Alabama came into the season opener ranked fourth in the nation and did exactly what the fourth ranked team in the nation should do to an inferior opponent on Saturday night, dominating Middle Tennessee State 56-7 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Going into the contest, the biggest question was who would be the starting quarterback, and the Crimson Tide might have gotten their answer with a solid performance from Jalen Milroe.

Here are some key takeaways from the game.


Jalen Milroe got the start at quarterback and separated himself from the other quarterbacks. Milroe was not Bryce Young, but if he plays like he did on Saturday, Alabama will be just fine. Milroe was very accurate and protected the football, throwing for three touchdown passes and adding two more on the ground. Alabama played three quarterbacks, and all three rushed for a touchdown. Tyler Buchner was the second quarterback to receive action, coming in the third quarter and completing three of his five passes as well as a nine-yard touchdown run. Ty Simpson was the third and final quarterback to see the field. He completed one pass for five yards and scored a one-yard touchdown run, thanks to a pile push on a quarterback sneak.

Offensive Line

During the offseason, the offensive line has been very vocal about bringing back the physicality of past Alabama teams. Against Middle Tennessee State, the offensive line wasn’t perfect but was much improved with a decent job of protecting the quarterback and opening run lanes. The offensive line opened up holes for Alabama to rush for more than 200 yards and only allowed two sacks the entire night.


Last year was a down year for the Crimson Tide’s defense and forcing turnovers. With the new addition of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, turnovers were a big focus point for the defense. Alabama wasted no time recording two turnovers in the first game of the season. UAB transfer Jaylen Key recorded an interception, and Kendrick Blackshire ripped the ball away from a receiver for a fumble recovery.

Caleb Downs

True freshman Caleb Downs is as advertised. The talented and highly recruited defensive back had no problem transitioning from high school to the highest level of college football. Downs got his first start at safety in the season opener and didn’t disappoint. He made a name for himself right out of the gate, leading the Crimson Tide in tackles with eight.


Last season, Alabama had a huge problem with penalties that played a big factor in their loss against Tennessee and made their games a lot closer than they should have been. All through the offseason, the focus has been on correcting this aspect of their game. It appears that Saban’s message has been received by his players. Alabama only had one penalty the entire game, which was a roughing the passer call on an attempt to block a pass that the defender’s hand came down into the helmet of the quarterback.

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