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Previewing South Carolina at Alabama: Topics for Discussion on the 'Bama Offense

  • Can we stop Mark Ingram and the 'Bama running game? Relatively unknown early in the year, Ingram has burst onto the Heisman scene with a series of superlative performances. After watching our performance against Kentucky, you'd better believe 'Bama will know to attack our rushing defense. If we can pursue and tackle, though, I think we can slow him down. We often had guys in position last week, but they didn't look quite as nimble in pursuit or tough on contact as they have at other points this year.
  • Julio Jones. How do we stop him? One thing that helps 'Bama's running game, of course, is that they have one of the best receivers in the country in Julio Jones. 'Bama knows that opposing teams will have more than one guy keeping an eye on Jones, which allows 'Bama more room to run. (Keep in mind that Ingram is also a great underneath receiver, which gives 'Bama another weapon against zones.) The key to addressing this issue is to manage to keep Jones under wraps while not committing too many resources to him and thus opening up opportunities for other elements of the offense. Our 4-2-5 schemes and great safeties might help us do that, emphasis being on "might."
  • Can we pressure McElroy? One of the things that was missing this past week was our pass rush, and I can go ahead and tell you right now that we're not beating 'Bama unless we can get to the quarterback. Our defense thrives on pressure, and it will be even more important this weekend, as we desperately need to force 'Bama to make a turnover or two that lead to big score swings in our favor. Look for Ellis Johnson to pull out all the stops to try to cook up a turnover. An early cornerback blitz or two wouldn't surprise me. Also look for Eric Norwood to lay it all on the line. He knows what a win in this game would mean for his legacy.