Last week’s loss against Texas did not wipe away Alabama’s chance of achieving its goal of making the College Football Playoffs, but now there is no room for error the rest of the season.

Facing a far inferior South Florida team is just what the Crimson Tide need following a loss: A chance to fix the mistakes of last week and see how this team handles adversity.

Here are a few things to watch for this Saturday afternoon as the Tide travel to South Florida.

  1. Quarterback

As bad as the South Florida defense is, whoever lines up behind center on Saturday should have no trouble racking up numbers. The question is which quarterback will prove himself. Is Jalen Milroe the guy, or does Nick Saban want to further evaluate Tyler Buchner, who is reportedly set to start?

If there are any doubts, it would make more sense to let Buchner get meaningful game reps with the starting offense so that he could be properly evaluated. If Jalen Milroe gets the start this week or plays, all eyes will be on his decision-making. Last week in a loss to Texas, Milroe had two really bad interceptions. In a game that the Tide should win comfortably, it will be interesting to see how short of a leash Saban gives Milroe if he gets the start. At the very least, Buchner should get some playing time in mop-up duty.

  1. Pass Rush

Last week, the Alabama pass rush was unable to generate any sacks against the Texas offensive line. This week, Dallas Turner and the Bama front seven are set up for success against a South Florida offensive line that averages giving up 5.5 sacks a game. Combine this with a Bama defense that has plenty to prove, and South Florida’s quarterback is sure to have some grass stains on the jersey by the end of the game. If the Crimson Tide are unable to generate pressure and sacks against South Florida it is time to start worrying.

  1. Pass Protection

As it was mentioned, the South Florida offensive line has been bad this season, allowing 5.5 sacks a game, and Alabama is not much better. The Tide allow 3.5 sacks a game, putting them near the bottom of the nation through two games. Every week, the commentators talk about how big the Bama offensive line is, but the results have just not been there. No need to panic just yet, but if they struggle with an inferior defensive line from South Florida, then it may be time to hit the panic button.

  1. Penalties

Is it the 2022 season all over again? In the first game, Alabama only had two penalties, and we all thought that they had fixed this issue. Nope. Last week, the Crimson Tide shot themselves in the foot, totaling 10 penalties for 90 yards. Two of those 10 penalties took two Alabama touchdowns off the board, causing the Crimson Tide to settle for field goals. We will keep a watch to see if last week was just an outlier or if the trend is here to stay.

  1. Turnovers

Through two games, the Crimson Tide have only forced two turnovers - one interception and one fumble. Both forced turnovers happened in the season opener against Middle Tennessee State. At this rate, the Tide are on the same trajectory as last season, which was a disappointment. On the offensive side of the ball, turnovers were a problem from the quarterback position last week. Milroe threw two interceptions, bringing Alabama’s turnover margin on the season to 0. Winning the turnover battle is key to winning games in the SEC. Ball security will be a huge focus Saturday to create good habits going into SEC play the following week.

Alabama travels to Tampa, Fla. to face South Florida at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.

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