Still Not Finishing

Still Not Finishing

All year, Alabama coach Nick Saban has waited for that one game where his team puts together four solid quarters in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense, and special teams.



After watching his team lose a 24-0 lead and a 28-27 Iron Bowl to Auburn, he's still waiting, and his players know it.

"We didn't finish," said Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who made a team-high ten stops including three sacks of Tigers quarterback Cam Newton. "They're offense made plays (in the second half), and we didn't. It's on what we did. It's not about what they did."

What Auburn did, however, was get its 12th win of the year, though things didn't start out looking that way.

"I just had the mindset to go in and dominate," Upshaw added. "It's Auburn. I'm like an hour away from Auburn and the whole town is full of Auburn fans. I just wanted to get out and prove that Alabama is the real deal. We just couldn't pull out the win.

"We were motivated. We had that one drive that nothing was going to keep us from getting to him. We knew that we had to shut him down from all the talk about Cam and the Auburn Tigers. We knew that if we shut him down we would have a big chance to win."

"We had a game plan, and we executed it, in the first half," said linebacker Dont'a Hightower. "In the second half, we didn't and (Auburn) came up big and made some plays."

Hightower made four tackles, one for a loss.

Marcell Dareus got a first half sack of Newton to go with two quarterback hurries and three total tackles. "We just lost focus as a team. It wasn't so much just the front," he said. "I think we lost focus as a team just getting after it, fitting our gaps and getting the run fits. We just lost focus."

The Bama offense left points off the board on three occasions: a dropped touchdown pass by running back Trent Richardson that would have produced a 28-0 lead, a fumble by Mark Ingram that rolled nearly 30 yards for a touchback when his catch-and-run of 41 yards had the Tide in the red zone, and a sack/fumble recovery by Auburn's Nick Fairley on Bama's Greg McElroy in the waning moments of the first half, with Alabama again in field goal range.

Add it up, and that's at least 10 points Bama desperately needed later.

"We killed ourselves," Ingram said. "We had plenty of opportunities to cash in. We kind of gave the game away, but you've got to give (Auburn) credit. We knew those guys weren't going to lay down.

"We didn't execute as well as we should have (in the second half), not near as well as we did in the first half."

Ingram had 36 net yards rushing on ten carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run. He added 91 yards receiving on four grabs.

Said Saban, "I thought we moved the ball well; moving the ball was not the issue. We had enough offensive yards, we just didn't capitalize when we got in the red zone."

The bright spots offensive for Bama were the play of senior quarterback Greg McElroy and junior wide receiver Julio Jones. McElroy threw for a career-high 377 yards, and Jones caught ten passes for 199. Jones added 62 yards on three kick returns and ran a sweep for a dozen more, giving him 273 all-purpose yards.

Center William Vlachos anchored a Tide offensive line that helped produce 446 total yards, but only 69 of those came on the ground.

"It's extremely frustrating. We came out firing, hitting on all cylinders, but credit to them. They fought back and made the plays that they had to make to win the game," said Vlachos. "When we go and look at the film we're going to see that they're a very good team, but it's going to be the stuff that we did that kept us from winning the game and continuing to score points on offense.

"It's extremely frustrating with the miscues in the red zone that we had, but those aren't one guy's fault, that's everybody's fault. We have a lot to play for still. Hopefully we'll get to go to a good bowl game and hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of the time we have coming up to get better and continue to improve."

Vlachos and his offensive line mates were without the services of starting right guard Barrett Jones, who missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle. Red shirt freshman Anthony Steen replaced Jones again.

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