Empty Backfield Opened Up Field

But for poor field position after the opening kickoff, Alabama would have spread the field with five wide receivers on its first offensive series. Instead, the Tide waited until its second offensive series to use the empty backfield and the no-huddle offense, surprising the Penn State defense with four completions to four different receivers en route to the Tide's first touchdown.

That quick start out of the empty backfield set Penn State up for the pounding from sophomore running back Trent Richardson that followed. The Tide offense dominated for most of the game, beating Penn State 24-3 in Tuscaloosa Saturday night.

"When you go empty you've only got five guys in to block," Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said. "Our five guys did a really good job of giving us time to make plays down the field. That's something that we should be good at. We've got good players and spreading out and getting empty is something we need to do more of."

Despite the variety of offense, Saban said the turnovers the Tide defense got when Penn State was in the red zone was probably the key to the game. Saban wanted more defensive consistency, and said Penn State had plenty of opportunities to score, but that the turnovers were a fortunate turn of events. Alabama got three interceptions and one fumble recovery in the game.

Alabama did not come away from Saturday night's game free of injury. Saban said that linebacker Chris Jordan injured his shoulder, and that appeared to be the most serious case. Linebacker Courtney Upshaw was not 100 percent healthy and was taken out of the game early, Saban said. Offensive lineman James Carpenter injured an ankle and defensive back DeMarcus Milliner injured a hamstring, Saban said. Those injuries did not appear to be as serious.

On Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram, Saban said Ingram practiced some this past week but not enough to play. He thought Ingram would likely have a chance to return to the field next week against Duke. Saban also talked about Marcell Darreus' upcoming return from NCAA suspension next week.

"He's handled the suspension well," Saban said. "I think he'll make a significant contribution when he comes back, but the good new about this is when you have situations like that more guys get to play. We expect him to do a good job when come back. He's got his mind right and his attitude is good and he's ready to help the team."

Saban said he'd been asked a number of times if he thought this would be the last time he ever coached against Joe Paterno.

"I got asked that question 15 years ago at Michigan State and he's still coaching," Saban said. "I don't think it warrants and answer."

"There's probably not a classier guy or a guy that has affected more people than him," Saban said of Paterno. "I know Joe has given back a lot to his institution and I feel like he's someone that we all -- and I don't feel like I'm a young coachi any more -- but in comparison, all of the young coaches should try to do more of."

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