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Alabama’s defense has challenge on its hands with K-State’s RB Deuce Vaughn

Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn (#22) runs for a touchdown against TCU in Big 12 Championship Game.
Kevin Jairaj - USA Today Sports

Alabama has not been great defensively against the run this year, and it has another challenge in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Pete Golding’s unit for the Crimson Tide allowed four 100-yard rushers in the regular season, including Raheim Sanders (Arkansas), Quinshon Judkins (Ole Miss,), Jarquez Hunter (Auburn), and Robby Ashford (Auburn). Jayden Daniels, the starting quarterback for Louisiana State University, came close to 100 yards rushing at 95 in a 32-31 overtime victory over the Tide.

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Alabama’s front seven and secondary have a daunting task to stop Deuce Vaughn of Kansas State.

Vaughn, a junior from Texas, is one of the most explosive running backs in college football. The 5-foot-6, 176-pounder has an explosive burst, jump-cut abilities, vision, contact balance, speed, versatility, and patience. He recorded eight games of 100 or more rushing yards — including 148 yards rushing with two touchdowns in a 40-12 victory for the Wildcats over Missouri.

Vaughn ran over Texas Christian University in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium, tallying 130 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in a 31-28 overtime victory over TCU. He totaled at least 20 carries, despite his size, in nine games.

Vaughn has 1,425 rushing yards, 378 receiving yards (42 catches), and 11 total scores. He is the engine for K-State’s offense, and Colin Klein uses him in many ways. Alabama knows the Wildcats will be creative with its best offensive player, but one defensive back discussed the challenge of limiting Vaughn. Brian Branch, a junior, praised Vaughn’s playmaking abilities as a running back.

“He’s small, but he’s able to get in and out of holes,” Branch said Tuesday about Vaughn. “He has a low center of gravitiy so it’s going to be hard to tackle him, but we go against good backs here all the time. Practice makes perfect.”

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Branch and the Tide’s defense have worked against Jahmyr Gibbs, Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, and Jamarion Miller all season in practice. Now, two five-star freshmen — Justice Haynes and Richard Young — will help the defense more in bowl prep for the Wildcats. Haynes, a native Georgian, is a complete back while Young carries more a bruising style as a runner.

The Tide needs all the help necessary to make sure Vaughn does not run wild in New Orleans, La.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith. 

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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