McCarron Preparing For Test From LSU
A.J. McCarron, who will quarterback Alabama against LSU Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game, was severely injured when the craft went out of control and into a pier with young A.J. tossed against a piling and suffering severe head injuries.
Late in the question and answer session about Monday night's game, McCarron, a native of Mobile, was asked if he would ever again get back on a WaveRunner.
"Yes sir," McCarron answered. "I own the fastest one Yamaha makes. It tops out at 89 (miles per hour). My mom doesn't like me talking about it, but I'm crazy on them. I was raised on the water, so during the summer when I get an opportunity to get away from football I'll golf early in the morning and then go out on the river. My mom hates it, but I'm still crazy on them."
The only sport on McCarron's mind these days is football, and the focus is on the LSU team that is 13-0 and ranked first in the nation. Alabama, ranked second in the nation, is 11-1, the lone setback coming in a 9-6 overtime loss to the Tigers in Tuscaloosa two months ago.
McCarron said, "Playing them the first time was a special experience for me, just because of the tradition between Alabama and LSU, the rivalry they have always had.
"It wasn't that great of an experience coming out with a loss. As a team we felt we kind of let it slip through our fingers and get away from us at the end.
"Hopefully we won't let that happen this time."
This time begins at 7:30 p.m. CST Monday in the Louisiana Superdome. ESPN will televise the game.
McCarron said he thinks he should have played the first game "with a little more emotion. Every game, you're not going to be perfect. You just try to eliminate as many mistakes as you possibly can.
"I felt on a personal level that I missed some reads that I usually make. But in a big game, things don't always go your way. Sometimes, you need a little luck.
"But I like the way this team has grown since that game and our mentality has been good."
Asked what he and his teammates had learned from the loss, McCarron said, "We don't want to let anything like this ever happen again. and I feel like we've done a great job of proving that we belong here and that we should get a second chance at it."
The second chance comes six weeks since Alabama's last regular season game, a 42-14 romp over Auburn. Bama players had a little time off, then worked on conditioning, practiced fundamentals for a week, took a break for Christmas, and then began putting in the game plan after Christmas.
McCarron said the advantage in the long time to prepare is "you're able to look at them longer. During the season when you're preparing for a game, you have just one week, and it's really almost like two days. After two days, your game plan has got to be installed.
"Now we've had a little while longer. I feel like our coaches have done a great job. We've got the best coaching staff in the country by far. Coach (Nick Saban) has led us to two national championship games in the past three years.
"The only possible disadvantage is preparing too much, which some teams can do -- look at too many things and try to do too many things instead of just going out and playing the game."
Jim McElwain, Alabama's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (who will be leaving Bama after this game to assume his new duties as head coach at Colorado State), is in the second national championship game in three years with a first-year quarterback. Greg McElroy was a first-year starter when he led the Crimson Tide to the 2009 national championship.
"I think the great thing about working with first year quarterbacks is I don't have a couple of years to screw them up," McElwain quipped. He pointed out that McCarron spent two years as McElroy's understudy. "He learned from Greg how to prepare. Greg was a great study for A.J., and I'm really proud of the way he has progressed. Both do a pretty good job of taking what the defense is giving them."
Alabama tailback Trent Richardson said McCarron is typical of quarterbacks in that he is in the game and plays with emotion. "You can say he's one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA," Richardson said. "We love to play for A.J."
Center William Vlachos said, "First of all, playing quarterback at Alabama is extremely hard. The scrutiny and the pressure and the expectations that you deal with on a daily basis is something that I couldn't imagine.
"A.J. has done a tremendous job this year. He's really impressed all of us. We're very, very proud of him. However he wants to play, we trust him that that's what he needs to do to get his job done."
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