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Select an edition for focused news coverage when you visit AL.com.An unkind farewell: Alabama QB AJ McCarron takes blame for Sugar Bowl loss, but teammates disagree Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) runs for more time during the second quarter of the Alabama vs. Oklahoma Sugar Bowl NCAA football game Thursday, January 2, 2014, at the Superdome in New Orleans, La. (Vasha Huntfirstname.lastname@example.org)
NEW ORLEANS -- On his way out as Alabama's quarterback, AJ McCarron wanted to take the blame of Thursday's 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss with him.
The Heisman trophy runner-up deduced his reasoning with some simple math.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron talks with reporters after the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma."I had two turnovers, ended up scoring 14 points, and we lost by 14," McCarron said. "It happens. I wish it wouldn't have happened, but I'll definitely take the loss and definitely take the blame, because a lot of it is probably my fault."
Wide receiver Kevin Norwood, one of McCarron's best friends, wasn't having it.
"It's not just a one-man team," Norwood said. "We all win and lose together."
Even in a losing effort, just his fourth and final as Alabama's starting quarterback, McCarron broke more records to solidify his one-man dominance in most Crimson Tide passing categories.
His 387 yards were the most of his career and allowed him to break Greg McElroy's 2010 record for most passing yards in a season. McCarron's final pass went 61 yards to running back Derrick Henry, giving him 3,063 for the season, 9,019 for his career and 77 total touchdown passes.
Ultimately, McCarron wasn't talking about any of those numbers as he stood next to his locker after Thursday's loss. It was all about the unceremonious way in which one of the greatest quarterbacks in program history ended his career.
Roughly 30 minutes after Eric Striker sacked him and Geneo Grissom picked up McCarron's fumble and scored to seal the upset, McCarron was at peace with it.
"I loved my time here," he said. "I had a ton of success, a lot of success that will probably never be reached again in college football; Back-to-back national championships, it's never happened in the BCS era. I did a lot of great things.
"I'm interested to see what God has planned for me in the next chapter of my life."
McCarron endured the most up-and-down half of his career during Thursday s first 30 minutes. He experienced the same in the second.
He spotted a clear mismatch on the first two plays, as he hit Amari Cooper for a quick out that went for 15 yards and did it again on the very next play, allowing Cooper to scamper 53 yards.
Given an opportunity to put Alabama ahead by two touchdowns less than five minutes into the game, he forced a pass into triple coverage and was punished, as Gabe Lynn hauled it in for an interception. The Sooners offense promptly cashed it in for a game-tying touchdown.
McCarron quickly made up for it with two passes to DeAndrew White. The first went for 63 yards and set up a Cade Foster field goal. The second was, perhaps, one of his best of the season, as he hit White in stride down the middle of the field for a 67-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
Trailing by a touchdown late in second quarter, McCarron faced constant heat from Oklahoma s defensive line, particularly from the left side. After scrambling for multiple plays, McCarron threw it directly to Oklahoma s Zack Sanchez for his second interception. The Sooners scored one play later to go ahead by two touchdowns.
It was just the fourth two-interception game of McCarron s career, the first of which coming in his first career start against Kent State in 2011. It was the first time he d been sacked more than four times since Alabama s second game of 2012 against Western Kentucky.
"They did a great job of mixing things up," McCarron said. "They never showed the all-out blitz and then backed out at the last second, and then show the all-out blitz and blitz."
An unrelenting Oklahoma pass rush had McCarron frazzled throughout the second half. He didn t add to his interception total, but the Crimson Tide offense stalled repeatedly, as he was forced to move all around and outside the pocket almost immediately after the ball was snapped.
It threw him for enough of a loop that he was forced into an uncharacteristic intentional grounding penalty on a third-quarter third down that took Alabama out of a position to go for it on fourth.
Though he threw for just 86 yards in the second half, McCarron said Alabama's offense was clicking better than it did in the first. There just weren't as many points to prove it.
"The first half they had us off guard, but the second half we came out and did a really job," McCarron said. "We made a lot of good changes. I felt like we played good in the second half, but just turnovers and some things that didn't go our way."
In the few moments he was able to snag inside the locker room because of post-game media responsibilities, McCarron hugged a number of his young teammates and remained upbeat. It was officially time to clock out as Alabama's top leader.
He'll be watching to see who takes control from outside the walls.
"You have to be the bad guy," McCarron said. "That's the hard part about being a leader and a good leader. You have to be the bad guy sometimes. A lot of people don't want to take that role, but they'll find somebody." AL.com coverage | 2013 Alabama Andrew Gribble stories, opinion, news Thank you for subscribing. You should receive your first newsletter within 24 hours. To view and subscribe to any of our other newsletters, please .
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