Alabama Football: Looking for clues about the 2012 Crimson Tide? Start with leadership

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Want to forecast if the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide will look more like the 2010 or 2011 version of the team, then we should delve into some clues from Spring Practice.

A good place to start is looking back at what went wrong in 2010.

Tony Barnhart supplied a couple of great quotes that illustrated the problem—an entitlement mentality and the lack of leadership to deal with it.

From Barnhart’s story on Alabama, “But you could feel there was something wrong as early as the spring [of 2010],” said Square. “Practices were very sloppy. Nobody wanted to step up or say anything. Nobody wanted the responsibility of being a leader. They would just pass it off.”

There is one very good sign about the 2012 team. Quarterback A.J. McCarron sounds like someone who has learned from his own time in Coach Nick Saban’s doghouse; McCarron sounds ready to lead and hold players accountable.

A.J. McCarron the leader
On Monday, A.J. McCarron was asked how he felt about the team following the first scrimmage of Spring Practice. His response was an important sign that he will not accept an entitlement mentality on his offense.

“I’m not satisfied by any means, but I know we have a bunch of young guys,” McCarron said. “It is going to take some time. Like Coach (Saban) always says, ‘It is a process.’ We just have to keep working to get better.”

McCarron identified studying the playbook as an important task for players to do at this time of the season. His point is that to be good, you have to work. It won’t be as easy for new players to perform was it as at their last stop—high school football.

“This isn’t high school anymore,” McCarron said. “You’ve got to get into the playbook, learn the system and be ready to play.”

McCarron praised the young receivers. “They have all done a good job so far,” McCarron said. However, he also took that question as a chance to send a message to everyone about the process.

“The bad thing about it is that a lot of guys come in here hoping or kind of thinking that it is going to be given to them, and that they should be thrown in there with the ones,” McCarron said. “We just have to get everybody to be part of the process. It is going to take time. The more you learn your stuff, the better chance you have of getting on the field.”

McCarron talks like a leader, and with his play in the BCS National Championship Game there is no question this is his offense.

This is one great sign about the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide.