At first glance you might be unimpressed by the fact that Alabama is only ranked 60th in the nation in passing, but a clear understanding of how the Tide's offense works should send shivers down your spine. Balance is the key to Bama's average of 38.8 points per game and senior quarterback AJ McCarron is the to that balance. Alabama averages 237 yards per game through the air and 212 on the ground. The two aspects of the Crimson Tide offense go hand-in-hand and they'll beat you with either or, it really doesn't matter to them.
McCarron has completed a career-high 67% of his passes this season for 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. His arm strength is more than adequate, his field vision is superb and there may not be a better game manager in college football. Those are the little things that make McCarron the quarterback he is but here's the meat and potatoes of his scouting report.
* He has great footwork! McCarron doesn't chop his feet but he does stay on his toes and maintains balance. It looks almost like his hopping but because of his balance he's able to point his toe and swivel his hips. This allows him to throw with accuracy and power. It also helps him to slide to his left or right to buy some extra time.
* He has nice touch. One of the things that McCarron does really good is the follow-through on his passes. Its almost as if he over-plays it, but that's the sign up a quarterback who is disciplined in his mechanics. A good follow-through helps the nose of the football rise and fall, during its trajectory, and it helps keep the spiral straight. There isn't a receiver in the country who doesn't appreciate that!
* He had great field vision. McCarron seems to feel the pressure rather than sees it. This is a natural ability of great quarterbacks and allows him to keep his eyes down field. Not only does he see where his targets are, but he sees where they're going to be. This ability is huge for ball placement.
* He's patient in the pocket. Alabama has done a very good job at protecting McCarron this season. He's only been sacked 10 times, a career low, which is why we shouldn't be surprised that he's got a career-high completion percentage. Even with the great protection, he's still patient in waiting for his receivers to make their separation. This is usually frustrating to a defense because his failure to panic, but slide to his left or right instead, results in good throws instead of a rushed under or over throw.
* He's a master at the play-action. Most quarterbacks stand tall through their play-fakes so that can maintain their down-field vision. McCarron actually ducks and pulls his shoulders in during his play-fakes. This helps to sell the fake and freeze the defense for that extra second or two. Multiple times you'll see McCarron throw to a wide open receiver off a play-fake and the reason why is because the safety, linebacker or corner bit really hard on it.
This isn't to say that he's the perfect quarterback because, like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, such a thing doesn't exist. Sometimes he trusts his receivers too much and will throw into double coverage and sometimes he puts too much air under the ball. However, his pros far outweigh his cons and he'll definitely be a headache for the Sooner defense to limit.
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