Jalen Milroe was magnificent, the defense did its job and Alabama routed Middle Tennessee 56-7 to open the season Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Milroe threw for 194 yards on 13-of-18 passing and ran for another 48. He scored twice and threw a trio of touchdown strikes.

To their credit, Bama’s receivers had no apparent drops.

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“The players kind of delivered. They had good energy and enthusiasm. They answered the bell the way we wanted them to. I was pleased with the toughness," said Alabama football head coach Nick Saban.

“The receivers did a good job getting open. The receiver group has improved," said Saban.

“I think Jalen did a good job. He’s had a good fall camp. He’s more confident. He did a good job in the passing game and has good athleticism. He’s a threat, and I thought he threw the ball effectively," said Saban.

“As he continues to develop and gain experience, he’s going to play better and better. I love him and I think he’s doing well," said Saban.

Milroe said, “There are some things I can clean up. I just want to be the best version of myself. I just worry about getting one per cent better every day."

"When I’m on the field, I want the guys to trust me. I need to get better as a loader and overall. I want to continue to build. There’s some things I need to improve on," said Milroe.

Added running back Jase McClellan: “I think Jalen [Milroe] stepped up to the standard and stepped up to the plate, being that guy we need, making plays and doing what he’s capable of.”

McClellan ran for 39 yards on ten totes with one TD.

Milroe was the leading rusher for Bama and Isaiah Bond was his top receiver with five catches for 76 yards and a score.

The Tide defense was solid for the most part.

Saban said, “We tackled decent. We had a couple of missed tackles. I think we did a good job tackling in space and that’s whey they didn’t have a lot of explosive plays.”

Deontae Lawson [seven tackles] added, “Teams like that are air raid, sow we had to rally to the ball and gang-tackle.

“I think we did pretty good, but they still scored, so we’ve got some things we need to work on.”

True freshman Caleb Downs had eight stops to lead the Tide.

Milroe took the Tide 63 yards and covered the final 21 himself after fielding a low snap for an early 7-0 lead at the 10:49 mark of the first quarter. Isaiah Bond’s hands and Jase McClellan’s legs were also big on the opening march.

Kool-Aid McKinstry defensed a third down Raiders pass then returned a punt 21 yards to the MTSU 47. Milroe and short yardage specialist Roydell Williams both converted short third downs, and, to the delight of Bama fans, the Tide lined up under center consistently on short yardage plays. McClellan got the final yard to cap the 47-yard drive and Bama led 14-0 with 4:15 left in the opening period.

Though the Alabama defense played well for the most part early, penalties stalled the Blue Raiders on several occasions. A sack by Quandarius Robinson after a Raider chop block set up Alabama’s third drive of the first half.

To the visitors’ credit, MTSU drove the length of the field and nearly got on the board but Zeke Rankin missed a 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter. A Chris Braswell sack helped stall that Raider march.

UAB transfer Jalen Key set the Crimson Tide up at the MTSU 42. Dallas Turner pressured Raiders quarterback Nick Vattiatto on the play, forcing him to get rid of the ball early.

Aided by a pass interference and horse collar calls against the Raiders, Bama moved to the 13 and Milroe took it to pay dirt from there. With 3:07 to go in the half, the Tide was up 21-0.

After a Deontae Lawson sack and a Braswell pressure, McKinstry’s short return set up the Tide at the Blue Raiders 47. From there, Milroe cashed in to Bond with a TD strike on the first play from scrimmage, and The Tide led 28-0 with 1:58 left in the half. That four-score lead held through intermission.

Milroe scrambled 25 yards to midfield to convert a third down on Alabama’s opening drive of the third quarter. The redshirt sophomore then hit Jermain Burton for a 48-yard touchdown strike and Bama led 35-0. The 75-yard drive took just 2:06 off the clock.

McKinstry – the closest thing Bama has had to the FSU version of Deion Sanders – returned a punt 33 yards to the Raiders’ 34. Two plays later, Milroe hit Amari Niblack for 29 yards and a 42-0 Tide lead.

Moments later, it was learned that Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner was the backup to Milroe at least for this game. He entered with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

Bryce Bailey got the visitors on the board with a seven-yard catch with but 32 seconds left in the third. The line of 39 was in jeopardy at that point as Bama led 42-7. It would be up to the Tide’s backup defenders to maintain that margin.

They did their part when Kendrick Blackshire recovered a late fumble. That set up a one-yard sneak by Ty Simpson, the third quarterback to play.

Those with Vegas ties related some when Buchner scored from the nine to push the Tide lead back to 42 with 10:38 left.

Next up for 1-0 Alabama is a home game against the Texas Longhorns, who are also 1-0 after a 37-10 win over Rice Saturday. Game time is set for 6 p.m. CT.

“It’s just another game on the schedule,” Milroe said, and he’s a Texas native. “We’re just blessed to play the game.”

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