At first, it seemed like a carbon copy of last year: Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M had effortlessly driven down the field to go ahead 14-0 in the early stages of the first quarter. There was no answer for Manziel and the apparently 8-feet tall (he’s really 6-foot-5) wide receiver Mike Evans. The 87,596 people at Kyle Field were raucous and Johnny Manziel was playing up to his potential.
But something changed.
After A&M’s initial onslaught, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron gathered the offense, settled everything down, and the Crimson Tide scored 35 unanswered points, creating a lead that was never surpassed. Alabama was on top at the end 49-42.
“The players showed great resiliency,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “When we put the first drive together, I thought our offense showed a lot of poise and that was the difference in the game for us.”
Alabama wasn’t itself for most of Saturday, until it was necessary. The keys for the Crimson Tide going into this game were having the ability to match A&M point-for-point, and neutralize the crowd. After a slow start, Alabama did just that. With methodical, textbook drives, and a drastically improved offensive line, Texas A&M’s inferior defense really had no answer for McCarron, the running backs and the Crimson Tide once they got into a rhythm.
“I wish we played better but I’m really proud of the way our offense played today,” Saban said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage and answered the bell every time we needed to.”
McCarron, his two championship rings, and his experience were the deciding factor. He took control of the offense, relied heavily on ‘check with me’s’ in which he dictated the plays, and threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Unfortunately for McCarron, he will never be the star of the game, nor will he ever be the star on his own team. That honor went to the losing quarterback, who through defeat, still amazed with his play.