March 12, 2013
Oh sure, winning the same amount of BCS championships as games he's lost as Alabama's starting quarterback wasn't enough. AJ McCarron had to go and inject grit and toughness into the equation as well.
In an interview with Chris Low of ESPN.com, McCarron confirmed that he played the last six games of the 2012 season with injured ribs — "I had three ribs come out of place" is how the player put it — and wasn't close to 100-percent healthy until the BCS title game against Notre Dame.
McCarron suffered the injury on a sack during the Oct. 27 win over Mississippi State. The rib issue came two weeks after McCarron suffered a knee injury that, for a short period time, left his status for the Tennessee game in doubt. He played with a knee brace the remainder of the season.
The rib injury, McCarron said, essentially limited what he could do in practice for the remainder of the season.
"They kept popping in and out of place, the one at the top, and it was just a nagging pain the whole time," the senior-to-be said. "I couldn't throw much during the week for a long time, really almost up to the bowl game. I was hurting really bad through the week, and it just took a long time for those ribs to heal."
A look at the numbers shows that the injury and lack of quality practice reps impacted the quarterback's play.
McCarron threw three interceptions all season long; coincidence or not, all three came after the rib injury — two against Texas A&M in the Tide's lone loss of the season, and one in the four-point win over Georgia in the SEC championship game. In the first game after the injury, he completed just 14-of-27 passes (51.9 percent) in a win over LSU, his lowest single-game percentage of the season.
His two lowest passing yard totals in games against FBS competition? The conference title game (162) and the LSU game (165).
Statistics aside, McCarron did enough — more than enough, actually — to put himself and the Tide in a position to accomplish something no other starting quarterback has ever done and a team hasn't done since Minnesota in the thirties: win three straight national championships.