Everyone Waiting For Old Ingram

In Alabama's last outing, a 41-10 win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Crimson Tide tailback Mark Ingram ran 14 times for 88 yards, a 6.3 yards per carry average, and scored two touchdowns. So the first question for Ingram this week?

"Was there anything wrong with you in the first half against Tennessee?"

A year ago, Alabama's Mark Ingram was running roughshod over a lot of opponents (though Tennessee wasn't one of them in 2009) en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. This year the season got off to a slow start for Ingram. He had knee surgery the week before the opening game and missed two contests.

Even though he has been back in the lineup for a month and a half, he hasn't looked quite the same. But, he said, at Tennessee "There wasn't anything wrong. I just had to get going. Our offense had to get going. Nothing was wrong with me."

This week Alabama's offense needs to get going against LSU in Baton Rouge.The Crimson Tide takes on the Tigers at 2:30 p.m. CDT in a game that will be nationally televised by CBS. Both teams are 7-1 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play with Bama ranked sixth in BCS standings and LSU rated 10th.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is also thinking fast start.

"I think it's important to start fast in any game that you play," Saban said. "I think it's also important to finish strong because I think every play in a game is a short one and you certainly want to be able to get off to a good start wherever you play whenever you play. I don't really know what the reason might be (that Bama has been slow starting in SEC road games).

"I think I know. I think that you need to have some calm in the mist of chaos sometimes when you play on the road because there are a lot of other distractions. I think mature players that have experience probably handle that a little bit better.

"Now that we've played on the road a few times I thought we handled it a little bit better at Tennessee. Hopefully we'll handle it a little bit better this time. It's all about your ability to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by all the things going on around you. There're a lot of difficult places to play in this league. It takes a lot of maturity to stay focused and do those things. Hopefully, our team will continue to mature and play better as we play on the road. I think it's going to be critical in this game for sure."

Ingram said a fast start "is real important because we've going into a hostile environment. It's real important to get off to a fast start and not have any letdowns and not give them anything. It's just important that we go out there and put together a 60-minute game, start fast and finish strong."

Ingram said the open week had been good for him and for the team. "It helps a lot," he said. "Just not to be going out there and banging around on Saturday, just to be able to relax a little bit and get off your feet, it definitely helps your body recover a lot."

He gave a good report on his knee.

"My knee feels good," he said. "Every now and then it will swell up a little bit throughout the week of practice, but you ice it up and you take care of it in your treatment. It's been feeling great the whole year."

Ingram said he spent his off day Saturday watching college football. "I was just being a fan on Saturday, just enjoying football," he said.

Now it's back to business, and Ingram understands the business. "I think if we keep winning and keep getting better each week, then everything else will take care of itself," Ingram said.

Ingram acknowledges that Alabama has not had a "60-minute game."

"We just haven't," he said. "It's 10 people doing it right and one person doing it wrong; nine doing it right, two doing it wrong. Everyone has to get on the same page. I think we played our best football in the second half against Tennessee in all phases of the game. We need to build off that.

"I think that if we put together a 60-minute game and everybody plays with the intangibles that this program is built on and everybody plays to the best of his ability, then we'll be a hard team to beat."

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