TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's streak of consecutive passes without an interception has reached 262 passes, a school record and the second-longest such streak in Southeastern Conference history.
But the junior has a long way to go to break the national record. Former North Carolina State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson threw 379 passes without an interception while with the Wolfpack. Andre Woodson of Kentucky holds the SEC record with 325. Both of those feats were accomplished over the course of two seasons.
"AJ has done a good job of taking care of the ball. That's going to be really, really important as we continue to press through the season, especially against teams like Mississippi State, which is a big takeaway team," said UA coach Nick Saban. "We didn't turn the ball over. This is a big takeaway team we're playing this week. It's going to be important that you don't turn the ball over."
MSU cornerback Darius Slay nearly broke the streak on a pass intended for Amari Cooper Saturday, but Slay dropped the ball. According to the NCAA record book, the record for most passes in a full season without an interception is 224 by Matt Blundin of Virginia in 1991. Trent Dilfer held the single-season record at 271 consecutive passes at Fresno State in 1993 until that mark was broken this year by West Virginia's Geno Smith and Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron. Cameron's streak remains active at 319. Smith's ended at 273.
"We have an old saying that ... if every offensive series ends with a kick, whether it's a punt, a field goal or an extra point, that's pretty good," Saban said. "Could be worse. When you give the ball away to the other guys, that's never a good thing."
Added running back Eddie Lacy: "That's just AJ. He gives everything he's got at practice so you know
when he gets in the game, it's just clockwork. He's the leader, he's the captain, so it doesn't surprise me at all."
Devall steps up
Freshman linebacker Denzel Devall has seen increased playing time of late, primarily as a pass rusher, and had one of his best games against Mississippi State with two tackles for loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries.
"Denzell Devall has been a guy that we've played a little more. Now that he has a little more confidence, knowledge, experience ... in what to do, we can play him some in nickel situations," Saban said. "He does have some pass rush ability. He helped us in the last game and he was active in the last game. We want to continue to use him in a role that he feels comfortable with."
Devall, a Louisiana native, has 11 tackles and two sacks on the season.
Saban said McCarron (back contusion) and receiver Amari Cooper (ankle) might not fully participate in Monday's practice but should be able to play against LSU and would likely be ready to for full practice participation by Tuesday. Cooper, UA's leading receiver, was not active in individual drills during Monday's media viewing period.
"We put a lot of emphasis on creating more turnovers this year and changing the momentum of the game. We feel like if we can change the momentum of the game, it eliminates their big plays and we can make more big plays." - Safety Robert Lester. UA has forced an SEC-best 23 turnovers.
UA left guard Chance Warmack was named the Southeastern Conference's offensive lineman of the week for his performance against Mississippi State. Warmack was one of nine UA players named by the UA staff for player of the week honors, along with running back T.J. Yeldon and tight end Michael Williams on offense, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Denzel Devall on defense, and John Fulton, Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones and Cody Mandell on special teams. ... McCarron was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award this week, while Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner were named semifinalists for the Bednarik Award. Both awards have cut their candidate lists to 16 players.
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