Ingram Does What It Takes To Get ‘W'

Part of Alabama practice each week is the Crimson Tide spending time with the first offense going against the first defense, a procedure that helps prepare the team for the speed of the game. This week the Bama defense will be working to get accustomed to the speed of an outstanding freshman tailback.

Alabama goes to South Carolina Saturday where one of the new weapons for the Gamecocks is freshman star running back Marcus Lattimore, who has rushed 84 times for 366 yards and six touchdowns in South Carolina's first four games.

The Crimson Tide has pretty good practice players in Trent Richardson, Bama's leading rusher this year with 57 carries for 419 yards and four touchdowns in five games, and Mark Ingram, who has 45 rushes for 355 yards and six touchdowns in three games.

Ingram was last year's Heisman Trophy winner. He will also be familiar to the Gamecocks as the man who rushed 24 times for 246 yards, including a game-clinching touchdown in the final five minutes of the game, won by Bama, 20-6.

Both Alabama (5-0) and South Carolina (3-1) come into Saturday's game ranked a tad higher than last year. In 2009, Alabama was third in the nation and this year the Crimson Tide is first. South Carolina was 22nd last year and is 19th this season.

Kickoff Saturday will be at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) with national television coverage by CBS.

Ingram's performance last year (which was the Bryant-Denny Stadium all-time rushing record) was the impetus for his insertion into the national Heisman Trophy conversation.

To say that Ingram remembers the game is an understatement.

"We ran the ball real effectively," he said. "The lin did a tremendous job of creating seams and holes to run through. It was just a great game.

"The game was kind of close towards the end and they put me in the wildcat for five of six snaps. I just wanted to get down there and put the nail in the coffin. I just really wanted to make a play for the team."

He made several plays. Ingram took five consecutive snaps in the wildcat, including runs of 22 and 24 yards, and then took a pitchout for a four-yard touchdown run with 4:54 to play. He accounted for all 68 yards of the game-clinching drive.

Ingram said the game is what put him in the Heisman race.

"I didn't expect it to be that many yards," Ingram said. "I was just running the ball. It was really surprising. When I first heard the number, I had to turn and double-check."

Ingram said the Alabama "defense feels like they're not going to get anybody better than the running backs that we have on our team. We just go out and give them the best look we can, just go out there and run hard and play fast. That's how we give them a little look."

Ingram has seen South Carolina's Lattimore. "He's good," Ingram said. "He's powerful, can make guys miss, gets pretty big yardage after contact. He's a true freshman, so he should be a special player."

Ingram is already special. He has the ability to do everything a good running back does. And he is particularly notable in two areas: the power to run through potential tacklers, and the ability to tight rope the sideline for extra yards.

"It's just the mentality of the position," Ingram said of his aggressive running at the point of contact. "I just don't want to get hit; I don't want anyone to hit me. I want to hit them first, just send a message to them that I don't want them to tackle me anymore. At the end of a play, when I'm getting corralled and there's nowhere to go, I just try to send a message."

He said the sidelines work is not by accident. "We're trying to get a few extra yards working the sideline," he said. "We work that drill in practice all the time. Tightrope the sideline, hugging the sideline. We don't like to run out of bounds, none of the running backs. You won't see them run out of bounds. If they do, they're probably being pushed."

Ingram believes that Alabama's offense is more balanced this year. Last week Florida was able to limit Bama's running damage, but the Tide came out with a 31-6 win over the seventh-ranked Gators.

Ingram doesn't have a yardage goal.

"However many yards it takes to help the team win, that's what I'm willing to do," he said. "If I have to run for 300 yards or 20, whatever helps the offense. As long as we win, that's all that matters to me. It doesn't matter to me how many carries I get, how many yards I get, how many touchdowns I get. As long as we get a 'W', that's all that matters to me."

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