Jalen Milroe 'earned the opportunity' to be Alabama's starting QB, Saban says

On3 imageby:Charlie Potter09/18/23


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama head coach Nick Saban kicked off Ole Miss week by naming Jalen Milroe as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback. This was two days after Milroe did not play at USF, as Alabama started Tyler Buchner and then went with Ty Simpson.

“From a quarterback standpoint, this is all I’m gonna say about this: 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 Monday. “He’s had the opportunity to play. So has the other guys. Jalen played the best of all those guys, and so I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.” 

Milroe did not play this past Saturday in Tampa. After the 17-3 win over the Bulls, when asked why he started Buchner and then went to Simpson rather than Milroe, Saban said, “Everybody has the opportunity to respond in the right way when things don’t go exactly like you want them to, and we played the guys that practiced the best all week long.”

Milroe started the first two games of the Crimson Tide’s 2023 season. He was named the SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after Alabama’s season-opening win over Middle Tennessee but didn’t have his best outing in the loss to Texas, throwing two interceptions.

That led Alabama to go back to the drawing board, and it started Buchner on the road at USF. However, the Notre Dame transfer struggled against the Bulls, throwing for 34 yards on 5-of-14 passing before being replaced by Simpson in the second quarter. Simpson threw for 73 yards on 5-of-9 passing before rushing for the game’s final touchdown (1 yard).

During the game in Tampa, Milroe was seen supporting his teammates on the sideline.

“It was a great job by him,” right tackle JC Latham said of Milroe’s leadership. “I know a lot of guys in that position, throughout a lot of different levels, who – especially once you have a starting job at a perennial school like the University of Alabama – once you lose that job, it kind of does something to your confidence and your morale. 

“He took it on the chin, he knew what he had to do to be better and he’s never brought negative energy on or off the field. He’s held himself accountable, he’s held all of us accountable and he does what he has to do. It was a great example on what a leader is and what a leader needs to do through adversity.”

After not playing at USF, Milroe is back in the starting spot to begin SEC play. Alabama will play Ole Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

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