McCarron Usually Plays With Emotion

Although it probably doesn't rise to the level of last year's game, there is plenty of emotion as number one ranked Alabama heads to Baton Rouge this week to take on number five LSU in a game that has major implications in the Southeastern Conference and national championship pictures.

Alabama, 8-0 overall and 5-0 in SEC games, and LSU, 7-1/3-1, will kick off at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday in Tiger Stadium. CBS will televise the game.

The extraordinary 2011 season in which LSU defeated Bama 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa in regular season play and went on to the SEC title, and in which the Crimson Tide got the better of the Tigers at the BCS National Championship Game 21-0 in New Orleans made this year's meeting the pre-season game of the year.

A characteristic of Alabama football preparation and play is that the hype is clutter, and all are expected to ignore it. But Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron said he may have been too laid back in last year's first game.

McCarron didn't play poorly in the first game. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 199 yards with one interception.

McCarron was magnificent in the rematch for the national championship, completing 23-34 for 234 yards and earning the Offensive Most Valuable Player award.

Part of the reason for the difference in his performances may have been that McCarron wasn't hyped enough in last year's game in Tuscaloosa.

"I didn't play with any emotion in the first game," he said. "I was kind of down the whole time and I didn't do my job as a leader. I didn't get everyone around me to play to the best of his ability.

"Everybody had hyped that game up so much, and I was trying to play it down and just try to not get too hyped up on a good play or something. So I just didn't play like myself."

Emotion is a major component of the McCarron leadership style. Still, he knows it has to be managed.

Even though players and coaches know the importance of Saturday's game, McCarron said practices this week are no more emotional than for any other game.

"It doesn't matter who you play," said the junior quarterback. "You've got to go out, do your job, execute what you're supposed to do. It doesn't matter who you're playing. That's what Coach (Nick Saban) always preaches and that's what the team has kind of taken and run with, and that's what we're trying to do."

McCarron certainly has been doing well. He leads the nation in passing efficiency as he has completed 122 of 177 passes (68.9 per cent) for 1,684 yards with 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

McCarron, who had a normal practice Tuesday and Wednesday and reiterated that his bruised back is not a problem, said "Practice has been good. Guys are flying around and making plays. We're still working on our timing on certain plays, but it's been a good week so far."

McCarron said the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium Saturday night is not a problem for a quarterback. "The surroundings shouldn't factor in at all," he said. "I don't think it should matter."

What matters, he said, is that LSU's defense is "fast, big, make explosive plays. We're going to have our hands full, but our guys are up for the challenge. We're just going to have to be on top of our game – our ‘A' game to go out there and get a win."

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