Joe Medley: McCarron can take a bow. But a Heisman?
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Oct 25, 2012 | 5311 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has thrown 16 touchdown passes this season without throwing an interception. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has thrown 16 touchdown passes this season without throwing an interception. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
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TUCALOOSA — AJ McCarron should take a bow.

Alabama’s second-year starting quarterback can’t his head coach see, because, well, the whole “you’ve-never-arrived” thing. No need to incur a Nick Saban rant, but wow. For real.

Jokers like yours truly wondered aloud in preseason whether his BCS title-game performance was more tactics than talent, but he has shown throughout top-ranked Alabama’s 7-0 start that he can pass on every down, not just first down.

McCarron is getting it done when defenses expect it as well as when they don’t, so here’s an acknowledgement. It was talent, with an assist from tactics.

He has 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions. He’s on a school-record streak of attempts without an interception. He’s leading the nation in pass efficiency.

For many, those facts would make a nice hook, on which to hang a case for a Heisman Trophy, which leads to another bow opportunity for McCarron.

He’s on Heisman radars.

CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd listed McCarron in his top five this week. The latest HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll lists McCarron third.

This after he threw for four touchdowns and 306 yards at Tennessee on Saturday.

Returning the Heisman radar is significant for McCarron, because history shows it’s tough for Alabama players to win college football’s top individual award. The program has won 14 national titles but only one of 77 Heismans.

Though running back Mark Ingram broke through in 2009 and running back Trent Richardson was a finalist last season, no Alabama quarterback has broken through.

Not Bart Starr.

Not Ken Stabler.

Not Joe Namath.

So it’s significant for McCarron to break into that conversation, but he might want to take his bows now, because, well, he has history and the present working against his chances to win the award.

Dodd listed McCarron in the top five but listed him fourth, behind Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.

While McCarron is third in the Heisman Pundit sampling of actual Heisman voters, he’s a distant third. Klein is way ahead of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and McCarron.

Assuming Dodd and the Heisman Pundit poll feel the true pulse (this Heisman voter is among the many who do not vote in the weekly Heisman Pundit polls), McCarron has a lot of ground to make up.

That could be hard, because he’s an Alabama quarterback. That alone makes it hard to drum up the individual performances needed to make up such ground.

Back in the Bear Bryant days and now, Alabama was and is ubertalented. It has always been hard for one player to shine enough to outshine others around the country individually.

Too, Alabama was and is a run-first team, a fact about which Saban reminded an ESPN viewing audience immediately after the Tennessee game.

The Tide wants to run from the start, and Alabama’s running game involves McCarron handing off to Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.

If McCarron runs, it’s to scramble out of the pocket, and he rarely has to do so behind arguably the nation’s best offensive line. One won’t see McCarron pulling a Klein in the read option.

When Alabama gets big leads, McCarron becomes a game manager. That’s how he has spent the second halves of Alabama’s games this season.

McCarron rarely runs, and Alabama rarely needs him to pass enough to pile up individual statistics. That’s why he ranks 75th in the country in total offense at just 204.43 yards a game.

He needs games where Alabama’s defense lets an opponent score enough to keep him passing, and good luck with that. Alabama leads the nation in scoring, total, rushing and pass efficiency defense and ranks second in passing yards allowed per game.

Those facts make it all the more amazing that McCarron has played his way into the Heisman discussion. It’ll be tough for him to headline the discussion.

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.

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