The Wildcat stayed mostly in its cage Saturday night.
A lot of talk last week centered around Alabama coach Nick Saban’s embrace of the Wildcat offense after rolling it out on the first offensive play of the season against Virginia Tech. All indications pointed to further experimentation Saturday against Florida International.
So, of course, Alabama ran just one play out of the formation against the Panthers.
The game plan, Saban said, did in fact call for further use of the spread offense variant that puts someone other than the quarterback behind center for a shotgun snap.
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“It’s just one of those things that didn’t get dialed up much,” Saban said afterward. “We were running the ball pretty effectively so I didn’t feel like we needed to get to it.”
Having seven different players combine to roll up 275 rushing yards qualifies as effective.
Running back Mark Ingram’s midweek bout with the flu may have factored into the decision as well. The sophomore took eight of the nine snaps as the Wildcat quarterback in the season-opening win over Virginia Tech, but he played a lesser role against Florida International.
After the game, Ingram said he felt “winded” following a 10-run, 57-yard game that also included four receptions for 47 yards.
Roy Upchurch took the only Wildcat snap of the night and ran seven yards up the middle after faking the end-around. The senior’s sprained ankle took him out of the game and effectively killed any hopes of seeing the Wildcat’s return for this week.
Sure, freshman Trent Richardson had a breakout performance with his 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns. But it may be a little soon to hand him the keys to a fairly new offensive concept, especailly because Alabama didn’t take a two-touchdown lead until the end of the third quarter.
Square likely out for year
Reserve linebacker Damion Square received an ovation as he left Bryant-Denny Stadium.
But it was the kind of cheer no football player relishes.
Square, who had one assist against FIU, was on the back of a cart when his exit drew a knowing cheer from the fourth-quarter crowd.
Saban called the injury “probably serious” although he wasn’t sure of a prognosis in his postgame news conference. The coach does expect the injury to require surgery. That likely means the end of the redshirt freshman’s season leaving Eryk Anders and Courtney Upshaw as the remaining Jack linebackers on the depth chart.
Coming out of Yates High School in Houston, Square was the ninth-best linebacker in the class of 2008 according to Scout.com.
Official word on injuries to Square and Julio Jones are expected at today’s news conference. Jones suffered what Saban called a bruised knee on an end-around that gained five yards.
Pleasing pass rush
Looking deeper at the dominant pass rush of the last 2½ quarters of Saturday’s game reveals a pleasing trend for Saban.
Most of the pressure that made quarterback Paul McCall’s night miserable came from the front line. Of the five sacks, 3 ½ came from defensive ends Marcell Dareus, Lorenzo Washington and Anders, whose Jack linebacker position frequently means playing with a hand down.
Having the lineman penetrate the offensive front means dropping more linebackers into coverage and take away throwing lanes for the hurried quarterback.
Tide remains No. 4
Alabama remained fourth in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls released Sunday.
Again, the Tide received a pair of first place votes.
San Jose Mercury News reporter Jon Wilner kept Alabama at No. 1 for the second straight week. He reasoned on his blog that the Tide’s opening-week win over Virginia Tech was more impressive than USC’s 18-15 win at Ohio State on Saturday.