Alabama Still Running Strong

Mark Ingram served notice on America -- and Virginia Tech -- that Alabama still plans to run the football. Ingram carried for 150 yards on 26 totes in the Tide's season-opening 34-24 win over number seven Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome.



Alabama sophomore tailback Mark Ingram said, "We made the adjustments we needed to make, and executed. We didn't give up. I just go out and work hard and do whatever it takes to help my team. Everyone talks about our defense, but our offense can do it, too. We just want to prove that to people."

Consider Hokies coach Frank Beamer a convert. "That number 22 ran that football. He hurt us."

Ingram didn't have to convince Nick Saban. "Mark had a great spring, a great off-season and he's had a great fall camp," said the coach. "He's a great player."

Ingram had help. Roy Upchurch played well, despite a costly fumble, and finished with 90 yards on just seven carries.

"Everybody is coming together as a unit," said Upchurch. "We have got a lot of trust in each other."

The offense trusts its new quarterback, and he trusts his backs. "We felt like (Greg McElroy) commanded the team," Upchurch said. "We put all the pressure on him, and he executed."

New starting quarterback Greg McElroy finished 15-for-30 passing for 230 yards. He threw one touchdown and one pick, and scrambled for 28 more yards.

"We rallied around each other that's what a great team does. Our running backs were good tonight," said McElroy. "We have emphasized ball control."

Virginia Tech linebacker Jake Johnson, the game's most valuable defensive player, noticed that ball control emphasis. He and his mates spent 38 of the game's 60 minutes on the field.

"It didn't affect us much that much," claimed Johnson. "That's what we're there to do. We play defense, whether it's for five minutes or for the whole game."

One reason the Tide offense got it together when it had to were some halftime adjustments by Coordinator Jim McElwain and his staff.

"As the game progressed, we made the necessary adjustments," said McElroy. "They have a great defense, and we are just glad we were able to pull this out."

Said guard Mike Johnson, "We had some game jitters in the first half, and we were making stupid mistakes. We knew we could execute. Virginia Tech is athletic and they were bringing the pressure on defense. We refocused in the second half and we knew we could run on them. We've got to get a lot better. I thought we did an okay job.

"Greg McElroy was a leader for us. He stepped in, and did a phenomenal job of making plays. We just did whatever it took to get it done, and we played a great fourth quarter."

A key to the Tide's success in the second half was the play of senior transfer tight end Colin Peek, who gained 37 yards on three official grabs and added a two-point conversion.

"Everyone just had it in their hearts to win, " Peek said. "That's what you train for. And when it gets there, and you do well, you're just proud to come out victorious. You've got to realize that a game is 60 minutes, and you've got to play the full 60 minutes.

"You come into a game with a certain game plan. They me in a lot (in the first half) to protect. The second half, the coaches saw that there was some room for me to slip out."

Did Bama wear the Hokies down in the fourth quarter?

"I don't' think we got worn out," said Hokies linebacker Cody Grimm. "We just went out there and played our hardest. It's definitely upsetting to put all that heart in and end up losing, but I don't think that we gave up."

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