Sooners Discuss Stopping McCarron

One reason Alabama is expected to give Oklahoma trouble in the Sugar Bowl is that the Crimson Tide runs a pro-style offense and most of the teams the Sooners face in the Big 12 are spread offense type teams. When OU defensive representatives met the media Sunday morning in New Orleans, AJ McCarron was a topic of conversation.

Alabama, 11-1 and ranked third in the nation, meets Oklahoma, 10-2 and ranked 10th, in the Sugar Bowl Thursday. Kickoff in the Louisiana Superdome is at 7:30 p.m. CST with ESPN televising the game.

On Sunday, sports reporters met with Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and several defensive players, including defensive back Aaron Colvin and linebacker Eric Striker. One of the topics for the Sooners was Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.

McCarron, 6-4, 215, was selected to one All-America team, finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting, was winner of the Maxwell Award as the player of the year in the nation, and was winner of the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top senior quarterback. His record as a starting quarterback at Bama is 36-3 and he has been the quarterback on two national championship teams.

This year McCarron has completed 207 of 306 passes (67.6 per cent) for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. He holds school records for passing yards (8,632), touchdown passes (75), completion percentage (67.0), completions (667), and consecutive passes without an interception (291).

Stoops, the brother of Oklahoma Head Coach Mark Stoops, was asked if McCarron compared to any of the quarterbacks the Sooners had faced this year or in seasons past.

Stoops said, "He probably compares more to guys we've had at Oklahoma – the Jason Whites, the prototypical throwers that play behind traditional sets. He's under center probably 70-75 per cent of the game, so it's different that what we've seen.

"They're a little bit like Notre Dame in some of the things they do, Texas in what they do.

"But he's more comparable to the guys we've had at Oklahoma. I guess that's why we recruited him."

Earlier this month, McCarron, a native of Mobile, revealed that his final choice of schools had come down to Oklahoma and Alabama.

Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin said, "He (McCarron) is a smart quarterback. He's a really focused player and he knows what he is doing all the time.

"McCarron gets the ball out to his receivers, and the receivers can really catch. We will definitely have to be on our Ps and Qs, but we have prepared, and we're ready for them."

Colvin knows who McCarron's favorite target is. Although sophomore Amari Cooper was slowed part of the year with injuries, Cooper has led the Tide with 36 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns, including a school record 99-yard touchdown play from McCarron. (Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones also have had 36 receptions this season.)

Colvin said he is "definitely excited" about matching up with Cooper. "I realize that he is a great player, but at the same time he is not the only good player Alabama has. They have a lot of great wide receivers that are going to present us with different challenges. We are going to have to be ready in the secondary.

"They are a great team and coached by one of the best coaches in the country. We are excited and ready to go out there and give it all we've got. It will be a good game."

Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker was asked how to stop McCarron. "How do you stop him?" Striker said. "Play sound defense. It's not just one guy you have to stop. He's really sound, they have a really sound offense. We have to play good defense."

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