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Jumbo Package: Alabama looks to build on Jalen Milroe breakout, basketball tips off tonight

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. As you well know, Alabama cleared a big hurdle on Saturday and took another step toward making it back to Atlanta. All LSU fans can seemingly talk about is that Dallas Turner wasn’t tossed from the game after his hit on Jayden Daniels. That obviously had no bearing on the outcome of the game, and Josh Pate had a rather scathing retort for that contingent.

He is absolutely right.

Moving on, Saturday served as Jalen Milroe’s coming out party, when Alabama absolutely had to have it.

The turnaround from the Texas loss and Milroe’s subsequent hiatus in Hillsborough County was stunning. The redshirt sophomore from outside Houston broke an Alabama record with four touchdown runs — the most ever by a quarterback in a single game.

He did it with a confidence not seen amid the inconsistency of the 34-24 loss to a Longhorn team to whom Milroe was once committed. Gone were the two interceptions from that Week 2 setback and diversion that followed.

Milroe was a clean 15-for-23 passing for 219 yards but this game changed on Milroe’s ability to run the ball.

He did it a lot for a change against LSU. The 20 runs were a career high — just three behind his total passing attempts — while the 155 rushing yards were the fifth most among QBs in program history.

Milroe became the first quarterback in Alabama history to rush for four touchdowns in a game.

Milroe’s 155 yards rushing were the most by an Alabama QB since Tyler Watts ran for 162 yards against South Carolina in 2001.

The Crimson Tide have won 35 of their last 36 SEC home games,with their only loss in that stretch coming against LSU in 2019 when the Tigers won the national title.

LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers surpassed 100 yards receiving for the sixth time this season with 10 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown.

Alabama kicker Will Reichard entered with a perfect 15 for 15 mark on field goal attempts but missed two field goals in the win.

Both QBs managed to run all over the opposing defenses in this one. If it seemed a little different, that’s because it very much was.

Given a choice of absolutes, I still very much prefer to have an elite passer at the position over an elite runner. These two showcased how elite runners can attack college defenses, however, and neither defense had much of an answer for it. Milroe got to 20 carries, and that may well be the magic number for this team to have a title shot. Austin Hannon of SI did a little film work on Milroe’s night for you, if interested.

Tim Watts reiterates the point made by many, that Nick seems to truly love this squad.

“I think he likes this team. I think the recruiting’s done well for Alabama. I felt that with last year’s class. You know, Nick Saban’s career from the media standpoint is when is he leaving, when is he leaving, when is he leaving? When does he retire? When does he retire? When does he retire? You know, that’s what we’ve dealt with. One rumor after another,” Watts explained.

But this latest stretch of wins is showing that talks of Saban’s demise were greatly, greatly exaggerated and he’s still as fired up as ever.

“Judging by his actions, I would say he’s enjoying life. And having success. I mean, there’s a lot of talk with Alabama fans that he was starting [Jalen] Milroe. He had lost the team. And they were done. I mean, seriously there were discussions all over,” Watts continued.

“You see them on the sidelines. Milroe makes a mistake. If the defense makes a mistake, you can see them coming off the sideline, and the bench catches ’em. High five. Head up. Coaches get ’em. All that kind of stuff. It is a close-knit group.”

On some level, teams do tend to take on the personality of the QB, particularly when the QB has a strong personality. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see how this team could be likable. Seriously, football aside, how could anyone not love this kid?

He certainly seems to have won the team over.

“Early in the season, Coach Saban said be a point guard with the football,” Milroe said. “Whether it is passing, handling the ball off or running with the ball in my hands — just doing everything possible to advance the ball.”

Milroe made his statement to LSU, the fans and his teammates when he trucked Tigers freshman defensive back Javien Toviano in the second quarter.

“He’s not afraid to lower his shoulder,” center Seth McLaughlin said. “ He’s not afraid to make people miss. If you see a quarterback willing to put his body on the line like that for your team, it just means the world to us. I’d prefer he juke somebody out, but it’s a lot of fun watching him.”

Saban was understandably in a good mood after the game, and shared a moment caught on camera with former Alabama and current LSU WR Aaron Anderson.

‘You’d be playing more here than you are there,” Saban said with a smile, causing Anderson to drop his head laughing and respond with something that made Saban chuckle.

Anderson, a New Orleans native and alum of famed Edna Karr High, committed to Alabama in the class of 2022 as the highest-rated player from Louisiana. He was a part of the Tide’s top-ranked crop of recruits and, at the time, represented a major recruiting win over the Tigers.

Next up for Alabama is a road trip to Lexington. Kentucky is no slouch, and the Tide can ill-afford any sort of letdown.

Only here’s the thing: If you’re Kentucky, better to be playing Alabama at 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the SEC than 5-4 overall and 2-4 conference play. And, even worse, on a four-game losing streak.

Those were the stakes Mark Stoops faced Saturday night in Starkville. Taking on struggling Mississippi State in the home of the cowbells, Kentucky desperately needed a win. “By any means necessary,” Stoops said afterward.

And the Cats got it. As Stoops said, “It wasn’t pretty,” but it was convincing. Kentucky scored on its first offensive possession for a 7-0 lead. After holding State to a field goal at the end of a marathon 20-play, 12-plus-minute MSU drive, UK linebacker D’Eryk Jackson intercepted a Mike Wright pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. By night’s end, Kentucky had clinched bowl eligibility for the eighth consecutive season with a 24-3 victory.

Nothing too notable happened for Alabama players in the NFL this week, though several touchdowns were scored. This one was probably the prettiest, just Smitty being Smitty.

It got hairy at the end, but Jalen and the Eagles hung on in that one.

Last but not least, basketball season is already upon us!

The No. 24/24 Alabama men’s basketball team will begin the 2023-24 season against Morehead State Monday night. The Eagles are the first of four games the Crimson Tide will host at Coleman Coliseum to start the campaign.

Alabama is coming off a program-record 31 wins last season, highlighted by an SEC regular season championship and tournament title including a trip to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The Tide welcomes 10 newcomers to its roster, including the No. 5 overall transfer class and the No. 10 class over that includes five freshmen that are rated as four-star prospects.

The Broadcast

Monday’s game is set for an 7 p.m. CT tipoff and will be aired on the SEC Network+ with Roger Hoover (play-by-play) and Richard Hendrix (analyst) on the call.

With so much roster turnover yet again, which is the hallmark of modern powerhouse basketball programs, this team may take a while to jell. There is plenty to like, however. Besides the outstanding transfer class, freshmen Jarin Stevenson and Sam Walters have been making some serious waves in the preseason.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.