TAMPA, FLORIDA — Instead of delaying an inevitable beatdown that most people predicted, the near one-hour disruption in Saturday afternoon’s game involving No. 10 Alabama put a temporary halt on observers being subjected to the lackluster offense and crucial mistakes that have highlighted the Crimson Tide’s uneven start to their 2023 campaign. After the delay, head coach Nick Saban made a move that he hopes will jumpstart his squad before conference play arrives next week.
Third=string quarterback Ty Simpson led all three of the Crimson Tide’s scoring drives during Alabama’s 17-3 victory over the University of South Florida inside a waterlogged Raymond James Stadium that saw a 55-minute weather delay due to lightning in the area. Running back Roydell Williams rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown for Alabama, yet the offense that struggled in its home loss to Texas last week exhibited more growing pains against a team that went 1-11 last season.
Tyler Buchner, a transfer from Notre Dame, started today’s game after Jalen Milroe won the quarterback battle in the summer and was under center in the first two games, but Buchner struggled mightily in going 5-for-14 for 34 yards.
Alabama was down 3-0 in the second quarter before its defense forced a turnover, a Dallas Turner forced fumble that recovered by the Crimson Tide at USF’s 25-yard line. Simpson was inserted at quarterback afterward, and his first drive ended with a Will REichard 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
“I know you’re going to ask about the quarterbacks, but we’re going to evaluate (them) on how they played today and evaluate Jalen Milroe on how he played (in his two starts),” Saban said. “We’ll decide this week who gives us the best opportunity to be successful as an offensive team, and that’s the way we’ll go.”
Simpson finally led the Crimson Tide into the end zone, using a 45-yard pass completion to C.J. Dippre to set up Williams’ 1-yard touchdown plunge to give Alabama a 10-3 lead late in the third quarter. Simpson called his own number to seal the victory, scoring on a 1-yard run with 37 seconds remaining in the contest to punctuate an 11-play, 80-yard drive.
“I know we struggled a little bit on offense,” Saban said. “We ran the ball fairly well, better in the second half than we did in the first. I’m really proud of our players for the way they competed. I need to do a better job of getting them ready to play in games like this. We were a little flat in the beginning, but after the rain delay I thought we competed better.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s contest, with all photos courtesy of Justin Cohen Photography. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 36 pictures in total.