Alabama Football: Milroe dash evokes memories of Tua heave

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Two Alabama Football backup quarterbacks. Two memory-etching plays. Two notices served.

Nearly five years after Tua and second-and-26, Alabama has another reserve quarterback linked to a down-and-distance play. Yeah, go ahead and attach third-and-15 to Jalen Milroe.

No, what Milroe did in Fayetteville last Saturday did not instantly produce a national championship like Tua’s overtime heave to the end zone did. But what it did do was announce to the college football world that this 2022 Alabama football team doesn’t just have one clutch QB. It has two.

One does it more with his arm. The other more with his legs. Both yield similar results.

Alabama Football needed a big play

At the time of third-and-15 last Saturday, Alabama was a dazed, staggering combatant. Knees wobbly. Desperate to find the ropes to lean on, to grasp onto. Arkansas was in the midst of landing a flurry of punches that had stirred the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium crowd into a frenzy. They roared in approval. And in anticipation. The Arkansas players smelled blood. So did their fans.

The Razorbacks had resurrected themselves — with some help from the Tide — out of a 28-0 second-quarter hole to cut the margin to a mere five points, 28-23, early in the fourth quarter. And there was no sign Arkansas was about to let up. With its Heisman quarterback shelved due to injury, Alabama was clearly in big trouble.

With the Tide facing a third-and-15 from its own 20, the Razorbacks were right where they wanted to be. Freefalling teams don’t convert third-and-forevers. One more perfunctory stop. Get the ball back. Score again. Take the lead. The upset was more than brewing. It was piping hot. Ready to be served.

And then … the run. The run before the icing-on-the-cake Jahmyr Gibbs’ runs. The 77-yard part scamper, part sprint by Alabama’s second-string quarterback spoke loud and clear to everyone else wearing white jerseys. Hop on boys. I’m getting us out of this mess. We ain’t going down. Not today. Not here. Not to Arkansas.

Yeah, plucked-from-the-fire, plays leaders make, when everything is crumbling around them can talk. Those plays have voices. They speak. They shout. They call out. And others follow. Milroe’s dash to the Arkansas three last Saturday was as herald-like as they come. No. 4 was a veritable pied piper on cleats in that moment.

The play changed everything. Momentum. Conceivably the result of the game. Perhaps the season. It also changed the public perception of the fleet-footed, 6-foot-2, 212-pound physical specimen out of Katy, Texas.

It proved there’s more to Milroe than what a lot of folks previously thought. He’s more than an A-Day highlight-reel machine. He’s more than Bryce Young’s uber-talented understudy who comes into games when the outcome is no longer in question to entertain with his nimble feet, blazing speed and bullish strength. He’s more than an heir apparent just waiting his turn.

If that’s all Milroe was he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did on third-and-15. In a hostile SEC venue. With his team on the ropes. With a Bama victory looking less and less likely. With opposing players and fans no doubt already choreographing in their minds their celebration dances for when the final seconds tick off the clock.

Milroe showed in one play that he’s more than a guy who simply wows with his wheels. He has poise, too. And grit. And an attitude that, loosely translated, seems to say Oh, y’all think y’all got us now, huh? No, you don’t.

Next. At least one starter down for Saturday. dark

Second-and-26 trumpeted the arrival of one Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback. Third-and-15? It trumpeted the fact that this Alabama football team doesn’t just have one quarterback who knows how to win.

It has two.