McElroy Takes Firm Hold Of QB Job

His head coach won't come out and say it, but all involved with the Alabama football program know that the number one quarterback heading into summer workouts is red shirt junior Greg McElroy.

Greg McElroy shared A-Day game MVP honors with Marquis Maze as Alabama concluded spring football practice Saturday. McElroy threw for 189 yards on 16-30 passing. He threw a pair of touchdown passes Saturday, but was also picked off twice.

McElroy's performance helped guide the first offense and the Crimson team to a 14-7 win and the accompanying steak dinner.

"I thought today was a very positive day, as far as I was concerned," McElroy said post-scrimmage, surrounded by the media. "I thought the offense did a really good job of moving the ball in the first half. I'm disappointed that, as an offense, we really didn't do a whole lot the second half, but that's a testament to our defense and how difficult they are.

"It's been a real fun spring for everybody involved. I sure have enjoyed improving with everybody, and allowing the team to come together a little more. I think we've got a really good head start going into summer and then fall camp."

One thing Alabama coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain have searched for all spring is a second receiver after star Julio Jones. McElroy feels there are several candidates for that job.'

"Obviously, Julio's going to be the No. 1 guy," said McElroy. "That's pretty much a given, because of the season he had last year, and the progress he's made this spring. One thing I will say: we've got guys like Mike McCoy, Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Brandon Gibson. All those guys have been working really hard and they've been making strides. I can't say there's a definite No. 2, but as long as there's competition among those guys, there's going to be a lot of improvement. I expect them to have great summers, and have a great fall camp."

McElroy pointed out that it's been important to him this spring to earn his teammates' respect as he tries to lock down the starting role heading into the Sept. 5 Virginia Tech game in Atlanta.

"It's not necessarily just on the field, but it's also the repetitions, in the huddle, calling plays, and camaraderie. I think I've done a really good job just establishing myself as a solid leader on this team. Obviously, you can't be given that (starting) position, you have to work for it, and earn it.

"I've got to work hard every single day this summer, and show my work ethic, and hopefully I'll become even more of a leader as we step into fall camp."

For the spring, in a trio of scrimmages, McElroy threw eight touchdown passes. What he wants to correct is the six interceptions he was charged with.

"I had goals going into (A-Day)," he said. "Talk to my guys, don't miss hot routes, make sure we don't have any busted assignments, be accurate, take what the defense gives me, and don't be afraid to make a play. On the first interception, it was a two-minute (offense) situation, and I was just trying to make a play On the other one, Dont'a (Hightower) just got a little too much depth, and I probably should have checked it down to my running back.

"The way you limit those mental mistakes is, this summer, by working in seven-on-seven (pass skeleton drills), progressing, and reading the defense. You can't have those mental mistakes, One of them was forced, but you've got to cut down on those. Those are the kind of things that will cost you games in the fall."

McElroy, as heir apparent to the starting job vacated by John Parker Wilson, will be the man in charge of leading those summer pass skeleton drills, which consist of quarterbacks, tight ends, running backs and wide receivers competing almost daily in the hot sun against linebackers and defensive backs. It's during such drills that McElroy will not only improve his defense-reading skills, but also try and improve the camaraderie he mentioned and get on the same page more with the likes of Jones, Maze, McCoy, and Gibson, along with tight ends Colin Peek, Preston Dial, Michael Williams, Baron Huber and Chris Underwood.

Fans may not realize it, but games in the fall are won and lost based on how a team develops in such unsupervised off-season work, along with strength, conditioning, and film study.

McElroy plans to be a team leader in all the above areas, and as such, only strengthen the already stranglehold he has on the starting quarterback job at the University of Alabama.

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