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January 9, 2013

McCarron centerpiece of '13 offense

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | The offensive and defensive lines will need retooling, and there are a few players who might soon declare for early NFL Draft entry.

But the centerpiece of the University of Alabama offense and two consecutive brilliant performances in BCS championship games, quarterback AJ McCarron, sees plenty to be excited about around him for 2013.

"Hopefully, we can get another one next year," McCarron said. "It's going to be a lot of hard work, but our team is always up for a challenge, our coaches are always up for a challenge. There's never any quit in this team, which I love."

On the offensive line, McCarron is expected to be protected by only two returning starters - guard Anthony Steen and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Center Barrett Jones and guard Chance Warmack will enter the draft as seniors, and tackle D.J. Fluker is expected to do so as a junior and potential first-round draft choice. Tight end Michael Williams, an integral part of Alabama's running game as a blocker, graduates as well.

Junior running back Eddie Lacy will also have a difficult decision to make regarding the NFL. Every scholarship player returns at the wide receiver position, however, including 1,000-yard freshman Amari Cooper.

He and running back T.J. Yeldon figure to be the primary weapons around McCarron.

"I am going to keep working. I am only a freshman," Cooper said. "I am going to try to win three or four (national championships). This season was good, but I expected it to be even more. There is so much more that I can do."

Defensively, the Crimson Tide loses seniors Jesse Williams, Quinton Dial, Damion Square and Nico Johnson from its front seven, with Robert Lester and possibly Dee Milliner - if he leaves for the NFL - exiting the program as well.

UA coach Nick Saban said his first efforts to prepare for the 2013 season will begin today.

"A couple of days from now, we have players that might go out for the draft. We have to help them make good decisions about what their future is. We have other players that need to develop that will have different roles on our team next year."

McCarron, Jones downplay shove

As for the shove he received from Jones in the final minutes after a delay-of-game penalty, McCarron said the incident was quickly forgotten.

"Just two guys trying to be the best. That's it," he said.

Said Jones: "Everyone is freaking out about that. We were trying to bleed the clock a little bit, so we got up to the line of scrimmage and there wasn't much time left so we shifted, and I had to recall it, and he got a little bit frustrated and went to the nearest person, which happened to be me. It was no big deal. That's just how our relationship is."

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

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