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Nick Saban names Jalen Milroe starting QB

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

NCAA Football: Texas at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In probably the least surprising news that you will read today, Nick Saban named Jalen Milroe the starting QB ahead of the Ole MIss game this week. He didn’t share many details, but here’s your sound bite:

“Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for during the game in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do,” Saban said. “He’s had the opportunity to play. So have the other guys. Jalen played the best of all those guys.”

It was painfully obvious after watching the game on Saturday that the offense moved better with Milroe taking the snaps. That doesn’t mean that it was moving as well as it needs to. Perhaps there is something a bit deeper to be gleaned from this postgame comment:

“I know you’re going to ask about the quarterbacks, but we’re going to evaluate (them) on how they played today and evaluate Jalen Milroe on how he played (in two starts),” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. “We’ll decide this week who gives us the best opportunity to be successful as an offensive team, and that’s the way we’ll go.”

Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson, effectiveness aside, are more in the mold of ball distibutors who can run, while Milroe is an explosive runner who can sling it 50 yards on a rope. Success as an offensive team means maximizing the strengths of the players, which would mean we’d see Jalen use his legs more and cut it loose deep on occasion to keep defenses honest. He did those things reasonably well against Texas, though more runs would be preferable.

What he didn’t do well in that game, of course, is take care of the football. Make no mistake, Milroe nor the offense can be successful if he puts the ball in jeopardy on a consistent basis. Teams are likely going to play a ton of drop coverage against him in order to prevent explosive runs, which means he is going to have to stay patient and take the checkdowns or be willing to get 3-4 tough yards to move the ball if nobody gets behind the coverage.

The QB competition is likely over for this year. Hopefully they can forge an offensive identity and find some success. If not, this is going to be a long season.

Roll Tide.