Barron Has Put Injury To Rest

Alabama senior safety Mark Barron has made more than his share of great plays. That's why he's been an All-America and why he's a finalist for the Thorpe Award as the finest defensive back in college football.

But this week Mark Barron is remembered in part because he was unable to make a play that might have enabled Alabama to prevent Auburn's comeback and 28-27 win over Bama in Bryant-Denny Stadium last year.

Barron suffered an unusual injury in the first half of last year's game, a torn pectoral muscle.

"I knew I was hurt, but I didn't know what was wrong," Barron said Tuesday following the Crimson Tide's practice. "I just knew I was hurt."

Barron thought he could play through the pain. That proved to be an error.

On the first series of the second half, with Barron in at safety, a long pass seemed to have interception written all over it. But Barron didn't make the interception. He didn't even knock the ball down. And the Auburn receiver caught it and turned it into a long touchdown.

Does Barron regret his decision not to leave the game?

"Sometimes I do because the play I probably could have made I wasn't able to make," he said. "It's not like I sit up and dwell on it, but if I ever think about it I'm not 100 per cent sure I made the decision, but that's the decision I made and I have to live with it."

As he pointed out, it's impossible to know if the man who would have replaced him could have made the play either.

Barron said it doesn't seem that long ago since he was injured, and he says that he's completely recovered now.

He said, "It took a lot of work to get back with my shoulder. I've been working hard and do what I could do for my team."

Barron, a Mobile native who played at St. Paul's, said he probably had this year's Auburn game on his mind much of this year because of the injury he suffered last season. "You try to keep your focus on who you are playing, but it's always in my head," he said.

Auburn will get to see the rehabilitated Barron this week. Alabama, 10-1 and ranked second in the nation, closes out regular season play at 2:30 p.m. CST at Auburn. CBS will televise the game. The Tigers are 7-4.

Barron said he has extra motivation for the game. "Last year I came out and wasn't able to perform like I wanted to due to my circumstance," he said. "I want to come out and have a good game this time around."

Barron, a 6-2, 218-pound three-year letterman and returning defensive captain, is second on the team in tackles this year with 65. He has four tackles for loss, two interceptions, has broken up five passes, and has a fumble recovery.

"I feel like I've had a pretty good season so far," he said. "I feel like I've improved on some things. I'm pretty happy with what I've done so far."

But for the injury against Auburn in 2010, Barron might have joined the parade of Alabama underclassmen going into the NFL. He said he wasn't frustrated being unable to go pro last year.

He said, "II felt like I made the right decision. It's the decision I made and I'm living with it and I'm happy I came back. I wouldn't call it frustration."

One thing that could frustrate Barron and his Alabama teammates this year is the bag of tricks used in the Auburn offense.

Barron said, "They love the trick plays and you have to be ready for them. We're watching film on that and making sure we can go with everything they do."

The key to defending trick plays? "Discipline," he said. "That's pretty much the key to defending every team. Discipline and awareness."

He said he'll have to be aware of which Auburn quarterback is in the game, passer Clint Moseley or runner Kiehl Frazier. (Barrett Trotter, the Auburn quarterback at the beginning of the season, does not appear to be part of the equation.)

Alabama has seen a two quarterback system this year, but it didn't last long. Pocket passer Jarrett Lee started the game for LSU against Alabama, but was soon replaced for good by Jordan Jefferson, who has the ability to run.

Barron isn't reading an expectation into that.

"You're not always going to get what you expect," he said, "so you have to be ready to adapt to different circumstances."

BamaMag Top Stories