By Paul M. Banks
#9 LSU vs. #3 Alabama is no doubt the biggest game of the weekend and one of the most nationally prominent this season. Both schools can win the SEC West, and each is still in the national title race as well. You might think Bama has the home field advantage, but not realy. LSU has won four in a row, and is 7-3 in their last ten in Tuscaloosa. Actually, the home team has only won 4 of the last 13 in this series.
But the Crimson Tide do have sophomore tailback Mark Ingram going for them. He’s 2nd in the SEC, and sixth nationally in rushing. With Alabama undefeated and won of the top contenders to win the national title, Mark Ingram (not to be confused with the early ‘90s New York Giants WR) has to be considered with the front-runners for the Heisman now. On conference call Tuesday, Ingram answered a question about which teammate he’d give his Heisman vote to (if he had one).
“Probably, Ro (Rolando McClain). The impact he has on our team. Not just how he plays, but from a leadership standpoint. As a player, he goes out there every day and he makes plays. He comes to play every day. He knows everything that’s going on with the defense. He knows what the d-line is doing. He knows what the corners are doing. He makes all the calls and makes sure everybody is set where they are supposed to be before the play even starts.”
Ingram also articulated what the secret of his success has been this season. “Just working hard at practice, studying films and doing the best I can everyday at practice. That’s all you can do is try and make improvements.”
How he and the big uglies blocking up front for him match-up with Louisiana State will be key to the outcome. Ingram discussed that. “They are big and fast, strong and physical. The scheme they play, they do it really well. They are coached up really well. They all do their assignments. It’s going to be a battle out there.”
Ingram, a Flint, Michigan native considered attending Michigan State and Iowa before picking Alabama. That said, you might think Coach Nick Saban’s ties to Michigan State might have had something to do with this decision…
“It did not have too much effect on me. The history was there with my Mom and my Dad. As far as me, I was wide open. I was trying to figure out the best spot for me as a player, where I could go and have success,” he responded before adding why he choose Alabama
“I wanted to go somewhere where I would have the opportunity to play early and go to a championship program. I saw all of that in Alabama. I came down here and took my visit and I just loved it. From the people that were involved in the program from academics to coaches, I just admired it down here.”
Saban was on conference call this week too, and he described Ingram’s growth as a runner: “Well, I think there are a couple things. I think Mark’s very confident. He got to play a lot last year as a freshman and gained a lot of knowledge and experience by doing that and had a reasonable amount of success. I think Mark’s sort of a unique style of running back. He has a tremendous competitive spirit about him, and is a true warrior in terms of the way he competes and the way he plays. So, I think all of those things contribute to his style, and to his success. He would be the first guy to talk about his teammates, and how they contribute to that and also to some of the attention that he has created because of that.”