Alabama vs. Tennessee: A.J. McCarron Shows He's Head and Shoulders Above SEC QBs

John RozumCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2012

Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) drops back to pass during the first half of the 2012 BCS National Championship game against the LSU Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

A.J. McCarron of the Alabama Crimson Tide is the best quarterback in the SEC, period.

Yes, there is an impressive amount of talent residing around him. Still, his development under center and decision-making only continues to improve along with a buildup of wins. Although he didn't see the field nearly as much in 2010, McCarron displayed potential and just answered the call of duty in 2011.

So far in 2012, McCarron has the Tide perfect through seven games and ranked No. 1 in the country. With a second consecutive national championship currently in the making, there's no reason why he can't be the conference's No. 1 signal-caller.

The man simply continues to up his game and ahead, we look at why McCarron is the best in the SEC biz. 


Proven Consistency

Taking the starting role last season, McCarron was only a sophomore and threw 16 touchdowns to only five picks for 2,634 yards and a 66.8 completion percentage. Interestingly enough, McCarron's best performance came on the biggest stage against LSU in the BCS national title game.

During the regular-season duel versus LSU, McCarron threw a pick and amassed only 199 passing yards with a 57.1 completion percentage (second-lowest on year). Well, fast forward to the title game and McCarron diced up the Bayou Bengals for 234 yards (second-most on the year) and completing 23-of-34 passes.

Those were also McCarron's highest completion and attempt total last season.

Move along to the 2012 campaign and McCarron has simply dominated. To date, Nick Saban's quarterback has 16 touchdowns to zero interceptions. Include a 68.8 completion percentage and McCarron shows no signs of slowing down.

Spreads the Field

If there's one thing that sums up McCarron's ability to remain consistent, it's spreading defenses out by utilizing all his receiving targets.

And that's extremely impressive when you consider Alabama not being a pass-heavy offense. In short, not throwing as often as say Geno Smith, Matt Barkley or Aaron Murray does significantly limit McCarron's opportunities which only makes using the field that much tougher.

However, McCarron does the contrary by not targeting just one or two receivers. Most certainly are there go-to players in specific situations because every quarterback needs a No. 1 playmaker. Just like Julio Jones was to Greg McElroy, Amari Cooper has filled that role in 2012.

Still, in all seven games, McCarron has connected with at least six different players and as many as 10 at one point. That is how a quarterback in a pro-style offense moves the ball because it forces a defense to not only honor the pass but respect every receiving option on the field.

Balance is obviously the key, although McCarron's ability to find numerous weapons each week is arguably the key factor that opens up 'Bama's ground game.



McCarron is a straight-up winner, and that know-how is an important factor regarding Alabama's success under Nick Saban.

Since going under center, McCarron's only loss came against LSU in 2011. So, after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, his record improved to 19-1, dating back to last season's opening kickoff.

He was given playing time as a freshman behind McElroy, and McCarron didn't throw an interception then either. Combine all the elements of elite consistency, reading through progressions from the pocket to use all field dimensions and winning and McCarron literally has not done anything wrong.

Sure, there was Trent Richardson to rely on in 2011, although every quarterback needs a dependable rushing attack to develop. Now, 2012 was McCarron's turn to be that reliable guy for Alabama's offense to roll, and averaging 41 points per game this season is evidence of that.

Winning is the business of the SEC, and right now, McCarron epitomizes that, which makes him the conference's best.


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