I was the one who worried about AJ McCarron circa 2009. He and Saban always seemed to clash. They butted heads in the way a rogue son collides with his over-bearing father.
I mean, remember the spanking incident of 2010?
Saban Spanks McCarron
Oh but how far we’ve come.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Brock Haurd announced his top five list of college quarterbacks… and yes, AJ McCarron was on it, as No. 3.
“I can’t detract from a guy that plays on a really good team,” Haurd explained.
In 2012, McCarron threw 30 touchdowns with only three interceptions. In his three years in the Alabama stat books, he continues to improve.
A 67.2 completion percentage compared to a 66.8 from 2011. More than nine yards per attempt, up from 8.03 before that, and 30 touchdown passes compared to 16 in 2011. He has also gained confidence looking down the field. In 2011, his longest pass was 69 yards, but in 2012 it was a beautiful 85.
“Many people are going to look at this list and say, ‘oh come on, AJ?’,” Haurd said, but quickly came to McCarron’s rescue with passionate response.
“Oh really? Oh, I’m sorry he plays on a really good team, and all he’s done is win two national championships and oh by the way, a 10-1 interception ratio. I don’t care if that’s 7 on 7 in practice – 10 touchdowns to one – that’s what happens you’re the No. 1 rated most efficient passer in college football.”
Learning to trust McCarron has been a journey of interesting proportions for me. But I won’t forget the moment things started to come into focus for what his legacy might mean to the University.
After the LSU game in 2012, Gary Danielson said, “Verne, remember this: In all of Alabama’s rich history; Namath, Stabler, Bart Starr- none of them have ever been National Champions twice.”
In 2009 and 2010 we saw Greg McElroy sometimes struggle with Saban’s constant stress on a balanced offense.
In modern times, it is McElroy’s successor who embodies the leader of that envisioned balanced offense. Of course, McCarron had a lot help. Let us not forget that out of the past five Alabama offenses- this past year had the strongest front a quarterback could ask for.
But with three lineman gone to the NFL, this coming year is the year McCarron really gets to prove who he is in his position, and his position will not be mainly defined as passer, but leader.
“More will be asked of him,” Haurd conceited. “He loses three leaders upfront offensively so there’s going to be more command. You can’t detract what he’s done on a good team.”
Yeah, yeah, we may look back and remember him for his rings, and his hot girl friend (it wouldn’t be an AJ McCarron story with out me mentioning her) but really, we should remember him as paving the way for Alabama to be a true quarterback destination.
Not a QB destination like USC- an SEC balanced offense, all around, gritty but talented destination.
“And oh by way,” Haurd said to the TV screen, “he’s going for a third consecutive BCS National Championship.”