It’s not unusual for Alabama to rely on the running game as much as it has this season, but it is a bit of an oddity in the Nick Saban era for the Crimson Tide to ride a single running back as much as it has Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry this season.

Barring injury, Henry will surpass 2,000 rushing yards for the season when the Tide takes on Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl Classic. There isn’t another rusher on the team with even 350 yards on the ground.

It’s a start contrast to previous years, such as last season when Henry and T.J. Yeldon shared carries and each rushed for more than 950 yards. In 2013 it was Yeldon in the featured role that saw him rush for 1,235 yards, but Kenyan Drake put up nearly 700 and Henry, as the third-stringer, had 382. The year before that Yeldon and Eddie Lacy were each 1,000-yard rushers. Before that Lacy was a frequently-used backup to Trent Richardson, who of course had previously paired with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

So as Alabama gets ready for its 14th game of the season, it’s not out of line to wonder if the heavy workload will eventually catch up to Henry, who has 339 carries, or if the Tide can figure out a way to get a second back more involved during the College Football Playoff.

The most likely candidate to spell the Alabama workhouse might seem to be Drake, who at one point looked like he was next in line to take over the job of the Tide’s No. 1 running back. But Drake has never really been the same since injuring his knee in 2014.

Before the season, the Alabama coaching staff seemed interested in getting Drake, who at his best was speedier, shiftier and a better receiver than the powerful Henry, involved in the offense. Drake has always represented something of a wild card for the Tide, a potential change of pace that could keep opposing defenses off balance. But he could never really get into a rhythm this season, carrying the ball 72 times for 347 yards and making 24 catches for 250.

By the time the Tide got into the heart of the SEC schedule, it was clear the best option on offense was to let Henry grind out yardage and occasionally look to pass it downfield to receivers such as Calvin Ridley or ArDarius Stewart.

Still, Drake has shown an ability to be productive in short bursts and if Saban and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin can figure out way to get the ball to Drake in the open field a few times, it could have a big impact.

Another way to keep Henry fresh might be to work true freshmen Damien Harris and/or Bo Scarbrough into the mix for a series or two. Playing time has been limited for both coveted backs as Henry became the focal point, but Saban didn’t decide to burn their redshirts just to have them on the bench. Harris has carried 45 times for 176 yards this season while Scarbrough has just 15 carries for 87 yards.

Harris looks like the clear No. 3 on the depth chart and despite his lack of work so far this season, he’s the kind of player who could fit well into a game against Michigan State. With both teams eager to grind it out on the ground, Scarbrough offers a big, durable body similar to Henry. He’s coming off a torn ACL, and the extra time between the SEC Championship Game and the Cotton Bowl could benefit him as much as any member of this backfield.

Clearly, Alabama is content letting Henry carry them to the national title, but that might be a lot to ask for the man who has done so much already.

Getting solid hits on the overworked running back is going to be a focus for the Spartans and potentially either Oklahoma or Clemson in the national championship game. Even if Henry proves up to the task, increased production by someone else out of the backfield would be welcome for the Tide.