TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Saturday night was the second and final Southeastern Conference matchup between Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and LSU counterpart Zach Mettenberger.
The two can put on a good show.
After Mettenberger delivered the numbers but McCarron led the clutch drive in the Crimson Tide's 21-17 escape last season in Baton Rouge, the two went back at it inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mettenberger again had more numbers, but McCarron again came away with the win.
The next time these two could square off is in the NFL, and one team's scouting director believes that's a distinct possibility.
"Both of them could easily get into the first round," the scout said this past week. "Somebody is going to love the winner that AJ is, and I think he gets mislabeled sometimes as a game manager, but I don't think Alabama would be near the team this year if he had gone after last season. This isn't Alabama's team of 2009, when Greg McElroy, who was a very average pro prospect, had an outstanding offense and defense around him. He had a great running game.
"McCarron is the guy who makes this offense go. People wanted to see how he would handle things after they lost those three big offensive linemen, and he's handled it just fine. This is a guy who doesn't turn the ball over and can make every throw even though he doesn't have great arm strength, but neither do Drew Brees or Tom Brady."
The scout added that McCarron is not a franchise quarterback who will step in and immediately make a team better but that he may be better than what some teams have and can flourish with a strong supporting cast.
Mettenberger, meanwhile, is somewhat of a polar opposite according to the scouting director.
"He's got a rocket arm but has games where he's looked good and games where he's looked average," the scout said. "He's a little like Ryan Mallett when Mallett came out of Arkansas. He has the confidence he can make the throw in any kind of window, but he'll struggle as a result of that and will throw picks. He would benefit from a system where he could come in and learn.
"He'll have to answer questions about why he got kicked out of Georgia, because teams will want to know if he's mature enough to be a quarterback in the NFL. That's very important, because you've got AJ who has handled the spotlight and handled it very well."
McCarron sets mark
On the Crimson Tide's second drive of the second quarter, McCarron set Alabama's career passing yardage record. McCarron moved ahead of John Parker Wilson, who compiled 7,924 yards from 2005 to '08.
Rounding out Alabama's career top five are Brodie Croyle (6,382), Andrew Zow (5,983) and McElroy (5,691).
Alabama freshman tight end O.J. Howard's 52-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the longest catch of his career, topping a 27-yarder at Texas A&M. ... When Cade Foster connected on a 41-yard field goal, it extended Alabama's school record of scoring in 165 games since last being shut out 9-0 by Auburn in 2000. ... Sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon notched his fourth 100-yard game of the season.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.