McCarron knows all about big games
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron doesn’t need any extra motivation to get up for a big game.

McCarron has been in a few Games of the Century before, including two this season when the Crimson Tide traveled to Texas A&M and hosted LSU earlier this month.

So when McCarron and the Tide travel to Auburn for the Iron Bowl on Saturday, there will be little that can rattle the fifth-year senior at this point in his career.

“(We just have to) play our game,” McCarron said. “You guys like to make this game a lot bigger and every other Game of the Century a lot bigger than what it is. It’s just another Saturday, it’s just another team. Let’s just go out and take care of our business, play the way we’re supposed to play. We’ll be fine.”

McCarron is completing 68.6 percent of his passes (190-277) this year for 2,399 yards, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions.

When pushed on how the stakes riding on the outcome of this showdown have to make it bigger than just another game, McCarron stayed the course.

“I’ve played in two national championships in a row,” he said. “It’s just another game.”

And McCarron’s coach appreciates that level-headedness.

“I think it’s really important at his position that he sort stays in the moment and stays even keel,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “You can’t get too emotional when you’re playing quarterback or sort of get out of the rhythm that you have and start thinking you’ve got to force things or make plays or do something out of the ordinary. I think that’s when you make emotional decisions which probably aren’t always good decisions and sometime can backfire on you. You’ve just got to keep focusing on taking what the other team gives you.

“AJ’s done a good job of that all year long and has played with a lot of consistency in the game.”

McCarron has made two trips to Jordan-Hare Stadium during his career. In 2009, Alabama won 26-21, and McCarron witnessed then-Tide quarterback Greg McElroy lead the team on a 15 play, 79-yard game-winning touchdown drive that consumed seven minutes. All McCarron remembers from that contest is giving McElroy a hug when time expired. As a first-year starter in 2011, McCarron and the Tide blitzed the Tigers 42-14 en route to a second national championship in three years. McCarron isn’t in favor of a blowout or a game-winning drive.

“I just want a win. I don’t really care,” McCarron said. “I’ve had plenty of last-drive moments for my sake. But whatever it takes to get a W, it doesn’t matter to me.”
© 2013