Look, Austin Peay is an FCS team from Tennessee who comes to Tuscaloosa to collect a paycheck and give the Alabama Crimson Tide a practice game. Governors have been around for a while and have oscillated between Division 2, Independence, and FCS over the past 100 years. They had been part of the Ohio Valley Conference since 2007 and competed in the Atlantic Sun Conference this year, featuring teams like Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State and Northern Ireland. ‘Alabama.
At 7-3, it’s a solid FCS team that knocked out a trio of non-conference opponents earlier in the season but suffered bad losses to Central Arkansas and Jacksonville State, two more powerful FCS teams.
Coach Scotty Walden is entering his third season as the 33-year-old Green head coach who was Southern Miss’s WR coach before he got the chance to be the interim HC for the Golden Eagles and benefit his gig with AP. He ranked 3rd in the conference in 2020 and 2nd in 2021, and currently has more wins than he had in either of those seasons, although ASUN has somewhat tougher competition than the Ohio Valley.
Overall, the Govs outscore opponents 35-22 this season, with their defense smothering opponents to 3.2 yards per carry and 5.9 yards per attempt.
Transfer graduate QB Mike DiLiello played at Middle Tennessee before transferring to the AP, and put together a solid and efficient season: 142 assists, 21 touchdowns on 9 picks, 7.7 yards per attempt and a scoring rate. 60% completion. Their offensive scheme is very much like Alabama’s under Mike Locksley a few years ago: fast leans, faster screens and deep shots.
Drae McCray, James Burns, and Trey Goodman are all sneaky little guys who are slippery threats after capture on screens. McCray is the go-to guy with 929 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns, plus 70 additional rushing yards on speed sweep plays.
For bigger receivers, 6’4″ senior Joshua DeCambre has 15 catches at just 9.93 yards per catch as a possession guy, and TE Jordan Goco is a towering 6’7″ guy who’s seen more action in recent weeks.
The running game is very RPO and play option based, with DiLiello making 115 carries for 672 yards on QB guards. He’s not the biggest or fastest guy, but he’s a tough runner with enough speed to get around the biggest linemen and get to the sidelines.
Then there is a 3-headed attack to the ball carrier. Tiny CJ Evans has 119 carries for 625 yards, while rookie Jevon Jackson (a powerful 200-pound fullback) has 90 carries for 571 yards (6.3 yards per carry!). At the FCS level, Jackson is an athletic specimen who runs with a lot of power and explosion.
Finally, senior Josh Samuel (a transfer from JSU) fills the role of a power back at 212 pounds. He opened the season with 20 runs as a starter, but became more of a role player for the remainder of the season.
Defensively, the Govs are a 3-3-5 team using true nose tackle, 3-man running and 8-man coverage for much of the game. LB Antoine Williams is the primary playmaker for them as he leads the team with 81 tackles and leads with 11 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. His running mate, Josh Rudolph, also has 7.5 tackles for loss. Along the defensive line, Kwame Sutton is the top pass rush threat with 4.5 sacks, and defensive tackle Jau’Von Young has 8.5 tackles for loss as an inside run tamper.
Defensive back Demetries Ford has a ridiculous 15 pass deflections to go along with 3 interceptions, and 6’4” safety Ethan Caselberry has his own picks. Overall, the secondary has 12 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles so far this season. It’s a bunch of opportunists.
With all that, Governors are seriously undersized top-to-bottom compared to Alabama, so don’t expect this to be a pretty game. More importantly, they’ll be good for Alabama’s reserve QBs to test their mettle with their 8-drops to avoid throwing picks into disguised areas.