4 Adjustments AJ McCarron Must Make Against Texas A&M in 2013
While Johnny Manziel became a superstar following Texas A&M’s 29-24 upset of Alabama last season, Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron’s performance against the Aggies was one of the low points of his storied career.
Although McCarron threw for a season-high 309 yards, he also had two costly interceptions—one in the first quarter that led to a score, and one on the Tide’s final drive that sealed A&M’s victory.
With the Week 3 showdown against the Aggies looming, what adjustments must McCarron make to help his club leave College Station with a huge division win?
Get off to Good Start
Lost in A&M’s first quarter blitz in last season’s meeting was Alabama’s slow start offensively.
The numbers were downright putrid through the first 15 minutes. Alabama ran 12 plays for 34 yards, earned only one first down, had possession for less than five minutes and turned it over once on an interception.
McCarron doesn’t have to come out firing deep balls, but he does need to generate some momentum and develop a rhythm for a unit that struggled mightily in its season-opening win over Virginia Tech.
Keep It Simple
Texas A&M’s defense lost standouts such as defensive end Damontre Moore and linebacker Sean Porter, and Mark Snyder’s defense didn’t exactly look like an upper echelon, SEC-caliber defense in their Week 1 win over Rice.
Particularly, the Owls repeatedly gashed the Aggies defense on the ground, which bodes well for Tide running back T.J. Yeldon to get untracked in a major way.
Alabama can’t go into a shell and get conservative, because the Aggies’ offense is still the most prolific unit the Tide will face all season. McCarron and company will have to do their part to ensure to Tide scores enough points.
However, assuming the offensive line fixes its issues up front, McCarron’s job is to get the ball in the hands of guys like Yeldon, Amari Cooper, Christion Jones and a host of other talented skill players and let them take advantage of a porous Aggies defense.
Get Short Passing Game Going
Considering the struggles that the offensive line had against Virginia Tech, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier would be wise to dial up some quick passes to get the ball out of McCarron’s hands quickly.
The Tide rarely threw slants or screens against the Hokies, and both of those short passes are adjustments that can help get the offense in gear against the Aggies.
Getting McCarron into a rhythm early with short passes will also set up the play-action passes that he’s excelled in throwing throughout his career.
McCarron has been lauded for his ability to take care of the ball, but his miscues against the Aggies last season proved costly.
Considering the Aggies suspensions on the defensive side of the ball and that some players will make their season debut against the Tide, McCarron and the offense have a great opportunity to get untracked as long as they don’t hurt themselves with penalties or turnovers.
With his experience in big games, McCarron has the complete trust of his coaching staff and his teammates. Even with the backdrop of his team’s subpar effort against Virginia Tech, expect McCarron and his unit to come out and deliver a strong performance against the Aggies.