Tide's No. 10 Has Opinion About '10
A.J. McCarron did his part as Alabama won the 2011 national championship. In his first year as Bama's starting quarterback, the upcoming junior led the Tide to a 12-1 record and was Offensive Most Valuable Player in Alabama's 21-0 win over LSU in the BCS National Championship Game.
McCarron was redshirted when Alabama won the 2009 national title and was a little-used back-up when the 2010 Tide fell to 10-3.
"I think it fell back on the leaders back then," McCarron said of Alabama's dip. "Coach (Nick Saban) will tell you. We didn't have a lot of leadership. We had a lot of great players coming back, but I think the team kind of felt like everybody went their own personal way, tried to look out for (themselves) following the '09 season and help their draft status personally. What a lot of guys lose (sight of) is, when they're going through that process, is that if the team wins, a lot more guys get drafted. You get drafted off the success of the team, not just personal success. It's hard to do that.
"A lot of our guys know that. We've got a lot of older guys on here, we've got a lot of younger guys. It's going to be a good mix-up. Young guys just have to come and be ready to learn. You've got to have young guys who want to listen and want to learn. We do.
"Hopefully we've got the ingredients for a great season. We just have to put everything together and get everybody going."
McCarron is best remembered for his BCS Game performance in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans when he completed 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards with no interceptions. For the year he completed 219 of 328 passes for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns against only five interceptions.
In Alabama's first scrimmage of the spring last Saturday, McCarron completed 25 of 43 passes for 290 yards for three touchdowns with one interception.
It goes without saying that McCarron would like to have a lot of passing opportunities in 2012. "I don't think any quarterback wants to hand the ball off all that much," he said. "But it doesn't matter if I throw it five times or 45 times. I really don't care. I just want to win. As long as we win, I'm happy."
Saban said following Saturday's scrimmage that it was better than he had anticipated. McCarron said, "I don't think I was anticipating it to be bad by any means. I feel like the first offense moved the ball really well. The only time we didn't was when we hurt ourselves with a few penalties, and turned the ball over. But other than that, we moved the ball well and guys made plays."
Asked about scrimmage highs or lows, the quarterback said, "I don't pay attention to lows. I really don't pay attention to highs. In every game, you're going to have highs, you're going to have lows. You've got to know how to balance both of them. If something good happens, celebrate it for that split second, then let it go.
"If you try to create big plays the rest of the game, you're not taking what they give you the rest of the time, because the defense is not going to keep giving you big plays. And then the bad things start to come. If you find an in-between, the process goes a lot easier and a lot smoother.
"I don't really pay attention to highs and lows, I just try to play on a level plane."
McCarron was not satisfied with the performance of the team because he knows it is a process for an offense to find its identity. "We've just got to get working to get better every day," said McCarron.
Rushing statistics from Saturday's scrimmage were underwhelming. Redshirt freshman Dee Hart was the leading rusher with 13 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown. Walk-on Ben Howell had eight runs for 31 yards. Jalston Fowler rushed 10 times for 27 yards and a touchown. True freshman T.J. Yeldon also had 27 yards, on seven carries.
McCarron said, "It's kind of hard right now. You've got some backs nicked up, so we don't really have a lot of backs out there. But the reps they've gotten, they've done great so far. It's going to be a process to get better. We're just going to have to buy into that process. There are going to be some growing pains for everyone, learning new things in this offense. We've just got to fight through it and get better."
Two of McCarron's scrimmage touchdown passes went to Christion Jones, who had only three receptions all season as a true freshman last year. In a brief encounter with reporters in New Orleans, Jones showed a comedic side.
"He is funny," McCarron said. "Extremely funny. I love him. He's awesome. If you can ever be around him, you're not going to stop laughing. He's a good guy on and off the field. He does the right things, and that's what you've got to do in coach's system. If you do the right things you're going to play. He knows the plays, he knows what to do and what not to do. The guy is a good ball player."
With six starters returning on offense, McCarron feels confident with the players around him. The Crimson Tide returns four offensive linemen, which should give him time to get the ball to his playmakers.
"I love those guys," said McCarron "They protect me and it definitely makes my process easier when you know you have older guys up there that will do anything to protect you. They really know how to protect you, and they've basically seen every blitz that a defense can throw at you, especially when practicing against Coach Saban."
One notable play for the defense in Saturday's scrimmage was cornerback Deion Belue intercepting McCarron at the three and returning it 97 yards for a touchdown.
"He just picked it off, ran it back, and nobody tackled him," McCarron said.
Did McCarron try to make a play on him?
"I'm not making a tackle in a scrimmage," McCarron said. "I'm trying to play the next play."
Monday's practice was in full gear. The Tide will practice again Wednesday, then have its second scrimmage on Friday. Spring practice concludes on Saturday, April 14, with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. A-Day will be broadcast by CSS at 2 p.m. CDT.
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