|November 25, 2013||Beat writer breakdown, Day 1: Ryan Black and I talk Iron Bowl big picture|
|November 25, 2013||Alabama practice report: LG Arie Kouandjio rests while other key players return|
|November 25, 2013||Alabama injury update: LG Arie Kouandjio will sit out today, expected to practice Tuesday|
|November 25, 2013||Alabama QB AJ McCarron, LB C.J. Mosley headline coaching staff players of the week|
|November 25, 2013||Alabama LB C.J. Mosley named finalist for Butkus Award|
|November 24, 2013||Alabama No. 1, Auburn No. 4 in latest BCS standings|
|November 24, 2013||Alabama a double-digit favorite over Auburn heading into Iron Bowl|
|November 23, 2013||Alabama QB AJ McCarron connects with brother Corey for 1st time in final home game|
|November 22, 2013||Alabama coach Nick Saban, QB AJ McCarron embody father-son relationship|
|November 21, 2013||Senior profile: Alabama RG Anthony Steen|
Editor's Note: Each week, the Crimson Tide Extra blog has five questions with the beat writer of Alabama's opponents. This week, we'll tackle one question each day with Auburn beat writer Ryan Black (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer) and Alabama beat writer Marq Burnett, beginning this afternoon and running through Saturday, when each will give their prediction on this year's Iron Bowl.
Marq Burnett: Coming off last season, it's safe to say very few people thought Auburn would be a top five team heading into the Iron Bowl. What's the feeling around the program considering the huge turnaround and everything that has happened this season?
Ryan Black: That's a good question, Marq, and one I've been asked countless times this season. As is the case with these types of things, the answer varies depending on the person. Talk to Auburn coordinators (Ellis Johnson or Rhett Lashlee), and they'll tell you they didn't see this kind of season coming at all when the year began. Yes, they both saw a lot of talent, and believed the potential to be 10-1 existed. But to say they expected this? No, they wouldn't do that. Then there's head coach Gus Malzahn, who stonewalls any attempt to talk about what his preseason expectations were; it's the same cliches every week with him: "We're just taking it one game at a time" and "We're just looking to get better each practice and each game." Finally, the players are normally split between those who have expressed a bit of surprise with how the year has turned out versus those who said this kind of campaign was in the offing all along. All I can say is this: Aside from those in the program — and fans who always think the absolute best about their team — no one realistically thought the Tigers would be playing for so much come Iron Bowl week given how last season ended.
Black: It seems like there's been lot of talk recently about where AJ McCarron ranks not just among the best active quarterbacks in college football, but among the all-time best to play the position. (The Sports Illustrated cover did a good job taking care of that.) So in your estimation, how does he stack up? You've covered nearly every start of his career, no?
Burnett: With AJ McCarron, it really depends on who you ask. On one hand, it's about stats and how flashy a quarterback is. In that case, McCarron doesn't measure up particularly well. Alabama's system doesn't allow a quarterback to throw for a ton of yards like some of the spread offenses throughout the country.
On the other hand, it's all about winning and very few quarterbacks in the history of college football have been more successful than McCarron in that category. He's 36-2 as a starter and has two national championships along with an SEC Championship. McCarron has Alabama in a position to win a third consecutive national championship, something no other quarterback has ever done.If he completes this run and Alabama finishes 14-0 with another national title, he'll have to be at least included in the conversation as the best quarterback ever.
TUSCALOOSA -- Eleven Alabama players were recognized by the coaching staff for their performances following Saturday’s 49-0 win over Chattanooga.
Quarterback AJ McCarron, wide receiver Kevin Norwood and right guard Anthony Steen were named players of the week on offense. Defensive end Jonathan Allen, safety Landon Collins and linebacker C.J. Mosley represented the defense while Dee Hart, Christion Jones, Reggie Ragland, Geno Smith and Altee Tenpenny were on the special teams list.
McCarron completed 13-of-16 passes for 171 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in just over two quarters of play. Norwood caught four passes for a total of 84 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown from McCarron. Steen earned the top grade on the offensive line at 93 percent and did not have a sack, a pressure or any missed assignments. The three fifth-year seniors improved their overall record to 60-5 in their Alabama careers.
Allen was credited with three tackles, two for loss, and also forced a fumble. Mosley had two tackles for loss while Collins assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Jones recorded his second punt return of the season for a touchdown from 75 yards out to give the Tide a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Hart and Tenpenny were credited with key blocks on the return. Jones and Hart were credited with tackles on kickoff coverage while Smith and Tenpenny both had tackles inside the 20. Ragland contributed with two stops inside the 20 on kickoff and also played well on the punt return and kickoff return teams.
Mosley is the overall leader in terms of player of the week honors with ten selections through 11 games. Collins is next with seven, followed by Cade Foster, Jones and DeAndrew White with six weekly honors.
TUSCALOOSA -- On the fourth play of Alabama’s opening drive of the second half, one McCarron dropped back and tossed a pass to another McCarron.
Quarterback AJ McCarron connected with his younger brother, tight end Corey McCarron, for a three-yard gain. It was the first time the two brothers were able to hook up on a play in their Crimson Tide careers. AJ brought Corey to his postgame press conference following the Tide’s 49-0 thrashing of Chattanooga.
“I keep telling people that’s the reason I stayed, for memories like this,” AJ said. “It’s just something we’ll be able to cherish for the rest of our lives.”
AJ is the star quarterback, while Corey is the walk-on tight end. Corey said he’s worked all year for a moment like this.
“It was worth every second,” Corey said. “That was one of the greatest moments of my life. I will never trade it for anything.”
Corey jokingly said the pressure was on him to make the catch.
“A lot because if I would have dropped it, he would have yelled at me in front of a lot of people,” Corey said. “It’s something we do every day and something we’ve been doing since we were kids.”
Still, big brother had to offer some coaching tips to little brother.
“I congratulated him, but I still chewed his butt out and told him he should have got up field faster,” AJ said. “I’m happy for him, but I’m still going to be the bigger brother.”
Added Corey, “I should have got a lot more yards. The way we run that play, we usually get hit pretty soon. So I kind of stopped and turned my head so I didn’t get crushed. But I should have gotten more yards. It was still fun.”
Tide coach Nick Saban said he was happy to see them share the moment.
“AJ told me a long time ago that he’d like to throw a pass to his brother some day,” Saban said. “I told (offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier) Coach Nuss at halftime to think of a play we could put Corey in and AJ would have a chance to throw him the ball. … I think they were pretty excited about it.”
The McCarron’s parents were at the game for Senior Day and AJ was sure his mother, Dee Dee Bonner, cried upon seeing it happen.
“I literally could hear her screaming over everybody as soon as he caught it,” AJ said. “The rest of the crowd was probably like ‘All right great, a five-yard gain’ and she was still yelling. The whole family probably cried.”