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An early kickoff on a cold day against an FCS opponent with no chance at playing in the SEC title game and a slim to none chance of making the playoffs, Saturday's game had all the ingredients to be a sloppy one, and that’s exactly what Alabama fans got Saturday with a 34-0 win against Austin Peay.

The announced attendance in Bryant-Denny Stadium was 99,639, but at kickoff, it looked to be 75% full with both the fans and players lacking energy. Despite the sloppy play and lack of energy, there were a few bright spots in the game.

Here are some key takeaways from the game.

  1. Turnovers

Normally when talking about Alabama and turnovers this season, it’s not about Alabama forcing turnovers. It’s about them losing turnovers. Well, they did turn the ball over three times, but the Crimson Tide had a rare game in which they forced multiple turnovers. For only the second time this season, Alabama forced multiple turnovers in a game, forcing a season-high three turnovers.

Defensive backs Kool-Aid McKinstry and Brian Branch both had interceptions, and defensive lineman Damon Payne recovered a fumble. Another positive is the defense had opportunities to force more turnovers as both Will Anderson, Jr. and Deontae Lawson both had pick-six chances that were dropped. Despite the three forced fumbles, Alabama wasn’t able to improve their -5 turnover margin because they also turned the ball over three times bringing the turnover margin for the game to zero.

  1. Jase McClellan

With Jahmyr Gibbs dealing with a twisted ankle, Alabama turned to junior running back Jase McClellan to handle the running back duties, and he made the most of his opportunity, having the best game of his career thus far. McClellan rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his career, and it didn’t take him long to get there, breaking the century mark in the second quarter. He had 136 yards and a touchdown by halftime and finished the game with two touchdowns and a career-best 156 rushing yards. Bama fans would love to see Jahmyr Gibbs return for the Iron Bowl, but if he still can’t go, there is relief that McClellan can get the job done.

  1. Jermaine Burton

Georgia transfer receiver Jermaine Burton also had a career game eclipsing the century mark in receiving yards for the first time in a Crimson Tide uniform. Burton led Alabama with seven catches for 128 yards, both of which were season highs for the transfer receiver. Burton also hauled in both of Bryce Young’s touchdown passes as well as a 50-yard catch that was the team’s most explosive play of the game. With his big game against Austin Peay, Burton has surpassed his totals from last year at Georgia. It seems that Burton is finally living up to his potential over the past two games and hopefully can continue the momentum into the Iron Bowl next Saturday. Burton is draft-eligible after the season but still has two more years of eligibility left at Alabama if he chooses to return. Despite the improvement he has shown this year, it may be wise for him to return to Alabama for at least one more season to increase his draft stock.

  1. Defensive Line

The Alabama defensive line once again had another inconsistent outing. Surprisingly, against lesser competition there was little to no pass rush, ending the game with zero sacks and only two quarterback hurries, largely due to how quickly Austin Peay was getting rid of the football. The defensive line unit did however do a great job against one of the top FCS rushing attacks, limiting the Austin Peay ground game to just 59 rushing yards, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. 

  1. Secondary

It took the Alabama secondary a little time to wake up but overall did a pretty above-average job Saturday against the Austin Peay passing attack, holding them to just 147 yards passing. In the first half, the Governors were able to drive down the field by spreading Alabama out and running an uptempo offense, but failed fourth down conversions and a missed field goal kept them off the scoreboard. The Alabama secondary was responsible for the Crimson Tide’s second multi-turnover game of the season as both Kool-Aid McKinstry and Brian Branch recorded their first interceptions of the season. Branch also led the Tide secondary with eight tackles along with one tackle for loss on a big hit to an Austin Peay receiver. Eli Ricks was held out of the game due to his head injury, and Terrion Arnold was forced to step in at defensive back. Arnold appears to have the size and talent to play defensive back for Nick Saban but just doesn’t seem to have grasped the coverage schemes yet. Until he does, his play will continue to be inconsistent.

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