It’s redundant to claim that the quarterback of a football team will be the key to victory for that team. With the responsibilities and pressure that go with the position, it’s hard to find a position that is more under the microscope at all times than quarterback. The Alabama Crimson Tide will head into their toughest game of the 2012 season, against the LSU Tigers, with junior A.J. McCarron as starting quarterback. McCarron is in his second year as full-time starter, and it’s already eclipsed his first season.
The most stunning development for McCarron’s has been how he has avoided mistakes so far this season; McCarron has yet to throw an interception through eight games. Only once (against the Missouri Tigers) was McCarron kept out of the end-zone, as he has thrown at least one touchdown in every other game this season. McCarron has already thrown more touchdowns this season than all of last year, and he’s on pace to match his passing yards and completion percentage from last year.
What has helped McCarron is that all the pieces on the Crimson Tide offense have stayed pristine and worked together perfectly. Sure, McCarron has been sacked more at this point of the year than all of last year, and sure, it doesn’t look like he’ll have the same amount of completions and pass attempts as last year, but none of that has deterred McCarron from playing at a high level, and the offense has followed the lead perfectly. In the few games where McCarron has thrown less than two touchdowns or not as many passing yards as in other games, it’s been the Crimson Tide’s loaded running attack – with T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy leading the way – that has picked up the slack and done the scoring and the bulk of the yard production.
The Tigers’ defense, however, has been as efficient and effective as it was last year, only without as many big plays and a bit less physicality. A lot of that can be attributed to Tyrann Matthieu‘s departure from the team, but this is still without a doubt a defense to contend with. And let’s not forget that a big game is the last game you want to make mistakes or play sloppy. This is what the Tigers are banking on tonight; last year when these teams met in the regular season, McCarron threw an interception and the Crimson Tide were five-for-13 on third downs. If the Tigers can get McCarron to finally slip up and make a mistake or two, and keep the Crimson Tide from converting third downs, tonight’s game could become very familiar to last year’s.