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Alabama's McElroy finding his groove

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy goes up against his old high school coach Saturday in North Texas’ Tom Dodge, who coached McElroy at Southlake Carroll High just outside Dallas.

Obviously, Dodge already knows what McEloy can do.

The rest of the college football world is starting to find out.

Beginning with that decisive fourth quarter in Alabama’s season-opening 34-24 win over Virginia Tech, McElroy is 31-of-42 with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.

In the 40-14 win over Florida International last week, McElroy completed passes to nine different players and seems to be settling into the kind of groove he stayed in as a high school senior when he set a state record with 56 touchdown passes. He set an Alabama record with 14 consecutive completions against FUI.

Looking back, McElroy admits that he was a little overwhelmed to start that game against Virginia Tech and missed 10 of his first 12 passes.

But getting it done in the fourth quarter against the Hokies was huge for his confidence and the offense’s confidence.

“I felt a little bit in over my head at times,” said McElroy, who hadn’t taken a meaningful snap at Alabama prior to this season. “I just didn’t feel real confident in myself. But once things started clicking, obviously things started rolling, and it kind of carried over into our last game. Once we got going, I knew I’d gain confidence in myself.”

This Alabama offense looks to be more diverse than it was a year ago. For one, star receiver Julio Jones really hasn’t been much of a factor to this point and is slowed this week by a bruised knee, but the Crimson Tide haven’t missed a beat offensively.

“I think guys are stepping up and making plays,” McElroy said. “Those people stepping up are allowing us to be more diverse with our play-calling, our system and our schematics. One of the ways we are more diverse is that we’re taking a lot more shots downfield. That plays to one of my strengths. I feel really confident throwing the deep ball.”

Receivers Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze and Mike McCoy have all gathered in long gainers in the first two games, while running back Mark Ingram has also been a integral part of the passing game out of the backfield.

Tight end Colin Peek is one of McElroy’s favorite targets, and we’ve just seen a glimpse of what freshman tailback Trent Richardson is capable of.

In other words, when Jones gets healthy, look out.

“We have talented guys all around,” McElroy said. “That’s one thing that might be surprising to a lot of people, but it’s not the least bit surprising to us. We have a lot of really good players all over the field. Their touches were limited last year, but they’re starting to catch up. They’re starting to gain some confidence, and they’re really starting to make plays for us.

"We’re looking forward to seeing this offense grow, and I think we can really go a long way as far as improvement. We’re really just scratching the surface when it comes to our ability as an offense.”