Alabama Football: Time to stop sleeping on Jalen Milroe

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

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Alabama football program as the 2022 season wraps up is the state of the quarterback room going forward. All-American, Heisman Trophy winner, and national champion Bryce Young is expected to move on from the program, leaving a question mark at the position for the first time in several years. It can be expected that Young will become the fourth straight Alabama quarterback to be an NFL starter, and potentially an NFL standout.

There is some uncertainty as to who will be “next up” under center in Tuscaloosa. The expectation is that there will be a spring competition between redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe and true freshman Ty Simpson. The fan base is torn on whether or not Alabama should look into the transfer portal for a more experienced signal-caller. Given the current talent in the room, I don’t believe that will be necessary.

Like the majority of the Alabama football fan base, I really like Simpson’s mobility and passing upside. However, dual-threat Jalen Milroe got valuable game reps this season, and fans seem to be giving up on him way too early.

Milroe is an electric runner, but needs to become more polished as a passer. He played the majority of Alabama’s game against Arkansas this year, and got his first career start in the win over Texas A&M.

In those games, Milroe struggled as a passer. Against A&M, he also lost two fumbles and threw an interception in the first half, leading directly to 14 Aggie points. Although Alabama ultimately won the game, much of the fan base seemed to give up on the idea that Milroe could ever be a viable option at quarterback after this performance.

In my opinion, this response was premature and a slight overreaction. The Texas A&M game was Jalen Milroe’s first college start, and he was tasked with replacing an all-time great. He undoubtedly battled nerves throughout that game, which could have led to some of his mistakes. Additionally, he will have plenty of time this offseason to improve his passing touch and get better at reading defensive coverages.

Those that harp on Jalen Milroe’s weaknesses should not forget the positive attributes he brought to the Alabama offense. Milroe ran for 172 yards and threw four touchdown passes to just one interception in the two games he replaced Bryce Young.

He was criticized after the Texas A&M game, but he actually played pretty well with the exception of the two untimely fumbles. Sure, he did not look smooth as a passer throughout the game. He was out of rhythm at times and missed some open receivers, but he showed promising flashes as well. Alabama fans tend to forget that he threw three touchdown passes in the game.

Obviously, he can’t make some of the throws Bryce Young can make, and the Alabama passing attack was somewhat limited with Milroe under center. Still, if he had just tightened up his ball security, the Texas A&M game would’ve likely been a blowout before halftime, and the public perception of Jalen Milroe would be a lot different.

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This is not to discredit Ty Simpson in any way. I think Simpson will be a really good quarterback as well, but he is even more of an unknown commodity at the college level. Many presume that he will easily take the job, but Alabama football could have a real QB competition on its hands this offseason.