The Tide has lost quite a few of their offensive weapons to injuries this season—running backs Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart and wide receivers Chris Black, DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell—but quarterback A.J. McCarron has developed chemistry with freshman superstar Amari Cooper and veterans Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones to make its air game just as productive as its been all year.
Below is our first look at five Alabama offensive players for Notre Dame fans to monitor in the BCS Championship game.
AJ McCarron--The Alabama quarterback finished the season pre-bowl game as the nation's most efficient quarterback. He hadn't thrown an interception all year until the Tide's tenth game of the season against Texas A&M, and finished with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 26-to-3.
McCarron is the leader of this team and has the personality of a Nick Saban Jr. His favorite saying is, "Just take what the defense gives you and eventually they'll give you the game," which he does and does well.
McCarron is an effective and patient quarterback protected by one of the nation's best offensive lines. His shining moment, which was considered Heisman worthy when he was still in the hunt for the trophy, came in the dwindling minutes of the LSU game on Nov. 3. With Alabama down 17-14 with 94 seconds to play, McCarron engineered the two-minute drill of his life, marching the Tide 72 yards, which was capped by a 28-yard screen pass to T.J. Yeldon for the winning touchdown.
Eddie Lacy--Expected to be the next Mark Ingram or the next Trent Richardson, Lacy got his junior season off to a rocky start. He missed the spring due to turf toe surgery and has been nursing nagging injuries all year. He found his stride in Week 4 against Florida Atlantic when he rushed for over 100 yards for the first time this season.
Since then, Lacy has dominated Alabama's running game. He was named MVP of the SEC Championship game after rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He's racked up 1,182 yards this season.
Lacy has a signature spin move that's given him the nickname "circle button" and "feets" in the locker room. He's big, fast and physical, and spent most of the Saturday night running right at Georgia's Jarvis Jones, so he's fearless, too.
T.J. Yeldon--This true freshman started the season by rushing for 111 yards in Alabama's first game against Michigan. He became the first true freshman in program history to breach the 100-yard rushing mark.
Since then, Yeldon has continued to roll over defenses. After rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown against Georgia in the SEC Championship game, Yeldon has now run for exactly 1,000 yard this season.
Lacy and Yeldon complement each other well. Though Lacy is the starter, Yeldon isn't exactly considered a backup. The tandem practically shared carries this season, Lacy getting 184 and Yeldon getting 154. In the SEC Championship game, the two were about even with Yeldon getting 25 touches and Lacy getting 20. Their rotation keeps them fresh, which allows them to pick up right where the other left off when coming into the game.
The most amazing thing about Yeldon is that his vision and patience makes him look like a four-year veteran, not a first-year player.
Amari Cooper--Another true freshman stud is wide receiver Amari Cooper, who caught Alabama's game-winning touchdown in the SEC Championship game, a 45-yard bomb from McCarron in the last five minutes.
Cooper, who is originally from Miami, Fla. and said that playing in front of his family and friends for the national championship on Jan. 7 will be a "dream come true," leads the Tide with 894 yards receiving, almost 500 yards more than the next active wideout. Cooper emerged early in the year as McCarron's go-to receiver and has found the end zone nine times.
When deep threat Kenny Bell went down with a broken leg in Alabama's final regular season game against Auburn, Cooper knew he had to step up and take shots downfield, which he did in several key moments against Georgia, including for the game-winning score.
Senior center Barrett Jones, one of the teams leaders and most valuable pieces, called Cooper one of the fastest people he's ever seen. "I think he has a different gear that a lot of people don't have," Jones said.
Barrett Jones--Jones is the most versatile player on Alabama's roster. When the Crimson Tide won the national championship in 2009, Jones played right guard. When they won the BCS title in 2011, he played left tackle and before this season he was moved to center.
Alabama has arguably one of if not the best offensive lines in the country. The unit can push defenses 5-10 yards up the field, making it near impossible to stop the run.
Jones, who became the first Alabama player to win the Campbell Trophy this week, which honors the nation's "best and brightest" scholar-athlete, is also up for the Outland Trophy (he won it last season) and the Rimington Award.
Note: For our first look at the Alabama defense, Click Here.
O'Malley's "5 To Watch" for the Irish can be found below: