Alabama notebook: For your own good, don't ask Saban about McCarron's toenail
by Marq Burnett
Sep 03, 2013 | 2742 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AJ McCarron played Saturday with an injured toe. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
AJ McCarron played Saturday with an injured toe. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama coach Nick Saban is more than done talking about quarterback AJ McCarron’s ingrown toenail.

During Saban's Tuesday news conference, he was asked if McCarron’s minor toe injury affected his mobility in the Crimson Tide’s 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech. Saban answered he’s “sort of sick and tired of talking about this B.S. 'cause it’s nothing.”

“AJ’s mobility is fine and his mobility was fine in the game and there was nothing wrong with him in the game,” Saban said. “We can make it something and make it an excuse, aight? But really, worrying about that kind of stuff, rather than what you need to do to play well, might be contributing to how you play. Aight? And, to me, that’s the issue.

“Let’s focus on what we need to do to play well – not all the external factors and all that stuff.”

McCarron struggled against the Hokies, completing just 10 of 23 passes for 110 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was under pressure often and was sacked four times.

“The people around him need to play better so he has a chance to play well,” Saban said. “So it’s got nothing to do with his toe.”

Twitter and the Internet nearly exploded when McCarron stepped off the team bus in a walking boot Friday. Following Saturday’s game, McCarron confirmed he had surgery to remove part of his toenail because of an infection, but noted that it didn’t affect his play.

YOUNG RUNNING BACKS: Alabama’s running game didn’t live up to the standards the Tide has created in recent years. Sophomore T.J. Yeldon led the team in rushing with 75 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Behind Yeldon, no back gained more than 25 yards as the team combined for only 96 rushing yards.

True freshmen Derrick Henry and Altee Tenpenny made their collegiate debuts, and Saban kept it simple when describing what he saw from them.

“I didn’t see enough to take T.J. (Yeldon) out, or (Jalston) Fowler or Dee Hart,” Saban said.

Henry and Tenpenny combined for seven carries and 20 yards.

“I saw that they have ability, and potential and they need time to develop so that they’re comfortable and confident in doing what they’re supposed to do and they can do it fast,” Saban said. “They did make good contributions on special teams, both of them. And we need guys to be able to do that, and running backs are great guys to do that because they have size and speed and they’re athletic.”

CODY MANDELL: Tide coach Nick Saban has stressed that punter Cody Mandell is one of the team’s most improved players since preseason practice began. Mandell had a strong showing against Virginia Tech, punting nine times for a 46.4 average and pinning the Hokies inside the 20-yard line four times.

“Feeling better. As a punter, a kicker, you have to feel better,” Mandell said. “You want to hit a specific punt. You’re not always going to hit that specific punt, so your bad ball has to be playable. So I’ve been working on not hitting that 19-yard punt. Just trying to make it playable.”

Mandell also made a touchdown-saving tackle when Hokies safety Kyshoen Jarrett broke free down the sideline. Mandell said his defensive teammates didn’t think he would make the stop.

“They asked me if it was a face mask. I didn’t think it was,” Mandell said. “They just told me good hit. They didn’t think I could hit. That was the first tackle I have ever made, so I was pretty excited about it.”
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