First of all, it was unclear if Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe was talking about Coach Nick Saban or God when he brought up God after the Crimson Tide’s 49-26 win at Arkansas Saturday.
Milroe had to replace starting quarterback Bryce Young in the second quarter with Alabama up 14-0 when Young went down with a throwing shoulder sprain. It is not considered serious, but Young is questionable at the moment for new No. 1 Alabama’s home game against Texas A&M Saturday (8 p.m., CBS).
“I had a one-on-one conversation with God,” Milroe said when asked what the first thing he did when he realized he would be going in for Young. “The first thought I had was just talk to God.”
When it was clear, he was not talking about Saban, Milroe had the following exchange with a reporter:
“Did He answer?”
“He did,” Milroe said.
“What did He say?”
Before Milroe could deliver a rare word-for-word text of his conversation with The Almighty, another reporter had the audacity to interrupt with this much less significant question – “Do people underestimate your speed because of your size (6-foot-2, 212 pounds)?”
Really? We were about to hear what God told Jalen Milroe. Imagine how this would have impacted the point spread! And you want to know if he is a deceptive runner? Alabama has opened as a 22.5-point favorite over the Aggies.
Bryce Young Threw For 173 Yards And One TD On Saturday
It is unclear if the reporter who asked Milroe to quote God was kidding. He sounded serious.
The late, great sportswriting legend Kent Heitholt was clearly kidding when an LSU football player brought up God after a game more than two decades ago.
Heitholt smiled gently and asked, “What number was He wearing? I must’ve missed him.”
I don’t remember exactly, but I’m sure some cub reporter was already going through the G’s on the alphabetical side of his flip chart.
Considering what happened on the field at Razorback Stadium Saturday, I think I know what God may have told Milroe.
“RUN, son. RUN!”
It was 3rd-and-15 on the Alabama 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter just after Arkansas had pulled within 28-23 with two third-quarter touchdowns, when Milroe did just that. After his 77-yard jaunt, Alabama had a 1st-and-goal at the Arkansas 3-yard line. Two plays later, tailback Jase McClellan scored for a 35-23 lead, and Arkansas was never close again.
Milroe Accounted For Two Scores
“Once I passed the line of scrimmage, I was just trying to get the first down,” Milroe said. “Then, my eyes got big. I said, ‘All right, I’m going to try to score.’ I was shocked I didn’t.”
All kidding aside about just whom he spoke to before entering the game, it is not out of the question that he could start Saturday when Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) hosts the Aggies (3-2, 1-1 SEC).
“There are things Jalen does well,” Saban said. “We practice some of those things. If he has to play, we’ll practice them more. We have confidence in him.”
Milroe is a redshirt freshman from Tompkins High in Katy, Texas, who was the No. 3 dual threat quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com out of high school in 2021 and the No. 77 prospect in the nation. He threw for 1,136 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 259 and four touchdowns as a prep senior in 2020. In 2019, he passed for 2,689 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for 300 and seven touchdowns.
“Jalen can do what Jalen does well,” Saban said.
Before Saturday, Milroe had completed only 12 of 18 passes for 86 yards as a backup this season with six rushes for 52 yards. Last year in four games before being red-shirted, he completed 3 of 7 passes for 41 yards and rushed 15 times for 57 yards.
Dual Threat Quarterback
Against Arkansas, Milroe rushed six times for 91 yards with a 3-yard touchdown for a 21-0 lead in the second quarter and completed 4 of 9 passes for 64 yards with a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver JoJo Earle for a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
“There’s only one Bryce Young in this country,” Saban said. “Hopefully, Bryce will be OK. But I thought the offense did a really good job of continuing to score in a different way when Jalen played. You’ve got to be able to win more than one way.”
Milroe will be ready just in case. Alabama also has true freshman Ty Simpson, who was the No. 3 pro style quarterback in the nation and No. 35 overall prospect out of Westview High in Martin, Tennessee, for the 2022 signing class.
“I’ll try to do what I can do. I try to make the most of it,” Milroe said. “And if it’s trying my legs, I’ll do my best with my legs.”
A&M Is 3-2 Overall
Texas A&M may have a different starting quarterback than previously as well since junior Max Johnson – the starter for the last three games – left Saturday’s loss at Mississippi State with an injured thumb on his left, throwing hand. Sophomore Haynes King, who started A&M’s first two games, replaced Johnson and threw two interceptions and a touchdown.
Texas A&M also has true freshman Conner Weigman.
LSU starting quarterback Jayden Daniels is expected to be back for the No. 25 Tigers’ home game against No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday (12 p.m., ESPN). He bumped knees with another player in the fourth quarter of LSU’s 21-17 win at Auburn and was limping. He did not return.
LSU coach Brian Kelly said there is no structural damage, and he is expected to be fine. Daniels rushed 16 times for 59 yards against Auburn and completed 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards. Garrett Nussmeier replaced him and completed 2 of 6 passes for 5 yards.