Well college football fans, we have officially reached the 50 day mark. That’s right, 50 days until the toe meets leather. People across the country are getting excited, as the heat of summer has hit. But more importantly, people smell football in the air. After all, most college football teams will start fall camp the first week of August. That’s only three weeks away.
Today, and the next 49, will be devoted to breaking down 50 of the best players in the Southeastern Conference. These players will be in no particular order, just the 50 I choose. No better way to get this 50 day countdown going than with the defending BCS Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide and their returning junior quarterback, A.J. McCarron.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama:
A.J. McCarron has to be excited when he sits down and looks at the prospect of having an enormous 2012 season. The last time we saw McCarron, he was executing, flawlessly I might add, an offensive game plan that had an elite LSU Tiger defense off balance. McCarron worked bootlegs and roll outs, checked down to tight ends and even hit a few nice corner routes to receivers. He led Alabama to their second BCS Title in three years.
As hard as it is to believe, the 2012 version of the Crimson Tide offense may be the most explosive Nick Saban has ever had in his coaching career. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will be counting on McCarron to run the show and shoulder more of the offensive load due to the departure of running back Trent Richardson. Nussmeier’s offense will be similar to what we saw under former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who left Alabama to become the head man at Colorado State.
“Same as always, nothing different,” McCarron said. When asked to compare Nussmeier to the departed McElwain.
McCarron had one heck of a 2011 season. He threw for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns; but more importantly, he only had five interceptions. McCarron was also very efficient, as he completed 66.8% of his passes, which was tops in the Southeastern Conference.
McCarron will see a lot of familiar faces in the offensive huddle in 2012. Alabama returns seven starters on offense, including four of the big boys up front. Bama will also be deep at running back. Eddie Lacy sat out spring practice rehabbing a nagging turf toe injury. He will be joined in the backfield with Jalston Fowler, redshirt freshman Dee Hart, who is back after a 2011 season ending injury, and true freshman T.J. Yeldon. Kenny Bell, who started four games in 2011, is primed and ready to have a breakout year. He will be joined at receiver by two true freshman, Chris Black and Amari Cooper, both of whom should see some early playing time. If that’s not enough, tight end Michael Williams returns with 27 career starts under his belt.
McCarron should really improve on his 2011 numbers with four offensive linemen returning and the prospect of having the best wide receiving core ever assembled at Alabama. If Eddie Lacy can have success running the football, it will just make McCarron more dangerous on play-action passes. If McCarron stays focused and can handle the increased burden, Alabama is ready to compete for an SEC Title and possibly another BCS Championship Game birth.