Alabama's Questionable Play Calling Almost Cost Tide a Win and Much More

Jonathan KelleyCorrespondent IOctober 27, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 24:  Terrence Cody #62 of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks off the field after a defensive series against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It is quite possible that at this very moment Daniel Moore is painting on a giant or should I say Mountain size canvas the final moments of Saturday’s game. However it never should have come to such a dramatic conclusion.

It has been obvious to Tide fans for a while now and it is becoming obvious to the nation that the red zone play calling of Alabama is flawed to put it lightly. Jim McElwain is a great offensive coordinator, but he has made some horrible decisions in the red zone as of late.

The most recent blunder in red zone play calling is the most inexcusable. Saturday Alabama had a second and two on the Tennessee four yard line. Instead of running Ingram, Upchurch, Richardson, or Grant all which average over five yards per carry, Alabama passed the ball.

It might have been different if it had been play action or a screen, but no it was two fades to Julio Jones. Why not run on second down or third down to at least get the first down inside the two yard line and then throw the ball?

It is becoming clear that this team is not an offensive juggernaut. Heck it might not even be stable threat, but the run game has been as good if not better than any in the country. Mark Ingram is quite possibly the best player in all college football, and Alabama refuses to utilize him when they need him most.

In the last three games Alabama has been in the red zone 10 times, and has only scored one touchdown. Alabama has been inside the five yard line for four of those 10 times and scored once. The lone score a Mark Ingram touchdown. Of those four possessions inside the five only five plays were run plays and one scored a touchdown.

Is the mentality that one man does not a team make hurting Alabama more than it is helping? People can sugar coat it all they want with talk about teamwork and team performance, but when it comes down to it Mark Ingram is the best player on this team. He is also the main reason Alabama is undefeated.

Are Nick Saban and Jim McElwain purposely not using in Ingram the red zone to hush the Heisman talk? Do they feel that Ingram scoring too much would be harmful to the team mentality? Or is there some other deep seated reason for blatantly avoiding sure fire touchdowns?

What other reason could there be for not running your best player in the red zone. This young man has been tackled for no gain or a loss less than 15 times this year on over 320 total touches. He has had one career fumble and it took four Tennessee players to pry that ball out of his hands.

No matter what one may think or feel there is something wrong in T-town, and it is in the offensive play calling. Julio Jones is a great talent, but he has been unreliable and spotty this year. Dropped passes, poor route running, and double coverage have made Julio ineffective all year long and receivers who originally stepped up have now fallen behind.

Greg McElroy is a game manager at this point in his career. He may develop into something more, but right now he is just not there. The only consistent threat on this team is the backfield. The O-line is fine and they produce as well, but these backs are fantastic.

If the University of Alabama does not fix its play calling inside the red zone and quick they are going to lose a game. If Saban and McElwain refuse to give the ball to Ingram for whatever reason there is still Richardson, Upchurch, and Grant. If this stubborn streak in the Alabama red zone play calling continues it will cost Bama a game and maybe much, much more.