AJ McCarron proved he was a game manager against the Texas A&M Aggies, in the best possible way.
After withstanding a furious onslaught by Johnny Manziel and the Aggie offense, Alabama had come roaring back, and led 35-14 in the third quarter.
A&M had clawed their way back into the game, however, and had brought it to within a touchdown with time winding down. Alabama needed a score to hopefully put things out of reach.
With under three minutes to play, Alabama had the ball on the Texas A&M five-yard line, with A&M ready for a running play. All Alabama needed to do was run one more play, and turn it over to Cade Foster to put the Crimson Tide up by 10.
McCarron strode to the line, and seeing the disposition of the Aggie defense, made a call that would make him the toast or the goat.
“I wanted the ball,” McCarron said of his audible after the game.
Sending H-back Jalston Fowler in motion to the left, the play looked like another carry for T.J. Yeldon, who had fumbled inside the A&M five earlier in the game.
Instead, Fowler swept right after the snap, and with A&M selling out to stop the run, was wide open for a five-yard lob by McCarron and the touchdown that put the game out of reach.
On the game, McCarron was 20-for-29 with 334 yards passing and four touchdowns. True to his label, he managed the Tide offense brilliantly. But this wasn’t a game manager in the sense that commentators usually mean; slowly grinding out yards and chewing clock without making mistakes or highlight reels.
McCarron won a shootout with the Heisman trophy winner, and may have vaulted himself into the conversation for this year’s award. He led a young offense through a brutal revenge game against the SEC’s newest power. And he made the call of the game with everything on the line.
If that’s what a game manager is, Tide fans with take that over a highlight reel any day of the week.