As trophies go, Alabama’s Mark Ingram has had his eyes on one in particular for some time now.
And it has nothing to do with striking the pose.
The only thing on Ingram’s mind is bringing another SEC championship trophy back to Alabama. It’s been 10 years since the Crimson Tide have added to their trophy case with SEC hardware.
They get a chance to do so Saturday against Florida in the SEC championship game.
It’s also a game that could shape the Heisman Trophy race, especially with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow coming off such a big game.
Ingram, who as recently as two weeks ago was considered the favorite for college football’s most prestigious individual award, wasn’t consumed with winning the Heisman Trophy then.
And he’s not now, even though he’s probably playing catch-up coming off his least productive outing of the season against Auburn.
“I haven’t been paying too much attention to that lately,” said Ingram, who suffered a hip pointer against the Tigers. With all that stuff, the performance last week, I’m sure people are talking that it hurt me [in the Heisman race]. But to me, all I care about is helping this team win. That’s all that matters ultimately. As long as we keep winning games, everything else will take care of itself.
“I had a down week, but I affected the game in a different way. I didn’t have the yards or the touchdowns, but the passing game opened up. I don’t really pay attention to any of that. I try and focus on whatever I have to do to help this team win a game and win a championship.”
Ingram goes up against a Florida defense that’s every bit as nasty against the run this season as Alabama’s defense.
Needless to say, Ingram’s gone up against his own defense in practice enough to know what he’s facing. Against Auburn last week, he faced an eight-man front most of the game.
The Gators are good enough that they might not have to sell out as much to stop the run.
“They have the best defense in the country, statistically,” Ingram said. “I’m sure whatever they’ve got planned is going to be a challenge.”
Ingram admitted that frustration seeped in for the first time all season last week against Auburn.
“I let the emotions of the game get the best of me,” said Ingram, who was held to 30 yards on 16 carries. “I haven’t been getting frustrated at all, and I learned plenty of lessons from last year about getting frustrated. When you get frustrated, it’s never good. It affects how you play.
“You’ve just got to keep pushing, keep being patient and keep working hard.”
And keep your eyes on the prize.
“Rip off the rearview mirror, and it’s a one-game season,” Ingram said. “We’re getting ready for Florida right now. That’s all that matters.”