1. Milroe’s maturation
At the beginning of the season, it appeared Alabama had returned to the Tide of the 2000s, with a talented defense, weapons on the outside, but subpar play at the quarterback position. These fears were exacerbated in Alabama’s loss to Texas, in which Jalen Milroe completed just 52 percent of his throws, including two interceptions, and added just 44 yards on the ground.
It was the kind of game that forced reasonable observers into fending off the more reactionary corners of the college football world.
Since then, Milroe’s play has improved dramatically. Like most quarterbacks during the Saban era, it simply took a few games for him to find his footing.
Especially impressive about Milroe is the way he rebounded from the Texas game. The following two weeks, against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Milroe completed 82 percent of his throws and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. His passer rating was 177 against the Rebels and 198 against the Bulldogs.
Under Milroe, the Tide have the nation’s fourth-best red zone offense. They’re seventh-best nationally in third down conversion rate. Milroe’s numbers aren’t suddenly gaudy after that tough start, but he’s evolved into the leader of an offense that gets the job done when it matters most.
A season that started with doom and gloom has become a year that, if the cards fall their way, could feature another Alabama playoff appearance. No player on this team embodies that evolution more than Milroe.