AJ McCarron: Tide offense 'bland'

ByAlex Scarborough ESPN logo
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said the Crimson Tide lacks "true leaders" and insinuated that coach Nick Saban had pulled back the reins on offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin during Saturday's loss at Ole Miss.

McCarron, now with theCincinnati Bengals, told Tide 99.1 on Tuesday evening that Alabamalacks "true leaders like we had last year."

"Guys that, when things go bad, [say], 'Hey, let's calm everybody down, pick it back up and go back to work and get back on the right track,'" McCarron said. "I feel like when things go bad, this team struggles a little with bouncing back and making good plays."

McCarron backtracked Wednesday night in another appearance on Tide 99.1, saying he "misworded" his comments the previous night.

"I'll admit that," McCarron said. "What I meant, and I gave an example right after I said that, which was a vocal leader example. That's what I should have said, vocal leader. I mentioned last night that they have plenty of leaders on this team. I named numerous ones last night: Ryan Kelly, I knew he was one of them.

"I asked with him being out,'Who was going to be that vocal guy that steps up now?' And I asked, 'Is that Blake Sims? Does he need to step up into that role?'

"That's not a negative in any way."

Saban responded to his former player's charge.

"I don't think we played real well last week for whatever reasons," Saban told the radio station. "I don't know that that's all leadership. I'm sort of responsible for all that, as we all as coaches and players, to make sure that we're ready to play our best against good teams in tough environments on the road.

"I don't know how AJ would really know, but I don't necessarily see that as the case."

McCarron, a friend of Alabama starting quarterback Sims, said Tuesday that the Crimson Tide played "very bland" on offense against Ole Miss.

"I don't know if that's Lane doing that, or if Coach Saban has kind of put the handcuffs on Lane -- like I've known Coach to do in the past on his offensive coordinator," McCarron told the radio station.

"It's going to be interesting to see how they bounce back ... and what type of offense comes out this week."

McCarron's comments irked some, including former NFL great Fran Tarkenton, who went on WJOX-FM in Birmingham on Wednesday and blasted the QB.

"Oh gosh, it's AJ McCarron," Tarkenton said on air. "Did he go to class? Did he make the league or not? He needs to be quiet. He was so fortunate to play in that program. He's an average quarterback at best. He played fine, but he couldn't have played anywhere else but Alabama.

"To make a comment like that is just disrespectful. He should keep his mouth shut and praise Saban and Alabama for the rest of his life."

McCarron said Wednesday that he "didn't see what all the fuss was" concerning his previous comments.

"Never once have I ever bashed our team, especially this year," he said. "If anything ... I've been one of the biggest supporters for this year's team and Blake Sims."

Alabama, which suffered its first loss and fell four spots to No. 7, racked up nearly 400 yards of offense against Ole Miss but mustered just one offensive touchdown.

The Tide will look to rebound against Arkansas on Saturday.

"The big thing with us is how's our team going to respond to a loss," Saban said. "What's your adversity tolerance? How are you going to fight back? What are you going to do to try and get better? ...This is going to be a real challenge for us playing on the road."

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