Alabama Football Year End Awards: Offensive Player of the Year

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

In the week leading up to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s BCS National Championship date in Miami with Notre Dame, we are going to dole out some end of the season awards starting with offensive player of the year, and continuing on until the January 7th contest against the Fighting Irish.

We’ll be asking for your help on some of these down the road, but Tony and I have made the selections on the first few.

Offensive player of the year was a really tough choice as the Crimson Tide boasted several worthy players, who had truly tremendous years.

Quarterback AJ McCarron is obviously the first name to come to mind, but Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon had outstanding seasons running the football and really put the team on their back in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

Then you have freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had the best season of a freshman receiver in school history. And we would be remiss if we didn’t look at the offensive line; a unit that was the best in the country all season long, and absolutely dominated down the stretch.

Two guys on the offensive line stood out above the rest and were justly named All Americans. Rimington Trophy winning senior center Barrett Jones is one of the most decorated players in college football history, but he is arguably the second best player on his own offensive line.

Senior left guard Chance Warmack is not only the best player on Alabama’s offensive line; he’s the best offensive lineman in the entire country, and come April, he’ll be drafted as such. Warmack doesn’t get as much praise as he deserves simply because his position isn’t glamorous. Tackles usually get the big checks and the noteworthy praise, but there isn’t a better player in the country than Warmack, who has been downright dominant this season, and for the entirety of his career in Tuscaloosa.

Warmack had a team-low six missed assignments in 2012. Six. That’s it. In 657 snaps. Warmack was named SEC offensive lineman of the week twice during the regular season, and led the Crimson Tide with 36 pancake blocks. He graded out at 90% or better in 7 of the team’s 12 regular season games.

Warmack is our honorable mention offensive player of the year, and you can easily make an argument that he deserves the distinction. But, we couldn’t ignore Alabama’s record setting quarterback.

AJ McCarron is Bama Hammer’s Offensive Player of the Year after a spectacular junior season where he led the Crimson Tide to a 12-1 record, SEC Championship, and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game for the second straight season.

McCarron threw for 2,669 yards and a school record 26 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. With the bowl game left to play, McCarron’s 173.1 QB Rating makes him the most efficient passer in college football.

McCarron didn’t throw his first interception until November 10th against Texas A&M, and his 290 passes without a pick set an another Alabama record in the process. McCarron’s two best performances this season happened to come against the Crimson Tide’s two biggest rivals — Auburn and Tennessee. Against the Volunteers, McCarron threw for 306 yards on 17-of-22 passing and 4 touchdowns.

Against Auburn, he threw 216 yards on 15-of-21 passing and 4 touchdowns. He managed to accomplish all that despite the fact that he was on the field for all of one possession in the second half against the Tigers. He helped the first team offense to 7 touchdowns on their 7 first half possessions.

As well with coming up with big performances against the team’s biggest rivals, McCarron came through for Alabama when it mattered most on two occasions with clutch plays.

Against LSU in Baton Rouge, Alabama looked dead in the water as they trailed the Tigers 17-14 with only 1:34 to play as they got the ball on their own 28-yard line. The Crimson Tide hadn’t done anything offensively for the entire second half. And then it happened.

McCarron led the Crimson Tide on a 72-yard touchdown drive that took only five plays. He completed three straight passes to Kevin Norwood, and then after an incomplete pass in the endzone, McCarron dumped off a screen pass to T.J. Yeldon, who did the rest and took it 28-yards for a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-17 win.

McCarron was clutch again on the biggest of stages in the SEC Championship against Georgia. He struggled for most of the afternoon, but with Alabama trailing 28-25, McCarron put a throw on the money to Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown that proved to be the game winner as the Crimson Tide won 32-28 to win the SEC and clinch a spot in Miami.

It has been a spectacular season for McCarron with one game left to play. Alabama needs him to come up big on the big stage once again, and deliver a performance much like he did in New Orleans against LSU last year.

Make sure you tune back in tomorrow as we hand out the defensive player of the year award.

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