Alabama Football: Can the Deep Ball Separate Phillip Sims from A.J. McCarron?

Jonathan McDanal@@jdmcdanalContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Louisiana State University Tigers during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A.J. McCarron has my vote for being the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide throughout the 2012 season, however, there is no denying his struggle with passes thrown 35 yards deep or longer.

He has done a great job of putting the ball where only his receivers have a shot at catching it, but he has a penchant for overthrowing the ball. In 2012, the Tide offense will already be expected to carry a young defense as it grows into its potential.

A couple of questions may be rolling around (pun intended) in Tider's heads as the spring game approaches:

1) Is A.J. McCarron a lock for the 2012 starting position?

2) Can Phillip Sims earn the starting position?

Is A.J. McCarron a Lock for the 2012 Starting Position?

McCarron already beat Sims for the 2011 starting job. He led the Tide to a BCS title and was the first sophomore ever to win the crystal football. He capped his stellar season off with a 23-of-34 passing performance for 234 yards against a defense that was ranked second only to Alabama (via

A.J. McCarron is not a lock for the starting position, but he is as close as it gets.

Can Phillip Sims Earn the Starting Position?

The short answer is yes, but it's a long road. He's already been beaten for it once, and McCarron spent the 2011 season earning his stripes. That puts Sims far behind in the field experience category.

There is no question about what Sims has to do to earn the spot, but there are only two things under his control. First, he must display maturity by making excellent decisions with the ball. (Good decisions won't be enough.) Second, he must connect with the deep-route runners in a way that causes the staff to consider him for the job.


Sims must connect with the deep ball a minimum of nine times in the spring game with a minimum completion percentage of 70 to have a shot at the starting position. Even then, McCarron must have one of the worst games of his career at the same time.

The only possible point of separation is the deep ball, and it's unlikely that Sims will create enough separation to earn the starting spot. The quarterback battle will be fierce this spring, especially since it may be the only shot Sims gets at McCarron.

I've said it before: competition breeds excellence. Another McCarron-Sims battle can only help the Tide orchestrate one of the most deadly offenses in recent memory.


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