TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Jalen Milroe got hit hard. The Crimson Tide quarterback fell to the ground, immediately sending the fans in Bryant-Denny into a hush.
Despite an early mistake, Milroe was beginning to find his groove and had just connected with Amari Niblack in the end zone for Alabama’s first touchdown of the game. The building exploded, reinvigorated with hope that maybe the redshirt sophomore from Texas was the answer after all.
But with Milroe on the ground – and the Crimson Tide medical staff surrounding him – one could only fear that the answer would soon be replaced by yet another question.
Then Milroe got up.
Not only did he get up, he sprung up. Milroe ran across the field to the huddle, leaping into the air and sending the Alabama faithful into a frenzy. And it was at that moment, there in Bryant-Denny stadium, that the switch flipped for the Crimson Tide.
Early in the week leading up to the game, Milroe was confirmed to be the starter for Alabama’s SEC opener against the Rebels. The return was inevitable after Tyler Buchner’s messy start against USF, although Ty Simpson did lead the Tide to a win after entering late in the second quarter.
Milroe’s Saturday afternoon performance was a much-needed confidence booster after he was benched against Texas. His decision-making was still questionable at times – when he threw an interception into double coverage in the endzone – but as a whole was much improved.
He would end the day 17-21 passing for 225 yards and one touchdown with a single interception. On the ground, he would add 28 yards. Alabama’s gameplan also seemed tailored to Milroe’s strengths, with several designed QB runs, an emphasis on the run game and some deep shots mixed in.
The Crimson Tide offense wasn’t pretty however, especially in the first half. When the defense was able to block a punt and put Tommy Rees’ offense at the one-yard line, the very next play saw the snap sail over Milroe’s head. They would settle for a field goal after seven points seemed inevitable. They also had yet another touchdown called back on a penalty – marking the fifth time that has happened this season.
All of the first-half scoring would come from Will Reichard, who knocked down field goals of 48 and 40 yards to cut the Rebel lead to one heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the offense looked entirely different. A balanced attack saw the Tide score on three-straight drives after halftime. No major mistakes – interceptions, fumbles or penalties – allowed Alabama to put the game out of reach.
Alabama will travel to Mississippi State on Sept. 30. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT. The contest will be Milroe’s first road start this season.
Nicholas Pursley is the Sports Director at WVUA-FM and serves as the senior football writer covering Alabama. He also co-hosts The Low Tide on 90.7 FM from 7-8 p.m. CT on Sundays. You can follow him on X @nicholaspursley.