1. Jalen Milroe’s progression
Alabama Football quarterback Jalen Milroe did not look comfortable or confident back in September, but he has always had the physical tools to be a star. Now that Milroe has gained some starting experience, those intangibles have improved exponentially, and he is blossoming faster than even the most optimistic fans could have projected.
The redshirt sophomore is a dynamic runner, and is the fourth most efficient passer in the nation. He also ranks second in the SEC with 31 total touchdowns, trailing only Heisman frontrunner Jayden Daniels.
In just a couple short months, Milroe has progressed from a liability to a reliable game manager and now to one of the most dangerous weapons in the sport. This drastic improvement at such an important position is one of the primary reasons Bama is in the favorable position where it currently sits.
2. Will Reichard
Will Reichard is the best kicker in college football, and arguably the greatest specialist in Alabama Football history. He is one of the most trustworthy players on this team, and Bama fans are grateful to not have to sweat out every field goal attempt.
Reichard has had several clutch moments in his Bama career, and will have the chance to become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer before the season is over.
The deep-seated trauma of kicking woes under Coach Saban still exists, but Bama fans can be much more confident in close games with Reichard at the ready.
3. Offensive line continuity
The offensive line’s growth has coincided with the development of Jalen Milroe, and arguably has been just as instrumental in the recent success for Alabama Football. The first step was getting true freshman left tackle Kadyn Proctor acclimated to the speed of the college game. Proctor has made massive strides since September, seizing the job after splitting reps with Elijah Pritchett for an extended period of time.
Next, Bama got the unexpected emergence of redshirt sophomore guard Jaeden Roberts. The Tide was rotating Darrian Dalcourt and Terrence Ferguson at the guard spot opposite Tyler Booker, but injuries forced Roberts into the lineup and he never relinquished the role. Jaeden Roberts has been a revelation on the interior offensive line, and the Bama run game has thrived since he became a starter.
4. Kevin Steele
Alabama Football has always fielded incredible talent on the defensive side of the ball in the Saban era, but was not performing to the standard over the past five years under defensive coordinator Pete Golding.
In his first year back at the helm, veteran SEC coordinator Kevin Steele has made dramatic changes on the defensive side of the ball. Though the statistics are similar, Bama has played much better situational defense this season.
This improvement has been very complementary of the Alabama offense, which struggled early in the season. During that time, the defense won several games while buying time for the offense to find itself.
5. Goals on the table
Heading into the Iron Bowl, Alabama Football still has all of its goals within reach. Of course, the Tide needs to beat Auburn to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive. If it can do so, the SEC Championship game between Bama and Georgia could be a winner-take-all showdown.
With a logjam at the top of the CFP rankings, the SEC champion will likely go to the playoff and be considered the favorite to win it all, while the loser will probably be left out entirely.
Competing for championships has been an annual standard under Coach Saban, but it is still something to be grateful for. It is not easy to play at such a high level year in and year out, and Saban has kept the ball rolling for a decade and a half now.
As gloomy as things looked back in September, Alabama Football is playing with house money heading into the Iron Bowl with an undefeated SEC record and the West already locked up.