Keys To the Kingdom Rest On Alabama QB Greg McElroy's Shoulders

James WilliamsonSenior Writer INovember 16, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Drake Nevis #92 of the Louisiana State University Tigers sacks quarterback Greg McElroy #12 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  McElroy was called for intentional grounding which led to the safety.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the few absolute things I can say that I've learned throughout my time as a writer is that every team needs at least a decent quarterback.

He doesn't have to be elite though. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers for example. The Steeler fans may not agree with this assessment, but Ben Roethlisberger is not a top five quarterback in the NFL.

He's always had a tremendous defense to keep it close and and he is most successful when the running game works. He won the Super Bowl when he had the worst performance by a quarterback ever, except for Tony Eason in Super Bowl XX.

In Greg McElroy's case, he is not an elite quarterback. He is not a guy who you would say is irreplaceable. Ask any honest fan if they would rather Greg McElroy or Colt McCoy under center, they will say McCoy.

However, he can be a "Big Ben" Roethlisberger if he just doesn't screw it up.

The few times where he has to make a play, he will have to make that play or eventually they will lose.

Let's look at some evidence to prove my point.

Take a look at the Tennessee game. The Tide is holding on by a thread with a 12-10 lead and McElroy has not made any plays to help seal the game.

He has completed 18-of-29 for 120 yards, but no touchdowns and thankfully no turnovers. He made a few good plays, but overall he has not executed the way a quarterback for the Crimson Tide needs to.

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody had to block a second field goal in order to keep the Tide from crashing.

Greg McElroy got lucky, but what if he plays that way against Florida?

I've watched the Tide with earnest, and I really like how the team is set up. Strong elite defense with a great young running back and an elite receiver, but I've always made a 'hmmm' sound whenever I evaluate Greg McElroy.

He's a good guy, but he doesn't fit the mold of the past Alabama quarterbacks like Bart Starr and Joe Namath, both of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and won Super Bowls.

The game rests with him though because eventually, when this team plays Florida for the SEC title game, Florida will attack star running back Mark Ingram and force Greg McElroy to step up.

Florida has another one of the elite defenses in college football, and if Greg McElroy cannot handle them then Alabama may have to settle for the Sugar Bowl or another big BCS game.

Why settle though when Alabama could go to the Championship game?

This team could take on Texas. Any team can take on any team on any given day in this world of college football. We just saw USC lose to Stanford, to Stanford!

If USC can be knocked out of a chance to play in the Rose Bowl then Alabama certainly can upset Florida and whoever plays opposite them in the Championship game, most likely Texas.

McElroy is showing improvement now with this last win over Mississippi State. He threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 13 completions in a 31-3 blowout.

He certainly has gotten better. You can even forget the numbers and just watch the film and you'll see how he's more of a commander in the pocket now.

Is he as good as Tim Tebow? Absolutely not. Can the Tide beat the Gators with an improved McElroy? Absolutely yes.

No one man makes a team, but he certainly can help a strong team go over the top. This team's inner equation adds up to championship caliber quality, but the test is whether or not McElroy can manage the game against a tough opponent.

Whether or not he is the final puzzle piece is up to him and his performance.


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