Nick Saban gave the keys to the Alabama offense to Jalen Milroe for the SEC opener, and Milroe responded, leading the Crimson Tide to a 24-10 win over Ole Miss.
Alabama had a first half filled with mistakes that led to a one-point deficit at halftime. The Crimson Tide made the corrections in the second half to take control of the game, only allowing three points in the second half.
Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Saban made it clear this week that it’s Jalen Milroe’s job to lose. As expected, there will be ups and downs with Milroe as he doesn’t quite have the experience needed just yet. That being said, Milroe played a pretty solid game outside of one mistake. That mistake was a pass thrown into double coverage in the end zone resulting in an interception and zero points for Alabama. Milroe finished the game 17-of-21 for 225 yards passing with a touchdown pass to go along with his interception. In the second half, Milroe connected on a couple of deep balls – one to Jermaine Burton and one to Jalen Hale that resulted in a touchdown. Milroe has a lot of growing to do, but the second half against Ole Miss was encouraging.
Alabama’s pass defense passed its first SEC test of the season. The Crimson Tide defense limited Jaxson Dart to just 244 yards passing, his least amount of the season. Alabama did a great job of bending but not breaking in the pass game. Big plays were limited, and Terrion Arnold picked off a pass that shifted the momentum in favor of the Tide. As a bonus, the Crimson Tide secondary had zero pass interference penalties on Saturday.
In the first three games of the season, the Alabama pass rush has been nowhere to be found. Saturday, it came out in full force, totaling five sacks and eight quarterback hurries. Dallas Turner led the way with two sacks with Chris Braswell and Tim Smith both accounting for 1.5 sacks each. The Crimson Tide front seven consistently got pressure on the quarterback as well as containing the quarterback.
All season, the offensive line has been talking a big game but hasn’t shown up. All week, the unit has been facing huge criticism about not backing up that talk after allowing five sacks to South Florida. Saturday, the line did a much better job at protecting the quarterback. The offensive line did allow four sacks against Ole Miss, but those were more on Milroe for not throwing the ball away. In the running game, the line opened holes for Alabama to rush for 131 yards.
For the second week in a row, Alabama has recorded a 100-yard rusher. Last week, Roydell Williams led Alabama with 129 yards on the ground, and this week Jase McClellan top rusher. McClellan finished the game with 17 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. McClellan closed the game for the Tide as they bled the clock in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
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