Alabama’s Nick Saban says team was ‘tight’ before last-second loss to Tennessee

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Two days after a crushing loss to Tennessee on Saturday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters he noticed something was a little off with his players prior to its biggest game of the season. 

Tennessee beat Alabama in a thriller Saturday afternoon, taking down Saban for the first time in 15 tries on a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

Tennessee's Chase McGrath readies to kick a last-second field goal as holder Paxton Brooks waits to snap against Alabama Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s Chase McGrath readies to kick a last-second field goal as holder Paxton Brooks waits to snap against Alabama Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville.
(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

“You want to have great energy and you want to be loose. I thought we were tight, especially starting the game. Coming out of the locker room, our players always chant,” Saban said Monday. “They weren’t chanting. I said, ‘Why aren’t you guys chanting? What’s up with that?’ It’s not that they don’t wanna do it, it’s not that they’re not trying. 

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“I just think we’ve got to get our focus in the right place and our psychological disposition in the right place so that we can… when you compete, it’s fun to compete when you play the next play.”

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the first quarter of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15, 2022 in Knoxville.

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the first quarter of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15, 2022 in Knoxville.
(Donald Page/Getty Images)

Tennessee, which moved to No. 3 in the AP Poll on Monday, jumped all over Alabama, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions to take a 21-7 lead in the first quarter. 

The Alabama defense, which had been so stout all season, gave up 567 yards to the Tennessee offense, including allowing Tennessee to get into field goal range with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. 

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“Most definitely. I think we probably just had a lot of anxiety,” Alabama linebacker Will Anderson said while agreeing with Saban’s assessment, according to AL.com. “We didn’t have the same intensity that we had a couple of weeks ago. We definitely needed that to carry over to this game, but the intensity just wasn’t where it needed to be.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban during the Tennessee game Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban during the Tennessee game Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville.
(Carlos M. Saavedra/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

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The loss snapped a 15-game winning streak for Alabama over Tennessee and dropped the Crimson Tide to No. 6 in the top-25.

No. 6 Alabama faces No. 24 Mississippi State in Week 8.

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