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October 19, 2011

McCarron thriving

TUSCALOOSA | Brandon Gibson has seen them all.

Every University of Alabama quarterback of the Nick Saban era - from John Parker Wilson to AJ McCarron - has thrown a ball Gibson's way at one time or another. From those that stayed and waited their turn, like Greg McElroy, to those that transferred, like Nick Fanuzzi or Star Jackson, Gibson has seen every arm to come through the program in the last five seasons.

And McCarron has impressed him as much as any of them.

"He's going to be a great quarterback, he's going to develop a lot more this year and even next year," said Gibson. "If he keeps coming in with the same work
ethic and attitude, he's going to be a great quarterback for us like every other quarterback has been in the past here at Alabama."

McCarron's first four Southeastern Conference starts - two at home and two on the road - have done nothing to bring down the impressive numbers he posted against non-conference opponents. In fact, the sophomore is now completing just over two-thirds of his passes (67 percent) after a 19-for-24 performance against Ole Miss. With nine touchdown passes and two interceptions, McCarron has delivered against each challenge.

Saturday, he'll make his first mark in the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry.

"AJ's played well for us. I think he's improved in every game. He's done a really good job of managing the game," said UA coach Nick Saban. "He did a great job of managing the game this week in terms of getting us in the right plays, getting to the line of scrimmage, showing good leadership. The players have confidence in him. We're executing better as a group, and he's certainly doing his part."

Gibson said McCarron's arm strength allows him to deliver passes into smaller windows than other quarterbacks.

"It's kind of scary. I kind of relate him to Brett Favre with the risk-taking, but hopefully he won't have as many interceptions," Gibson said.

Indeed, he hasn't.

McCarron has attempted 151 consecutive passes without being intercepted -- a span including six consecutive starts -- and is fast-approaching the school record of 190 (Brodie Croyle).

"We'll have to continue to be able to (succeed) by not turning the ball over, making good choices and decisions, having balance on offense," Saban said, "which is certainly something important to us being successful."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196.


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