After an offseason of competition, Alabama has decided on a starting quarterback. The team will reportedly go with Jalen Milroe in the season opener against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, according to ESPN's Chris Low.
Milroe was competing with Tyler Buchner, Dylan Lonergan and Ty Simpson for the job, and reportedly received the majority of first-team snaps in the preseason.
Jalen Milroe will start at QB for @AlabamaFTBL in Saturday’s opener against Middle Tennessee State, sources tell ESPN. Milroe has taken most of the first-team reps this preseason while competing with Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner and freshmen Ty Simpson and Dylan Lonergan.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) September 1, 2023
Milroe will have big shoes to fill. The last four quarterbacks to start for Alabama — Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa and Bryce Young — are currently starters in the NFL. Hurts is coming off a Super Bowl appearance and Young was the most recent No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Milroe hasn't had many opportunities to show off his skills yet. He sat behind Young the past two seasons and has played in just 12 games since 2021. In those contests, Milroe completed 56.7% of his passes and threw six touchdowns against three interceptions.
Milroe started one game for Alabama last season, in which he threw three touchdowns against one interception during a 24-20 win over Texas A&M. Young missed the contest due to a shoulder injury, but was able to return the following week, sending Milroe back to the bench.
Replacing Young won't be easy. In his final two seasons at Alabama, Young threw 79 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions. That performance resulted in the Carolina Panthers making Young the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The competition for Alabama's starting job started the instant Young was gone, and the early returns weren't encouraging. Milroe and Simpson struggled during Alabama's spring game in April, and Lonergan threw a touchdown in limited playing time. Days after that scrimmage, Buchner transferred to Alabama from Notre Dame.
Buchner was immediately thrown into the quarterback competition. He opened the 2022 season as the starter at Notre Dame, but was limited to just three games due to injuries. After entering the transfer portal in April, Buchner decided to reunite with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who also left Notre Dame for Alabama in the offseason.
Milroe will start Saturday, but that doesn't prohibit Buchner from seeing the field. Both players have mobility and can contribute to a run-heavy offense. If that's the way Alabama wants to play in 2023, the player who can avoid turnovers will likely receive more playing time as the season goes on.