Alabama survived its toughest road test of the season, beating Texas A&M 26-20 to put themselves on top of the SEC West.
This is the third year in a row that this matchup has gone down to the wire, with Alabama winning the last two in the series.
Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Opposing defenses are consistently stacking the box and running spy looks with the mentality to make him beat you with the pass. Well, that’s exactly what he did on Saturday. Milroe has struggled with the short passes but has been lights out with the deep ball this season. It felt like every other pass play Milroe was tossing the ball deep on Saturday. The Tide quarterback completed 21 of 33 passes for 321 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception. Milroe was not mistake-free, but Alabama fans will take one interception if he throws the ball the way he did on Saturday.
The Alabama pass rush was as advertised on Saturday. Milroe and Jermaine Burton may have had excellent games, but the true MVP on Saturday for the Crimson Tide was the pass rush. Alabama was constantly wreaking havoc in the backfield, especially in the second half. The Crimson Tide defense finished the day with only two sacks and seven quarterback pressures. One of the pressures late in the fourth quarter caused an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
Alabama’s lead receiver on the season had a career day against Texas A&M on Saturday. Burton played limited snaps last week to get extra rest for a foot injury, and it paid off. The Georgia transfer finished the game with nine catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The only thing he did wrong on Saturday was an uncalled-for taunting penalty.
Penalties continue to be a problem for Alabama. Alabama was flagged 14 times for 99 yards. Nine of the 14 flags were pre-snap penalties. Eight false starts and one snap infraction put the offense in bad situations against the Aggies. Alabama also had another touchdown brought back because of a penalty. To be fair, the block in the back penalty called on the field goal block return was a very questionable call.
The Crimson Tide have now played five consecutive games in which the offensive line has surrendered four or more sacks. Alabama conceded six sacks on Saturday, but a couple of the sacks were because Milroe hung on to the ball too long. Milroe hanging on to the ball for too long and not throwing it away has been a bad trend this season. The left tackle position continues to be an issue regardless of who Alabama puts out there. To make matters worse, the offensive line had eight false starts and one snap infraction. Ending on a positive note, the snap issues seem to be corrected at least for the time being.
Bonus: Tommy Rees
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees’ play calling has been a big question mark so far this season. On Saturday, Rees called his best game of the season, and it was needed. Finally, the game plan was tailored around Jalen Milroe’s strengths, allowing him to cut the ball loose and throw the deep ball.
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