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A.J. McCarron proves he’s more than a ‘game manager’

Alabama's Jones celebrates after teammate McCarron rushed for a touchdown against LSU during NCAA football game in Baton Rouge Reuters

Unfairly, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was labeled a game manager. Coincidentally, he earned it in last season’s BCS championship game against LSU when he played solid, mistake-free football. With an All-American offensive line, a stable of elite running backs and a defense stocked with talent, the pressure’s never really been on the second-year starter to lead a two-minute drill or make the big throws.

But, eventually, it’s going to happen. Every team needs their quarterback to win at least one game for them. Down 17-14 to LSU Saturday night in Death Valley with 1:34 remaining, the Tide needed McCarron to be more than a game manager. And he was. A lot more. The junior completed four of five passes over 72 yards in 43 seconds, the final one a screen pass to running back T.J. Yeldon for 28-yard touchdown.

It was a perfect play call. Less than a minute later, No. 1 Alabama did what few teams have done against Les Miles: go into Baton Rouge at night and come out with a 21-17 win over the No. 5 Tigers.

John will have a special “Fifth Quarter” sifting through the aftermath of what was easily the best game of the day coming up here in a bit; this here is all about McCarron.

He wasn’t all great. McCarron was hot and cold all night and the Tide usually went as he did. In fact, if not for his game-winning drive, this would have been about the proverbial light coming on for Zach Mettenberger. The first-year starter for LSU played his best game of the season, throwing for 298 yards and a touchdown. It was the way college football pundits all over the country thought Mettenberger, the supposed “missing piece” for the Tigers, should have looked all year.

Mettenberger deserves a lot of praise for the way he played tonight, and if you’re going to assess who had the better game between the two QBs, Mettenberger would win that distinction. But McCarron won what really mattered, when it mattered. Now, and with all due respect to the likes of Tennessee and Mississippi State, the Tide have a victory over its first “real test” of 2012. There shouldn’t have been any mistake before, but there’s certainly none now: Alabama is playing like the best team in the country. Keep winning and a second consecutive BCS championship appearance — the third under Nick Saban — is guaranteed to be in play.

Who knows what challenges Alabama will face to get there — maybe they won’t — but they’ll have a chance as long as McCarron’s taking snaps.

After tonight, he’s going to be known as a game-changer.

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23 Responses to “A.J. McCarron proves he’s more than a ‘game manager’”
  1. mshassen2015 says: Nov 4, 2012 12:23 AM

    Georgia has a real chance at beating the tide!!!!!

  2. normtide says: Nov 4, 2012 12:28 AM

    Bama has a long way to go. But for now will soak this one in. Again, great game by LSU. Gamelan, execution, fans, everything.

  3. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Nov 4, 2012 12:29 AM

    My son just text his mom from college and asked, “he’s going crazy isn’t he.”
    Mom replies: “you have no idea!”

    Yes this one hurt, now I know how Bama felt last year when they lost to LSU.
    Congrats to great win and thank you to both team for a great and entertaining game! Even though we lost, it was still an awesome game.

  4. cometkazie says: Nov 4, 2012 12:31 AM

    The Tide has won a lot of games at night in Tiger Stadium.

    I had season tickets for over twenty years and never saw LSU beat them. LSU’s wins were all on the road.

    Another game for the ages.

  5. suprmous says: Nov 4, 2012 12:35 AM

    Normtide, thank you for not bein ugly in what you said bout LSU. It’s folks like you that make things enjoyable aroun here when ugliness doesn’t rear it’s head.

  6. normtide says: Nov 4, 2012 12:42 AM

    Suprmous- I call it like I see it. Two heavy weights slugging it out, again. Bama needed a game like that. LSU should not hang your heads, it was a loss, but you did not get beaten. If that makes sense.

  7. cometkazie says: Nov 4, 2012 12:45 AM

    I wonder if Deb stayed up for the game? ;)

  8. dcroz says: Nov 4, 2012 12:56 AM

    In 2009, Greg McElroy had his moment against Auburn, when he directed a game-winning drive on the Tide’s final possession to pull out a 26-21 win after ‘Bama had been outplayed most of the game. Now AJ has shown he can get it done, too. And he may have to do it again soon: Texas A&M next week is going to be another big challenge, and while the Aggie defense is certainly not as stout as LSU’s, their offense can score quickly and often. Saban gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win before beginning preparations for the next game; the Tide may have to cut it short this week to prepare for yet another huge test next Saturday.

  9. polegojim says: Nov 4, 2012 12:59 AM

    Excellent Game! Great Bama Win.

    LSU fought a fine and noble fight and gave Bama their biggest scare… in a year…. bet Les wishes he had those 6 pts back though.

