Alabama football: Nick Saban doesn't expect Kenyan Drake to play in opener

Anniston StarAugust 28, 2013 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Alabama released its depth chart on Monday, the biggest omission seemed to be sophomore running back Kenyan Drake.

Drake, who was the Crimson Tide's third leading rusher last season, has practiced as a scout team running back as the Tide prepares for its season opener versus Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

Tide coach Nick Saban provided clarity to Drake's absence from the depth chart and him being relegated to the scout team.

"I think Kenyan Drake has a lot of ability. He can certainly contribute," Saban said. "I don't think he will contribute a lot in this game. I don't think he has a significant role in this game. We had to get other guys ready to do things, and they actually did well enough.

"I also think Kenyan Drake is going to be a guy that's going to be a contributor long term to our team and can be a very good player for us."

Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon is the clear No. 1 option with Jalston Fowler listed at No. 2.

Henry's number change

Derrick Henry wore No. 2 during high school, took No. 3 when he arrived at Alabama, but will have a completely different number when the Tide takes the field against Virginia Tech.

Henry previously shared a number with safety Vinnie Sunseri, but has made a change because they'll both have a role on special teams.

Henry practiced in No. 21 on Wednesday and Saban confirmed that the switch is permanent.

"Derrick Henry is 21 because of special teams," Saban said. "Too many guys in the same single-digit numbers. You can't operate. You can't have two guys in the game at the same time with the same number on. You have to do it by seniority and he was a good sport about being willing to change and doing whatever he had to do for the team."

Henry is one of the freshmen running backs listed on the Tide's two-deep depth chart along with Altee Tenpenny. He's listed on the third team, but was seen taking carries at the No. 2 spot at Tuesday and Wednesday's practices. Henry now shares a number with freshman cornerback Maurice Smith.

As a five-star prospect from Yulee (Fla.) High School, Henry set the national high school record for most career rushing yards.

Bye week before A&M

While having an extra week to prepare for an opponent is generally seen as a positive, Saban isn't particularly fond of the Tide's bye week before its week three clash with Texas A&M in College Station on Sept. 14.

"No, I don't really like it," Saban said during the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday. "I don't ever remember having it that way, but it is what it is. And we're going to do what we need to do to take advantage of it and continue to develop our team and use the extra practice days to try to improve and prepare for the opponents that we have down the road.

"It is what it is. We've known it's going to be this way for a long time. We have a plan for it, and we'll implement it and try to improve our team with the circumstances that we have."

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