There is nothing better than experience for a college football quarterback. A.J. McCarron of the Alabama Crimson Tide is living proof of that. Just two years ago, negativity and doubt was what surrounded McCarron’s name off the field. Now only excellence and full-fledged belief surrounds it. Last night’s 42-14 Crimson Tide national championship win provided proof that McCarron has gotten better with age, and silenced his doubters.
Back when McCarron was first getting the starting job in Tuscaloosa all the way to his national title win last season, there was doubt, but it was somewhat justified. While McCarron’s numbers were good last year, it was evident that it was the running game and not the quarterback that was leading the offense. McCarron didn’t do anything particularly thrilling or effective in the big games and didn’t even throw a touchdown in last year’s title game.
But another year with a running game that had veteran experience and youth combined with an incredible offensive line gave McCarron the space he needed to find himself as a leader and as a player. He did so this season by making virtually no mistakes in twelve of fourteen games. The two games where he made his few mistakes the Crimson Tide went 1-1 in; McCarron’s mistakes did doom the Crimson Tide in their loss to the Texas A&M Aggies, but his mistakes were not enough in quantity to doom them in the SEC championship game. In short, this season saw McCarron makes tremendous strides in developing his game and played so much better in my opinion from last year, that this year’s McCarron and last year’s are night and day with this year’s being the far superior player.
In last night’s title game, McCarron was robbed of offensive player of the game honors after throwing 20/28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was freshman Amari Cooper who caught six passes for 105 yards and two of McCarron’s touchdown passes.
But it wasn’t just the numbers, it was McCarron’s poise and calm in such a nerve-wracking situation. But he had been there before and even after winning a national title in a shutout, he continued to learn how to win with efficiency and in dominating fashion. This was very important because it kept McCarron hungry for victory, seemingly a perfectionist never fully satisfied and always looking to top himself. Or maybe I’m thinking of his coach.
Either way, it really does seem that McCarron has become a professional in his demeanor and leadership on the field. But he won’t be a professional until after next season. So get ready to see this man’s name a whole lot during the next 12 months. He’s earned it.