Alabama hosts Georgia State at 6:30 p.m. CST Thursday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPNU will televise the game with Chris Fowler doing play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard color commentary, and Erin Andrews on the sidelines. Bama is 8-2 and ranked 10th in the nation. The Panthers of Coach Bill Curry, in the first year of football for Georgia State, are 6-4.
Alabama tailback Mark Ingram said that he has a lot of respect for teams that play the midweek games. “I always wondered how somebody could play on like a Tuesday or a Thursday, things like that,” Ingram said. “I know it’s difficult having a short week. We do have a tremendous amount of respect for teams that are able to prepare in a short time.”
Georgia State didn’t have the short preparation time. While Alabama was defeating Mississippi State in a Southeastern Conference game last Saturday, the Panthers were enjoying an open date.
Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and Alabama’s leading rusher this season, said that the short week for the Crimson Tide involved getting the normal worklaod in practices, but with normal recovery time. Bama’s practiced Monday and Tuesday and was to have its walk-through Wednesday.
“It’s short, but Coach (Nick Saban) knows how to take care of us and get us ready to play,” Ingram said.
Asked how long it would take Ingram to get ready for a Southeastern Conference game, he said, “Twenty-four hours. That’s how it’s always been around here.”
But, he said, “Sunday you’ll be a little sore. Monday you run around and get the kinks out. Then you really feel good by Tuesday.”
After missing the first two games of the season recovering from knee surgery after an injury before the opening game, Ingram has rushed 124 times for 694 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and 86.8 yards per game, and has nine touchdowns. He has also caught 15 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Trent Richardson, who took over for Ingram in the first two games, was injured against LSU and did not play against Mississippi State. Richardson is right behind Ingram in rushing with 92 carries for 634 yards, 6.9 yards per carry and 70.4 yards per game with five touchdowns.
“If he’s ready to play, I think he’ll play,” Ingram said of Richardson. “I don’t think he wants to sit out at all. If he’s ready to go and he can be Trent, then I think he’ll go. He’s always around the huddles, always on the sidelines encouraging people – celebrating when they did good things, telling them to keep their head up when something didn’t go so well. He was still being a great leader out there and being effective, even though he didn’t play.”
Alabama has had a few injuries on offense this year. In addition to Ingram and Richardson missing games, the offensive line has had a few shuffles. Ingram said it hasn’t affected play.
“All of them do such a great job of preparing and film study that they’re always ready for whenever they have to step up in the game,” Ingram said of the offensive line. “I think Anthony Steen did a good job of coming in and playing on short notice last week.”
Steen, a redshirt freshman, replaced two-year starter Barrett Jones at right guard. Jones, who left the field on crutches with a sprained ankle, is not expected to play against Georgia State.
Ingram said, “Obviously, nobody wants Barrett to be gone. We hope for a quick recovery for him. They’ve done a great job for us all year giving Greg (quarterback Greg McElroy) time to throw the ball and giving us seams to run the ball. We respect that unit and we love them.”
One of the memorable moments from last week’s 30-10 win over Mississippi State was back-up quarterback A.J. McCarron going in late and making a few inadvisable plays. The nation watched as McCarron got an ear-full from Saban as he came off the field, followed by Saban delivering a vigorous slap on McCarron’s butt.
Saban declared it a “teaching moment.”
Ingram said he has had a few of those.
“A lot,” he said. “When I fumbled at LSU my freshman year, I remember he yelled at me. Then against Tennessee I fumbled, but that wasn’t a fumble because it go overturned. He yelled at me for that, too. There’ve been lots of times in practice when he’s got into me. He just loves his players and he wants you to get better. When he doesn’t yell at you, doesn’t talk to you anymore, that’s when you need to be worried.”
Ingram said it doesn’t take long to get over a Saban chewing-out.
“You listen to him and you’ve got to let it go, keep moving on,” Ingram said. “You know it’s nothing personal. He’s trying to coach you and make you a better player.”