Tide Takes: Alabama is Finding Identity

Every Monday right here you can read Tide Takes, where we’ll get into a different topic on the Crimson Tide, break down the previous game, preview the upcoming game, and everything in between. In this week’s edition, Alabama found a way to win against Ole Miss, and the Crimson Tide seem to be establishing an identity that they can build off of moving forward:

We’ll address the bad first. This offense has problems, and they are problems that will persist for the rest of the season. This Crimson Tide team is never going to have a potent passing attack that strikes fear in the heart of a defense like fans have become accustomed to. It struggles in the red zone, it is still committing sloppy penalties, and there was a very ugly turnover in the end zone by Jalen Milroe.

But Alabama found a way to win on Saturday against Ole Miss by finding its identity. In order to win games, this team must run the ball successfully, and it must play outstanding defense. It’s a formula that has been tried and true in the game of football for as long as the game has been around, and it’s how this team is going to find success this season.

One of the most unsung heroes from Saturday is linebacker Jihaad Campbell. Campbell stepped up tremendously after Deontae Lawson went out of the game with a nasty looking ankle injury and the Crimson Tide defense did not miss a beat.

It was the kind of defensive performance from Alabama that felt like a turning back of the clock to the days when Kirby Smart was around in Tuscaloosa.

You also have to give a lot of credit to Jalen Milroe in this one. Milroe recovered from a brutal early interception to play his best half of football of his entire career. To say Milroe has been doubted would be an understatement.

But he took back over the starting job after a game last week that pretty clearly displayed that for better or worse, he is the best option to help this team win games. And while he wasn’t perfect, he did what he needed to do.

Milroe finished 17 of 21 for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The signature play in this one was midway through the third quarter, when Milroe dropped a dime in the back of the end zone to freshman receiver Jalen Hale on a throw where he took a huge hit. It put Alabama up two scores and Milroe popped back up after appearing injured on the play to celebrate with his teammates. Despite his limitations as a passer, Milroe is the undisputed leader on this team and the team loves and respects him.

It remains to be seen what the ceiling of this Alabama team is. They have back to back road games coming up, and whether the momentum carries over remains to be seen. But defense and a good run game travels, and Alabama seemed to take the first step towards improving as a team.

Is this team good enough to compete for a championship? That question is yet to be answered. Alabama must take things one game at a time, and Saturday’s victory was a great first step.