Alabama football kicked off its season in style last Saturday, overpowering Middle Tennessee State with a commanding 56-7 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While it's important to note that the Conference USA Blue Raiders didn't offer much resistance, the Crimson Tide showcased their prowess early in the season. Here are three key takeaways from this resounding win.
Jalen Milroe, who took the reins as Alabama's starting quarterback, displayed poise and skill throughout the game. In a remarkable play, he turned a seemingly inevitable sack into a touchdown run, marking the first time a quarterback opened Alabama's season with a rushing touchdown since 1995. Milroe completed an impressive 10 out of 13 passes for 112 yards and added a touchdown pass to his stat sheet. Notably, he connected on a stunning 47-yard deep throw to Isaiah Bond and later found Jermaine Burton for a 48-yard touchdown pass. Tyler Buchner also showcased his abilities when he took over, scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. Milroe's performance solidified his status as the top quarterback, providing Alabama fans with optimism for the post-Bryce Young era.
With Bill O'Brien's departure to the New England Patriots, Tommy Rees stepped into his role as Alabama's offensive coordinator. While not entirely mirroring Notre Dame's offensive scheme, Rees did incorporate more use of tight ends into the game plan. This adjustment was evident during Milroe's second-quarter touchdown run when tight end Amari Niblack executed a crucial block that enabled Milroe's touchdown. Alabama's offense showcased a collaborative effort, featuring contributions from various players, including Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Isaiah Bond, Kobe Prentice, and more. This offensive approach contrasts with the previous season, where Bryce Young often carried the load.
While it's essential to acknowledge that the real test awaits when Texas arrives next week, Alabama's defense demonstrated its strength against Middle Tennessee State. The defensive front relentlessly pressured Blue Raider quarterback Nick Vattiato, leading to poorly-timed throws and questionable decisions. MTSU struggled to score until the closing moments of the third quarter. Alabama's defense, under the guidance of first-time defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, appeared aggressive and effective, with standout moments such as an interception by Jaylen Key, a transfer from UAB. As the team heads into tougher matchups, the defense's solid performance in this opener provides a positive sign for what lies ahead.
In conclusion, Alabama's season-opening victory against MTSU showcased promising performances from quarterbacks, a well-rounded offensive approach, and a dominant defense. While the real challenges lie ahead, this win offers fans optimism as the Crimson Tide prepares for the upcoming season.