The answer to who will start at quarterback for the 2011 Alabama football team became a little clearer after a 48-7 victory over Kent State University.
Head coach Nick Saban rotated his two main quarterbacks, AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims, in and out every three series.
“Both guys took control of the huddle and they both played well,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said. “They made a few mistakes in the game, but that’s something we can work on together as a team starting Monday.”
McCarron started the game and led the Crimson Tide on two first quarter scoring drives. He finished the game 14-of-23 with 226 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 24 yard strike to Maze.
From the time Sims entered the game, he never looked comfortable in the pocket. Sims faced constant pressure, getting sacked twice. He finished the game 7-of-14 with 73 yards and no touchdowns.
“AJ had a little more poise having played a little bit more,” Saban said. “We have a lot of confidence in Phillip and in most cases he plays extremely well. I think he learned a lot out there and he will be a very good player for us.”
Both quarterbacks played well in spots, but they also had costly turnovers. Both McCarron and Sims threw two interceptions during their playing time, with one of Sims being returned to the three yard line.
“There are good interceptions and bad interceptions,” Saban said. “A couple of those were bad because they didn’t throw the ball in the right place and some weren’t bad because they got tipped and the other team ended up intercepting it.”
The Tide defense played a near perfect game. They only allowed 90 total yards on 70 plays. The only points they allowed came after an interception that was returned inside the five yard line. Despite only allowing six first downs, Saban said the defense still has a lot of room for improvement.
“We made some mental errors, and didn’t cover some people at times,” Saban said. “We didn’t make some adjustments and things that we didn’t work on, we weren’t challenged like we’re going to be challenged with the level of skill players and the speed that we’re going to play, so there’s a lot of things we need to do better.”
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw said, “I feel pretty good, but there is always something we can get better at as a whole. Technique, finishing and we can also get more turnovers.”
The schedule and season will only get tougher from here on out for the Tide. Next week, the Tide will travel to Happy Valley to face Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions.