Throughout the Nick Saban era at Alabama, no position has been as consistent and productive as the running back. And with a Heisman Trophy winner and multiple first round NFL draft picks preceding him, Derrick Henry has still found a way to raise the bar in Tuscaloosa.

The man behind the all of the success in the backfield is running backs coach Burton Burns. He's coached at Alabama every year of Saban's tenure and he's seen some great players.

"I think Derrick is a lot like all of those other guys," Burns said. "The one thing in common that they all have was these guys were great competitors. When you get a great competitor, guys don't mind working, don't mind learning."

Henry set the SEC single-season rushing record, and Burns says his work ethic has led to his success.

"He wants to be the best everyday," Burns said. "He's able to understand that and he's able to work at it in the right way, both on the field and off the field."

There has been some concern from fans and analysts that Henry might be carry too much of a workload for the Alabama offense. In wins over Auburn and Florida in the SEC Championship, Henry ran the ball 90 times. Burns explained why that's happened.

"Obviously that is unchartered territory for us," Burns said. "That's not the way we'd like to do it based on the history of how we've handled the running backs. If there was an exception to the rule, (Henry) would be that. A lot of it has to do with his personal ability to be in great condition all of the time."

Alabama will likely continue to rely heavily on the Heisman Trophy winner on Thursday night against Michigan State, but the Spartans have the 9th best rushing defense in the nation.