TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Even though the University of Alabama football team is averaging 270.3 rushing yards per game, and 6.2 per carry, the Crimson Tide isn’t real happy with the running game.

“Honestly, not at all,” senior right tackle Austin Shepherd said. “I feel like we have strides to make. We haven’t really been consistent.

“For example, the first half of last game wasn’t really that consistent. It was hit or miss. I feel like we got better with it in the second half, but I’m hoping going into this game we can have a consistent run game and build on it from here.”

While Shepherd pointed to “technique and communication” as the main culprits, there are some causes for concern.

The longest carry thus far has just been 29 yards, by junior Kenyan Drake. No one notched a 100-yard game the last two weeks and the two primary ball carries, junior T.J. Yeldon (hamstring) and sophomore Derrick Henry (shoulder), are banged up.

Alabama has a bye next week, which should help the running backs, but go back last week’s game against Southern Miss and the ground attack never really took over as expected. Granted, Alabama still finished with 333 yards on the ground, but the Golden Eagles said afterward that the Crimson Tide’s line hadn’t been impressive.

Nick Saban even mentioned something about it in his postgame press conference, especially the lack of yards running in the interior. As pointed out in Upon Further Review, Alabama averaged 11.9 yards running around the right end and 9.27 yards outside of the tackles. Minus junior quarterback Jacob Coker’s 11-yard sack the ground game averaged 4.59 years in the interior.

That’s actually been a trend for the whole season:

Where Alabama runs the ball
Sacks not included
Locations indicate where the carries go, around the end or behind a player)
Location, WVU, FAU, USM = Total

LE 2-21; 4-33; 11-62 = 17-116 (6.8)
LT 4-12; 4-31; 4-20 = 12-63 (5.3)
LG 6-26; 4-15; 3-17 = 13-58 (4.5)
C 12-92; 6-32; 5-14 = 23-138 (6.0)
RG 10-61; 6-29; 6-26 = 22-116 (5.3)
RT 9-52; 3-12; 4-24 = 18-88 (4.9)
RE 4-38; 6-63; 15-179 = 25-280 (11.2)

Alabama has a true freshman at left tackle with Cam Robison and has used two different players at right guard, senior Leon Brown and sophomore Alphonse Taylor, but the players say neither is a factor.

“I think we just came out sluggish in that first half,” Shepherd said. “Not a very great warm-up. We went in for halftime and coach just talked to us. Told us ‘This isn’t us. This isn’t Alabama football.’ Some of the guys talked and told us what we needed to do. I feel like it just clicked when we came out. We got fast and just started running the ball and that’s where it started.”

But this was the one thing the offense was supposed to hang its hat on this season, especially with having a new quarterback. Granted senior Blake Sims has done quite a lot to ease the angst of fans, and Amari Cooper might be the best wide receiver in college football, but what happens if an opponent is able to shut down the running game?

Saturday’s opponent. Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), ranks 12th in the nation against the run, yielding just 80.5 yards a game and 2.4 per carry.

When the teams last played in 2011, a 38-10 Crimson Tide victory at The Swamp, Alabama had 226 rushing yards on 43 carries (5.3 average). It doesn’t necessarily need someone to match Trent Richardson’s 181 yards on 29 carries, but still pound the ball in similar fashion.

Fortunately for the Crimson Tide that type of performance might be on the horizon. Both Yeldon and Henry had 100-yard games against West Virginia and they’ve been very close to breaking some big runs. Additionally, the bigger the game the more Saban usually relies on his running backs and the line to wear down the opponent.

Alabama also may have the deepest backfield in the conference with five running backs who are all averaging at least 5.4 yards per carry, and a fullback who does a lot more than catch touchdown passes, senior Jalston Fowler.

“I think the running backs, we’ve utilized all those guys,” Saban said

So even though the Crimson Tide may have more ways to attack than any other team in college football, the core belief remains the same, that the better it can run the football and dictate the tempo the better the team’s chances for success.

“I’m not saying we haven’t been dominant, I feel like we have,’ Shepherd added. “I just feel like we need to be more consistent. Consistency is the key to everything.”