One Test Passed, Here Comes Another
"We told him just to let it go, don't let it linger in your mind for the rest of the game, because it will hinder you," Mark Ingram said Monday. He was referring to the fumble by Eddie Lacy in a 62-13 Alabama rout of Duke in Durham.
"I saw him put his hands over his facemask and he was walking with his head down," Ingram said. "We're like a family in that room. We all support each other, we all lift each other up. We just went over there and told him to keep his head up, don't put his head down and just focus on the next play."
Lacy's fumble near the goal line wasn't going to cost Bama the game, but it was understandable that it would nag at Lacy.
More important, it might nag at Alabama Coach Nick Saban. That's because Lacy had an opportunity to run the ball in the season opening game against San Jose State and fumbled it into the end zone, losing possession.
Ingram said he told Lacy "to just let it go and focus on the next play. You can't control tat you just fumbled, but you can control what you do on the next play. He bounced back strong and went out there and had a good series on the next drive. I was happy about the way he bounced back."
Alabama fans and Ingram's coaches and teammates are happy about the way he bounced back from pre-season knee surgery. Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, missed the first two games of the year, but had a fine game against Duke, rushing nine times for 151 yards with two touchdowns. And no fumbles.
This week Ingram and his Alabama teammates, ranked number one in the nation, go to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas, ranked 10th in the nation. Kickoff will be at 2:30 CDT with television coverage by CBS.
Inram said that Alabama's goal, as articulated by Saban, is to dominate the opposition. Ingram said, "Every Saturday when we get off the field, we want the other team to have the mindset that they never want to play us again, that they never want to put us on their schedule again. We want to go out there and dominate every single opponent. That's what we thrive on around here, and that's what we take pride in."
Ingram won the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Arkansas fans think a big game by their quarterback, Ryan Mallett, could get a boost for this year's award with a good game against Alabama. Ingram agrees.
"Definitely," Ingram said. "He's a great player and he's had great success so far this year. I'm sure people are going to be evaluating his performance against a good defense that we have. That's just part of the game. I'm sure he's thriving on this game as well. Big players love big games."
It's a big game for Alabama, too. Ingram said Bama isn't making any changes just because the Razorbacks are ranked 10th in the nation.
"We do the same amount of reps good on good," Ingram said. "Our practice philosophy doesn't change. We will be focusing on just mastering the gamelan, everybody knowing their assignments, knowing what they have to do and just giving ourselves the best chance to have some success against a great team."
Ingram knows to expect Arkansas to load up to stop the run. Last year they had extra men in the box, and Alabama used the pass to take a 35-7 win in Tuscaloosa.
Ingam said, "Their guys have a lot more experience than last year. They're playing faster on that side of the ball. It's definitely going to be a challenge for us. But we're going to be ready for them, whether they want to stack the box.
"It's going to be loud. It is going to be a hostile environment. They are going to be really rowdy and anxious for us to get up there, so I know the fans are going to be real crazy and real loud. We're just going to have to be more focused on what we are doing, communicating very well, because it is going to be loud. We're going to have to pay close attention to detail in practice this week, doing silent counts and things like that so we can have good communication in that loud environment."?
Ingram wouldn't cre what the environment after missing the first two games of the year. After seeing action on 22 plays at Duke, Ingram said there were no ill effects.
"I feel great," he said. "Just being able to be out there with the team and be out there competing, I was a little sore. Nothing really. Just from taking a few pass blocks. I didn't even get hit much in my runs thanks to the offensive line. They really did a great job for me blocking.
"I feel great. I'm ready to keep the progression going.
"I was ready physically and mentally. I wasn't going to go out there if I had any doubt in my mind that I wasn't going to be able to play like I usually do. I was excited because it hurt me being on the sideline and not being able to contribute those first two games. I was excited, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there again.?
"It's something that you take for granted, being in the huddle with those guys. You don't really have a great appreciation for it until you can't really do it anymore. It was something that I was definitely looking forward to and I cherished on Saturday. I'm definitely looking forward to practice and preparing for Arkansas with the rest of the team."?
He said his appreciation for football has grown.
"You cherish every rep," he said. "Every rep in practice, every play in games. I've never had to sit out because of injury before, especially after having surgery. It was my first surgery."?
Ingam said his injury "wasn't scary. I knew I would be all right. I was a little sad about it. It was the Monday before the game. I knew I'd be missing about two games, especially the big game against Penn State. It was a little discouraging. But you've got to look past it. You can't do anything about it, and I worked hard to get back."
Ingram said the injury was "just practicing hard. It was just a little contact, a little crack. It was just gys practicing hard out there, nothing intentional. I tried to walk it off, but I'd gake a few steps and my knee would buckle."
Now he's back. Giving advice and running hard.
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