5 Reasons Why Alabama's A.J. McCarron Will Be the Best QB in the SEC
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
At the start of the 2011 season, Alabama was a preseason national title favorite. Their main question mark was at quarterback.
Fast forward to 2012, and the same position will be viewed as strength for Nick Saban’s ball club.
Rising junior A.J. McCarron is a big reason why the Crimson Tide will enter the season as a top 5 team—despite losing a host of upperclassmen off of their national championship team.
After his stellar showing in the BCS National Championship game versus LSU, McCarron showed he is capable of raising his level of play on the biggest of stages.
Here are five reasons why A.J. McCarron will be the best quarterback in the SEC.
McCarron was impressive against LSU in the BCS National Championship game
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
It is hard not to imagine how good McCarron can be, considering his flawless performance in the Tide’s 21-0 dismantling of previously unbeaten LSU in the BCS National Championship game.
The game plan called for an array of throws to running backs and tight ends, but opened up later on with smash corner routes down the field.
McCarron completed several NFL-caliber throws on arguably the best secondary in the nation, and placed the ball where only his receivers could make a play.
While Tyler Wilson of Arkansas and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are likely to garner the most preseason attention as the SEC’s premier signal-caller, McCarron has the opportunity to put his name in the conversation by the end of the 2012 season.
4. New Offensive System
Nussmeier has been successful grooming quarterbacks in his previous coaching stops
Getty Images/Getty Images
Despite the departure of offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, fans should be excited to see if McCarron can thrive under new playcaller Doug Nussmeier.
Last season, McCarron passed for 2,634 yards with 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions, and showcased his efficiency by completing almost 67 percent of his passes.
Considering how successful Nussmeier was with Keith Price and Jake Locker during his two years at Washington, there is no reason to believe McCarron will not be the next passer to benefit under his tutelage.
3. Seasoned Offensive Line
The return of Jones will help ensure that McCarron stays upright and healthy
Butch Dill/Getty Images
Alabama returns three of its five offensive linemen that started in last month’s bowl victory, including last season's Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones.
The projected new starters are guard Anthony Steen and a former 5-star recruit, tackle Cyrus Kouandijo.
McCarron was sacked only 13 times last season and should enjoy the same type of protection against the rugged defenses of the SEC.
Even with a new cast of skill players set to join him, Saban and his staff have recruited well enough to ensure that the Tide will have all of the firepower necessary to field a potent offensive attack around McCarron.
2. Focal Point
McCarron is primed to be the featured attraction in Alabama's offensive attack
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
After losing key components like running back Trent Richardson, receivers Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks and tight end Brad Smelley, McCarron will have to step up and carry a heavier load if the Tide hopes to repeat as national champions.
While last year’s attack was tailored around the vast skills of Richardson, this year it will be McCarron’s talents that will be on display.
If Alabama remains near the top of the rankings at season’s end, chances are that McCarron’s play will be a major factor in it and could help his case for postseason recognition.
1. Future Goals
McCarron will garner a lot more attention if the Tide can go far in their quest to repeat as national champions
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
With two years left in his career at Alabama, McCarron has a chance to etch his name deeper in the Crimson Tide record books.
The man he replaced, Greg McElroy, holds the Tide’s single-season passing record of 2,987 yards set in 2010.
Meanwhile, John Parker Wilson’s school record for passing yards (7,924) is attainable if McCarron duplicates last year’s production over the final two years of his career in Tuscaloosa.
Also, the 6’4”, 205-pound McCarron is a viable candidate to end up on the radar of NFL scouts with a strong season in 2012. He is the best NFL prospect at quarterback for the Crimson Tide since Brodie Croyle.
If McCarron is able to conquer the SEC in 2012, chances are that he will be squarely in the spotlight when the awards circuit begins churning in December.