Saban: UA won’t appeal, Ingram not likely to play against Penn State

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — No. 1 Alabama will face 19th-ranked Penn State without defensive end Marcell Dareus, and coach Nick Saban isn’t betting on Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram making it back either.

Saban said Monday that Alabama won’t appeal Dareus’s two-game NCAA suspension for improper agent benefits.

“We researched it, and we didn’t feel there was any precedent to appeal it,” he said. “I wish it was less, but when you look at the facts, you have to say is there any other case that would say he got an unfair punishment? … We didn’t feel like there was a precedent for appeal.”

Saban had said after the suspension was announced two days before the opener against San Jose State that Alabama would seek to get it cut to one game, allowing Dareus to play against the Nittany Lions.

Dareus, the defensive MVP of the national championship game, was also ordered to pay $1,787 dollars to a charity of his choice before regaining eligibility. He was ruled ineligible for receiving preferential treatment and agent benefits, including airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during a pair of Miami trips.

Alabama played without Dareus and Ingram (knee injury) in a 48-3 romp over San Jose State on Saturday.

Saban said Ingram would start “some dry-land rehab” on Monday and would be evaluated each step of the way to see how his knee responds 12-24 hours later. Ingram had an arthroscopic procedure done early last week following the practice injury. He didn’t practice Monday.

“It’s going to be a day-to-day basis as to whether he can take the next step and the next step and the next step,” Saban said. “You can ask me, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to play in this game. It depends on how he reacts to every day. And nobody really knows how that’s going to be.

“It’ll probably a little bit of a stretch for everything to go perfectly, but that’s where it is. That’s all anybody knows right now. I’m not making any predictions or any hypothetical situations or whatever. That’s just he way it is.”

What would it take for him to allow Ingram to play?

“What do I have to see?” Saban said. “I have to see Mark Ingram be Mark Ingram.”

Alabama certainly didn’t need the Heisman winner or Dareus in the mismatched opener. The competition goes up a few notches this week against Penn State, coming off a similarly one-sided 48-14 win over Youngstown State.

Offensively, Trent Richardson filled Ingram’s spot but only played the first half. Eddie Lacy and Demetrius Goode combined for 203 yards.

“I think we really needed some guys to step up in place of Mark, and I think they did a great job,” guard Barrett Jones said. “Honestly, you couldn’t really tell much of a dropoff, and that’s the way we really want it here: When one guy goes down, we can put in another guy and have success. I think they did a great job of stepping up.”

The Nittany Lions aren’t expecting much of a difference if Richardson remains the main man in the backfield instead of Ingram.

“The funny thing is that no matter if he plays or not, they have Richardson back there,” linebacker Bani Gbadyu said. “I think he is unbelievable. I have been watching him on film a lot. They are not going to miss a beat with Richardson in.”

Penn State, though, allowed only 75 yards on 34 rushing attempts in the opener. Jones is hoping the inexperienced Lacy and Goode approach the game the same way.

“Hopefully they just go out there and run,” he said. “We’re just going to try to make holes like we do every week, and hopefully they’ll run through them.”

Defensively, sophomore Damion Square started in Dareus’ spot opposite Luther Davis. Backups Darrington Sentimore and Undra Billingsley got their first action on defense. Without the quarterback-harassing Dareus, the Tide’s only sack came on a safety blitz by Robert Lester.

“We always want to have Marcell on the field, but we’ll just come through like we did last week,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “Not having him, a lot of guys are going to have to step up. Damion Square and Luther Davis did that; Undra Billingsley and Darrington Sentimore came out and played great. Knowing that Penn State’s going to have more of a running team than San Jose State, they’re going to be more downhill than East and West, we’re going to have to see who’s going to be able to step up and replace Marcell this week.”