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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

Alabama football struggles in win over South Florida, quarterback question remains unanswered

Quarterbacks Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson combined for only 107 passing yards, and Jalen Milroe didn’t take any snaps, making the defense the sole highlight in Saturday’s win over USF.
Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama running back Roydell Williams (#5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against South Florida at Raymond James Stadium on Sep. 16 in Tampa, FL.

If Alabama football was hoping for a breezy nonconference win after its upset loss to Texas last week, it was sorely mistaken. The Crimson Tide offense struggled against the South Florida Bulls on Saturday afternoon but eventually escaped with a 17-3 win.  

“I want our players to be happy about the fact that they won and enjoy it for 24 hours,” head coach Nick Saban said. “I know we got the SEC coming up next week and obviously we have a lot of things to fix and we’ll work on it.” 

The one bright light in the game was the Alabama defense. Linebacker Deontae Lawson led with 10 total tackles, four solo, one sack and one crucial stop on a South Florida fourth-and-2 attempt. Linebacker Dallas Turner spent the night chasing down South Florida quarterback Byrum Brown; the junior was responsible for 2.5 of the night’s four sacks. 

“I thought the defense did an outstanding job of only giving up 3 points, and that was after a turnover,” Saban said. “They gave them good field position, so a lot of guys really played well, pressured the quarterback pretty well, they didn’t give up a lot of explosive plays, so they kept them off the board.” 

After punt returner Kool-Aid McKinstry muffed a punt, South Florida regained possession halfway through the first quarter. The Bulls took the opportunity and kicked a 44-yard field goal to get on the board first. 

On the kick return, returner Terrion Arnold ran the ball 100 yards back for what seemed to be a Crimson Tide touchdown, but a holding penalty nullified Alabama’s first points of the game. Penalties continued to be a problem throughout the night; one more touchdown and an interception were negated because of Alabama penalties. A total of four Crimson Tide touchdowns have been negated this season. 

Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner was the starting quarterback over Jalen Milroe this game, but the sophomore couldn’t put any strong drives together. The Crimson Tide still trailed 3-0 headed into the second quarter and then an hourlong weather delay. 

If Saban was hoping for a reset after the delay, he didn’t get it. Although the Crimson Tide forced a fumble and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson came in to replace Buchner, the drive’s third down ended in a sack, forcing Alabama to settle for a 30-yard field goal. 

Two quarters gone and two quarterbacks put in, Alabama still ended the first half without a touchdown, tied with the Bulls at 3-3. 

Halfway through the third quarter, Alabama finally found a groove. Simpson completed his first pass of the night, connecting with tight end CJ Dippre for a 45-yard reception that led to a 1-yard touchdown for running back Roydell Williams. 

However, that 45-yard pass made up more than half of Simpson’s passing yards of the night. Simpson ended with a total 73 passing yards and five sacks, but Saban still said he was “OK.” 

“He played well, he managed the game well,” Saban said. “We ran the ball quite a bit when he was in there. I don’t think the sacks were necessarily his fault, so we’ll evaluate it when we watch the film.” 

Although all five sacks were on Simpson tonight, Buchner also saw frequent pressure in the quarterback position. Saban said the offensive line will need to be improved this season.  

“We messed up the protections several times, we got beat a couple times, so we need to get that fixed because it’s been an area that’s been a consistent problem for us all year,” Saban said. “Last week with the sacks, this week with the sacks, those are drive-killers. We’ve got to eliminate that.” 

Although the offensive line and penalties remain issues for the Crimson Tide, its starting quarterback is still the biggest question. Saban, though, did not offer any answers on his QB1.  

“We’re going to evaluate the quarterbacks that played today and evaluate Jalen Milroe in terms of how he played, and decide this week who gives us the best opportunity to be successful as an offensive team, and that’s the way we’ll go,” Saban said.  

Alabama football begins SEC play next week with a home game against Ole Miss. Kickoff is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on CBS.  

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