What We Learned: Alabama vs Texas A&M

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) celebrates against Texas A&M at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Oct 8, 2022.

By the skin of their teeth, the Alabama Crimson Tide survived an upset effort at home from Texas A&M by way of a 24-20 victory that came down to the final play of the game. There is no way this should have been as close as it was, but nonetheless, it is a win and move on for the Tide and there is plenty we can take away. Let’s start with the good, because there isn’t much.

Defense steps up when it counts:

The Crimson Tide defense actually played pretty well for most of the night. They gave the offense plenty of opportunities to shut the game down and step on the Aggies throats, but they were never able to seize the chance. But when it really came down to it, with Alabama needing one play on the goal line to win the game and escape with a victory, Terrion Arnold played perfect coverage, everyone stayed with their assignment, and the Tide were able to get the stop.

Jahmyr Gibbs is one of the most talented running backs Alabama has ever had:

If it weren’t for Gibbs, there is a really good chance that Alabama loses this game. When things weren’t going well for the offense, it seemed like Gibbs just kept having big carry after big carry, finishing with 21 rushes for 154 yards. He is so tough to bring down in the open field and once he gets an inch of space, he’s a big play waiting to happen. Not to mention the value he’s added in the passing game. It seems like we say it every week, but it’s scary to think about where this offense would be at without him.

Jalen Milroe struggles tremendously in the passing game:

Sure, some blame falls on Bill O’Brien for not putting Milroe in the best possible positions to succeed. And Milroe’s game on Saturday night wasn’t as bad as some are spinning it. But turning the ball over three times (two fumbles and an interception) was almost enough to make Alabama lose the game. Will Reichard missing kicks didn’t help things either, however. The offense struggled to create consistent plays downfield, and Milroe threw for 111 yards total.

As I said last week, Alabama is in some serious trouble if Bryce Young can’t play against Tennessee, but it sounds like he’ll be able to go. My biggest takeaway after a game and a half of Milroe is that even though he is the backup and presumed starter for next year, talented freshman Ty Simpson should have every opportunity to win the job in an open competition this summer. For now, the Tide better hope Bryce Young stays healthy from here on out.

Will Reichard doesn’t come through:

For as good as he’s been for the Crimson Tide during his career, Saturday was an ugly one for Will Reichard. The missed 35 yarder with nine minutes left likely would have iced the game by making it a 10 point lead. It was his second miss of the night, missing a 47 yarder earlier in the half. With Alabama flirting with disaster at the end of the game, the field goals would have made the difference. I’ll chock it up to an off night, but the Tide will need him to get it back together down the stretch, especially if they continue to play close games.

Overall assessment:

Like I said earlier, this is a win and move on for the Tide. They’re lucky to get away with this one after letting the Aggies hang around and not put them away despite multiple opportunities to do so. The schedule doesn’t get any easier from here, and with the biggest game of the season coming up next week in Knoxville, Alabama simply needs to play a lot better. Having a Heisman winning QB back should help. Strap in Tide fans, we’re in for a roller coaster of a season the rest of the way.