published Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Alabama freshman receiver Amari Cooper's first season special

Alabama freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) avoids a tackle.
Alabama freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) avoids a tackle.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MIAMI ā€” The 2012 college football season ended just when Alabama freshman receiver

Amari Cooper was warming up.

Cooper had six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Monday night's 42-14 hammering of Notre Dame in the BCS championship game. It was the third consecutive 100-yard contest for the 6-foot-1, 198-pounder from Miami, and the fifth in his last seven games.

His first 100-yard game was a 162-yarder in the 44-13 win at Tennessee, which wound up being his season high.

"I kind of wish I could keep going and see how far I could go with 100-yard games, but it's over," Cooper said. "I'm just ready for next year now."

Cooper finished the season with exactly 1,000 yards, becoming only the fourth player in Alabama history to reach that milestone. He scored 11 receiving touchdowns, breaking Al Larry's school mark of 10 that had stood since 1950.

Chaos among friends

Alabama was up 42-14 midway through the fourth quarter when quarterback AJ McCarron and center Barrett Jones exchanged words following a delay-of-game penalty. Then Jones shoved McCarron in one of the few times the quarterback was touched all night.

"We were trying to run a little clock and we ran a little too much," Jones said. "We got up there and didn't have time to make our calls, and we ran out of time. It's as simple as that. I'm a passionate guy."

Said McCarron: "It was both of us trying to be perfectionists. Nothing big. We're like brothers."

Playing through pain

Jones played his final game for the Tide despite having torn ligaments in his foot.

"It's very painful, but there was no way I was going to miss this one," he said. "I'm going to have to go and get it fixed, but it shouldn't threaten anything long term. I couldn't have hurt it any worse by playing, because once you tear a ligament, you can't tear it any more."

When asked about Jones during Tuesday morning's news conference, coach Nick Saban said, "I don't think that I've ever coached a guy who was a better person. I don't know one person who doesn't like him and respect him."

Making comparisons

Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and safety Robert Lester said after the game that Notre Dame would be very competitive in the SEC, but right tackle D.J. Fluker personally felt this game was easier than the last one.

"Everybody was talking about how good their defense was," Fluker said, "and I was like, 'Man, we ran the ball on Georgia.' There was no team we couldn't run the ball on this year. I thought Georgia was tougher than Notre Dame because they were more physical.

"Georgia brought it hard for a while, but we were able to wear them down. We got after Notre Dame from the start."

Tide tidbits

Alabama's 61 wins the past five seasons are the most nationally and an SEC record. ... Saban on what he does with his championship rings: "I just put them on the coffee table for the recruits to look at." ... The Crimson Tide are 50-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for more than 150 yards. ... Alabama's rout resulted in a rating of 15.1, which is the percent of U.S. households watching. ESPN officials were hoping for at least a 20. ... Sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix wound up leading the team with five interceptions.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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