Tracking the Tide: AJ McCarron

Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at quarterback AJ McCarron.

No. 10 AJ McCarron


Third team All-American selection

Role in 2012: McCarron didn't have to think about battling to become the full-time starting quarterback this season as backup Phillip Sims transferred to Virginia.

The good: The junior took his game to another level in his second year starting under center. For most of the season he led the country in passing efficiency, andn despite a few below-average performances at the tail end of the year, he finished that way, beating out the likes of Georgia's Aaron Murray and West Virginia's Geno Smith. McCarron threw 26 touchdowns to three interceptions, with 2,669 passing yards so far.

The bad: Beyond seeking out another national championship, there's a reason McCarron decided to return for his senior season. His inconsistency down the stretch revealed that there's still work to be done on his game. Whether it was getting happy feet in the pocket, making uncharacteristic reads or letting a ball sail too high, McCarron underwhelmed in key moments against LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia, and with so many NFL scouts watching, he couldn't afford to.

Crystal ball: The good news for McCarron is that while his dream of playing in the pros waits, his receiving corps at Alabama gets stronger. He'll benefit from a number of quality receivers. Outside of the projected starters Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones and Amari Cooper, Alabama will tout talented backups in Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White, Chris Black and Cyrus Jones. As cornerback Dee Milliner put it, "If he comes back with the weapons we have at receiver, he can be unbelievable."