Will A.J. McCarron ever shed the game manager label?
He hasn't had to "take over" and win a game for Alabama, per se, but this is what he has done:
--named the MVP of last year's national championship in his first year as a starter
--eight games into the season, he's gone 122-of-177 for 1,684 yards and 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions (none in fact in his last 262 pass attempts)
--leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 182.41 rating
Do those look like game manager numbers?
Yes, because being a game manager is a good thing. That description does not and should not evoke any negative connotations, according to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
"To me, you can't be a good quarterback unless you're a good game manager," he said. "Because you've got the ball in your hands every time…You've got to process a lot of information quickly and make quick decisions.
"I don't think it's fair to AJ that because I said he's a really good game manager for us that it's like that means he doesn't do anything. He does everything. That's the ultimate compliment, to me."
Because of that philosophy, the title doesn't bother McCarron, who was asked what he thinks of that type of classification.
"What I think and then what the media tries to make a game manager out to be is two totally different things," he said. "I probably think more along the lines of coach Saban. A game manager can be anything. He can throw nine touchdowns in one game, but he still managed the game. He could hand the ball off 47 times, but still manage the game.
"I think coach, in that aspect, is saying he's taking what the defense is giving him and he's not making any real bonehead mistakes. And that's the biggest thing. People nowadays love to see the ball being slung around and everything, but that's not our style of play. So, I'm going to, like coach always says, take what the defense gives me and eventually they'll give you the game."
Because Alabama is No. 1 and has been dominating every opponent on its schedule, and because McCarron is the leader of an offense that's just about as balanced as can be (rushing for 214.4 yards per game, passing for 222), and because he has thrown 18 touchdowns this season to zero interceptions, his name is being thrown around in the Heisman Trophy discussion.
This week when the Crimson Tide travels to No. 5 LSU, the difference in the game could very well be McCarron. Both of these defenses will try to stop the run and make the offense make a mistake throwing the ball.
The difference in the game could be the efficient and effective McCarron. He's not hyped heading into Death Valley because he's confident he can make the necessary plays to win. He's got the best offensive line in the country protecting him, explosive running backs at his disposal and acrobatic receivers out wide. He's in the perfect position to have success and this could be his Heisman night.
And he'll do it as a game manager.
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