It was the missed opportunities that took Alabama’s victory away.
At the time, neither the team nor the fans knew it, but in those two turnovers and two field goals, Alabama lost precious points that could’ve won the game.
In the No. 11 Crimson Tide’s 28-27 loss to the No. 2 Auburn Tigers, Alabama had 24 points in the first half, though the team should’ve had more. In the beginning of the second quarter, running back Mark Ingram was en route for a big gain for the Tide, running 41 yards into the red zone before having the ball punched out by Auburn’s Antoine Carter.
“I was just trying to keep my balance, and the guy ran up behind me and made a great play,” Ingram said. “Of course I could’ve had better ball security, but the guy just came behind and made a great play. I was just trying to stay on my feet and get as close as I could to the end zone.”
The ball rolled 20 yards into the end zone for an Auburn touchback, and Alabama lost a potential scoring opportunity.
The next turnover was near the end of the second quarter. Alabama was at the 8-yard line when quarterback Greg McElroy was sacked by Nick Fairley. The ball popped out, and Fairley managed to jump on top of it.
“Those two opportunities were huge,” said head coach Nick Saban. “Relative to the production that we had, we didn’t get as many points maybe as we could have.”
Aside from those two turnovers, there were other opportunities that the Tide could’ve put more points on the board than it did. Alabama had two field goals in a game where touchdowns were needed to keep up with Auburn’s high-scoring offense.
One of the field goals was a 20-yarder made by Jeremy Shelley. Though Alabama was inside the 5-yard line with a first down and goal to go, the team couldn’t produce a touchdown.
On that drive, running back Trent Richardson took the blame for dropping a pass on first down that would’ve been a touchdown.
“We left a lot of points off the board out there,” Richardson said. “I dropped a pass. I just don’t know what happened.”
The other time Alabama didn’t score a touchdown was when it was on the 7-yard line, but the offense got a false start, followed by McElroy taking a sack.
Tight end Preston Dial said it was these missed opportunities, and not the turnovers, that really killed the team.
“That’s what hurt us,” said tight end Preston Dial. “It wasn’t a lack of mentality. We wanted that one, everybody did. We wanted to win it, and it stung the way it came out.
“We have to capitalize. That’s one of our huge goals that Coach [Jim] McElwain emphasizes on. But I don’t think that [turnovers] was the end result. I think the end was not being able to capitalize when we needed to.”