TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –Despite being without his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and turning the ball over four times, Alabama’s No. 1 hung on to beat Texas A&M 24-20 on Saturday night.
Crimson Tide star quarterback Bryce Young hasn’t played as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.
Sophomore Jalen Milroe struggled to replace him, throwing three touchdowns while turning the ball over three times (one interception and two fumbles).
Alabama coach Nick Saban highlighted his team’s 111 passing yards and said, “So something about the passing game has to improve.”
“I don’t put it all on him,” he said of Milroe. “I’m just saying we need to do a better job of protecting. We need to do a better job on the road. And we need to do a better job of being able to make good decisions in the pocket so that we don’t have parts. negative.”
Alabama running back Jase McClellan lost a fumble, Will Reichard missed two field goals, and twice the offense reached the end zone without putting up any points on the board. Alabama’s four turnovers (6-0) were the most committed in a game since 2015 against Ole Miss.
A pass interference penalty gave Texas A&M (3-3) the ball at the 2-yard line with three seconds left in the game. But Haynes King’s pass to Evan Stewart remained incomplete.
“There are no moral victories, but it shows what we are capable of, how we can play and what we can do,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We have to regroup next week and play our tails and improve and finish these last six games like we have to play the rest of the year. It gives us a vision of what we can be and what we can do. .”
As Fisher added, “We fought. They’re a good team. We were a good team today and we missed a game.”
Saban watched the game back and said it was not “winning football”.
With Tide’s second-team quarterback, Saban said, everyone had to play better.
“Jalen did some good things, but obviously some turnovers,” Saban said. “But he’s going to live and learn. And we’re going to live and learn with him.
“So we’ll see what progress Bryce makes next week.”
Saban said Young wanted to come into the game in the fourth quarter.
He praised Young’s leadership, encouraging Milroe throughout the tilt. Young found Milroe after the game was over, and the two shared a long hug.
“Bryce is a good leader,” Saban said. “That’s what good leaders do. They set a good example.”
Milroe, who was second on the team in rushing for 83 yards, called the game a learning experience.
“I’m happy,” he said. “You know, we’re going to turn on the band and fix whatever we need to fix, but right now I’m excited.”
Fisher scoffed at the idea that Saturday’s game was tight due to Young’s absence, pointing out that the Aggies were also missing key players.
“We didn’t have Ainias Smith,” Fisher said, referring to the wide receiver who came out with a season-ending injury. “We didn’t have our left tackle. We didn’t have our left guard. It’s the first time we’ve had [defensive tackle] McKinley Jackson. We did not have [defensive lineman] Shemar Turner. We have also been understaffed all year.
“We’re not looking for scruples, and he won’t either. I know Nick. He won’t be looking for scruples. We were also playing a backup quarterback. So there were two good teams there that got together. beaten and got down to it.”
The Alabama defense, led by outstanding linebacker Will Anderson Jr., kept the pressure on King and the Aggies all night. Anderson finished with eight of the team’s 14 rushing quarterbacks. He also had 12 pressures in the game, which is tied for the most in the country this season.
King, who started an injured Max Johnson, has been sacked three times.
Alabama takes the road to No. 8 Tennessee next Saturday.
ESPN’s Chris Low contributed to this report.