Alabama just turned in its most pedestrian rushing effort of the season in Saturday's 33-14 win over Ole Miss, but the worst news wasn't in the box score: Coach Nick Saban confirmed Monday that tailback Dee Hart is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, further thinning a backfield that was already feeling the bite from an injury to junior Jalston Fowler. Per Saban, the Crimson Tide also will play the rest of the season without sophomore receiver DeAndrew White, who also suffered a torn ACL against the Rebels.
For Hart, the injury is the same one that cost him his freshman season in 2011, when he arrived from Orlando, Fla., with five-star accolades from every major recruiting site. Through five games this year, he had run for 88 yards on 21 carries in a third-string role behind junior Eddie Lacy and true freshman T.J. Yeldon. Hart also started handling punt returns. His latest injury came Saturday on a punt return in the fourth quarter.
With Fowler already out due to a knee injury, the Crimson Tide are left with the formidable one-two punch of Lacy and Yeldon, who have combined for 606 yards and six touchdowns through five games. But there aren't any established options behind them. Freshman Kenyan Drake has played well in a limited, garbage-time role, averaging 9.7 yards per carry with three touchdowns on just 13 attempts. Veterans Ben Howell and Blake Sims have earned a handful of touches. After opening the season with arguably the deepest backfield in the nation, another hit from here on could leave the Tide in (relatively) dire straits as they hit the meat of the SEC schedule with conference and national championships in their sights.
Hart and White are the fourth and fifth Alabama players to go down with serious injuries since the start of preseason practice. In addition to losing Fowler, freshman wide receiver Chris Black and junior safety Jarrick Williams, are not expected to play again this year.