Saturday's A-Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium marked the beginning of a new era for the Alabama football program. For the first time in nearly two decades, legendary head coach Nick Saban won't be roaming the Crimson Tide sidelines. Instead, it will be Kalen DeBoer, the former Washington Huskies head coach who parlayed his team's run to the College Football Playoff last year into arguably the most prestigious coaching job in all of college football. DeBoer will be the 28th head coach in program history, but there will be no grace period. Championship expectations are just a part of the job in Tuscaloosa, but fortunately for DeBoer, he's got one hell of a squad to work with this season.

Leading the way for the Alabama football team is quarterback Jalen Milroe, who began last year as an iffy starter but developed into one of the most dynamic players in the country by season's end. Milroe finished 6th in Heisman Trophy voting and was named SEC Championship Game MVP in Alabama's win over Georgia. Now, with a full season as a starter under his belt and one of the best offensive coaches in the country leading the team, expectations have never been higher for the 21-year-old senior QB. But for Kalen DeBoer, Milroe's work this spring has been entirely about making incremental improvements before the season begins.

“It’s something that’s progressed throughout the spring,” DeBoer said on Saturday in regard to a question about Bama's offense scoring quickly on multiple drives in the 1st half (h/t Spenser Davis of Saturday Down South). “It’s just timing, it’s confidence, it’s read progressions and things like that. And identifying ‘there’s my one-on-one. There’s my guy.’ Where to put the ball. So I think it’s something that has gotten to this point and it was great to see him [Milroe] continue to take that next step and have that progression. So, the last week or two, I think that’s been pretty consistent. Early on, I can’t say any of the quarterbacks were just getting dialed in and those plays were being made.”

Last season, the Washington Huskies averaged over 120 more passing yards per game than Alabama did. A key reason for this massive gap between the two schools was Washington's ability to create big plays downfield in the passing game. According to Spenser Davis, the Huskies 202 plays of 10+ passing yards were the most in the country last season. Bama was tied for 9th in the SEC in the same category. Of course, this has nearly as much to do with personnel as it does scheme. Yes, bringing Kalen DeBoer in will make Bama a more explosive team in the passing game, but Jalen Milroe just isn't on the same level as a passer as Michael Penix Jr. was, and Alabama's receivers weren't as talented as Washington's.

Maybe that changes this year. Perhaps by the time September rolls around, DeBoer will have this Crimson Tide offense looking like the Huskies offense did last year, only with this added wrinkle: Michael Penix Jr. was nowhere near the running threat that Jalen Milroe has proven to be. Last season, Milroe rushed for 531 yards and 12 touchdowns, which is a dynamic that Washington's offense did not have. Surely Kalen DeBoer will find the best possible ways to use his Heisman candidate quarterback, just as he did last year with Penix.