Quarterback A.J. McCarron has gone 10 games and a total of 239 pass attempts without throwing an interception. In fact, the last team that intercepted the junior quarterback was the Mississippi State Bulldogs; the squad Alabama will play this weekend in a matchup between two undefeated and Top 25 teams.
The player that intercepted McCarron was Bulldogs linebacker Cameron Lawrence, who was actually tackled by the quarterback, which helped prevent a touchdown. The senior has not forgotten about that play, according to Don Kausler Jr. of al.com.
“You’re like the eighth person that said something to me about that today,” he said. “That still eats at me, so that's going to be a little extra motivation for me. It just adds to the chip on my shoulder.”
The Alabama quarterback actually has some motivation as well, as he is quietly building a case to become just the second player in Alabama history to win the Heisman Trophy.
The junior is completing nearly 69 percent of his passes, has thrown for over 1,400 yards and has 16 touchdowns, which ties his mark for all of last year. He has helped create 16 plays that have gone for over 25 yards and has led this Alabama squad to the No. 1 ranking in the latest BCS rankings.
While all of those stats are wonderful, McCarron will have a huge test this weekend against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Of course, Dan Mullen's squad is a huge underdog and won't be given much of a shot to pull off an upset, but it can make things difficult for the guy throwing the football.
The Bulldogs have arguably the best cornerback tandem in the country led by Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, two players who have combined for eight interceptions, while the team as a whole has 12 on the season. In five of the first seven games, the Bulldogs have made a habit of intercepting at least two passes.
This will be the first true test for McCarron and this offense.
Banks is widely considered one of the top corners in the country and a possible first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft. Slay is a younger player that has the speed and quickness to play any position in the defensive backfield and is due for a game-changing play, as he has gone the last four games without an interception.
On top of facing an elite secondary, this also happens to be a big game that will leave only one undefeated team remaining in the SEC West.
Whether you give the Bulldogs much of a chance in this game or not, they are an undefeated team that would become the front-runners in this division with an upset victory.
The problem with the secondary is that teams have had some success this season against it as well. Troy was able able to throw for over 300 yards and complete over 70 percent of its passes, while Middle Tennessee State managed to complete over 60 percent of its passes despite throwing two picks.
This bodes well for McCarron, who has completed over 70 percent of his passes in four of the first seven games. He also has five games of at least two touchdowns and is coming off of arguably the best game of his career last week against Tennessee.
McCarron has been trying to downplay the significance of the Heisman, according to Andrew Gribble of al.com, giving a majority of the credit to his teammates and saying he doesn't think about receiving an invite to New York.
I think (I'm) maybe just throwing the ball a little bit more, knowing when to throw it away and having another down to live for the next play. McCarron said. Other than that, my teammates are doing a great job making plays for me. Those guys deserve all the credit in the world, receivers going up and making plays, catching short passes and taking them a long ways.
Learning to throw the ball away and living to see another down is the real reason we are even having this conversation. McCarron has gone from a starter by default to becoming the veteran leader of this team and a Heisman candidate in one season.
According to ESPN, the Alabama signal-caller is very much in the running for the award, as he is listed fourth on the list.
If McCarron can continue his solid performance through this weekend, talks about a possible second Heisman Trophy going to a Crimson Tide player will soon be getting louder.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.