Balanced attack key when teams load up on Ingram
By Michael Casagrande
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Mark Ingram’s loss turned into Julio Jones’ gain.
With Tennessee keying in on stopping Alabama’s latest candidate for the Heisman Trophy, the original top-prospect saw a return to the stat sheet in Saturday’s 12-10 win over Tennessee.
Although Ingram still ran for 99 yards on 18 carries, it was his close friend Jones who had a big day for a change.
Last season’s leading receiver caught seven passes for 54 yards as short passes and a few screens freed the sophomore who had been doubled teamed just about all season. Just a week ago, he was held without a reception for the first time in his Alabama career.
“I just came into the game like any other game,” Jones said. “I’ve just been patient all year and I knew I was going to get the ball sooner or later.”
With or without Jones affecting the stat sheet, the Tide offense has major issues to address with two weeks to prepare for LSU. Defenses will likely key on Ingram following his 246-yard outburst against South Carolina, so it will need to rediscover the balanced attack it used early in the season.
Without it, the Tide has just two offensive touchdowns in its last three games. Leigh Tiffin’s four field goals accounted for all 12 points when Alabama couldn’t finish drives yet again.
The Wildcat formation, used almost exclusively on the fourth-quarter drive that salted away the South Carolina win with Alabama’s most recent touchdown, made a return Saturday. Ingram quarterbacked all nine plays Alabama ran from the formation that netted 85 yards.
McElroy, who had completed just 46 percent of his throws in the past two games, was more effective against Tennessee. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 120 yards against Tennessee without committing a turnover after chalking up four last week against South Carolina.
I thought Greg (McElroy) played better in the game today,” Saban said. “We have to get back to believing in our players and throwing the ball downfield and making some big plays in the passing game. Certainly with his performance today, I thought he did a really good job of throwing to the right guy.”