TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Injured star quarterback Bryce Young was announced as the starter for No. 1 Alabama by the Public Address announcer at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night 30 minutes before kickoff against Texas A&M.
And the sold-out capacity crowd of 100,077 bought it, roaring with delight upon hearing Young’s name. He had been questionable and day-to-day all week with a right, throwing shoulder sprain suffered in the Tide’s win at Arkansas last week.
But there was backup redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Milroe taking most of the pre-game snaps, while Young only threw a few times before the game.
The drama built as Alabama won the toss and elected to kick off to Texas A&M, which also entered the game with an injury issue at quarterback. Backup sophomore Haynes King started in place of injured junior Max Johnson, who hurt his left, throwing hand in the loss at Mississippi State last week.
After three plays and an A&M punt, the curtain rose. And No. 4 – Jalen Milroe – trotted out and started at quarterback for Alabama. He played every snap in the Tide’s dramatic, 24-20 win over the Aggies, who came in as a 24-point underdog but had a chance to win on the last play of the game from the Alabama 3-yard line.
“It actually came down to about the last minute as far as starting Bryce,” Alabama sports information director Josh Maxson said after the game. “By the time coach (Nick Saban) decided, it was too late to get it to the PA announcer.”
Starting lineups for Public Address announcers throughout college football often do not have updated starters as those are given to stadium personnel long before kickoff.
It was erroneously reported by Pro Football Network Friday that Young would not dress out, but he was in full uniform. And Young was available to play if needed. He even asked Saban to go into the game.
“He really wanted to play,” Saban said. “He actually wanted to play at the end of the game.”
Young, who won the Heisman Trophy last year, has a chance to return to action Saturday when No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) plays at No. 8 Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. on CBS at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The two teams are undefeated going into the game for the first time since 1989.
Milroe completed 6-of-10 passes for 61 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the first half, but his two fumbles in Alabama territory led to two touchdowns for the Aggies. Alabama led 17-14 at the half.
Milroe started the second half with a 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks for a 24-14 lead and had no more turnovers. He finished 12-of-19 passing or 111 yards and three touchdowns around four sacks. He also was the Tide’s second leading rusher with 83 yards on 17 carries.
“Jalen did some good things, but obviously a couple of turnovers, but he’s going to live and learn,” Saban said. “We’re going to live and learn with him, and we’ll just see what kind of progress Bryce makes for the next week. We’re going to play a really good team next week on the road and certainly have to play a lot better to have any chance of being successful.”