The Jalen Milroe Experience Full of Ups and Downs As Bama Beats Aggies
The Alabama Crimson Tide survived a week without its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback by beating the Texas A&M Aggies 24-20 in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama turned to it's backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe to take the reigns for his first start in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"I'm happy. I'm happy. We got the win against a tough A&M opponent. They played very well and I'm happy. We're going to turn on the tape and fix whatever we need to fix but right now I'm happy," said Milroe after the win.
The Milroe experience was quite the roller coaster for Crimson Tide fans to experience on Saturday night as he showed supreme athleticism and talent on the evening coupled with a handful of crippling mistakes that hamstrung the Tide from running away from the game.
The Alabama offense got into enemy territory on 10 of its 14 possessions but only came away with four scoring drives under the lights of Bryant-Denny. Two missed field goals, four turnovers and four punts ended the remaining drives, creating frustration for the Alabama faithful.
Milroe struggled to play with the consistency, allowing the Aggies to stay in the game all evening and creating anxiety for those hoping to see the Tide dominate Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M squad.
The Katy, Texas native finished the contest 12-of-19 passing for 111 yards and three touchdowns. He carried the ball 17 times for 83 yards but it was his three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception that put the Alabama defense in precarious positions and allowed the Aggies to hang around.
"I wouldn't evaluate Jalen as a passer. It's relative to, how did we protect him? how did we run the routes? how did we get open? Without watching the film I can't tell you if he made the right reads and had opportunities to make throws that he didn't make or not. Or if we just didn't have anybody open. I think he did a good job scrambling, making some plays with his feet," said Nick Saban after the game.
But we had 111 yards passing and that's certainly not our goal, so something in the passing game needs to get better. I'm not putting it all on him, I'm just saying we need to do a better job in protection. We need to do a better job route-running and we need to do a better job making good decisions in the pocket so that we don't have negative plays."
Milroe's first touchdown drive that put the Tide up 7-0 early in the second quarter was followed with and Aggies three-and-out.
In the Tide's first opportunity to take a two-score lead, Milroe fumbled on the drive's opening play, setting up the Aggies with just 30 yards to go to tie the contest.
Alabama wasted no time getting back on top as Milroe found Burton for a 35-yard touchdown for his second touchdown pass of the night.
"I trusted him. We were throwing that during the week and I was excited for the moment because I saw that on film and I was able to read it right and then Jermaine did the rest. That was all Jermaine on that play and I was fortunate to throw the ball in that situation," said Milroe.
Alabama's defense once again kept the Tide's momentum going with another three-and-out and giving the ball back to the offense with positive field position. Unfortunately as quickly as the Tide got the ball, they gave it away on Milroe's second fumble of the night.
Texas A&M was able to capitalize on the momentum shift and get into the endzone after a 43-yard completion to Evan Stewart set them up on the goal-line.
Things went from bad to worse for Milroe on the following possession as he turned the ball over for the third time. Luckily, for the Crimson Tide, this time it didn't lead to points as redshirt freshman cornerback Terrion Arnold recorded his first interception of his career. Arnold snatched the ball out of the air and ultimately the Crimson Tide was able to convert its only field goal of the game to take a 3-point lead into halftime.
"I trusted in the defense, and just like I said, I took it one play at a time and just the next play. Whatever play that was I tried to do the best for the team and that was important to me, just next play and just move on," said Milroe.
Milroe continued to battle in the second half. He took the Tide's opening possession of the half straight down the field and found Ja'Corey Brooks for his third and final touchdown pass of the evening.
While the Crimson Tide didn't get into the endzone for the remainder of the evening, Milroe was able to keep from continuing to aid the Aggies through turnovers. He led Alabama to two other drives inside or at the Aggie redzone just to see senior kicker Will Reichard uncharacteristically miss field goals of 47 and 35 yards.
"I thought I did well. We're going to speak on it as an offensive staff and see what things I can improve on, but overall I think it went really well. There's always things that we can clean up and I definitely think I have some things to clean up. But like I said, I'm excited that we got the win and that we had a great defensive performance and I'm just happy," said Milroe