Ingram At His Best In Big Games

One reason you hear Mark Ingram's name a lot in conversation about the Heisman Trophy is that Ingram is having an exceptional season while playing to one of the nation's top teams. One reason you don't hear much about Ingram for Heisman is that Ingram is very reluctant to discuss it.

Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram is poised to become the single season leader in rushing in Crimson Tide history. That takes in a lot of good running backs. Going into Saturday's game against Chattanooga, Ingram has 1,297 yards. The all-time record was set by Bobby Humphrey in 1986, before Ingram was born. Humphrey rushed for 1,471 yards. Ingram trails by 174 yards with four games to play.

The Heisman Trophy goes to the player deemed by voters to be the best college football player in America. Much has been made of the fact that Alabama, for all the number of great players at The University, has never had a Heisman Trophy winner.

It is not lost on those who track Heisman leaders that Ingram has rolled up good numbers against good teams. Ingram has accumulated 1,522 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 129.7 yards per game on the ground with 10 rushing touchdowns in 10 games – 10 games that have all been Bama victories.

The numbers are even better against teams ranked in the top 25. In Alabama's four games against top 25 opponents – including two ranked in the top ten – Ingram has accounted for 712 yards on the ground (178 yards per game average) with three rushing touchdowns. He has also caught 13 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. That makes 831 all-purpose yards (203.3 yards per game) against top 25 teams.

The ranked teams were Virginia Tech in which Ingram rushed for 150 yards, Ole Miss (172), South Carolina (a Bryant-Denny record 246), and LSU (144).

A conversation with Ingram about the Heisman is a short conversation.

How often does he hear it mentioned?

"A lot," he said. "I can't really count. I really try not to pay attention, but people bring it up a lot."

Are you the front-runner?

"I let everybody else try to figure it out," he said. "I just stay focused on the task at hand. We're focused on UT-Chattanooga right now and as long as I keep going out and getting better as a player every day and keep performing well, all that stuff will take care of itself."

What about when he sees it on a television sports program, for instance?

"You'll be watching the game and they'll randomly start talking about the Heisman race and you'll see your picture up there. It's an honor to be in that situation, but I'm really just focused on helping the team win games right now."

Ingram and his Alabama teammates play host to Chattanooga at 11:21 a.m. CST Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama is 10-0 and ranked second in the nation. The Mocs are 6-4 and a prohibitive underdog against the Tide. The SEC Network will televise the game in limited markets.

Ingram respects Chattanooga. "Those guys are real well coached," he said. "They're always going to be where they need to be. We're just going to approach it like we always do and we're just going to go out and practice hard this week and try to get ready, try to perfect the game plan. But those guys are real well coached. They won one game last year and they've won six already so they're feeling pretty good about themselves. So they're going to come here ready to play, I'm sure of it."

Alabama fans got a scare last week after Ingram scored a touchdown and didn't get up immediately. It turned out that Ingram's helmet had come off and he had gotten a head cut. Ingram got a few stitches after the game.

"He fell on me with his facemask and just cut me open above my right eye," Ingram said. "I had a cut on my other eye. But it wasn't anything intentional.

"I was really just trying to look at the ref to see if I scored or not. But I couldn't see anything. Then I touched my forehead and just saw a whole bunch of blood on my hand and I just kind of lay there. I wasn't panicking, but I was hurting a little bit."

Ingram thought that spectators might fear a more serious injury. "That's why I tried to get up an run off the field, to show everybody I was okay," he said.

Alabama practices with a "thud technique" for safety reasons. Players aren't taken to the ground with tackles. Ingram said, "It helps keep everybody healthy but you still get good work in practice because you've got to thud the person up. Everybody's working hard and there's still hard hitting out there, but you just don't take anybody to the ground."

Ingram noted improvement by the offensive line. "They get better every day, every week," he said. "They go out and watch a ton of film. They just do such a great job, jelling from the spring and fall camp and week to week, they do a great job. I'm really proud of them and I wouldn't want to run behind anybody except those five guys. The tight ends do a good job as well and the receivers always do a great job of blocking downfield."

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