Quarterback - Alabama: McCarron more than a good game manager
The guy who brings his hard-hat: McCarron. He has always been a student of the game, but like most highly regarded prep quarterbacks, McCarron could rely on his talent for much of his career. His growth and maturity last season was a product of a gritty competitor who can’t stand to lose and will put everything into preparation for a game, then leave everything on the field. That might not have been obvious to some in McCarron’s first three years at Alabama, but his preparation and work ethic has put him in the position to take command this year.
Good stuff.The guy who will surprise you: Ely. This is a no-brainer because he’s one snap away from being the starter and has never played in a college game. Phillip Ely will see playing time this season, and how he handles it may surprise some people. That could be good or bad.The guy who needs a big season: McCarron. There’s no question he has the offensive players to field a successful team, but there’s so much more that goes into a winning effort. Alabama will need McCarron’s leadership in crucial road games at Arkansas and LSU, and the offense will need to take the pressure off of an inexperienced defense by managing the clock and minimizing turnovers. Since Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, it’s rarely been necessary for a quarterback to do more than just manage the game, but McCarron needs to be up to that challenge this season.
Question: What's the difference between a great quarterback and a "game manager?"
All great quarterbacks are good game managers but as this blog has repeatedly argued, the game of college football is different from that of the NFL. The similarities between the pro and college game end at the quarterback position.
Tom Coughlin of the NFL's New York Giants gets it. He's got one of the best game managers in the history of game managers, but he's also surrounded Mr. Manning with some of the best offensive football players money can buy.
Jokes aside, you can't buy offensive football players in college, but you can surround them with guys who can run, block and catch. That's what successful football coaches do. In the pro game, you don't have to worry so much about balancing your attack, running the football or fielding great defense.
In the college game, without a balanced offense and sound defense, you're cooked as soon as your great quarterback matriculates to the NFL.
Don't believe that?
Look at Auburn's record without Cam Newton as quarterback.
How many championships has Steve Spurrier won without Danny Wuerffel?
How many championships has Florida won without Tim Tebow?
How many championships did Bobby Petrino win during his tenure at Arkansas?
Please, somebody explain how you win consistently at the college level when you put your quarterback at the center of your strategy.
Dudn't happen, y'all.