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Mission Improbable?: The Numbers AJ McCarron Needs to Break Every Alabama Passing Record

Bama Fans: My goal here is quite simple: I want to figure out the minimum passing stats AJ McCarron needs in 2013 in order to own outright all of Alabama’s passing records in the University of Alabama’s 2012 record book.

It is possible, albeit unlikely, for AJ McCarron to set literally every Alabama passing record in the book.
It is possible, albeit unlikely, for AJ McCarron to set literally every Alabama passing record in the book.
Kevin C. Cox

"One minute was enough, Tyler said, "A person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection."

- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Alabama's official football records can be found in the media guides, or in the records book, which is here. To gauge AJ's pursuit of those records, I am using and

So, without further ado, let's begin. Here are the University of Alabama's passing records:



  • 55 Scott Hunter vs. Auburn - Nov. 29, 1969

As a reference, AJ's career high for pass attempts is 34, set against LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game (after the 2011 season) and against Texas A&M in 2012 (I know, I know).


  • 462 John Parker Wilson - 2007

AJ had 314 passing attempts in 2012 (22.43 per game) and 328 in 2011 (25.23 per game).


  • 1,175 John Parker Wilson - 2005-08

AJ currently has 690 career passing attempts.



  • 32 Gary Hollingsworth vs. Tennessee - Oct. 21, 1989

AJ's high is 23 completions in a game, set in 2011 against Vandy and in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game (after the 2011 season) against LSU.


  • 255 John Parker Wilson - 2007

AJ had 211 completions in 2012 and 219 in 2011.


  • 665 John Parker Wilson - 2005-2008

AJ currently has 460 career completions.



(Minimum 10 Completions)

  • 92.3% Greg McElroy vs. Georgia State (12 of 13) - Nov. 18, 2010

AJ's highest completion percentage (minimum 10 completions) is 79.2% (19/24), against Ole Miss in 2011.

(Minimum 15 Completions)

  • 84.2% Ken Stabler at Mississippi (16 of 19) - Oct. 1, 1966

AJ's highest completion percentage (minimum 15 completions) is still 79.2% (19/24), against Ole Miss in 2011.

(Minimum 20 Completions)

  • 80.0% Tyler Watts at South Carolina (20 of 25) - Sept. 29, 2001

AJ's highest completion percentage (minimum 20 completions) is 76.7% (23/30), against Vandy in 2011.

(Minimum 30 Completions)

  • 69.6% Gary Hollingsworth vs. Tennessee (32 of 46) - Oct. 21, 1989

As mentioned above, AJ's personal high is 23 completions in a game, so he currently has no entry in this event.


(Minimum 200 Completions)

  • 70.9% Greg McElroy (222 of 313) - 2010

AJ completed 67.2% of his pass attempts in 2012 (211/314).


(Minimum 200 Completions)

  • 66.3% Greg McElroy (436 of 658) - 2007-2010

AJ's career completion percentage is currently 66.67% (460/690), so he's in the lead.


  • 16 Greg McElroy vs. Georgia State & vs. Auburn - Nov. 18-26, 2010

I haven't easily been able to find AJ's career high for consecutive completions. Help me out in the comments.



  • 484 Scott Hunter vs. Auburn - Nov. 29, 1969

AJ's career high for passing yards in a game is 309, set against Texas A&M in 2012 (again... I know!).


  • 2,987 Greg McElroy - 2010

AJ had 2,933 passing yards in 2012.


  • 7,924 John Parker Wilson - 2005-08

AJ currently has 5,956 career passing yards.



  • 5 Gary Hollingsworth at Mississippi - Oct. 7, 1989

AJ has thrown 4 TDs in 5 different games.


  • 30 AJ McCarron - 2012

AJ broke Greg McElroy's previous school record of 20 TD passes in 2010.


  • 49 AJ McCarron - 2010-12

AJ broke (and shall continue breaking) John Parker Wilson's previous school record of 47, set between 2005-08.



(Min. 100 attempts)

  • 0.96% AJ McCarron (3 of 314) - 2012

AJ broke Greg McElroy's 2009 school record of 1.2% (4 of 325).


(Min. 200 attempts)

  • 1.5% Greg McElroy (10 of 658) - 2007-2010

AJ's career interception rate is currently 1.16% (8 interceptions in 690 pass attempts), so he's in the lead.


  • 35-2-1 Jay Barker - 1991-94

AJ is currently 25-2.


So, what does AJ's 2013 season need to look like to break every Alabama passing record?

