AJ McCarron and Alabama will attempt to win a third straight BCS title this season.For the past two national championship seasons, AJ McCarron has been the leading force of the Alabama offense. With McCarron’s steady leadership, the Tide are poised to make a run at a third consecutive national title.
McCarron boasts a 25-2 career record as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback with 46 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions. Last season, he threw 30 touchdown passes and three interceptions in 314 pass attempts while averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. That 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio led the FBS.
And he's done it on the big stage. Two of McCarron’s top four Opponent Adjusted QBR games in his career were in Alabama’s back-to-back BCS Championship victories, in which he posted a 90.3 QBR in 2012 and 95.6 in 2013.
Steady at the helm
Last season, McCarron completed 65.1 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or more with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. His completion percentage on such passes is better than other well-known SEC quarterbacks like Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger.
McCarron posted an above average QBR (avg.: 50.0) in all 14 games last season. His worst Total QBR was 53.1 against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Every qualified FBS quarterback had at least one game with a worse performance than that last season.
Opposing defenses attempted to bring extra pressure to neutralize McCarron’s effectiveness. McCarron faced five or more pass rushers in 30 percent of his dropbacks. However, McCarron’s yards per attempt were higher when facing additional pressure (10.6 to 8.8) than when he faced a standard pass rush.
Strong supporting cast
Amari Cooper Receiving
With a strong returning receiving corps, led by last year’s freshman phenom, Amari Cooper, McCarron will look to take on more responsibilities in the offense.
Cooper finished the season strongly after building a rapport with McCarron. Six of his 11 touchdown receptions came in the last five games of the season, including two in the National Championship game against Notre Dame.
Room to grow
Passes Thrown 20+ Yards
Notable SEC QBs, 2012 Season
One area in which he could improve this season is his red-zone efficiency. Two of his three interceptions were in the red zone last season, including the one from the Texas A&M two-yard line in the fourth quarter that ultimately cost the Tide an undefeated season.
So what’s at stake for the quarterback who seemingly has accomplished it all?
Alabama is the No. 1 team in the Preseason USA Today Poll and will strive for an undefeated season -- one thing McCarron has not yet accomplished -- and an unprecedented third consecutive national championship. If McCarron can remain consistent leading the Tide, he could emerge as a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy.