Alabama Football: What to watch for against FCS UT-Chattanooga

(Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football is gearing up for its annual buy game prior to Iron Bowl week, and the Crimson Tide look to continue the momentum they have built over the latter half of the season.

This is a more interesting game than usual for a Bama team that, particularly on offense, is still peaking. It’s important for the offense to continue to play well against UT-Chattanooga to stay in rhythm heading into the most important stretch of the season. Here are three things to watch for when the Tide takes on the Mocs in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama Football to use a deep rotation of skill players

The Bama offense already uses a wide array of weapons on offense. The running game is spearheaded by senior running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams, with quarterback Jalen Milroe becoming a major factor in recent weeks. Sophomore back Jam Miller and true freshman Justice Haynes have a lot of burst, and could see big minutes this week.

In the passing game, Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond have assumed the lead roles. Malik Benson, Kobe Prentice, and Kendrick Law have played complementary roles, with Law’s contribution as a utility player steadily growing. Could these players, or a freshman like Jalen Hale, make some big plays against the Mocs?

In addition to the wide receivers, tight end Amari Niblack has been a huge part of the offense. Niblack ranks fourth on the team in receptions and yards, and second with four receiving touchdowns. CJ Dippre has also shown big play ability as a pass-catcher. However, we haven’t seen much of redshirt freshman Danny Lewis Jr. Lewis Jr. got a lot of buzz in the offseason and could have a breakout game this week.

Alabama Football to keep it vanilla

The Crimson Tide will likely take a conservative approach to this game, as it should. Frankly, Bama doesn’t need to go deep into its playbook to beat the Mocs.

The highest priorities this week are to handle business and avoid any major injuries. If it can do so, Alabama will head into the Iron Bowl with plenty of momentum and some unseen wrinkles, should it need them on the Plains.

Coach Nick Saban refrains from openly taking such an approach. Saban’s philosophy involves preparing for each opponent as the most important game on the schedule, which is in part why he is the greatest coach of all time and rarely falls to an inferior opponent. Still, I don’t see Alabama Football pulling out all the stops against UT-Chattanooga.

Alabama Football: Another look at Ty Simpson…and perhaps another QB?

Should Alabama race out to a big lead as expected, it will have the opportunity to rest quarterback Jalen Milroe. Redshirt freshman Ty Simpson has firmly seized the QB2 job, and has been an intriguing player this year.

Simpson replaced Tyler Buchner against South Florida in a disastrous early season game for the Bama offense. In his first meaningful playing time, Simpson made some good throws, ran for a score, and led the Tide to a win.

He has gotten spot opportunities since that day, and has looked confident and improved. He stepped in and got a big two-point conversion against Ole Miss, and then was very effective in garbage time against Kentucky.

Simpson completed two long passes to Jalen Hale, including one for a third-and-long conversion. He then eluded Wildcat pass rushers and scrambled for another third-and-long conversion. Lastly, he completed a downfield throw to tight end Miles Kitselman that was negated by a penalty. For the game, Simpson threw three impressive completions of 20+ yards and looked like a legitimate second-in-command.

Depending on how badly Bama beats the Mocs, it could even get a third quarterback in the game. Would it go back to Buchner in that situation? The more common belief is that we would get a first look at promising true freshman Dylan Lonergan. If so, this game could provide a glimpse into the future of the offense for Alabama Football.

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But, of course, that’s all just rat poison.