McCarron Cements Place In History

Like Greg McElroy, Jay Barker, Steadman Shealy, Jeff Rutledge, and Joe Namath before him, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron cemented his Bama quarterback legacy Monday night. McCarron, a first-year starter, took his Crimson Tide to its 14th national championship before a sold out crowd in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Alabama sophomore A.J. McCarron led the Tide to a 21-0 win over LSU by completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. He was named offensive game MVP in the process and piloted an offense that out-gained its opponent 384 yards to 92.

"I've been dreaming of this my whole life," McCarron said just after his team's shellacking of previous number one LSU. "This is a blessing for my teammates and my parents. I never thought, starting football at the age of four, I would be here. Coming into the season and not knowing if I was going to be the starter, and Coach (Nick Saban) gave the job to me."

Gave it?

"I felt like I earned it," McCarron said. "It showed the confidence (Saban had in me). When I first got recruited here, I told him I would lead him to a national championship. No one can ever take that away from me."

As always, McCarron was quick to compliment his teammates. One example: Kevin Norwood, who came off the bench for an injured Marquis Maze to catch four balls for 78 yards.

"We didn't have that happen all year (in a game)," McCarron said of Norwood's performance, "but when we rotate in and out (receivers) during practice, and when we see that happen all year long, every day of the week (in practice), guys step up and make plays for us."

McCarron was sacked twice, but had time to throw nearly every time he dropped back. "The offensive line gave me time," he said. "And the receivers, I just put it in their area and those guys went up and made a bunch of plays tonight for me. You can't say enough about that group."

Other receivers who stepped up in Maze's absence included a pair of seniors playing their final game in crimson: H-back Brad Smelley, who caught a game-high seven balls for 39 yards, and wide receiver Darius Hanks (five catches, 58 yards).

McCarron said his eyes lit up a bit when he saw that the game plan for the title tilt called for him to throw the ball more than usual. "I was very thankful, first of all, about it," he said. "We've been leaning on number three (Trent Richardson) all year. He's our main guy. We knew coming into the game somebody else had to step up, and Coach Saban just gave me the opportunity. When you have a group of receivers like I have, it makes your job easy as a quarterback. They go up and make plays for you and make you look like a hero.

"It all falls back on those guys and that offensive line for giving me time."

McCarron said he had no problem keeping his motivation up for 60 minutes this go-around as opposed to having played ore laid-back in the 9-6 loss to the Tigers on November 5.

"During the Florida game, I'm pretty sure most of the country saw Coach Saban rip me for showing too much emotion. After the LSU game, the first time, he told me to play like myself, and show more emotion."

Saban quickly chimed in.

"Let me correct that," said the coach. "I just didn't want to have to pull that big (Florida) guy you were ready to get into it with off of you."

Continuing, McCarron said, "So Coach told me to show some emotion, play like myself. I'm just thankful Coach gave me the opportunity to come out and put the ball in my hands and make some plays.

"I think a bunch of our success goes to the guys that don't really get (publicity), that people don't see, the defensive scout team. Those guys gave us a perfect look all week long for the past 44 days we've been practicing for LSU. Those guys have been perfect on that side of the ball during practice. Those are the guys that don't ever get noticed in the newspapers, and they earned this (BCS Championship) as much as everybody else that played in the game tonight."

Senior jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw earned defensive MVP honors on the strength of seven tackles and a sack. "We knew they were going to come out and try to run the ball against us," he said. "We really didn't call many blitzes. We were just hoping to contain them. We were mostly able to do what we planned.

"We wanted to go out and execute, especially against the option. We were able to do that, and it was a big part of us winning this game."

Upshaw said he and his team enjoyed coming in as an underdog in the minds of many national pundits. "We knew a lot of people said we didn't belong here, that LSU was going to run the ball down our throats," he said. "But as a defense, we were able to execute and get the win. I'm happy and proud to be a part of Alabama. it feels good to get the win.

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