Midseason review: Alabama

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
11:01
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It can’t get much better for Alabama at this point. The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0) were No. 2 this week in the BCS standings and have already beaten three nationally ranked teams. Their defense might be even better than a year ago, and that’s despite losing star linebacker Dont’a Hightower for the season in the Arkansas game with a knee injury. The passing game has hit a snag these last two games, as quarterback Greg McElroy hasn’t dealt with pressure as well. The other concern has been the Crimson Tide’s kickoff coverage. All in all, though, this looks to be Nick Saban’s most complete team yet at Alabama and maybe one of the most complete teams in the country.

Offensive MVP: RB Mark Ingram. If Ingram doesn’t watch out, he’s going to run his way into Heisman Trophy contention. In fact, he may already have. He’s coming off a spectacular 246-yard performance against South Carolina and leads the SEC with 905 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s the best runner after contact in the league and is extremely dependable. He hasn’t lost a fumble in 304 career touches at Alabama.

Defensive MVP: LB Rolando McClain. The 6-4, 258-pound McClain just looks like an NFL linebacker. He plays like one, too, and is the heart and soul of an Alabama defense ranked No. 1 nationally this week in total defense. McClain leads the Crimson Tide with 49 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss, but his value goes much deeper than sheer numbers. He’s essentially an extension of Nick Saban on the field and anticipates the game so well. McClain is always around the ball and one of those guys who has a knack for changing the complexion of a game with a big hit or key takeaway.

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