Alabama football executed effectively on Saturday, securing a resounding 56-7 victory over Middle Tennessee State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While the triumph showcased dominance across the board, there remain certain areas where the Crimson Tide could refine their performance before facing Texas in Tuscaloosa next week.
Here’s our assessment of Alabama’s performance against MTSU:
Jalen Milroe exhibited an outstanding performance, earning his starting role against the Blue Raiders and delivering with three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns. Nevertheless, with a more formidable challenge presented by Texas on the horizon, Milroe did display a few throws that might not find success against the Longhorns. Nonetheless, he appears to be on the right path in the quest to replace Bryce Young.
The highlight here is the absence of dropped passes, a significant issue for Alabama in the previous season, which the Crimson Tide diligently addressed during the offseason. This mission has been accomplished, at least for now. Numerous contributors emerged across the field, without a single standout star, with Isaiah Bond, Jermaine Burton, Kobe Prentice, and others all making significant contributions.
Tight Ends: A
This represented a considerably improved performance compared to last season, a fact acknowledged by Nick Saban himself. He remarked that this group surpasses the Tide’s tight end units in recent years. Amari Niblack played a pivotal role in the passing game, securing a touchdown catch, while the rest of the tight ends provided substantial assistance in run blocking. If this trend continues throughout the season, it will prove highly beneficial, particularly considering the absence of a clear top receiver for the Tide.
Run Game: B+
Despite the absence of a featured back following Jahmyr Gibbs’ departure to the NFL, Alabama’s running backs showcased their competence against the Blue Raiders. Surprisingly, Jalen Milroe led the team in rushing with 48 yards and two touchdowns, while Jase McClellan contributed 39 yards and a score. Several other backs also had meaningful carries. In total, Alabama managed to rush for 205 yards and five touchdowns.
Offensive Line: B
The performance of Alabama’s offensive line was not without blemishes. Even during one of the night’s standout plays, Milroe’s first touchdown run, it resulted from a mishandled snap by center Seth McLaughlin. Nonetheless, the offensive line’s blocking was generally sufficient, though improvements will be necessary next week. Nevertheless, the offense managed to function effectively against the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee State struggled to gain any momentum, making it unnecessary to dissect the performance by position. Dallas Turner and the defensive unit applied consistent pressure and effectively shut down the run game. Additionally, the MTSU receivers found it challenging to create separation against the Crimson Tide secondary, which also secured an interception. Alabama’s defense asserted complete dominance.
A No issues arose in the special teams department. Kool-Aid McKinstry made impactful punt returns, and even the shortest of his returns was extended by 15 yards due to an MTSU targeting penalty. James Burnip, the punter, had limited usage but averaged 46.3 yards on his three kicks. Will Reichard did not attempt any field goals but remained flawless on extra point attempts.