Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been relentless in his pursuit of excellence for quarterback Jalen Milroe. Throughout the season, Saban has emphasized one simple message: be a point guard. This unique approach has resonated with Milroe, propelling him to new heights of performance.
Saban revealed that this mantra is a departure from his usual coaching style. However, he recognized its relevance to Milroe's mindset and his integral role in the team's success.
“Well I think that it’s just something that I thought would be apropos for Jalen in terms of his thought process. How important it is for him to execute and not think that he has to make every play, but that distributing the ball to the right place is actually making plays and the whole idea is to play winning football at your position and making good choices and decisions is probably the key to the drill there, much like a point guard in basketball,” Saban said.
Since taking the helm as the starting quarterback, Milroe has led Alabama to an impressive 5-1 record. With only one interception in his last three games, Milroe has shown growth and maturity in protecting the ball.
His passing efficiency has displayed occasional fluctuations. Following a standout performance against Texas A&M with 321 passing yards and a 63.6% completion rate, Milroe faced a slight dip in his next game against Arkansas, throwing for 238 yards with a 47.6% completion rate. Nonetheless, he managed to contribute five passing touchdowns and just one interception in those two games, resulting in victories for Alabama.
However, it is not just Milroe's passing abilities that contribute to his value. Saban acknowledges the added dimension of Milroe's rushing prowess, providing an extra layer of unpredictability for the opposing defense.
While not flawless, Milroe has internalized Saban's message of distributing the ball effectively, allowing his talented teammates to shine. Saban recognizes this growth in Milroe's understanding of his role and its impact on the offense.
“So it’s not something I’ve used in the past but I do think it’s sort of something that resonated with him, that’s helped him grow and develop at the position,” Saban said.
Saban firmly believes that Milroe's performance sets the tone for the entire team. As Milroe continues to gain a better understanding of his responsibilities and execute plays with confidence, the team's success follows suit.
“Well I think he has a better understanding of the expectation for him in terms of how he influences, impacts the offense through his execution. So I think that he’s developed a lot more confidence and I think that he has to continue to grow and develop the ability to sort of be able to sustain — nobody can play perfect, so there’s going to be some bumps in the road that you have to go through. But how you manage those, I think, is really, really important,” Saban said. “And I think that’s something he’s gotten much better at as well. And I think that’s critical at the quarterback position because everybody else on the team, the offensive team, is kind of looking to you for that kind of confidence and ability to execute.”
In conclusion, Jalen Milroe's transformation into a point guard-like quarterback has been instrumental in Alabama's success. His ability to distribute the ball effectively, make sound decisions, and grow in confidence has elevated his performance and inspired his teammates. As Milroe continues to evolve, the future looks bright for Alabama's dynamic offense.