15 November 2009
It's much easier to write a column after a close win, because there are defining moments and turning points that can be discussed. After a blow-out win, that type of thing just comes across as sunshine pumping. And that's not something that we necessarily want to be associated with.
Having said all of that, here are some things that I noticed on Saturday night:
--- Mark Ingram is an absolutely legit Heisman candidate. In fact, he has to be the front runner at this point. He's just 175 yards away from breaking the school record for rushing yards in a season. Ironically enough, when Shaun Alexander broke the career rushing record, he did it at Auburn. It's unlikely Mark will get enough carries this Saturday to his 175, so he could set another rushing record in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
--- Marquis Maze is no longer just a receiving threat. His blocking on Saturday was superb. Watch the replay of Ingram's 70 yard touchdown run. Maze's guy is completely eliminated from the play.
--- Greg McElroy seems to have come out of his funk. His deep ball to Julio was perfectly in stride. The touchdown to Darius Hanks was really great to see, as he had to step up in the pocket, and he threw an accurate pass on the run.
--- The touchdown passes were because of great coaching. On the first one, the safety ran with Julio, leaving Hanks wide open. The second touchdown was essentially the same play, and safety bit down on Hanks. It's funny that Julio has two long touchdown plays in which he is wide open. How does that happen? Great execution of well-timed calls.
--- Marquis Johnson has hopefully, finally, shut everyone up. This kid has improved so much since the Florida State debacle in 2007. Forget about Utah and Florida last season, and think about where he was two years ago. That speaks volumes about how good Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are at coaching defensive back technique.
--- Leigh Tiffin is another guy who has probably shut up his detractors. He needs just two field goals to break the school record for career makes. He's made nine field goals in a row since his last miss against South Carolina. He also has 101 points on the year, which means he holds the three highest single season scoring marks for a kicker in school history. He's got a legit shot at winning the Lou Groza Award. That's a long way from his first trip to Fayetteville.
--- Mark Ingram is over 2,000 rushing yards in just 24 games. It's doubtful that he'll be here for four years, but with four more games remaining this season and a likely 14 in 2010... Shaun Alexander's school record of 3,565 career yards is in jeopardy.
--- Mark Barron is one hell of an athlete. He made two brilliant catches on his interceptions.
--- Mississippi State appears to have finally made the commitment to real football. Their new jumbo-tron is huge, and really nice. They've done a lot of things to improve their overall game experience, including several areas of tailgating that are starting to look more and more like Oxford's "The Grove". The cowbells help with the noise, but that place was pretty loud Saturday night.
We'll have more over the course of the week as Alabama prepares for its final home game of the season.
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