McElroy steals the spotlight, earns MVP
By John Patton
Saturday, December 5, 2009

  Greg McElroy
ATLANTA, GA. When position matchups were compared between Florida and Alabama heading into the SEC Championship Game, the words "even" or "slight edge to ..." were often given as answers.

Except at quarterback.

That is where the top-ranked Gators, led by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, were said to have a major advantage.

Somebody forgot to tell Greg McElroy.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior earned most valuable player honors by completing 12-of-18 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in the Crimson Tide's 32-13 victory on Saturday. He also managed the game about as effectively as could be imagined, leading his team to points in five of six trips to the red zone.

"All everyone wanted to talk about was the Heisman winner," Alabama senior left guard Mike Johnson said. "But Greg played with so much heart and was lights out. He made play after play out there. I can't say enough about all he did for us.

"I'm glad he's our quarterback."

McElroy, whose football idol is Tony Romo, didn't play with the carefree nature of the Cowboys' quarterback. Instead, he didn't attempt to do too much and didn't have the turnovers that often come with the good plays when Romo is directing the Dallas offense.

While his physical offensive line dominated up front, McElroy used the ample time he was afforded to find open receivers and watched as running backs Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch churned out 250 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries (a 5.4 average).

And like a leader often does, McElroy deflected praise.

"The breakout performance wasn't mine," McElroy said. "It was our offensive line, it was our receivers, it was Mark, Trent and Roy."

Still, he was receiving credit elsewhere.

"He played a good game," Gator defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "He was on and made good throws."

By contrast, the more-hyped Tebow finished a respectable 20-of-35 for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also carried 10 times for 63 yards.

"He played pretty well, but our guy won the game," Tide freshman right guard Barrett Jones said. "And now, we're going to go play for the national title."