Alabama’s search for the right quarterback continues.
Ole Miss’ quarterback helped the Rebels find their running game last week.
The two SEC West Division rivals begin conference play Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The No. 13 Crimson Tide (2-1) benched Jalen Milroe for last week’s game at South Florida, but his replacement — Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner — didn’t last a half and was replaced by second-year player Ty Simpson. That tandem combined for 107 passing yards in a 17-3 victory over the Bulls.
After the game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said he would evaluate all three quarterbacks before naming the starter against the No. 15 Rebels.
On Monday, the dial spun back to Milroe.
“Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for during the game in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do,” Saban said. “He’s had the opportunity to play. So have the other guys. Jalen played the best of all those guys, so I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”
Milroe accounted for five touchdowns in the season-opening win against Middle Tennessee. But he threw two interceptions in a home loss against Texas a week later.
The Tide have allowed five sacks in each of the last two games.
“I thought that the offensive line played like our offensive line needs to play in the last 6 minutes and 29 seconds of the (USF) game,” Saban said, “and that’s something that we want to build on.”
The offense didn’t have to do much last week because the defense allowed just a first-quarter field goal after a fumbled punt gave the Bulls a short field. Alabama allowed just 264 yards and had five sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
“I like the team. I’ve got confidence in our team. I really do,” Saban said. “I just think our execution has got to get a little more consistent.”
Ole Miss trucks into Tuscaloosa with an explosive offense capable of taxing the Tide.
The Rebels (3-0) didn’t rush the ball up to head coach Lane Kiffin’s standard the first two games, totaling just 232 yards.
But in a 48-23 home victory against Georgia Tech last week, they finished 299 rushing yards, led by quarterback Jaxson Dart’s 136, his most in two seasons with Ole Miss, and two touchdowns.
“I love that part of football,” Dart said. “My dad raised me to be a football player before a quarterback and I have always loved the physicality of the game.”
Dart also passed for 251 yards and a touchdown as the passing game came alive in the fourth quarter.
“It was good to hit a couple explosive plays late in the passing game,” Kiffin said. “We’re just not gonna run the ball all the time or throw the ball all the time. We’re gonna figure out what they’re doing. We have a lot of plays and RPOs and things that are based off of what (the opponents’ defenses) do. Gotta do what it takes to win and sometimes you don’t know until you come out there.”
Alabama has won the last seven meetings, including a 30-24 road victory last season. Dart drove the Rebels to the Tide 14, but they turned the ball over on downs in the final minute.
–Field Level Media