Alabama's No. 1 running back Mark Ingram was injured during practice on Monday and had his knee scoped today. He will be out for the first game against San Jose State and his playing status will be week-to-week.
Who knows how long Ingram will be out?
What we do know is that the longer Ingram sits, the more Trent Richardson will start.
Here are the Top 5 reasons why Mark Ingram won't regain his starting position upon his return from the knee injury.
This Saturday Trent Richardson will step in for Mark Ingram as the No. 1 running back for Alabama. Tide fans can expect Richardson to be just as good as Ingram, if not better.
If he can find space on the outside behind the big Alabama offensive line, he will be able to break bigger runs because of his superior speed and his "extra gear." Though Richardson may seem to be all about the big play, he can also go inside and get those important first downs (e.g. last year's Auburn game).
Any way you look at Trent Richardson's abilities, whether it be on the outside or inside, there will be no drop off in talent—that is for sure.
When a team starts a season and plays through the first couple of games, analysts often ask, "Is the team gelling together yet?" or, "How is the team chemistry?"
If Richardson has a good string of games while Ingram is out and the team starts to rely on his abilities, Nick Saban will have to ask, "How will Ingram's return affect the team's chemistry? Will it be a boost or an adjustment?"
My guess is that the team,especially the offensive line, will have to adjust to Ingram returning as the starter.
Mark Ingram has yet to be seriously injured during his time at Alabama, but his previous minor injuries may tell us something.
Ingram was a bit banged up before the Iron Bowl last year, then injured his hip during the game. The Auburn Tigers swarmed to Ingram every time he got the ball, holding him to just 30 yards on 16 carries.
Was it because he wasn't running hard? Or was it Auburn's great defensive scheme?
When Richardson had his chances in the ball game, he did a bit better against the fired-up Auburn squad with 15 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Ingram's 2009 Iron Bowl performance may not tell us how he will react upon his return from injury this season; Ingram is a tough back that has battled through the flu and other sorts of minor injuries and still performed well.
Some of Ingram's reaction to injury may depend on how soon he gets to play. If he is out there in Week 2, there is a good chance we will see him play like the Ingram we saw in the 2009 Iron Bowl, leaving the door open to Richardson.
Nick Saban spoke earlier today about Ingram's injury and said, "Mark will definitely be out for this week's game against San Jose State and we will manage this on a week to week basis beyond this week. We will make every decision in the future based on what's best for Mark and his career as we consult with Dr. Cain and Dr. Andrews on his progress."
Saban may hold Ingram out longer than he would a normal running back; he is willing to defend Mark Ingram's future as an NFL prospect. He may even go as far as giving the starting job to Trent Richardson just to protect Mark Ingram from further serious injury.
This would be a long shot if it were the only reason why Saban would give the starting job to Richardson. But if you factor in the previous slides, it could definitely happen.
Mark Ingram recently said, "[Richardson's] getting better and improving every day. It'll be scary to see when he reaches his full potential what he'll be capable of doing."
Ingram also said, "I think he should be preseason All-SEC, All-American, All-Everything on every award, because he's a great player."
If Ingram says Richardson will be scary, imagine what opposing defenses will think of him during the first few games while Ingram is out.
Richardson might impress Saban enough to leave him in the starting role to scare the whole nation.