James Jones column: Alabama football stays in spotlight

Published 5:13 am Friday, September 22, 2023

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Talk about the University of Alabama football team has gone past Dallas County and across the state.

The Crimson Tide is now the talk of the nation after its 17-3 victory over South Florida.

Alabama has slipped from 10th to 13th in the Associated Press and Coaches Polls and was a 33-point favorite to beat the Bulls in Tampa.

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We know a torrential rainstorm hit Florida during the time of the game, but that’s no excuse for Alabama’s disastrous performance.

We could relate to the storm as thunder hit The Selma Times-Journal’s office around that same time, knocking off our network.

While we recovered and took care of business, the Crimson Tide did not. The players looked as if they had never played football before. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees seems out of touch with his play calling .

In this space last week, I critiqued quarterback Jalen Milroe’s performance against Texas two weeks ago.

A Power 5 defensive coordinator told ESPN that Milroe was essentially the same player he watched on film from a year ago: “Big play or nothing.”

Looking back further, Milroe has not changed much in the three previous years.

While I still don’t think Milroe’s the answer at quarterback, it’s not all on him.  Milroe did not play against the Bulls, but Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson were worse and it’s easy to see why Alabama went back to Milroe.

The problem goes beyond the quarterbacks. The offensive line looks a mess and can’t open up holes for the running backs.

I believe the offensive coordinators should call better plays for the team to have success.

According to ESPN, coaches around the SEC last season said privately Bryce Young covered up a lot of Alabama’s flaws.

Young carried Alabama to the national title games in 2021 en-route to the Heisman Trophy but I disagree with the assessment that last year’s team went 11-2 and was two plays away from being unbeaten.  Poor officiating cost the Crimson Tide against Tennessee. LSU took a lucky two-point conversion gamble and won in Baton Rouge.

Alabama returns home to Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday for a showdown against Ole Miss.

Another home loss will keep the sound of retirement for head coach Nick Saban. If Alabama wants a berth in the SEC title, beating the Rebels will be a start. Anything else will be a disappointment.