Nick Saban has decided who will start at quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday, and his decision left a lot of people scratching their heads.
Redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe started the first two games of the season for the Tide.
But after a difficult show against Texas, where he went just 14-of-27 for 255 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 34-24 loss, Miroe was benched.
Instead, it was Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner who got the start against South Florida in Week 3. Unfortunately for Bama, Buchner was somehow worse than Milroe.
Buchner completed just 5 of his 14 passes for 34 yards as the Tide limped to a 3-3 tie at the half. Redshirt freshman Ty Simpson then replaced Buchner, but he wasn’t much better. Simpson went 5-of-9 for 73 yards and Bama figured just enough out offensively to pick up a 17-3 victory.
Which brings us to Monday, when Saban met with members of the media for his weekly press conference.
The Crimson Tide welcomes Ole Miss to Tuscaloosa on Saturday to begin SEC play. And everyone wanted to know who would get the call as QB1.
Nick Saban indicates Jalen Milroe will be Alabama's starting QB moving forward pic.twitter.com/ONLUqfRJl6
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) September 18, 2023
As it turns out, Saban did a complete 180. The legendary head coach announced that Milroe, who was the third quarterback against USF, will start against the Rebs.
“Jalen played the best of all those guys, so I think he’s earned the opportunity,” Saban said of his decision.
But it left fans feeling extremely puzzled.
It was a bizarre Saban move. He doesnt trust his staff…. clearly. https://t.co/336hH72e8x
— Billy Mansell (@Hombrevender) September 18, 2023
Yeah I don’t understand why they even wasted their time with Buchner https://t.co/ujQLORRerX
— Cam ⚡️ (@solodecam) September 18, 2023
The numbers indicate that Milroe is clearly Alabama’s best option.
Milroe: 76.0 Total QBR, 7.8 yds/dropback
Simpson: 24.3 Total QBR, 3.5 yds/db
Buchner: 18.5 Total QBR, 3.5 yds/db
I'd say this is a reasonably logical decision. https://t.co/eFCPGTHXR1
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) September 18, 2023
But it’s still strange to see him go from starter, to third string, to starter.
It’s also not a particularly good sign for the Tide as they enter the heart of their schedule. Each team remaining on Alabama’s schedule has a winning record through three weeks.
So Saban better hope that Milroe is the answer under center.