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Saturday, September 3, 2011
AJ McCarron steps up in Tide opener

By Edward Aschoff

Alabama's quarterback situation probably hasn't been completely settled, but it's a lot closer to getting there.

Redshirt sophomore AJ McCarron got the start and played beyond his years for most of the game, completing 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in Alabama's 48-7 route of Kent State Saturday.

He was hardly perfect, but he started the game completing seven of his first eight passes for 111 yards and a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Maze, who finished the game with eight catches for 118 yards.

McCarron wasn't flashy, but he was effective for the Tide.

He is in the middle of an intense quarterback battle with redshirt sophomore Phillip Sims, who struggled for most of his debut. Sims was 7-of-14 passing for 73 yards and threw two interceptions. One was returned 37 yards by Kent State's Norman Wolfe and set up the Golden Flashes' only score of the day.

Coach Nick Saban will probably continue to rotate each quarterback throughout the practice week, but McCarron made the most of Saturday and should enter the week as the leader in the race to be the Tide's No. 1 quarterback.

One area Alabama won't have to worry too much about is its defense. The Tide surrendered just 90 offensive yards, including -9 rushing yards Saturday. Kent State was 4-of-20 on third-down conversion attempts.

Where Alabama wasn't so impressive was in the turnover game. Alabama turned the ball over five times and only forced one, an interception.

This team shook off some of the rust from what has been a long offseason, both physically and emotionally for the Tide, and Saban will make sure some more of those kinks are worked out this week.