’ve been getting asked every scrimmage, every practice, how is Kenyan Drake? He’s fine. He’s one-hundred percent. So do you believe me now?”
We do now. Saturday night the Drake showed flashes of the brilliance he displayed the season before…which is the reason everyone wanted to know if we’d see it again in 2015.
All evening in Arlington, TX, we saw the quickness and agility that makes the Drake a match-up nightmare for defenses. But then, in the 4th quarter, it happened. With about 8 minutes to play, Bama facing a 3rd and 26, Bama called a draw, clearly intended to get what they could and kick. Afterall, the Tide was up 28-10 at the time, and had notched all the points they needed to complete the win.
But Drake had something else in mind, taking the handoff, breaking a defensive lineman’s arm tackle and scampering 43 yards down the right sideline for a score.
What made the play so electrifying was the extra burst the Drake used to clear the last two defenders before sprinting away from eveybody…on a leg that was literally broken in two just eleven months ago.
Medical science has come a long way in the areas rehab and recovery, but Saturday night made a believer out of anyone wondering if the Drake is back.
Yes. Yes he is.