As exciting as it was to have actual, real live football back on opening weekend, we pretty much all knew that Alabama was going to beat Kent State like a drum. Though we all know Coach Saban would admonish us fans for it, I think we will all admit that we were looking ahead to week two and our first real challenge of the year. Though Alabama was the favorite and despite the majority of both fan bases more or less assuming Alabama would be the winner, it was far from a foregone conclusion and at the very least we knew we had critical questions to answer and that the answers to those questions would go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game: Could we establish our running game? How would McCarron handle his first road start? Could we protect the ball? (4 INTs and 4 fumbles against Kent State.) While we continued to struggle in the running game (our average per carry dipped from 5.2 to 4.8), A.J. McCarron passed his first true test with flying colors and that's why we're naming him RBR Player of the Week.
While McCarron's stats weren't eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination, they were solid enough. And let's be honest, though it takes an entire team to win or lose a game, not all burdens on the field are equal. For all intents and purposes, McCarron is still a pretty green quarterback and putting him in charge for his first full game under these circumstances was asking a lot of him. Not only was it his first full game, it was a road game and it was in the second biggest stadium in the country. While 19 of 31 (61.3 %) for 163 yards (1 TD) isn't going to get him on the Heisman watchlist, it was more than enough. Overall, he showed poise and good decision making (he even had the good sense to yank the defensive lineman down that batted down one of his passes when it could've easily been intercepted). Given all of the circumstances he faced, that is all we could really ask. Three other stats bear mentioning above all others though: 0 interceptions, 0 sacks, 0 fumbles. He protected the ball and that's worth its weight in gold anywhere, but especially on the road for a young QB. As time progresses, we'll certainly expect him to develop further and deliver some lights out performances, but for now, this will do quite nicely.