Author: Jason Galloway

Tide’s streak finally ends

They say all good things must come to an end. Before Alabama’s longstanding winning streak ended in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, however, there was a feeling that it never would. “We can’t just show up and win just because you’re Alabama,” said junior running back Mark Ingram. “I don’t think guys were ready to come out here. Guys thought they could just show up and win.” With a 35-21 defeat at the hands of No. 19 South Carolina Saturday, the No. 1 Crimson Tide snapped a 19-game winning streak and lost its first regular-season game since 2007. Alabama kicked a 32-yard field goal on its first possession of the game, and then South Carolina began to dominate the top-ranked team in the country. The Gamecocks first three possessions were touchdowns. The first was a 9-yard pass from quarterback Stephen Garcia to running back Marcus Lattimore, and the next two were passes from Garcia to the Southeastern Conference’s leading receiver, Alshon Jeffery. “Jeffery’s a great player,” head coach Nick Saban said. “He made a couple great catches with pretty good coverage on him in critical situations.” Jeffery harassed the Alabama secondary all night, catching seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. A fumble by Greg McElroy, who was sacked seven times in the game, set up South Carolina’s third touchdown. The Gamecocks’ first punt of the game came with two...

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Tide defense silencing doubters

Alabama’s victory over No. 7 Florida Saturday proved the Crimson Tide’s second-half comeback the week before against Arkansas was no fluke. If anything, it proved the fluke of that game was the first half. After allowing more than 300 total yards in the first half to the Razorbacks last week, Alabama’s defense continued its run of redemption against the Gators, forcing four turnovers and surrendering only two field goals in the Tide’s 31-6 victory. “We’re maturing every day,” junior defensive end Marcell Dareus said. “Every play, we’re maturing – we’re working hard and just gelling together. We haven’t played our best game yet, but we’re still working at it.” The Gators actually outgained the Tide in the game, 281-273, but that was perhaps more of an underachievement by Alabama’s offensive unit. And like it has all year, the Tide’s defense came up with opportunistic turnovers in key situations. Alabama, who ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with 11 interceptions, forced two turnovers when the Gators were inside the Alabama 2-yard line. Sophomore linebacker Nico Johnson intercepted a pass on fourth-and-goal on Florida’s first drive of the game, and Courtney Upshaw recovered a fumble near the goal line in the third quarter. “A lot of times, turnovers save us,” junior safety Mark Barron said. “I feel like that’s playing a big role in our defense playing as well as we...

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Tide escapes upset in SEC opener

Some things are better left unforgotten. In the second half of Saturday’s game against No. 10 Arkansas (3-1, 1-1), it appeared the top-ranked Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0) had put the first half behind them. Now that Alabama has completed an improbable 24-20 comeback victory against the Razorbacks, however, head coach Nick Saban wants his players to dig up those horrific first-half memories again. “I really don’t want the players to put it behind them,” he said. “I want them to remember what it’s like not to play the way you’re capable of playing. We need to learn from the experience we had today and try to improve as a football team.” The trouble started in the very first minute of the game. The first play from scrimmage was a 31-yard pass from Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett to wide receiver Jarius Wright. The second play was a 43-yard touchdown completion from Mallett to an unbelievably wide open Ronnie Wingo Jr., and the Razorbacks took a 7-0 lead 50 seconds into the game. “The wrong outside backer rushed,” Saban said, “and when you’re in 3-4, one guy blitzes and one guy drops. There was nobody on that side of the field. Things like that are basic, day one. [The defense] has to understand the importance of being disciplined to do [its] job, and sometimes young guys don’t understand that. The Tide’s...

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Ingram: My knee felt better than ever

It was obvious from the very first play of Saturday’s game. Mark Ingram isn’t worried about his knee, and Alabama fans shouldn’t be either. The junior broke off a 48-yard run on the first play from scrimmage against Duke, breaking multiple tackles from defenders diving at his legs. “My knee felt better than ever,” he said. “It felt brand new. I was real hungry and eager to get back on the field, and I just wanted to make an impact right off the jump.” Ingram finished the game with 151 yards and two touchdowns on just 9 carries in his season debut, squandering any thought that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner may play timid less than three weeks after knee surgery. “[He played] the same way he practiced all week,” Saban said. “That’s who he is; it’s how he plays. It really surprised me that he could come back and look as good as he did all week in practice, as well as having a great game today.” Ingram’s third carry of the game was even longer than his first. The 50-yard run gave him more than 100 yards just six minutes into the game. “The guy works harder than anybody,” sophomore offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. “It’s great to see him come back and get into the action and pop off a few good runs.” Ingram’s next carry...

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Tide displays offensive balance in victory

It didn’t matter which offensive aspect Penn State decided to take away from Alabama. The No. 1 Crimson Tide (2-0) meshed power running with five-wide passing to control a 24-3 victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night. “We want to keep people off balance,” said senior quarterback Greg McElroy. “That was the main goal going in. We came out in some spread, no-huddle, tried to wear them out a bit.” Alabama came out in a five-wide receiver set for every play during its second drive of the game. Six empty-formation plays later, McElroy threaded a pass to redshirt freshman Kevin Norwood for a 36-yard touchdown to put the Tide up 7-0 less than seven minutes into the game. A completely different offensive game plan took over Alabama’s next drive. After being backed up on its own 3-yard line, the Tide rode three straight Trent Richardson carries to the Penn State 37. The drive ended when McElroy connected with Preston Dial for a 14-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. “We had good balance,” head coach Nick Saban said. “I think that’s going to be the key for us to continue to improve.” Defensively, Alabama may not have been as dominant as its three points allowed indicates. The Tide forced turnovers three times when the Nittany Lions were inside the Alabama 30. “The key to the game was...

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