Jalen Milroe's game continues to evolve, and Alabama keeps on winning.
It's hardly coincidental.
Alabama’s quarterback, reduced to a spectator for one Saturday following the No. 8 Crimson Tide’s only loss, has since taken on a starring role.
Never was that more true than Saturday night when Milroe went toe to toe with LSU star Jayden Daniels with his arm and legs to lead the Tide (8-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 8 CFP) to a 42-28 win over the 18th-ranked Tigers, the Tide’s seventh straight victory.
Milroe was good enough that running back Roydell Williams thinks his quarterback ran his way right into Heisman Trophy contention.
“Absolutely,” Williams said. “Most definitely.”
Milroe, who had protested that he’s not a running quarterback earlier in the week, rushed for 155 yards and a school quarterback-record four touchdowns. He also passed for another 219 yards without an interception, even though the deep ball that had often been his biggest weapon wasn’t as effective.
“Obviously the guy is much more comfortable as a passer,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "He's reading things much more quickly, getting the ball to the right guy. He's making really good decisions when he has to improvise.”
Quarterback was the biggest question mark on an offense with a number of them coming into the season. Milroe beat out two challengers to become the successor to No. 1 NFL draft pick and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.
“He’s proved that he can beat you with his arm and he can beat you with his legs,” Alabama center Seth McLaughlin said. “It’s very nice to have that true dual threat. But he’s a hell of a passer, too.”
Milroe didn’t play in the South Florida game after throwing two interceptions in a loss to No. 7 Texas. The offense sputtered badly under his two backups but has consistently gotten better since with Milroe leading a team that has re-emerged as a playoff contender while exerting control of the SEC West.
“Early in the season, coach Saban said be a point guard with the football,” Milroe said. “Whether it’s passing, handing the ball off or running with the ball in my hands. Just doing everything possible to advance the ball and do what needs to be done so we can win.”
Saban has praised how Milroe handled the temporary benching and handed the starting job right back to him. His teammates appreciated it too.
“He did a great job just being a great teammate, encouraging, uplifting everybody on the sideline even though he didn’t play,” Williams said. “That showed the character that he had and the character that he carries around the facility day in and day out.”
Milroe was known mostly for his running coming into the season, simply because it's where he shined most in spelling an injured Young for most of two games.
He had only run for 142 yards coming into the LSU game partly because of sacks. His previous season-high was a 69-yard, two-touchdown game against Mississippi State.
Milroe deflected a question of whether he should be considered a Heisman candidate. He just wants to continue his evolution as a quarterback.
“The biggest thing I have to do is look in the mirror and acknowledge that I’m not a finished product,” Milroe said. “So I’m just steadily trying to build and move in the right direction.”
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