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After another week of Alabama struggling with critical penalties, it was nearly guaranteed head coach Nick Saban would field questions about controversial calls at his Monday press conference. The Crimson Tide was flagged 17 times for 130 yards Saturday in their first loss of the season against the Tennessee Vols. During the press conference, Saban warned his team of possible changes on the field if penalties keep piling up.
“We can’t continue to tolerate guys that aren’t doing the things they need to do to be successful,” Saban said. “Nobody is entitled to a position. Everybody’s earned the position they’re in by showing they have the capability and ability to do it on a consistent basis. And that’s something you have to continue.”
Saban was then asked how the penalties would be addressed the following week.
“I think you create all these habits in practice,” Saban said. “I think we’ve gotta make players more accountable in practice for doing things correctly, paying attention to detail, and doing the little things right. We need to get them to understand what they need to do not to allow these things to happen and understand the consequences of what happens when you do it, and I think if you continue to do it consistently, maybe we need to play somebody else.”
Throughout the game Saturday, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young took multiple big hits, a few of which looked like targeting penalties to some people, but no penalties were assessed. Nick Saban was asked if he was given any explanation of why the hit on Young didn't get a targeting call.
"We turned the plays in. I’m sure the league office will look at it and make a determination. There’s two things that are an issue here: targeting, but you’re also not supposed to hit the quarterback in the head. Last year against Texas A&M, Malachi (Moore) got thrown out of the game. The guy was out of the pocket, jumped up to block the ball and ended up, almost accidentally, hitting him in the head and got ejected from the game. So there’s really two things that should be looked at.”
Another controversial call happened late in the game when Kool-Aid McKinstry intercepted Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker in the end-zone and returned it all the way back inside the Vols 20-yard line only to be wiped out by a pass interference penalty called on Malachi Moore, a flag by a referee on the other side of the field. Coach Saban was asked if he would like pass interference to be a reviewable play.
"Look, my big thing is consistency. Call it the same for everybody," Saban said. "It's hard to define exactly what you can and can't do, so I would rather see that happen. In the NFL, they defined exactly what you could and couldn't do. It's a really, really difficult judgment call, but you knew exactly what you could and couldn't do. I think that would be beneficial."
Saban ended his press conference by underscoring his disgust at not getting the targeting call on the hit on Bryce Young, even after review.
“I mean, we reviewed one of the hits on Bryce (Young), and well, it wasn’t.”
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