Senior College Football Columnist

McCarron shining in the big time

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- For three hours, Notre Dame, the team with the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation, could do nothing to get AJ McCarron and the Alabama Crimson Tide off balance. The only thing that rattled McCarron on Monday night occurred when the Bama QB was fielding questions in front of his locker after the 42-14 win had given the Crimson Tide its second consecutive BCS title and third in four seasons.

Backstory: At some point early in the BCS title game while Bama was jumping out to its 28-0 lead and embarrassing Notre Dame, the ESPN cameras and announcer Brent Musburger noticed McCarron's mom and girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who happens to be Miss Alabama. The Twitterverse, which by then had already lost its focus on the BCS, flipped for Miss Alabama. So much so that Webb started getting followers at a faster rate than Notre Dame even had for BCS ticket requests. Arizona Cardinals D-lineman Darnell Dockett even hit on Webb and tweeted his phone number at her. (Docket later deleted the tweet.) Webb ended up going from a few hundred followers before the game to more than 100,000 by the time the blowout was a final.

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McCarron (88,000 followers) was informed Webb actually had passed him in Twitter followers.

“No way!” he said incredulously.

Then he was told that Dockett asked her out on Twitter.

“Say you swear!”

Reporter: I swear to God.

McCarron was then told that LeBron James is following her now, too.

"Maaan! I'ma tweet him and I'm gonna get a follow,” he said, as his voice raised. "That's messed up. But I guess she's more famous than me.”

After what McCarron has done in the past two years in BCS title games, he certainly deserves his share of the spotlight. McCarron connected on 43 of his 62 passes and had four TDs and zero interceptions in wins over LSU and Notre Dame, teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in defense. Not bad for a guy who many dismissed as merely a “game manager.”

“People are always saying ‘game manager,' and whatever, but I love big games and that's the way I've always been since I was little,” he said. “The best game I ever had was in the Little Flower Basketball Tournament in the fifth grade and I broke the scoring record. I was playing against my cousin. I had 33 out of 35 points. That was probably my best win.”

The performance also has helped enhance the 6-4, 210-pounder's stock with NFL personnel types.

"He has good size and made all different kind of throws," said Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout who works as an analyst for NFL.com. "Impressed with his poise, touch and velocity. He has NFL starter tools."

McCarron began the night by burning the Fighting Irish defense with a perfect pass on a deep out to Kevin Norwood for 29 yards on the second play from scrimmage. McCarron went on to connect on eight of his first nine passes in the opening quarter.

“I definitely felt it,” he said. “I can feel it in warm-ups; how the ball is coming out of my hand and the timing in our warm up routes but I always feel like if I hit my first pass, it's gonna be a good day. Usually as a quarterback, you try to get something to get a rhythm, but it always helps when it's a big play on your first pass to boost your confidence up.”

McCarron was quick to praise his teammates, particularly the job his receivers did deciphering man and zone coverages after Notre Dame presented some different looks.

“Notre Dame played a lot more man than we thought,” he said. “From watching film, against Blue personnel, they were 94 percent zone on the season and they started playing us man after the first three drives.”

Asked about what a second BCS title does for his legacy at a place where Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Ken Stabler already own legendary status, McCarron wasn't ready to look deeper into the moment.

“It's pretty crazy to come from the city of Mobile and the way I was brought up through hard times and all the sacrifices my parents made and how other people had helped my family out through the years, this is really special. I guess I don't really realize it right now, but I guess when I'm 50 I can look back and my kids and grandkids can be proud of their grandfather.”

He also knows that come Thursday at the Crimson Tide's team meeting, it'll already be Next Year for coach Nick Saban and that team, McCarron says, won't have won anything yet.

McCarron, though, did have one last shot to take after he was done with the media. He tweeted to Docket:

u better worry ab being in them playoffs, then going to king of diamonds homie.. #betterkeepdreaming like the rest of these dudes

 
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