There may not be such thing as finding a true replacement for Bryce Young, but Alabama began that journey on Monday as it began its spring football season.
This year the battle is between redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson both of whom have already been debated at length and will continue to be until the Crimson Tide kicks off the 2023 season against Middle Tennessee State this fall.
Although the team’s practices are closed to the media the program did provide an albeit brief glimpse of what’s going on inside the Mal Moore Athletic Facility.
If you squint real tight, you can see Jalen Milroe working with what appears to be the first team offense at QB.
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) March 20, 2023
Milroe can be seen in the photo working with wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks who is the Crimson Tide’s top returning target from a season ago. Brooks is also working against defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry who is amongst the team’s best players period.
At the very least Milroe is taking reps with the first-team offense which should come as a surprise to no one.
Nick Saban has always been fair to his tenured players in spring football to work with the top groups in order to earn a starting spot.
Milroe is also the far more experienced player of the two seeing that he had extended playing time against Arkansas and started a game against Texas A&M last season while Young dealt with a shoulder injury.
During both games, Milroe showed off his special ability to use his legs with the most glowing example coming on a 77-yard scramble against the Razorbacks. But it was his lack of ability to pass through the air which left some to be desired in his appearances. He completed just 58.5% of his passes along with five touchdowns and three interceptions while throwing for a total of 297 yards in eight appearances.
This is what’s cracked the door open for Simpson to compete.
Even when he was being recruited it was clear the strength of Simpson’s game was his ability to throw the football and even though he can’t make plays like Milroe with his legs, he has an excellent ability to extend plays outside the pocket.
The only issue for Simpson is that none of this ability has been truly displayed at the college level.
Simpson completed just four-of-five passes in his four games of action during his freshman season at Alabama which was largely due to his mop-up duty which required him to simply run out the clock late in games.
For the most part, neither of the two has had the luxury of extended playing time which is why Saban believes this time is crucial for each one’s development.
“I think everybody has an opportunity,” Saban said when addressing the media on Monday. “None of the guys have a significant amount of experience. I think Jalen played one game, half a game where he really had to play game, and he made a lot of plays. He made plays in a different way than Bryce made plays.
“Ty, who made significant progress throughout the year but never really had much of an opportunity to play in critical situations in a game, is also someone that we think has developed and made a lot of improvement and has a lot of potential to be a good player.
“Then we’ve got two young freshmen that they probably have a long way to go, but they’re wager to learn and they’re eager to try to improve and get a better understanding of what we need to do. But development at that position is really gonna be a critical thing for our team this year because I like the players that we have around them.”
Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson practice highlights.
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) March 21, 2023
There’s still a long way off before a true decision must be made, but the battle between Milroe and Simpson will continue to ramp up.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77