AJ McCarron kicked off his 2013 Heisman campaign against Notre Dame

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While much of the discussion revolves around AJ McCarron’s girlfriend off the field, I’m going to talk about how good he is on the field.

McCarron has already made his intentions known about returning for his senior year. And on the wings of an epic performance by the junior signal caller and his teammates, McCarron’s dominant showing kicked off his 2013 Heisman campaign, and his return undoubtedly makes the Tide the preseason #1 team in the country.

McCarron’s performance for a, uh, game manager was pretty good. He completed 20 of 28 passes (71 percent) for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Can we get away from the game manager label now? Notre Dame had to commit to bringing safeties into the box to play the run, and McCarron torched the Irish’s secondary in one-on-one matchups.

Game managers are what Everett Golson and Jeff Driskel have been all season – neither are close to the type of quarterback AJ McCarron is currently. He is as cool as the other side of the pillow and has ice water in his veins on the biggest stage.  In fact, this was his best game of his career, and he’s shown progression over his last two seasons.

Most of his eight incompletions had more to do with him throwing the ball away because of the pass rush than it had to do with him missing receivers.

Katherine Webb, Eddie Lacy, TJ Yeldon, the offensive line and Amari Cooper will get most of the pub, but McCarron’s impeccable play almost gets lost in translation and taken for granted. He’s the leader and the engine behind one of the most versatile and powerful offenses in college football.

McCarron is the only quarterback to ever lead his team to win back-to-back national championships. And he’s been at his best in those games in consecutive years, completing 43 of 62 passes for 498 yards and four touchdowns, with two giant pieces of hardware to show for it.

McCarron threw for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 2012, and love him or hate him, he’ll return to the lead the Tide in 2013.

Can the Tide’s offense get better? They’ll certainly have to start rebuilding the offensive line, because as many as three could leave from this daunting group. Eddie Lacy could be gone, too, but TJ Yeldon and a depth chart full of hungry running backs return, and a cast of receivers including freshman Amari Cooper will return to catch McCarron’s passes.

If you have McCarron-to-Cooper fatigue in 2012, ‘13 will make you downright sick to your stomach.

The now senior signal caller could make a strong push for college football’s biggest trophy in New York next season.  It’s good to be an SEC quarterback.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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  • Hmmm…ok I don’t wanna sound pessimistic about AJ…he’s a good QB and seems to be a good leader. The experience he has had is tremendous. But he didn’t deserve all-SEC honors over Aaron Murray and he doesn’t really strike me as a Heisman Candidate. First: that OL is undoubtedly heads and shoulders above the rest. When you’re gaining eight yards a carry and every team has to bring a safety up to stop you that makes life a little easier on the QB. Also, as efficient as AJ was he also missed on two or three deep balls that a Heisman Candidate…or an All-SEC snub (Murray) makes 9 times outta 10. Also, there may be an awful lot of SEC competition for the Heisman next year: How does McCarron stack up against Clowney, Gurley, Manzeil, Murray and Ace Sanders? Can you honestly say that he has more of an impact on his team’s performance than those guys? McCarron is, however as much of a Heisman Candidate as Teo and Mathieu were so not saying he won’t be there.

    • How does he stack up against Murray? Well, does Murray have any SEC or NC rings on his finger? You talk about him missing 2 passes but I’ve seen Peyton Manning and Tom Brady miss throws as well. There is no such thing as an always perfect QB. Snub isn’t the word I’d use to describe Murray. Maybe choke?

      Aside from that. The Heisman trophy has become a purely popularity trophy. I’ll admit even back when Ingram won the Heisman I doubt he would do so without the story of him and his father. Also, predicting a Heisman winner is silly seeing as how one week can completely ruin a candidates chances.

      • SEC Championships are won by the TEAM as are National Titles…Bama’s Offensive Line and Eddie Lacy played much more of a role than AJ did. Anyone that watched that SECCG could tell you who was the better QB. The heisman is an individual award. It is intended for the best PLAYER in the nation. AJ is solid but not even the MVP on his own team. Aaron Murray has has been that for 3 years now and with the addition of a solid line and strong running game he should only get better.

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