ATLANTA -- Don't be fooled by Alabama coach Nick Saban's love for pounding opposing defenses with a powerful running game. The man would like to air it out a little more.
But when you have bruising running backs like Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, it's tough not to just hand them the rock and watch them hurt people.
However, those backs are gone, and while heir to the running back throne Eddie Lacy appears more than capable of running down defenders' throats, Saban now has more of the pieces in place to get a little more vertical in his attack on defenses.
"I feel like you gotta do on offense what you have the players to do," Saban said in Atlanta Thursday during his second stop on the Crimson Caravan. "Now … we have a quarterback that I think is very capable, as long as he makes good decisions and judgments in terms of how he distributes the ball and doesn't turn it over."
That quarterback is redshirt junior AJ McCarron, who was named offensive MVP of the Allstate BCS National Championship Game and finished the 2011 season ranking third in the SEC in passing.
McCarron has all the tools to be a real star in the SEC, but he rarely looked flashy in his first year as a starter. He managed the game like his coach asked him to. There were times where he let it rip (the national title game rings a bell and so does the second half of the Tennessee game), but for the most part his job was to limit mistakes and lead the offense.
But with a year under his belt and a little more maturity (on and off the field), McCarron could be in store for a much more pass-friendly fall. Still, Saban wants his talented signal caller to refrain from trying to be a hero; something that hurt him at times last season.
"I still think that AJ has got to stay in the structure of the offense in terms of taking what the defense gives," Saban said. "You can't force plays. You can't try to make plays that aren't there. You gotta have patience and I think that's going to be the key to him being successful.
"He can make throws, it's just continuing to make the right ones."
Yeldon's broken hand
Many were impressed by true freshman running back T.J. Yeldon after he totaled 179 yards (88 rushing, 91 receiving), including a 50-yard touchdown reception, in Alabama's spring game.
What might be more impressive is that he did that with a broken hand, an injury he suffered after falling early in spring practice.
"He practiced all spring with that cast on," Saban said.
Saban added that the injury was "very similar" to the one receiver Julio Jones suffered two years ago.
Duron Carter update
Nothing has really changed for the enigmatic wide receiver who transferred to Alabama last April. He was suspended for all of spring practice and Saban said Thursday that Carter has done nothing to get out of his coach's doghouse.
Saban wasn't sure if Carter would return to the team this fall or anytime soon.
"That's up to Duron Carter," he said. "It's really not up to me. If he does what he's supposed to do, he may have an opportunity to get back out there. If he doesn't, he won't. I guess you need to ask him that."
Saban visits DeAndrew White
Before Saban hopped on a plane to see President Obama at the White House, he visited wide receiver DeAndrew White, who was hospitalized after an altercation early Thursday.
Saban wasn't sure how White was involved in the fight, but said that he didn't expect any "long-term issues" from White's injury.
He also said that more players were out when Carter was, but added that the players didn't break rules because Alabama doesn't have a curfew for its players. He was, however, upset that they were out late.
"I'm always disappointed when anything happens to a player after 12 o'clock," he said. "And the players know that."
Trophy case solved
The culprit behind Alabama's shattered 2011 BCS Championship trophy has come clean. Carson Tinker's father, Carleton Tinker, was the last person to touch the Waterford crystal football before it fell to the floor.
"I'm not really sure how the thing fell off," Carleton Tinker told ESPN's Ivan Maisel.
For more on Carleton Tinker's tragic trophy story, read here.