  10. imaduffer says: Nov 4, 2012 1:01 AM

    Wow, did you see the game between USC and Oregon? I bet that remote control was burning in your hand.

  11. suprmous says: Nov 4, 2012 1:12 AM

    Normtide,makes more sense than you’ll ever know. I used to hear that times 4 all the time when I was at the breakfast or supper table way back when. Took a l’il while for me to catch on but luckily I had 4 teachers who explained things to me. Sure do miss those days at times but it’s like another cliche: you can’t go home again. You good people have a good week. De mous is outa here.

  12. brewcrewfan54 says: Nov 4, 2012 1:40 AM

    Why was he crying before the game was even over?

  13. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Nov 4, 2012 1:59 AM

    He was crying because he knew he just got away with stealing something

  14. truefootballinsight says: Nov 4, 2012 1:28 AM

    Sure he’s more than a game manager but stick him in anywhere else and he’s an average QB.
    Easy to hide behind Bamas ridiculous Oline, although I saw a lot of non call holds. And Bamas amazing running game.

  15. rtfox says: Nov 4, 2012 1:56 AM

    Wow crazyasian. Talk about sour grapes!!

  16. lucky5936 says: Nov 4, 2012 4:18 AM

    Congrats to Alabama for winning in Death Valley. They took advantage of horrible coaching by Les Miles and his staff. I know their kicker is not the best, but you don’t pass up short field goals against a great team. And if it wasn’t for a fumble, that onside kick would have looked like an even worse decision. You don’t put your defense in a hole by giving the Bama offense a short field. Les Miles “Mad Hatter” approach gave the Tide ample opportunities to stay in the game. Then the LSU defense decides to abandon the defensive schemes that have been working the entire second half to allow Bama to drive down the field? I about lost my mind and I am not even a LSU fan. Bama is a good team and deserving of their number one ranking, but make no mistake about it, Alabama benefited from terrible coaching decisions on LSU’s behalf.

  17. norcalirish says: Nov 4, 2012 7:36 AM

    ^

  18. vamsalmar1967 says: Nov 4, 2012 1:20 PM

    @brewcrewfan54: We forget sometimes that these are kids, and they’re under tremendous pressure. All that hype, and Spurrier’s comment about Alabama being so good they could beat some pro teams — that would get to anyone. Then, in the second half, all the momentum switched to LSU. It looked like they were going to win. When McCarron finally led the team to that final touchdown, I’m sure all that pent-up emotion came pouring out! Hey, it’s the day after, and I’m still in a knot.

    Congrats to both teams for a great game!

  19. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: Nov 4, 2012 1:33 PM

    @rtfox
    Yes I am and anyone who has ever read my post in the past knows exactly what kind of fan I am.. So there happy!

  20. cometkazie says: Nov 4, 2012 2:18 PM

    vamsalmar1967 says:
    Nov 4, 2012 1:20 PM
    @brewcrewfan54: We forget sometimes that these are kids, and they’re under tremendous pressure. All that hype, and Spurrier’s comment about Alabama being so good they could beat some pro teams — that would get to anyone. Then, in the second half, all the momentum switched to LSU. It looked like they were going to win. When McCarron finally led the team to that final touchdown, I’m sure all that pent-up emotion came pouring out! Hey, it’s the day after, and I’m still in a knot.

    Congrats to both teams for a great game!
    +-+-+

    That’s what makes the college game so much more rewarding to watch.

    Who am I impressed with: The Steeler who backed into the end zone, taunting everyone, or A.J. crying on the bench?

    Saturday football is much more interesting and entertaining.

    Right on ’67 and CrazyAsian!

  21. huskylawyer says: Nov 4, 2012 2:34 PM

    Let’s not get carried away here. He had 93 yards passing deep into the 4th quarter, and the game winning play was a short screen pass lol.

    His mom is uber hot though!

  22. abrellbama says: Nov 4, 2012 3:46 PM

    There were a lot of LSU fans crying last night. Probably even some LSU players. That’s OK though because crying is good for you and relieves stress. LSU played their best game of the year while Alabama did not. They had nothing to lose. They had already lost 1 game and Zach picked last night to have his “career” night. I doubt he could do it again. But I am going to tell the LSU fans what they told me on 11/6/11. Look at the scoreboard baby. 21-17 Alabama wins! RTR!

  23. abrellbama says: Nov 4, 2012 3:50 PM

    lucky5936-LSU isn’t the only team that left points on the field. Had Yeldon not fumbled the ball, Bama would have been 21-10 and the momentum would have shifted Bama’s way. You see how that works? Woulda, coulda, shoulda never works out.

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