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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

Throwing or running, Alabama’s Jalen Milroe keeps getting better

CW / Elijah McWhorter
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (#4) runs into the endzone for a touchdown against LSU.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe arguably had his best performance of his career under the lights Saturday night against LSU. When times got tough, Alabama relied on the legs of No. 4.  

Thirteen months ago, Milroe had to replace superstar quarterback Bryce Young due to a shoulder injury. Milroe didn’t impress in his first start vs. Texas A&M, finishing with a mere 34.5 PFF grade and barely escaping with a win. 

Fast-forward to November of 2023: There’s talk of Milroe as a backdoor candidate for the Heisman trophy, and Alabama is 8-1 with a path back to the College Football Playoff after defeating archrival LSU.  

Although LSU scored a touchdown on its first drive of the game, Milroe immediately answered the bell with his legs. He rushed for 34 yards on Alabama’s second drive, including a 21-yard touchdown, where he elected to keep the ball on a read option and took it in with plenty of room to spare. 

On the next drive, Alabama worked it down to the 4-yard line, where a perfectly executed “tush push” gave the Crimson Tide its second touchdown of the night. 

On third and 6, late in the first half, a Tyler Booker holding penalty pushed the Crimson Tide back, making it 11 yards to the sticks. Milroe found open grass and converted the third down. Two plays later, the redshirt sophomore couldn’t find an open receiver and scrambled out to the left hash, then cut upfield, taking it 21 yards to the house. 

Finally, with the game knotted up halfway through the third quarter, Milroe pump-faked a pass at the 15-yard line, then sped through a lane full of multiple Tiger defenders, adding an 11-yard rushing touchdown to the tally, making it four on the night and securing the program record for the rushing TDs by a quarterback in a single game. 

Milroe finished the night with 155 rushing yards and the aforementioned four touchdowns on the ground.  After the game, Milroe revealed that he still has room to improve his game. 

“I take every opportunity as a learning moment. No matter what game it is, I try to grow as much as possible,” Milroe said. “The biggest thing I have to do is look in the mirror and acknowledge I’m not a finished product.”  

The criticism of Milroe thus far has been that he can’t throw the football and just relies on his legs. This is true to an extent; Alabama’s offense relies more on Milroe’s legs than he does. 

The sophomore has been charted by PFF for 33 scrambles this season so far, seven of which came against LSU. Of players with over 10 rushing attempts, Milroe leads the Crimson Tide in yards per carry, averaging 6.5 per attempt. 10 he Crimson Tide in yards per carry, averaging 6.5 per attempt. 

His rushing prowess has been a threat, but head coach Nick Saban said he is impressed with Milroe’s continuous growth in the passing game.  

“It’s obvious that the guy’s much more comfortable as a passer. He’s reading things more quickly, getting the ball to the right guy,”  Saban said. “He’s making really good decisions when he has to improvise. And those things we want to continue to help him grow and develop.” 

Alabama’s run game helped Milroe stay comfortable in the throwing game. The redshirt sophomore from Katy, Texas, completed 15 of his 23 passes throwing for 219 yards, with zero turnovers.  

The script has clearly flipped on Milroe. When he walked off the field after Alabama’s Week 2 loss to Texas, there were questions on his future as the starting QB. Now, the question is whether Alabama and Milroe can ride this momentum all the way to the College Football Playoff. 

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