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Jalen Milroe, No. 11 Alabama look to stay hot vs. Arkansas

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Jalen Milroe no longer has to look over his shoulder and is firmly entrenched as Alabama’s starting quarterback.

Benched earlier this season, Milroe has since displayed he is the top signal-caller on the roster, and he will look to help the No. 11 Crimson Tide win their fifth straight game when they face Arkansas on Saturday in Southeastern Conference play at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Milroe further stamped his name atop the depth chart by throwing three touchdown passes and compiling a career-high 321 yards through the air in last Saturday’s 26-20 road win over Texas A&M.

He lost the starting gig after throwing two interceptions in a 34-24 home loss to then-No. 11 Texas on Sept. 9.

The next week, he never got into the game as Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson handled the QB duties against South Florida. The Alabama offense was lethargic throughout that 17-3 victory, and it was a one-score game until the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown with 33 seconds left.

That contest made it clear to Saban that there was no longer a quarterback dilemma. The focus now is on helping Milroe improve.

“You cannot allow one play to affect the next play,” Saban said of Milroe. “And that’s something he’s learned and is doing a lot better, staying much more positive on the sidelines, communicating well with his teammates and coaches in terms of what he saw, what he didn’t see, what he needs to do to get it corrected.

“So that’s something that comes a little bit with experience. But I also think it comes with awareness, and I think we’re making good progress in both areas.”

Milroe has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 1,159 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

Wideout Jermaine Burton had a big day against the Aggies. He made a career-best nine receptions, matched his career high of 197 yards and caught two touchdown passes.

The Crimson Tide (5-1, 3-0) moved into first place in the SEC West by beating Texas A&M. Now they will face Arkansas (2-4, 0-3), which has dropped four straight games and has allowed an average of 33.3 points during the skid.

Saban is doing all he can to make the Razorbacks sound like a dangerous opponent, even though Alabama has won the past 16 matchups. The Crimson Tide lead the series 25-8.

“Arkansas is really a good team,” Saban said. “They’ve had some really tough games, some really close losses. But they’ve scored a lot of points.

“KJ Jefferson is a really good, big-time quarterback — big guy, hard to sack, can run, very talented arm.”

Jefferson has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 1,300 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. In last Saturday’s 27-20 loss at Ole Miss, he passed for 250 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“He’s just like everybody else on the team,” Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman said. “He’s got to continue to get better as well. I know he played extremely hard.”

Jefferson said his club needs to regroup entering the clash with Alabama.

“Just having faith in each other,” he said. “I mean just each and every day at practice and in the locker room as well, just make sure we’re still bonded together, we’re still having fun, we’re still in the moment and we’re still passionate about the team and this sport and the state.”

Jefferson has been sacked 12 times over the past two games, so Alabama defensive stalwarts Dallas Turner (6.5 sacks) and Chris Braswell (4.5) will look to pad their totals.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media features breaking news & coverage of 7,000+ annual events from a network of more than 200 professional journalists across North America.

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