The arrival of Tommy Rees as Alabama’s offensive coordinator can be the key ingredient to elevate returning part-time starter Jalen Milroe, who is the only quarterback in the Crimson Tide room, according to Touchdown Alabama Mag’s Stephen M. Smith.
Just like Lane Kiffin elevated Blake Sims in the 2014 quarterback battle, Smith surmises, Rees could do the same for Milroe.
“Blake Sims was not the popular choice for Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2014, but Lane Kiffin helped him,” Smith prefaced before saying, “Tommy Rees has a chance to help Milroe prove his doubters wrong.”
All it will take for Milroe to reach more of his potential is a slight tweak from Rees, just as Kiffin did for Sims. Milroe had 297 passing yards, five passing touchdowns to three interceptions, 263 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown in 2022 in one full start and eight appearances total.
“Kiffin tweaked Sims’ game a little, and it got him to succeed,” Smith wrote. “Rees potentially can do the same for Milroe.”
Tommy Rees Has Proven Track Record at Notre Dame
Smith broke down Rees’ long history of developing quarterbacks during the former Fighting Irish signal-caller’s stint as Notre Dame offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach — and the Touchdown Alabama Mag writer sees Milroe as a superior option to all of them.
“The 30-year-old mentored signal-callers to success at Notre Dame that were not as talented as Milroe,” Smith wrote. “Ian Book had mobility in his game, and Rees pushed him to lead the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff a couple of times. Rees took Jack Coan, an Indiana transfer, and propelled him to have his best season as a quarterback in 2021. Drew Pyne tossed for 22 touchdowns to six interceptions in 2022 as Notre Dame went 9-4. Brandon Wimbush was the quarterback in 2017 when Rees served as a quarterback coach. He guided Wimbush to 30 total touchdowns, including 16 touchdown passes to six picks.”
Rees sent two quarterbacks to the pro ranks: NFL quarterback Ian Book and XFL quarterback Jack Coan.
The Case for Jalen Milroe to Start For Alabama
Smith sees Milroe as the superior starting quarterback option over redshirt freshman Ty Simpson due to his athleticism and, mostly, his experience in marquee SEC matchups.
Smith spoke to his fill-in second half start during an October 1 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville due to a Bryce Young shoulder injury as well as his start during the Crimson Tide’s October 8 victory over Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa.
“(Milroe) stabilized the offense against the Razorbacks, accounting for 156 total yards (91 rushing, 65 passing) and two touchdowns in a 49-26 victory for the Crimson Tide,” Smith recalled. “People talk about his mistakes versus the Aggies, yet Milroe posted three touchdown passes in a 24-20 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.”
Smith believes Milroe will cut down on turnovers, but regardless, will be Nick Saban’s lean due to his SEC experience.
“He will learn to take better care of the football, but Nick Saban values experience in marquee games from his quarterback,” Smith wrote. “Milroe has that going from him and can draw from that in spring ball.”