Richardson Heisman Campaign Has A Vote

People are beginning to decide how they will vote in upcoming primaries and elections. Alabama tailback Trent Richardson believes that he knows how his former sidekick, Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints, will cast his ballot.

In 2009, Mark Ingram was the leading rusher for Alabama in an undefeated, national championship season. Among the highlights of that perfect season was Ingram becoming the Crimson Tide's first Heisman Trophy winner. Among the benefits of winning the Heisman is having a ballot on future selections.

This year, Alabama tailback Trent Richardson is off to a better start than Ingram had in his Heisman year, and the Crimson Tide is also on pace with that 2009 Bama squad.

Alabama is 5-0 and ranked second in the nation this year. Thus far, Richardson has 96 carries for 622 yards and 10 touchdowns and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. After five games in 2009, Ingram had rushed 83 times for 487 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and had six touchdowns.

"I'm pretty sure I've got a good chance at his vote," Richardson said.

Richardson has been in the Heisman conversation for a couple of years, but his nationally televised performance in the 38-10 romp over Florida last Saturday night in Gainesville almost certainly elevated the decibel level. Against the Gators, one of the nation's top ranked defensive teams and a squad that was alone in the nation in not having allowed a rushing touchdown, Richardson ran for a career best 181 yards on 29 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 27 yards.

Prior to the start of the season, the editors and publishers of and were polled on a variety of issues, including the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was the runaway choice in the poll, but Richardson and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones were tied for runner-up.

Richardson said, "I try not to buy into it. I try to stay focused and just take one day at a time, make sure I'm doing everything I can to get better."

A year ago there was even talk of whether Ingram might repeat or if Richardson might join him as a Heisman winner. Richardson said that was crazy talk.

"We weren't really focused about that," Richardson said. "We knew we had two good running backs. It was going to be very hard to win it in 2010. We were splitting carries anyway. It was our system last year to be more balanced. We were both humble about it, didn't worry about it."

He said that challenge came from Coach Nick Saban immediately after the Tide's win over Florida: "What can you do now to get better?"

Richardson said, "That's one thing you have to look at and put in the back of your head. What can I do to get better? What can I work on? Is it my pass pro[tection] or it it my vision or breaking tackles or my speed? What can I get better on? I try to put that down every day. Maybe it's being a leader. But I put that down every day, jot them down, and at the end of the day look at them and see what I did to get better."

Richardson said he sees some team improvement from last year. "I think we're more put together this year," he said. "I think we have more character and leadership this year than we had last year."

That's part of the reason he says his job is "way easier than everybody thinks it is." He points to great blocking as a reason his body felt better than usual after the heavy workload he had against the Gators. "We have an offensive line [that was] really getting after those boys, just leaving me on a defensive back," he said.

Alabama's offensive line was expected to be good this year, but didn't seem to have a great start. Now, Richardson said, "The offensive line has improved a lot. There was a lot of stuff that was missing that is coming along, especially like blocking off the back side, just staying on the block, and covering up the number. They are doing a lot of that now, and seem to be getting better and better every game. I see in practice every day that our timing, our steps, our tracks are getting better. Their pass pro has been way better. So they are really just coming along."

This week Alabama hosts Vanderbilt for Homecoming at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday. ESPNU will televise the game. The Commodores are a surprising 3-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC games.

Richardson took time out Sunday to watch some film of the Commodores. "I know they aren't going to take any pity on us and they are going to be coming at us with every different blitz they've got," he said. "They come with a lot of blitzes. It's more like a Coach Saban defense with all those blitzes they've got. It's crazy out there and I know they are going to be trying to come with everything."

Vanderbilt won't be the only ones coming with everything.

Richardson was asked about how Alabama's offense wears down the opposing defense so that by the fourth quarter the defense is pretty much beaten.

"I know that I'm going to go at them with everything I can," he said. "And the offese is going to come wit all they can, A.J. (quarterback A.J. McCarron), and the offensive line, and the receivers blocking downfield and catching all the passes they can.

"So I know by the fourth quarter, the defense is going to be beat down, and when they are worn down, we've got another fresh running back coming in, and they are going to be tired.

"And we've got a big running back coming in. Jalston Fowler, he's a big Mack Truck out there, and I know they don't want to hit him for the rest of the game."

Who knows? They might be facing another Heisman candidate.

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