National Focus On Tide's Ingram

Alabama sophomore tailback Mark Ingram met with sportswriters Monday to talk about this week's football game against Auburn. Inevitably, part of the talk was about Ingram being considered a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy (not to mention one of the top two backs in the state). Meanwhile, two other national awards named Ingram a finalist.

Mark Ingram is one of the reasons Alabama ranks among the nation's best teams this year. The Flint, Mich., native is a finalist for both the Doak Walker Award and the 73rd Maxwell Trophy.

In 11 games this season, Ingram leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fifth nationally with 127.2 rushing yards per game. He has 205 rushing attempts for 1,399 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averages 6.8 yards per attempt this season. Ingram also has 25 catches (second most on the team) for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the Tide with 1,624 all-purpose yards (147.6 per game) and 15 touchdowns.

Ingram is joined by Stanford Toby Gearhart and Clemson's C.J. Spiller as the finalists for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the top running back in college football by the SMU Athletic Forum. The winner will be announced on the 2009 Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show on Thursday, Dec. 10 in Orlando, Fla. The award will presented at the 2009 Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet in Dallas on Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.

He is joined by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow as the finalists for the 73rd Maxwell Trophy, which is presented to the best player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club. The announcement of the winner of the Maxwell Trophy will also be made during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show. The formal presentation will be made at the Maxwell Football Club's Awards Dinner, to be held on Friday, March 5, 2010 at the Harrah's Entertainment Complex in Atlantic City, N.J.

Those five also are generally considered the leaders for the Heisman Trophy.

Ingram continued his incredible season with 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the Tide's 45-0 win over Chattanooga on Saturday. He scored on runs of 25 and 40 yards before exiting the game with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter with his sixth 100-yard game this season.

Ingram needs 72 yards to break Bobby Humphrey's single-season record of 1,471 yards set during the 1986 season. Against top 25 teams, Ingram is averaging 178 yards per game in wins over Virginia Tech, Mississippi, South Carolina and LSU.

Ingram was named SEC Player of the Week following wins over Virginia Tech and South Carolina. In the win over the Gamecocks, Ingram set a Bryant-Denny Stadium record with 246 rushing yards in the 20-6 win. He was also named midseason All-America by The Sporting News.

Before the awards banquets, though, Ingram has some important work to finish on Friday. He and his Alabama teammates complete regular season play at Auburn Friday. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. CST with national television coverage by CBS. Alabama is 11-0 and ranked second in the nation. The Tide is 7-0 in SEC games and headed to the SEC Championship Game against number one ranked Florida on December 6. Auburn is 7-4 overall, 3-4 in SEC games.

Ingram was told that he has the support of a lot of running backs around the nation in the race for the Heisman, which usually goes to a quarterback and hasn't gone to a running back since USC's Reggie Bush took the honor a few years ago. Ingram said he hadn't heard "too much" about that. In fact, he said, "The first time I heard that is now." But he understood the notion that players would be for a man at the same position.

Ingram admitted he'd be pleased to see a running back win even if it wasn't him. "I think whoever it goes to, they're well deserving and everyone should be proud of them, no matter what position they play."

Ingram he admitted he was surprised to hear that Auburn tailback Ben Tate is pulling for Ingram to win, a notion put forward by a sportswriter. "I guess that's kind of surprising, because I heard some other things he said, too," Ingram said.

Tate, the very fine tailback at Auburn, raised eyebrows by saying he thought most would consider Tate to be the best running back in the state.

"I respect the guy," Ingram said. "I love the way he plays and I love the way he runs the ball. He plays with a lot of passion and he's a great back. It is kind of interesting that he said that."

As he has said earlier, Ingram said, "I'm not a guy that gets into tongue tussles with anybody. Everybody is entitled tohis own opinion. Like I said about him, I think he's a great back, I love the way he runs the ball. He runs with a lot of passion, he runs with a lot of heart and he's a great back and I'll just let my play talk for me. I'm not going to get into any off-the-field tongue tussles with anybody."

Ingram said he understands Tate's stance. "You have to have confidence," Ingram said. "You have to believe you're the best. If you don't believe you're the best and you don't have confidence in yourself, who else is going to?"

Ingram expects to have a challenge against Auburn this Friday.

"They're well coached," Ingram said. "They're disciplined; they all know where they're supposed to be on the field. They get to the ball real fast and they try to make a lot of plays."

It could be worse. Ingram was asked if he would be able to rush for 100 yards against the Alabama defense. It's something that has crossed his mind, at least to some extent. He said when the Tide defense is on the field, he and fellow running backs Roy Upchurch and Trent Richardson "will be like, ‘I hate it for those other guys. The've got to run against that defense.' I mean, they're so big, so fast, so well coached. They all know where they're supposed to be and they're so athletic; they all can make plays. It's just hard to have a lot of success on them running the ball."

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