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

People are overreacting to No. 13 Alabama football’s rough start

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama defensive back Terrion Arnold (#3) runs the ball against USF at Raymond James Stadium on Sep. 16.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the then-No.11 Texas Longhorns traveled to Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide. With the eyes of the college football world on Tuscaloosa, the Longhorns entered Bryant-Denny Stadium as the underdogs but came out the victors in a 34-24 upset.  

Texas fans left Tuscaloosa overjoyed, but what was the reaction like on the Alabama side? Following the loss and hearing “The Eyes of Texas” ring inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, Crimson Tide fans filed out of Bryant-Denny that night thinking that Alabama’s national championship hopes were all but gone. Looking for someone to blame, some fans called for quarterback Jalen Milroe to be benched.  

The questions about the team weren’t answered even after it defeated the South Florida Bulls 17-3. Barely defeating a Group of Five team has led many analysts to write off Alabama. 

The thoughts about this start are an overreaction.  

“This was a test for us,” head coach Nick Saban said following the loss to Texas. “I told the players earlier in the week that this was going to be a test. We were going to play a really good team, it was a test for me, it was a test for all the players, and we obviously did not do very well, but it’s the midterm, not the final.” 

What’s not working: The offensive line  

The main point of emphasis is the offensive line. In all three games, the offensive line has not given any quarterback enough time to make correct reads or opened big enough holes for the running backs to break off long runs.  

In three games, the O-line has given up 12 sacks — two to Middle Tennessee, five to Texas and five to South Florida. If the offensive line does not improve, then nothing on the offense will get better. 

“I don’t think it’s any big secret that we did not execute on a consistent enough basis this last game,” Saban said Monday after the Texas loss. “You know, too many turnovers, penalties, mental errors on defense, sacks, things that are helpful in being consistent in terms of sustaining drives or not giving up big plays that lead to field position and scores.”  

Lack of experience  

The 2023 Alabama football team is full of young players. Most of the key contributors from the 2022 team, like Bryce Young and Will Anderson, left for the NFL. The inexperience of the team has shown up in critical moments. 

“I think Alabama just had a bad game last week against Texas,” Preston McAlhany, a senior majoring in advertising at the University, said. “Now I know that there are no excuses when it comes to the Bama standard, but I think the players will come away from that loss with a little more motivation.” 

What’s working: Ending the quarterback battle  

The quarterback position is settled.  

Milroe is the official starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide. After benching Milroe prior to last Saturday’s game against South Florida, Saban tried Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson. 

Neither played great, proving that Milroe is the best option Alabama has. 

Can Alabama learn from its mistakes?  

Losing is the best teacher.  

Some of the best Alabama football teams — 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 to win the national championship in the Saban era lost a game along the road. Sometimes a team needs to lose a game to refocus on the details.  

With college football fans and media writing off Alabama after the South Florida game, Saban can use this as another tool to motivate his team. 

“Honestly, the South Florida game was a really tough game to watch, but I think this game can be used to our advantage,” JayciLynn Conger, a senior majoring in public relations. “It’s still early in the season, so they have plenty of time to learn from the mistakes they made and grow from that.”   

The road to the College Football Playoff continues this Saturday as Alabama takes on the undefeated Ole Miss Rebels at 2:30 p.m. CT inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.  

“We have only had two undefeated teams win a national championship in the Nick Saban era, so it’s definitely not over yet,” Conger said.  

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