Jalen Milroe was benched for the Alabama Crimson Tide’s Week 3 game against USF but what led to the starting quarterback being benched so early into the season? Look into the start of the 2023 season for the Tide to understand why.
Why Was Jalen Milroe Benched?
By all accounts, Milroe started the season poorly. He struggled to perform to the high standard set by his predecessors as the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide.
Even before a ball was thrown, there was controversy over who should be the starting quarterback. Who would be the starting quarterback for Alabama in the 2023 season had been a talking point throughout the preseason, with Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, and Tyler Buchner all vying for the starting spot.
Following previous quarterbacks and current NFL players Bryce Young, Mac Jones, and Tua Tagovailoa would be no easy task.
A former four-star recruit, Milroe was eventually named the season starter, but not with conviction. After a difficult first two games to start the season, Milroe was back on the bench in Week 3.
Jalen Milroe Benched in Week 3
After losing 34-24 at home to Texas, Nick Saban decided to bench his starting quarterback. Milroe threw two interceptions and only completed 14 of his 27 attempts that day, contributing to a bad loss for Alabama.
That led to Saban starting Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner under center against USF, a game Alabama won 17-3 while not looking their clinical best.
Buchner was a key factor in the Crimson Tide struggling to impress, completing only 5-of-14 attempts for just 34 yards. That led to Buchner himself seeing the bench before halftime with the freshman quarterback Ty Simpson stepping in.
However, Simpson didn’t improve the quality.
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Speaking on why Milroe was benched, Saban said, “We evaluate every position every week. If guys want security in their position, they need to play well. Everybody on our team knows that. I think everybody’s responded in a positive way to try to get better and improve. We’ll constantly evaluate that position as we do every position.”
Simply put, Milroe did not play well enough to start the season. The game in Week 2 against Texas overwhelmed Milore and was potentially a big game too early in his career as a starter. As Saban said, in this Alabama team, no one is immune from being dropped.
Jalen Milroe Returns as the Starter
After being benched for the game against USF, Milroe returned as the starter the following week in a big SEC matchup against Ole Miss.
On why Milroe was reinstated, Saban told the media, “This is all I’m going to say about this: Jalen showed the leadership that I was looking for during the game in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do. He’s had the opportunity to play. So have the other guys.”
“Jalen played the best of all those guys, so I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”
Speaking before the win over Ole Miss, Alabama offensive lineman JC Latham also praised the attitude of Milroe.
Latham told the media that “he took it on the chin. He knew what he had to do to be better. He’s held himself accountable. He’s held all of us accountable. He is a great example of what a leader is and what a leader needs to do through adversity”
Since being benched, Milroe has thrown for eight touchdowns and three interceptions in five games.
But Saban and Alabama are happy that Milroe has developed through the 2023 season.
Saban has been impressed with how Milroe has grown as a leader, telling the media that his quarterback is “staying much more positive on the sidelines, communicating well with his teammates and coaches.”
Saban also added, “that’s something that comes a little bit with experience. But I also think it comes with awareness, and I think we’re making good progress in both areas.”
After a dreadful quarterbacking display in Week 3 against USF from both Buchner and Simpson, in benching Milroe, Nick Saban did prove one thing: Milroe is Alabama’s best quarterback for this season.
With lackluster performances from both Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson, there can no longer be a debate on who should be the starting quarterback. By benching Milroe, Saban was equally able to teach Milroe a lesson and justify his decision to make Milroe the starter from the beginning.