Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has enjoyed an explosive first half of the season, but in the wake of the Crimson Tide's 23-17 loss to Ole Miss, former UA quarterback AJ McCarron is questioning whether Cooper's off-the-charts production is what's best for the offense as a whole.
McCarron appeared on The Game (Tide 99.1 FM) Tuesday and suggested that the Crimson Tide's passing game would be better if the ball were distributed more evenly.
"I understand Coop is an unbelievable player. He was that for us when I was there, but when you target somebody so much ... I think that was one of the best things we did while I was there. We spread the ball around to everybody," McCarron said. "We had almost everybody on offense catch the ball that was eligible to catch the ball. Teams could never really pinpoint and play their defenses to cover Coop and I think that's one of the things they're struggling with right now."
Cooper has caught 52 passes for 746 yards and five touchdowns this season in five games, roughly the same production he had all of last year when he was nagged by injuries. He caught nine passes for 91 yards against the Rebels, a season-low in yardage. No other Crimson Tide receiver has more than 160 yards on the season, or more than 12 receptions.
Despite scoring only one offensive touchdown in the loss to the Rebels, Alabama is averaging 555 yards of offense per game. McCarron said the offense could benefit from targeting senior receiver Christion Jones more.
"He was a huge playmaker when I was there. I looked for him all the time. If I saw anyone one-on-one with Christion, I'm going to him," McCarron said. "He's an excellent route runner. He's got good hands. I think right now, just this last game, I didn't see a whole lot of balance and spreading the ball around the field. I think they were keying on Coop a little too much and that hurt them."
McCarron, a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals, has yet to play this season with a shoulder problem.