Tuscaloosa, AL - Coach Nick Saban and old-fashioned Alabama resisted the Wildcat offense craze all of last season, after it had caught on around college football and even with his former NFL team.
He didn't bother with it in the spring either. Finally, the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide installed the fashionable formation during fall camp.
Saban wasted no time unveiling it: Tailback Mark Ingram took the season's first snap out of the shotgun and plenty of others before the opener against Virginia Tech was over.
Even 'Bama's defensive players enjoyed the change.
``You don't usually see that from us,'' linebacker Cory Reamer said. ``You never saw it last year, and I think everybody's going to it all over the country. It was just a different look for us. It's really going to help us out to have an offense that can run it, because we're going to face a bunch of teams that do that down the road.''
Chances are, Alabama's not done with it yet.
uld line up in the spot besides Ingram, though trickery might not be needed Saturday night against Florida International.
``We felt like it was an easy adaptation with the plays that we ran,'' he said. ``We're probably not as sort of far along in running it, doing all the things we need to do to make it as effective as it could be. It's something that we're going to continue to work on. It gives the defense something that they have to prepare for.''
Saban didn't adopt it when current Mississippi coach Houston Nutt was running the Wildcat - or Wild Hog, as he called it - with Darren McFadden at Arkansas. Even the Miami Dolphins ran it after Saban left. Now, the shorter list might just be who isn't using it in college football.
Scratch one team off that list.
Alabama didn't bust out any huge plays with the Wildcat. Ingram faked a handoff to receiver Julio Jones and ran for 3 yards on that initial play. It still gives Florida International coach Mario Cristobal something else to worry about going into his team's visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
a lot of mileage out of it.''
Alabama really didn't need it last season. The Tide pounded away with Glen Coffee, Ingram and the other backs and fired passes downfield to receiver Julio Jones. Gimmicks weren't necessary.
Saban, whose forte is defense, likes the potential difficulties the Wildcat can create.
``It definitely presents a problem,'' he said. ``I think we've learned that for a couple of years playing Arkansas and Ole Miss.
``Houston kind of started it with his offensive coaches. It creates a lot of problems. I think it creates something that the other team has to prepare for. We always have to work hard against it when we play against it. We thought it would be a good thing. I don't think we were prepared to do it last year. ``
The Tide didn't go overboard and actually let Ingram attempt a pass - yet. He wouldn't mind the chance.
``That's up to coach,'' Ingram said. ``If he feels like that's going to help our offense be successful, I think we'll put it in.''
Quarterback Greg McElroy also kind of likes the idea of being a receiver on a play, figuring ``they can get me the ball in the flat and (I can) make a guy miss.''
One reason Ingram might have been put in the Wildcat role is his calm demeanor. He found out two days before the Virginia Tech game that he was going to take the first snap.
His reaction: ``I didn't really think too much about it, just to go out and execute. I was excited but I wasn't too nervous.''
Posted: 9/10/09 10:55PM ET