Published September 5, 2012 - 2:45pm
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AJ McCarron is a different player than he was last year. With a national championship under his belt, McCarron seemed more confident and concise in his decision-making and his approach to the game against Michigan.
Coming into 2012, we knew McCarron would need to step up his leadership role because of the talent and maturity that exited Tuscaloosa via the NFL Draft.
McCarron entered 2011 just fighting for his starting job with then backup Phillip Sims. He won the job, and the rest you now know.
For much of last year, McCarron stayed more in the background of the Tide’s star players on offense. But in the national championship game, it was very evident he was becoming a leader at quarterback on the biggest stage.
The coaching staff knew he was ready to become a leader as well. McCarron averaged fewer than 11 pass attempts on first down in his first 13 games, but he threw the ball 20 times on first down against LSU.
McCarron exited 2011 a different quarterback. He entered 2012 as Alabama’s field general with a fiery side.
“AJ’s one of those guys that knows what everybody’s supposed to do on every play,” Nick Saban said. “We ran a draw in the scrimmage, and Cyrus [Kouandjio] missed a block. AJ said, ‘If you make that block, we would have been out the gate.’
“He knows who is supposed to block everybody on every pass pickup and protection. He knows how the guys are supposed to run the routes and what the depth is supposed to be and when they don’t do it the right way.”
McCarron was on his game against #8 Michigan last weekend, throwing for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while only completing 52 percent of his passes.
While some argue McCarron is a game manager and not an impact player, I would agree with you…last year. This year, more is expected of him on offense, and Alabama will have to be better in the passing game. He likely won’t have the week in and week out numbers of Tyler Wilson or Tyler Bray, but he’ll command his offense to be just as explosive.
The field general leads his team this weekend against Western Kentucky.