Advice-heeding McCarron closing out record-setting career in stellar fashion
Anybody still remember the start of Alabama’s 2011 season? That first game against Kent State when both AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims shared quarterback duties as Nick Saban and the rest of the coaching staff tried to determine which guy would be the starter moving forward.
McCarron got the nod in that next game — at Penn State.
And what a ride he’s taken the Tide on ever since.
After back-to-back national championship seasons, McCarron has the Tide undefeated and sitting atop the polls in October as it marches closer and closer toward a third-straight national championship. Meanwhile, the senior signal-caller has been rewriting the Alabama record back along the way. He is currently Alabama’s all-time leader in winning percentage at .938 (30-2) and is five wins shy of tying Jay Barker for most career victories for an Alabama quarterback.
And the scary part? McCarron is playing some of his best football of his stellar career of late — as in the last four games. During the stretch, the 6-foot-4, 214-pounder has completed 77.7 percent of his passes for 938 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. He’s coming off a near-flawless performance against Georgia State last week where he completed 15-of-16 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns.
So what’s been the secret to McCarron’s success? It might be his trust in his coaches and teammates and his willingness to simply take what the defense gives him and not try and be Superman. Saban said he had a conversation with his standout quarterback last week to remind him to basically keep sticking with that mindset.
“I said, ‘Don’t try to force things to happen that really aren’t there,’” Saban said, recalling the conversation. “’Don’t try to think that you gotta make the big play or put pressure on yourself. You want to make an explosive play so you’re going to take a chance by throwing one up when something else is available to you.’”
McCarron, to his credit, has heeded Saban’s advice and continues to do so. The fact that he has nine TD passes to only two picks this season is evidence of that.
“I think AJ’s MO as a player — and probably in a very positive way — is that he doesn’t make a lot of poor decisions because he’s willing to do that, and he’s willing to have that kind of patience to make good choices and decisions about where he goes with the ball.,“ Saban said. “I’ve said this many, many times before — as long as we end every drive with a kick, whether it’s an extra-point, a field goal, or a punt, we’re a lot better off than the other things that could happen. And I think he’s done a really good job of making those choices and decisions, and it shows his efficiency and effectiveness as a quarterback.”
Guess Saban & Co. picked the right QB before that 2011 Penn State game.
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