1. One game with 56 passing attempts.

2. One game with 33 completions.

3. 463 passing attempts.

4. 329 completions

5. 17 consecutive completions.

6. 485 yards in one game.

7. 2,988 passing yards.

8. One game with 6 passing TDs.

9. One game completing more than 92.3% of his passes (minimum 10 completions), one game completing more than 82.4% of his passes (minimum 15 completions), one game completing more than 80.0% of his passes (minimum 20 completions), and one game completing more than 69.6% of his passes (minimum 30 completions).

10. Go 14-0 and win another National Championship. I'd imagine/hope this is the one that AJ cares about the most.

Let's start at the end. AJ needs 11 wins to eclipse Jay Barker's win total of 35 games. If Alabama goes 14-0, 13-1, 12-2, 12-1 or 11-2 (I find it statistically unlikely that we could go 11-3), then AJ will have won more games as Alabama's quarterback than anyone else.

In terms of winning %, AJ is currently at 92.59%, whereas Jay Barker is at 93.4% (if you count the games forfeited in 1993 as wins). If AJ stays healthy, his winning percentages could be:

14-0: 39-2 (95.12%)

13-1: 38-3 (92.68%)

12-2: 37-4 (90.24%)

12-1: 37-3 (92.50%)

11-2: 36-4 (90.00%)

So, going undefeated and winning it all is the only way AJ McCarron can catch Jay Barker in terms of winning percentage on the field.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that these "in one game" stats primarily come from the same game: a game in which AJ will complete 39 passes on 56 attempts (69.64%) for 485 yards (8.66 yards per attempt) and 6 TDs.

After that passathon, that leaves AJ needing:

(a) 407 attempts over the other 13 games - a more manageable 31.31 attempts per game.

(b) 290 completions over the other 13 games - 22.31 completions per game.

In visual format, here's what he'd have to do:

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This would have AJ as owning every one of the records we've discussed. But what if AJ wants to break every one of these records in 2013... including the ones he set in 2012?

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AJ has a legitimate shot at many of these records, but unless we're in more than a few very tight games, and unless some unspeakable horrors have befallen some of the other members of the team (I shan't speak of these unspeakable horrors), then our coaching philosophies are unlikely to allow him to throw, on average, 7.84 more pass attempts per game than 2011 and 10.64 more pass attempts per game than 2012.

As such, my guess is that the game, season and career passing attempt records are safe. I'd be surprised if AJ were able to complete 33 passes in a game, but I can see him getting 256 in a season. If he stays healthy, I expect him to complete the 206 passes he needs to set the career record.

I'm interested to see how he does in the game completion percentage statistics next year; aside from getting his wings clipped after going 6/6 with a touchdown against Western Carolina, the coaches have given him a few opportunities at these records - his next-fewest passing attempts as a starter was 16, against Arkansas this year. He has a very competitive shot at McElroy's season completion percentage record - if AJ had converted 12 more of his pass attempts this year, he'd have broken it. If he stays true to form this year, the career completion percentage record is his.

I don't expect him to be able to pile up 485 passing yards in a game, but with Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones? And we haven't even seen what Chris Black, Robert Foster and O.J. Howard can do. With all of the returning weapons at receiver, I do believe he sets a new season passing yards record. If he stays healthy, he ought to break John Parker Wilson's career yardage record by a kilometer.

It's only a matter of time before AJ throws for 5 touchdowns in a game, but 6? With the running backs we have, it's hard to imagine a game being competitive enough to permit AJ to score 36 points on his own (with Shelley gone, I can no longer consider a touchdown to be 7 points with the same certainty as that the earth's gravity is 9.82 m/s2). I'll be surprised if AJ breaks his own school record for passing touchdowns in a season - he broke the old school record by 50% this year. With all due respect to Messrs. Sims, Ely, Morris, Bateman, McLeod and Del Rio ("we're working hard for justice... for you!), I can say with all confidence that AJ McCarron will hold the school record for career passing touchdowns at the end of next season.

If he throws 321 passes in 2013 (I averaged his 2011 and 2012 attempts), he'd have to have another 3 interception year to break his own record for lowest season interception percentage. If he does, he'll have a career percentage of 1.09%, shattering McElroy's current career record of 1.52%. However, he would still break that career record even if he throws 7.

Finally, while I'd love for Alabama to go 14-0 in 2013, pulling off the first modern threepeat and 4 in 5 years, I think we'd all agree that it's unlikely. I guess we'll all just have to...

Hope for the best.