Chris Kirschner/SEC Country
Nick Saban hopes to fix Alabama's punt return miscues this week.

Alabama football: Nick Saban aims to fix punt return issues during bye week

Matt Speakman

Alabama football drives the conversation here at the Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every sport on campus.

Fixing a problem

Alabama’s season is off to a perfect start. The Crimson Tide has dominated every opponent it has played, looking seemingly flawless in the process. But there is one area where Alabama has had flaws: punt returns. Most concerning, Tide punt returners have fumbled the ball 5 times this season. Xavian Marks muffed a punt and fumbled on a return last week against Tennessee. The week before, Trevon Diggs and Henry Ruggs III combined for 3 muffs and 1 fumble against Arkansas.

Punt returns remain a big concern for Alabama, and coach Nick Saban says it will be addressed this week.

“The thing about it is when guys sort of don’t have success, what is their confidence level? How comfortable are they?” Saban said. “Judgment is really important and ball security is important.”

Read the highlights from Saban’s news conference here.

In other headlines …

  • Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand was at practice wearing a black, non-contact jersey.
  • How does Alabama grade out halfway through the season? Here is our midseason report card.
  • AL.com broke down the eight things Alabama can fix this season,
  • Fox Sports radio host Colin Cowherd said Ohio State would “house” Alabama in a College Football Playoff national championship matchup.
  • Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts’ Heisman Trophy odds raised in Vegas this week.
  • SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy believes Alabama is not a guaranteed No.1 in first playoff rankings.
  • Nebraska wide receiver commit Justin Moore said his visit to Alabama gives him something to think about.
  • Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin had a funny response to a fan’s tweet saying FAU beat Alabama in the NCAA 14 video game.

Super freshmen

Alabama men’s and women’s basketball teams held their annual Tide Tipoff event on Tuesday. The main event was a 20-minute scrimmage for the men’s team. During that scrimmage, freshman guards Collin Sexton and John Petty took over while playing on opposite teams. Both made flashy plays and showed they can shoot from beyond the arc. Petty would ultimately lead the white team to a 3-point victory against the crimson team.

Burning a redshirt

It may have been subtle, but Alabama made a strategic move for the future against Tennessee. Late in the game, linebacker VanDarius Cowan entered the game, his first action this season. He did not record any stats, but the appearance burned Cowan’s redshirt and made him the 17th true freshman to record playing time for Alabama this season. When asked, Saban said it was to prepare for teams who use “regular formations.”

Around the Capstone

  • Alabama gymnastics held its annual Ghosts and Goblins event.
  • Alabama swimming opens up its SEC and home schedule on Wednesday.

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