Heading into the 2023 season, the Alabama football quarterback competition was extremely unsettled and the top two candidates heading out of spring practice appeared to be redshirt freshman Ty Simpson and redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe. Both Simpson and Milroe had been backups to former Alabama Crimson Tide Heisman trophy winner Bryce Young in 2023, and Milroe was his backup in 2022 as well.
The competition was so unsettled, it prompted head coach Nick Saban and newly hired offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to bring in his previously highly recruited quarterback from Notre Dame, Tyler Buchner, who was injured for a large part of the 2022 season before re-appearing in the bowl game against South Carolina to end the season.
The battle was still unsettled despite Buchner being added to the room through August to the point that Saban came out in a press conference calling out his quarterbacks calling out his quarterback to play well enough to “force me to play you,” as elaborated on in an article by www.si.com’s BamaCentral writer Austin Hannon.
This was quite puzzling considering Buchner, Simpson and Milroe all had at least one year of FBS football under their belts; with Simpson and Milroe’s specifically coming in Tuscaloosa.
Some understanding of the struggles was made sense of however as previous offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien who commanded the offense in 2021 and 2022 was blamed by many for the early offensive struggles that continued into the season in 2023, despite his departure earlier that year in February before the season began.
With all that said, the offense appeared to be rounding into form, until the offense faceplanted in the college football semifinal against the Michigan Wolverines. The offense saw numerous bad snaps from second year starting center Seth Mcglaughlin, as well as only 116 yards passing by Milroe.
Tide Talk Live’s Stacey Blackwood analyzed the game on a ecent YouTube episode of their podcast series saying , “Early season struggles really manifested today in this game…Milroe’s next step as a quarterback is reading the defense pre-snap. He is not there.” Blackwood and co-host Jake Thomas analyze in the episode as well on Milroe’s inability to recognize the defense, protections and need to improve in those areas.
With the passing game doing enough to get by all season, and finally rearing its head during one of the biggest games of the year that contributed to the Tide’s inability to secure the win to head to the national championship, look for the quarterback controversy to heat up again this offseason as Tide fans tend to have expectations of national championship or bust.
And not only that, but it is well-known not only in Tuscaloosa, but nationally that the Tide will have 2024 quarterback signee, Julian Sayin on its roster. According to www.on3.com’s 2024 high school recruitment rankings, Sayin was the number one rated quarterback nationally, as well as the fifth overall prospect regardless of position.
The Tide got an early glimpse of Sayin as he joined the team in mid-December for bowl practices in preparation for the Rose Bowl against Michigan. Sayin drew eyes immediately from media and players alike. So while naturally one would think the quarterback controversy would be between Milroe and Simpson if there is one this offseason, look for Sayin to assert himself as the number one ranked quarterback he is.
According to an article by www.si.com ‘s Writer Joe Gaither of BamaCentral, when asked about how Sayin is performing in practice, Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe said, “he spins the ball really well.” And that has been evident in any clips found of Sayin as well.
So with expectations sky high and three quarterbacks behind Milroe with experience in sophomore Dylan Lonergan, junior Ty Simpson and freshman sensation Julian Sayin, this can only be a good thing for the Tide. Either Milroe keeps improving incrementally and the Tide thrive of it, or the potentially thrive because of another quarterback. This wasn’t necessarily the case in 2023, but with more experience and skill in the room could very well be the case in 2024.