Why hasn't Alabama football forced as many turnovers this season? What Nick Saban said

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

The Thursday before the LSU game, Nick Saban was taking part in his weekly radio show when he clearly had a subject he wanted to talk about.  

The Alabama football coach was asked what his favorite drill is in practice. The one that gets him fired up the most. Saban decided to focus his answer on an aspect that has been challenging for Alabama this season.

Forcing turnovers.

“We do turnover drills to start practice every day,” Saban said in early November. “How do you tomahawk the ball when you’re trying to tackle somebody so you create a fumble? How do you punch the ball out the back?”

Saban said his staff tries to have drills that give players an opportunity to do that in practice.   

“It’s frustrating when you try to teach all these things and you don’t actually see it in a game like you want it to happen,” Saban said.

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Saban probably decided to take the question in this direction because the defense hasn’t been forcing turnovers like normal this season. Alabama has nine turnovers through 10 games. That’s not even a turnover a game.

During the 2021 season, the Crimson Tide forced 20 of them over 15 games. During the regular season, Alabama had 17 over 12 games.

The No. 9 Crimson Tide (8-2) should have a chance to add a few while facing an FCS team in Austin Peay (7-3) of the Atlantic Sun on Saturday (11 a.m., SEC Network+) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Saban said Monday he can’t pinpoint why there have been fewer turnovers this season from his defense.

“It comes down to player awareness,” Saban said. “It comes down to player focus. It comes down to, on defense, you’ve got to be physical. When you’re physical, you knock the ball off of people. When you have good clean up, which means a lot of guys are getting to the ball, the second guy in has a chance to take a shot at the ball.”

Saban thought Alabama did better with those elements in the Ole Miss game, which the Crimson Tide won 30-24. Defensive end Byron Young forced a fumble in the second quarter, which led to a touchdown pass shortly after.

Alabama also could have had an interception, but safety Jordan Battle couldn’t quite bring the pass in.

“We’ve just got to keep harping on it,” Saban said, “and working on it with our players to work on, how do you get the ball out? When do you take shots at it? And try to do it better because this is something that has a significant impact on the game. We need to do a better job in that regard.”