Charted 3: AJ McCarron against Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss


Often times NFL Draft analyst use a method of charting to determine the  accuracy and ease of a QB prospect’s throws on different levels of the field. It looks like this:

To simply explain the format, just imagine it as the football field. The line of scrimmage is marked and the length of the field is divided into 4 differentiating areas of pass lengths. Then the width is marked off for “left” , “middle”, and “right”.  “0-10” yards represents “short” throws, while “11-19” are intermediate, and “20+” are “deep” throws. For completions in a certain area, a “C” will be marked. For every incompletion, an “X” will be placed in the corresponding box.

AJ McCarron has already established himself as one of the most prolific and accurate passers in Crimson Tide history, but this method will likely be used to break down where and how accurate he is in certain spots as he is scouted for the 2014 NFL Draft. I rounded up 2 of the Crimson Tide’s top ranked opponents so far this season, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and also the toughest defense faced to date, Virginia Tech, and charted them below.

First up is the 35-10 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies, in which AJ McCarron finished 10 of 23(43%) for 110 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  One of the more below average performances since AJ McCarron took over the starting role at QB, but still managed enough to help the Tide put away Virginia Tech. Lets look at the chart:

*Note: thrown away passes excluded

The 1st thing I noticed is that in 6 attempts, McCarron only completed 1 pass deep. That’s 16% completion percentage, the worst level on the board. The redeeming fact is the the lone completion was a 38 yard touchdown strike to WR Christion Jones. His best level was short, completing 5/8 for 62%.

Intermediate left looked to be the hardest throw to complete, failing to connect on 3 attempts. Being a right handed QB, throwing across your body is very difficult for many QBs. AJ’s interception came in the zone, throwing off his back foot and across his body. Yet the rest of the intermediate zones were his best 2, completing his sole target in the middle for 100% and 2/3 right for 66%

Next, we take a look at arguably AJ McCarron’s finest game of the 2013 season to date. Taking on the then #6 Texas A&M Aggies, McCarron followed his Virginia Tech stat line with a strong 20 of 29(69%) for 334 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs. How did it go?

You can see half of his completions came from right short and right intermediate, which is the easier throw for a right handed QB. He did specifically accurate work in the latter, completing 5/6 throws from 11-19 yards for 83%.  He also went a perfect 3 for 3 for 100% on his short middle throws, after not targeting the area once against Virginia Tech.

His deep shots went down from 6 to 1, but still completed the same amount and again put up a score. This time it was to WR DeAndrew White 44 yards out on a flea flicker. He was close to adding another with a 22 yard score to Kevin Norwood, but barely missed it as the pass was caught at 19 yards with Norwood adding the 3 extra yards. Intermediate left still gives him a little problem, having only completed 1 pass out of 5 attempts in 2 games, for 20%

And finally, we see the matchup against the once 25th ranked Ole Miss Rebels, where McCarron had a very McCarron-esque day, completing 25 of 32(78%) passes for 180 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. Now it wasn’t a day for him to score a TD, but he made enough throws to coast to a 25-0 win over the Rebels. Once more:

I want to point out McCarron started 7  for 7, before missing Amari Cooper on a deep middle pass. He also had 25 straight completions from the area of behind the line of scrimmage to the intermediate field until a deflected pass in right short resulted in an INT. He was masterful in that range, going 25/27 for a 92% completion percentage.  He managed to conquer his old foe that is the intermediate left, going a perfect 2 for 2, having not completed 2 passes in that zone from the above games.

As efficient as he was from short to intermediate, his average was tanked by his deep passes, failing to complete one on 5 attempts.

In all, the compilation of his passes from these 3 games ended up like this:

Aside from screens, McCarron was most accurate short over the middle these 3 games, going a perfect 8 for 8 for 100% completion percentage.  He favorite zone looks to be short right, where he attempted 22 passes with 14 completions(63%). His worst seemed to be deep right, striking out on 5 attempts in 3 games.

The complete percentage breakdown of each zone and area as followed:

  • Left: 13 of 24 for 54% (Best: Behind LOS)
  • Middle: 15 of 17 for 88% (Best: Short Middle)
  • Right: 26 of 41 for 63% (Best: Behind LOS)
  • Behind LOS: 10 of 11 for 90%
  • Short(0-10):  30 of 38 for 78%
  • Intermediate(11-19): 14 of 21 for 66%
  • Deep(20+): 2 of 12 for 16%


Facing his best opponents to date, McCarron was well above the average completion percentage in 3 games from behind the LOS to up intermediate.  He did struggle to complete passes beyond 20 yards, only managing 2 on 12 attempts. However on those 2 completions, both were scores.  So the farther the ball went, his completion percentage went down.

I will revisit this article when the Tide finishes up their season with a complete season breakdown, or maybe with some individual game charts like with LSU or Auburn. Till then, stay Crimson! Bang.

P.S. If you weren’t wondering, the title is an attempted play on “Uncharted 3”.