No. 8 Alabama’s shutout of Austin Peay may have fixed the turnover problem


CW / Lexi Hall

Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) runs back an interception in the Crimson Tide’s 34-0 shutout over the Austin Peay Governors on Nov. 19 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Olivia Harvey, Contributing Writer

It was a big game for the Alabama defense. 

This season, the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-2, 5-2 SEC) is ranked 115th nationally in turnover ratio. It has consistently lost or tied the turnover battle in all but three games this year — including Saturday against Austin Peay State University. 

Generating turnovers is a crucial part of the game for a team, and without it, there isn’t much the defense can do to benefit the team as a whole in a game, unless it pitches a shutout like it did against the Governors (7-4, 3-2 ASUN). 

Many fans and critics have anticipated this Alabama defense to be one of the best in the Nick Saban era. While the numbers are there — the turnovers haven’t been. Saban has mentioned in recent weeks that the defense is struggling with forcing turnovers and that it’s the first time they’ve fought with a negative turnover ratio in years. 

It might have turned a page this weekend. 

The Crimson Tide forced three turnovers against Austin Peay — a fumble recovery from Damon Payne Jr. and interceptions by Kool-Aid McKinstry and Brian Branch. 

“I was excited for the defensive players,” Saban said. “Hopefully that will be contagious for us and we can continue to do that.” 

It was a pivotal moment for McKinstry and Alabama’s defense when the Birmingham, Alabama, native picked off Governors quarterback Mike DiLiello and returned it 26 yards.  

The momentum continued throughout the game for the Crimson Tide defense when, in the third quarter, Payne recovered a fumble, and Branch intercepted another pass from DiLiello.  

“It was good,” Saban said. “We want to keep emphasizing getting turnovers, but we’ve also got to emphasize ball security. Turnover ratio is so important, and it was good to get turnovers today.” 

While Alabama shut out the Governors, turnovers allow for more momentum in a game. 

“It’s huge,” linebacker Henry To’o To’o said. “It changes the game — it changes the momentum of how a team is playing and how we’re playing on defense. Three [turnovers] is our goal every single game, so being able to reach that goal was huge for us today.” 

Following the Crimson Tide’s 34-point win against Austin Peay, focus now shifts to the most heated rivalry in the South, the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide defense will look to force some more turnovers when the Tigers come to town next week. 

Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium between Alabama and Auburn is set for Saturday, Nov. 26, at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]