TUSCALOOSA, Ala -- One area Alabama coach Nick Saban wants his team to improve on is forcing turnovers. On the season, the Crimson Tide have forced seven turnovers (four interceptions, three fumbles).
"We emphasize it all the time," Saban said. "I think that some players just sort of have a mentality for being able to do it and make it happen where other players have a more difficult time sort of developing the kind of habits as a player that would enhance their opportunities to get the ball out. Especially creating fumbles because that's been the thing we've probably not done as much of."
But is it teachable or more luck?
"I think it's very teachable," Saban said. "I think it's something that we emphasize a lot here. It's a little bit disappointing that we haven't been able to get more turnovers this year. I think turnover ratio is one of the most important things in being successful. How many you give up, how many you get."
Added linebacker Trey DePriest, "Sometimes it just happens but other times you have to attack the ball, wrap up and sometimes you have to keep him stood up to where your other players can hit at the ball, rip at the ball."
Landon Collins and Geno Smith filling in
With safety HaHa Clinton-Dix suspended indefinitely, sophomores Landon Collins and Geno Smith have filled in.
Collins was recruited as a safety, but plays the strong safety position while Clinton-Dix plays the free or boundary safety position. Smith was recruited as a cornerback, but converted to safety this spring to play the "star" position, Alabama's fifth defensive back in nickel and dime packages.
Collins started at free safety, but when the Tide went to its dime packages, Smith entered the game to play safety while Collins moved to the "Money" position, Alabama's sixth defensive back in dime situations. Both players saw a significant amount of snaps.
Collins said Smith is adjusting well to the position.
Saban said he had extra meeting with Collins and Smith to help them learn the position. Saban meet with both players for 45 minutes "about the basic fundamentals."
"Those days really helped those guys, because it gave them a visual of this is how we're supposed to do it and why," Saban said. "I think that extra time is just really beneficial to helping the players."
Collins said Saban would show he and Smith film of Clinton-Dix's playing the position and to illustrate how it should be done.
"That time was very important because he showed us a different aspect," Collins said. "I haven't played that side of the field in so long and having him coaching me and telling me what to do helped me tremendously."
Outside linebacker Denzel Devall (knee) returned to practice on Wednesday after wearing a black, non-contact jersey on Monday.
Devall wore a brace on his left knee and participated in every drill. He ran well, but is still a few days away from being 100 percent.