Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

A young gun takes charge

Alabama’s 27-11 win over Penn State on Saturday was hardly a shootout. However, it was gunslinger AJ McCarron, who stepped up big for Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide at quarterback in the first road start of his career.

While he may lack experience, the lanky 6-foot-4 signal caller strolls up to the line with the confidence of John Wayne in a western.

“You can’t be scared playing quarterback,” McCarron said. “If you are scared, you are going to turn the ball over. That’s just not how I play.”

McCarron set the pace for Tide, leading Alabama down the field in his third drive of the game – a drive that resembled more of a veteran quarterback than one in his first start on the road. Despite playing in front of 107,846 fans in Beaver Stadium, the biggest crowd to ever attend an Alabama game, the calm quarterback did not get rattled.

“They were rocking at the beginning,” McCarron said. “We had to get into a rhythm, but that is anywhere you go. If you are at home or away, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you get into a rhythm everything is going to be fine.”

The Mobile native completed 19-31 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The solid performance led many to believe McCarron put an end to Alabama’s quarterback competition. While head coach Nick Saban would not go as far as to name McCarron the starter, he did praise the young quarterback’s performance on Saturday.

“I think he played a lot better today,” Saban said. “I thought he was a lot more confident, and I think he did a good job of planning what we had to do on offense today.”

McCarron said he doesn’t worry about the competition and prefers to focus on what he does on the field.

“I don’t worry about that,” McCarron said. “That is not my concern. That is why coach makes the calls. He tells me to go out and play, and I play.”

McCarron seemed more comfortable against Penn State than he did in week one. In his first season starting for the Tide, McCarron said he has drawn from his time watching former Tide quarterback Greg McElroy as well as other teammates.

“I’ve been sitting behind Greg (McElroy) for two years,” McCarron said. “I have learned a lot sitting behind him. That is why I have the players around me though, to help me out, to help me grow up a little bit faster. As long as they have confidence in me, we’ll be fine.”

McCarron also realizes that he does not have to do it alone. Alabama’s identity is still very much defined by its strong defense and powerful running backs. McCarron said having talented backs behind him opens up the game and makes his job easier.

“When you see Trent (Richardson) or Eddie (Lacy) or Jalston (Fowler), any of our guys in the backfield, you know you are good,” McCarron said. “They make big plays for you. That’s one thing I have learned, them guys, the offensive line and the receivers all made big plays for me.”

As McCarron continues to build confidence, running back Trent Richardson said he sees a leader developing.

“[This game] is going to get his confidence up real high,” Richardson said. “That is something we need as a quarterback. He is going to be a leader on this team.”

It is yet to be known whether or not McCarron will be the next Tide quarterback, but one thing is certain. The confident quarterback will enjoy the experience one play at a time.

“It feels good,” McCarron said. “I have been playing football since I was four, so today was just another day for me.”

More to Discover