Jase McClellan leads Alabama football to win over Austin Peay

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Bryce Young was still the quarterback running the Alabama football offense to start the fourth quarter. That just about sums up how much of the game went against Austin Peay, an FCS opponent.

Sure, Alabama had a 27-point lead at the beginning of the final quarter, but the Crimson Tide could have and probably should have been up more than that. It was the type of matchup in which the Crimson Tide should have been able to build an early lead and fast. But even against a much-lesser opponent, Alabama still started slow and had bumps along the way.

Nick Saban always likes to talk about intensity and maintaining it, but it just wasn’t there at times.  

Nonetheless, No. 8 Alabama emerged with a victory, defeating Austin Peay 34-0 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Next, the Crimson Tide pivots to the Iron Bowl next Saturday.  

Here are our takeaways and observations from the game between Alabama (9-2) and Austin Peay (7-4).

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Freshmen gaffes slow Alabama early

A game against an FCS opponent like Austin Peay usually provides an opportunity to get a look at most of the roster at some point in the game, especially younger players.

But Alabama featured several early in the matchup against the Governors. Several of those freshmen made vital mistakes, though.

It started when Emmanuel Henderson Jr. took the opening kick out of the end zone. He was filling in for the injured Jahmyr Gibbs, and his eagerness to take the kick out was puzzling.

There seemed to be little room to run, and that panned out because Henderson only got to the 8-yard line. This was the least of the freshmen gaffes, though.

Two freshmen were later responsible for first-half turnovers. Kendrick Law had a punt hit his helmet, then Austin Peay recovered it.

Then later in the first quarter, freshman receiver Isaiah Bond fumbled during a Crimson Tide offensive drive that then stalled midfield.

Neither turnover led to points for the Governors, but this kept the Crimson Tide from building a bigger lead early on. Austin Peay drove to the red zone after both turnovers, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete after the first turnover. Then the Governors missed the 25-yard kick after Bond’s fumble.

There were certainly some learning opportunities for these young players.

Jase McClellan stays hot

After a strong second-half performance against Ole Miss a week ago, the junior running back kept the momentum going into the Austin Peay game.

Most times Alabama gave him the ball, the Governors had trouble stopping him. He was running through and past defenders. Anyone who dared get in his way had to be prepared to hit.

On each play, there’s a hammer and a nail. McClellan was almost always the hammer.

In the first half alone, McClellan had 14 carries for 136 yards. He was averaging about a first down every carry. He also had a touchdown run on fourth-and-goal to give Alabama an early 7-0 lead when points were tough for this offense to get.

He also had another touchdown early in the second half and finished with 156 yards on 17 attempts.

Jermaine Burton has best game with Crimson Tide

Burton's one season with Alabama has been largely underwhelming after he was viewed as a top transfer in the offseason from Georgia.

He had his best game of his time in Tuscaloosa with his first 100-yard effort. Burton also had his first multi-touchdown game since the opener against Utah State. He caught seven passes for 128 yards and two scores.