Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Milroe starts in Alabama football’s win over Middle Tennessee

All three Crimson Tide quarterbacks see time as Alabama cruises to its 83rd win in a season opener.
CW / Natalie Teat
Alabama running back Justice Haynes (#22) attempts a stiff arm in a game against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 2 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

It only took Alabama football about five minutes to answer many of the questions college football fans had all summer, thanks to a rushing touchdown from quarterback Jalen Milroe. That set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Crimson Tide came out on top, 56-7, in a physical football game.  

“They played hard in the game,” head coach Nick Saban said of his team. “They tried to be physical and played with really good toughness. Their team [Middle Tennessee] plays hard and plays with toughness, and we matched that and that was a real positive for us.”  

There were also only two penalties given to the Crimson Tide, something that Alabama struggled with last season. 

“That’s one of the goals: play penalty-free,” Saban said. “You’re always going to have some penalties in a game but the pre-snap, line-of-scrimmage, undisciplined-type penalties are what you really want to focus on eliminating. If you really have confidence and believe in yourself, do you need to jump offsides to win? Just do it the right way, and they did a good job of that tonight.”  

If there were any doubts about who should be the starting quarterback, Milroe addressed them quickly. The Crimson Tide’s opening drive lasted less than three minutes and ended with Milroe picking up a bad snap and carrying it 21 yards to the end zone for an early Crimson Tide touchdown.   

“It was all set up by my team,” Milroe said of his touchdown. “I was fortunate to pick the ball up and make a play with it, but it was all with the other 10 guys on the field that helped me get into the end zone.” 

That first touchdown of the night wouldn’t be Milroe’s only rushing score of the night, as he rushed for a second touchdown in the first half. Milroe’s night would end shortly after securing a 42-0 over the Blue Raiders. Although he was sacked twice, he finished Saturday night’s game with 242 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns— the third-most for a starter in Alabama history.  

Saban said Milroe played well as the starting quarterback, but still has room for improvement.  

“Experience is basically an accumulation of things you’ve learned from the mistakes that you make,” Saban said. “As he continues to develop and gain experience, he’s going to play better and better, but I thought he did well tonight.” 

In the second half, quarterbacks Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson both saw playing time to secure the win against the Blue Raiders. Buchner, who replaced Milroe in the third quarter, ran for a 9-yard touchdown. Simpson came in during the fourth quarter and worked his way to a 1-yard touchdown. Together, the three quarterbacks ran for four of the seven Alabama touchdowns. 

Middle Tennessee’s most promising drive of the first half ended with a 32-yard field goal attempt. Although quarterback Nick Vattiato ran for a 30-yard play that got the Blue Raiders into Alabama territory, it wasn’t enough to put points on the board. Their sole touchdown came late in the third quarter after Vattiato connected with wide receiver Bryce Bailey for a 7-yard touchdown. 

The Alabama defense played a large part in shutting down the Middle Tennessee offense, totaling three sacks, including one from freshman Caleb Downs. In his Alabama debut, he led the team with a total of eight tackles, including six solo.  

Although the Crimson Tide pulled off a dominant win for its season opener, Milroe said there is still a lot of room for growth. 

“Overall, it wasn’t clean,” Milroe said. “There’s a lot of things we still need to improve on to be where we’re at as a team. Overall I need to be better as a leader, I need to be better overall at what I’m doing. I just want to continue to build and be the best version of myself.” 

The Texas native hopes to start in Alabama football’s game next weekend against No. 11 Texas. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is at 6 p.m. CT. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN.  

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