Alabama had players who did not perform well enough around Bryce Young in 2022.
Still, it had another significant problem that hindered it from competing for a conference championship and a national championship. Nick Saban captured national championships with teams that were disciplined. Alabama became uncharacteristic last season with unnecessary penalties. The Crimson Tide was one of the most penalized programs in college football.
Alabama committed 103 penalties on an average of eight per game. Mental mistakes led to its two Southeastern Conference losses against Tennessee and LSU. It had 17 penalties — the most by a Saban-coached team — for a loss of 130 yards versus the Volunteers. Tennessee earned a 52-49 victory over the Tide at Neyland Stadium. Alabama’s mistakes gave LSU hope, as it committed nine penalties for a loss of 92 yards. Jayden Daniels led the Tigers to a 32-31 overtime victory over the Tide.
The return of Kevin Steele as defensive coordinator was a move Saban needed to stop the bleeding.
He also worked tirelessly in preseason camp to find ways to eliminate penalties. Alabama has added different methods of discipline to hold players and position groups accountable. Saban is zeroed in on this area but knows it’s a work in progress.
“Eliminating penalties has been something for our entire team,” Saban said Wednesday.
“We got way too many penalties last year. We got lots of penalties on the line of scrimmage. We got a lot of penalties on offense on the line of scrimmage. We got a lot of pre-snap penalties, which are lack of discipline things. We’ve tried to do different things in practice to get guys to play with more discipline, to watch the ball, not jump offsides, not be in illegal formations, have better communication with the quarterback so we don’t have false starts, and I think we have made progress in those areas.”
Saban said he tracks every penalty made in practice.
“If anyone gets more than one penalty, their whole group is affected,” he said. “We will see how it works, but heaven knows that’s something we have paid great attention to.”
He does not want to stress over it, but Saban knows mental mistakes can cost you games.
Penalties became the difference between an undefeated Alabama team and a team that finished 11-2 last year.
We will see if this group possesses more discipline.
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber-only content!*