Alabama’s Nick Saban says QB Jalen Milroe will start, responds to Lane Kiffin’s DC comments

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday that Jalen Milroe will start at quarterback for the No. 13 Crimson Tide against No. 15 Ole Miss on Saturday. He added that Kevin Steele remains the defensive coordinator after comments by Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin insinuated otherwise. Here’s what you need to know:

  • After Milroe started Alabama’s first two games, including the loss to Texas, the Crimson Tide turned to Tyler Buchner and then Ty Simpson in Saturday’s 17-3 win at USF. The two combined for 139 passing yards.
  • Saban said Milroe has “earned the opportunity to be the quarterback” after he didn’t appear in the game at USF.
  • Saban also said that Steele still has “all the defensive coordinator responsibilities” but Alabama altered its defensive signaling process. Kiffin told reporters he believed that cornerback coach Travaris Robinson was now calling plays.


Milroe, who was Bryce Young’s top backup last year, won the starting job over the Notre Dame transfer Buchner and redshirt freshman Simpson for the first two games. After Alabama blew out Middle Tennessee, Milroe completed 14-of-27 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss to Texas.

Buchner, who followed offensive coordinator Tommy Rees from Notre Dame to Alabama, started against USF but didn’t lead any scoring drives, completing just 5-of-14 passes for 34 yards. Simpson entered the game in the second quarter and completed 5-of-9 for 73 yards and scored the game’s final touchdown. Milroe didn’t play.

“Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for during (the USF game) in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do,” Saban said Monday. “He’s had the opportunity to play, so have the other guys, and Jalen played the best of all of those guys. So I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”

Saban also denied comments by Kiffin, his former offensive coordinator, who told reporters Sunday they thought it “certainly seems like T-Rob’s now calling the defense.”

“We’re preparing accordingly for him calling the defense,” Kiffin said. “He’s done a good job too, and they’ve got really good players.”

Steele is in his first season back at Alabama as defensive coordinator after two previous stints on Saban’s staff.

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(Photo of Jalen Milroe: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

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