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October 19, 2009TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram was named the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the week after accumulating 246 rushing yards on 24 carries and a touchdown against South Carolina, to go with two receptions for 23 yards.
He set a Bryant-Denny Stadium record for rushing yards, and it was the third-most in Alabama history.
Ingram also carried the ball on all six plays during Alabama's 68-yard fourth-quarter drive to put the Crimson Tide ahead 20-6.
"I thought the drive at the end of the game was really a great drive by our offense," Coach Nick Saban said. "Obviously a lot of great effort."
Ingram was also named the offensive player of the week for the third straight game by the coaching staff, sharing the honor with sophomore guard Barrett Jones. Defensively, the award was shared by junior linebacker Rolando McClain, senior cornerback Marquis Johnson, senior end Lorenzo Washington and senior defensive back Tyrone King Jr. Both Johnson and King will filling in for injured cornerback Javier Arenas (bruised ribs).
"All played extremely well," Saban said. "We had more players with double-digit production points in this game than maybe the three years we've been here."
Senior punter P.J. Fitzgerald, who averaged 45.3 yards per punt and placed two inside the 20, earned the special-teams honor along with Julio Jones.
Another honor for McClain
McClain, who was an honorable-mention selection for SEC defensive player of the week, was named the Lott Trophy Impact Player of the Week after making seven tackles, one for a loss, and two quarterback hurries against the Gamecocks.
"This guy shows up every single Saturday," former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who is on the selection committee, said in a release. "He is the best defensive player I have seen this year. No, make that the best defensive player I've seen in many years."
Arenas practiced Monday after being a late scratch against South Carolina.
"This is not an injury that is not something that's going to get worse," Saban said. "It's an injury when you can manage the pain you're fine. But managing the pain it still hurts, it's still throbbing. The biggest problem is when he really tries to open up and go fast.
"How fast it gets better, we don't know."
Saban called Arenas, sophomore nose tackle Josh Chapman (abdominal strain), freshman Michael Bowman (patella tendon strain), and freshman cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (back spasms) all day-to-day. Freshman defensive back Rod Woodson also missed the South Carolina with a patella tendon strain).
Like Arenas, Chapman was expected to be ready for South Carolina, but unable to play. Freshman Kerry Murphy took his place in the rotation.
"The sky's the limit with all those guys," Washington said when asked about Murphy. "The thing is when guys come in on the defensive side this is kind of a difficult system to kind of learn and play in because a lot of it is based on technique and learning your assignments. It's not a regular stay-on-the-line defense. You have to be athletic. Even if you're double-teamed you have to get off your man and make plays.
"I think he's done a good job to learn and try and get in there and do what you can."
McClain is treating freshman Nico Johnson just like he did Dont'a Hightower last year when he was playing weakside linebacker, and is beginning to see similar improvement. "I can tell in practice," McClain said. "He's working hard and he watches a lot of film. That's something I like, he comes in early. Sometimes he beats me in and that surprised me." Nico Johnson didn't play much against South Carolina with Alabama mostly in nickel defense. "I told him one thing before the game, 'See the ball, go get it,'" McClain said.
Washington on the difference in the team's depth from a couple of years ago: "There was no option for someone to go down. In 2007, I broke one of my ribs and played the whole second half of the season. It really wasn't an option (to sit)."
Senior tight end Colin Peek still doesn't know what he did to warrant a pass-interference penalty against South Carolina. "My tight ends coach Bobby Williams said he didn't know how they called it or why they called it," he said. "It was something (the defender) was trying to play me man-on-man and I sort of bodied up because they try and grab you as you run past and I sort of used his momentum to sort of push him off. The ref said, 'You can't do that eighty-four, that's illegal.' Shoot, that's what they tell us to do in practice. I'm not going to stop playing that way."
Peek was named to the John Mackey Award watch list, which goes to the best tight end in college football.
Saban on his wife Terry serving as a television host for the homecoming parade: "I did not catch any of it, but whether I saw it or didn't see it I would say she did fantastic. You can write that everywhere and show it everywhere and help me out."