TUSCALOOSA _ He went on to win the Heisman Trophy anyway, but 30 rushing yards on 16 carries and some trouble with a hip-pointer at Jordan-Hare Stadium last year is giving University of Alabama junior running back Mark Ingram some extra motivation for Friday's game.
"Definitely," Ingram said. "Just how they shut down the running game completely. The backs have a chip on our shoulder, a little edge. It's nothing personal or emotional, you just have to go out and execute.
"Our main focus is winning games, so whether we have 30 yards or 300 yards, we're happy."
After missing the first two games of this season with a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery Ingram hasn't posted comparable numbers with 780 rushing yards on 136 carries, but knows the Tigers will almost certainly be keying the Alabama running attack again.
Although Auburn is ranked 100th nationally in pass defense, the team that is better able to run will have a clear upper hand - especially with Auburn having two defensive linemen suspended for the first half for throwing punches against Georgia and defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the spotlight for questionable hits.
Meanwhile, Ingram's 86 rushing yards on 12 carries against Georgia State last Thursday were particularly noteworthy because his biggest gains, 27 and 23 yards, were both going to the left - something he didn't have the most confidence in since surgery.
"That's where it broke out at, in that side of the line," Ingram said. "But my knee has been a lot better. A lot, lot better. It's coming along real well."
Ingram also had 149 all-purpose yards against No. 17 Mississippi State the previous Saturday, rushing for 53 and catching two passes for 77 yards, as he's become more of a fixture in the passing game as well.
However, what's clearly different from last year's 26-21 victory are the roles of the teams, with Auburn quarterback Cam Newton the frontrunner for the Heisman in addition to facing some large-scale off-season issues.
"Those guys are undefeated, going to the SEC Championship and if they win out they'll play for the national championship," Ingram said. "All the pressure is on them."
Sophomore running back Trent Richardson (knee) practiced with the use of a brace Monday.
"When he first put his knee brace on I was 'You're part of the knee-brace club, now,'" Ingram joked. "We all wear them." "He's looking good."
With Eddie Lacy also having some knee issues as well, Demetrius Goode worked behind Ingram when Richardson wasn't in the mix.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Barrett Jones (ankle) was still unable to practice and again rode an exercise bike during drills.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Steen again worked at right guard and would likely start again if Jones is out. During individual drills he was backed up by junior John Michael Boswell with junior Alfred McCullough the reserve right tackle.
"I think he stepped up and handled it pretty well," Ingram said about Steen. "After a few series he got kind of comfortable out there. He settled down."
Numerous prominent awards announced their finalists Monday including the Chuck Bednarik (best defensive player), Biletnikoff (best receiver), Maxwell (best all-around player), Davey O'Brien (best quarterback), Doak Walker (running back) and Jim Thorpe (best defensive back), with no Alabama players making the cut.
Here's the rundown:
Butkus Award (linebacker): Dont'a Hightower named semifinalist. Finalists announced Nov. 23. Nico Johnson was on watch list. (Rolando McClain reigning winner). William Campbell Trophy (scholar-athlete, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy): Greg McElroy finalist. Winner announced Dec. 7. Heisman Trophy: Finalists announced Dec. 6 (Mark Ingram reigning winner). Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Marcell Dareus was named to the watch list. Midseason list to be announced in November. Manning Award (quarterback, includes bowls): Greg McElroy on watch list. Finalists named Nov. 29. Paul Hornung Award (most versatile): Trent Richardson on watch list. Finalists announced in early December. Rimington Trophy (center): William Vlachos on watch list. Finalists announced Dec. 6. Unitas Golden Arm (senior quarterback): Greg McElroy named finalist. Winner announced in December. Burlsworth Trophy (walk-on): Will Lowery nominated. Finalists announced Dec. 1. Wuerffel Trophy (community service with outstanding achievement): Greg McElroy finalist. Winner announced Dec. 7. Sports Illustrated's Sportsmen of the Year: Greg McElroy nominated. Winner announced Nov. 29.
No one from Alabama being considered Doak Walker Award (running back): Mark Ingram was named semifinalist. Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Mark Barron was on watch list. Outland Trophy (interior lineman): James Carpenter and Barrett Jones were on watch list. Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Robert Lester were all on watch list. Walter Camp Award (Player of the year): Mark Ingram was on watch list. Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Julio Jones was a semifinalist. Lott Trophy (defensive impact player): Mark Barron was a quarterfinalist. Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy were all on the watch list. Bednarik Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were all on the watch list. Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Greg McElroy was on watch list. Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): James Carpenter, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were all on the watch list. John Mackey Award (tight end). Lou Groza Award (kicker). Ray Guy Award (punter).
One of the most interesting matchups Friday will be junior nose tackle Josh Chapman vs. Auburn offensive lineman Ryan Pugh, who were teammates at Hoover and also faced against each other in high school. "We used to get at it," Chapman said. "Going against someone that good, that's what you live for, to go against someone you find yourself kind of equal to and try to see who wins. I love playing against friends."
Chapman on Coach Nick Saban's comment that over the past three-four weeks he's playing his best football yet: "Coach (Bo) Davis, he's helped me learn how to study film. I used to watch film, you start looking at the little keys on guys. Like look and see where the center puts the ball will tell you where they're going to go, where the offensive lineman sit. The more you study, when you go out there on the field it's easier, you know what's coming."
Ingram on if this might be his last game at Bryant-Denny Stadium: "I'm not really thinking about that right now at all. After the season I'll sit down with coach and my family and we'll decide what's best. Right now my main focus is on beating Auburn."