Tide notebook: Saban's midseason report, fumbles and injuries
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Oct 15, 2013 | 2132 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake (17) fumbles the ball deep in Kentucky territory Saturday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake (17) fumbles the ball deep in Kentucky territory Saturday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Midway through the season, Alabama is undefeated and still sitting atop the college football world.

The Crimson Tide has had only one real scare, at Texas A&M, and has won every other game by at least 25 points. While some are praising the team’s efforts, Tide coach Nick Saban’s midseason report would include a few incompletes if he was dishing out grades.

“I don't think that we’ve played our best game by any stretch of the imagination,” Saban said. “There’s a lot of things that we can improve on.”

What are some specific areas for improvement?

“Obviously, we haven’t gotten a lot of turnovers on defense,” Saban said. “I think there’s times when we’ve given up too many big plays on defense.”

But there are a few high marks for certain parts of the team.

“The offensive line has done a nice job of making steady improvement,” Saban said. “That’s going to be something that I think is going to be critical to continued success as we played better and better defensive teams, especially in the front seven. The kicking game has been good for us.”

FUMBLES: Alabama’s two leading rushers, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, each lost a fumble during Saturday’s game at Kentucky. Both finished the game well, but Saban said the turnovers are mistakes that need to be fixed before they cost the Tide.

So what caused the fumbles?

“Probably more than anything, technique,” Saban said. “Took a handoff and put the ball in the wrong arm and then tried to change it and got hit when they were trying to change it. The other time the guy’s carrying the ball a little bit low and trying to give some extra effort and just sort of lost it.

“Uncharacteristic for our backs, but it’s something that we certainly need to work on.”

INJURY UPDATE: Tide center Ryan Kelly has practiced the past two days after missing two weeks with a knee injury. Kelly split first-team snaps with Chad Lindsay on Tuesday during the media’s viewing period.

“Ryan, he’s getting better,” left guard Arie Kouandjio said. “He’s been out on the field throughout the first two practices this week. He’s progressing. He looked good today. I noticed it, actually. He looks like he’s on the right track back.”

Outside linebacker Denzel Devall (knee) went through drills with no brace, but wore protective padding. He wasn’t limited, but was limping noticeably between drills.

Linebacker Trey DePriest said true freshman cornerback Eddie Jackson (ankle) is still “struggling with an injury.” Bradley Sylve, who started against Kentucky, has continued to fill in.
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