UAB Preview 2006 - Offense
Posted Aug 6, 2006

UAB Blazers Preview 2006 - UAB Blazer Offense

What you need to know ... UAB has to go on without leader Darrell Hackney at quarterback, but the bigger concern might be at wide receiver after losing Reggie Lindsey and Jhun Cook. Norris Drinkard is a good number one receiver, and now he has to be explosive. The running game, unlike last year, should dominate with a big, talented offensive line led b tackles Cornelius Rogers and Julius Wilson. Corey White and Dan Burks are back leading a good backfield. Of course, all eyes will be on the quarterback situation, where Chris Williams has to use his mobility and practice experience to keep the offense moving like Hackney did.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Williams
3-3, 33 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Corey White
130 carries, 632 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Norris Drinkard
41 catches, 390 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OTs Cornelius Rogers and Julius Wilson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Chris Williams
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman C Jake Seitz
Best pro prospect: Rogers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Rogers, 2) Wilson, 3) WR Norris Drinkard
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, wide receiver experience
Weakness of the offense:
Running backs, offensive line

The loss of the leadership and gunslinging of Darrell Hackney certainly is hard to make up, but Chris Williams, Sam Hunt, and Joseph Webb have all been around long enough to know the offense and be more than fine to keep the offense moving. Williams is the most talented of the trio and will get the start with a good blend of accuracy and mobility. Hunt is the best runner, and Webb should be a good emergency option.
The key to the unit: Keep pushing the ball down the field. Darrell Hackney made a ton of mistakes, but he always kept his foot on the throttle when it came to the vertical passing game. Even though the new quarterbacks aren't bombers, they have to keep stretching the field.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Chris Williams, Sr. - 3-3, 33 yds, 1 TD, 1 carry, 3 yards
Williams has seen a little bit of work over the last three seasons backing up Darrell Hackney and finally gets his turn at bat. At 5-11 and 205 pounds, he's not nearly as big as Hackney, but he's far more mobile and certainly knows the system. He got his most work as a freshman in 2003 throwing for 607 yards and three touchdowns and five interceptions when Hackney had a broken thumb.

Top Backups
- Sam Hunt, Jr.
Hunt saw a little bit of playing time a few seasons ago and has been around long enough to be a solid number two man. He's a big 6-3, 215-pound passer and is the best running quarterback in the mix. His emergence will be key to give the coaching staff and number one quarterback going into next year.

- Joseph Webb, Jr.
The team's biggest quarterback at 6-4 and 210 pounds, Webb is a natural passer with a good arm and decent upside. He's not he runner that Chris Williams and Sam Hunt are and is the clear number three going into the season.

Running Backs
With QB Darrell Hackney gone, expect more of an emphasis on the running game with four experienced backs to shoulder the load. It'll be a powerful 1-2 combination of Corey White and Dan Burks all season long with each able to be the starting back. Marculus Elliott is listed as the number three man, but he was the team's best back at the end of last season. Trey Chaney is a solid emergency back with experience. Fullback will be a work in progress with David Sigler and Taylor Ownbey used mostly to block.
The key to the unit: Use all the various talents to add more pop to a ground game that averaged 143 yards per game. Corey White and Dan Burks have to be good enough to carry the offense at times.
Running Back Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Corey White, Sr. - 130 carries, 632 yds, 4.9 ypc, 7 TD, 10 catches, 79 yds, 7.9 ypc
At a pounding 235 pounds, White is an effective between-the-tackles runner and a strong force in the red zone with 19 rushing touchdowns over the last two-and-a-half seasons. He can be a workhorse pounding out 200 yards on 28 carries against Memphis and 106 yards on 21 runs against UTEP, and he has the hands to be a decent receiver. While he was at his most effective when he got to carry the entire load, he'll have to work with Dan Burks again.

- Fullback David Sigler, Jr. - 1 catch, 4 yds
A pure blocking tight end so far, the 6-3, 250-pound junior will move over to fullback to open up holes for the running game. With his hands, he should be an effective receiver as well as a physical factor leading the way for Corey White and Dan Burks.

Top Backups
- Dan Burks, Sr. - 67 carries, 321 yds, 4.8 ypc, 4 TD, 5 catches, 33 yds
2004's leading rusher and the starter going into last season, the 218-pound Burks was just starting to get rolling with a 115-yard day against Marshall before getting hurt and missing most of the second half of the season. He's an effective tandem back getting around 10-15 carries a game in combination with Corey White. He has a little bit of flash to go along with his power.
- Marculus Elliott, Sr. - 49 carries, 295 yds, 6 ypc, 2 TD, 2 catches, 6 yds
Elliott turned into the team's best runner by the end of last year rushing for 116 yards on only eight carries against UCF and 105 yards in the season finale against East Carolina. He's a quick back with good hands and can be used as a receiver. 
- Trey Chaney, Sr. - 38 carries, 156 yds, 4.1 ypc, 10 catches, 66 yds, 1 TD
The former walk-on is an experienced number four back who took over the job as a freshman when injuries struck. He's purely an emergency, garbage-time runner, but he adds decent quickness to the backfield.
- Fullback Taylor Ownbey, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer spend last year as a backup linebacker and special teamer. He's a physical 245 pounds and will only be used as a blocker.

This will be a problem early on with no immediate replacement for the 18.5 yards-per-catch average of Reggie Lindsey and the 15.5 yards-per-catch average of Jhun Cook. Norris Drinkard has the experience, but he has to show he can be more than just a reliable possession receiver. Nick Coon has talent, but hasn't done anything yet, Steven Brown is a former quarterback, Willie Edwards can't stay healthy, and Sylvester Mencer and Gershom Bigham are redshirt freshmen. In other words, there are a lot of ifs.
The key to the unit: Norris Drinkard has to be another Reggie Lindsey, who was another Roddy White.
Receiver Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- Norris Drinkard, Sr. - 41 catches, 390 yds, 9.5 ypc, 2 TD
Purely a possession receiver throughout his career, Drinkard will now get the chance to make the big play at the X position. He has the hands and the knowledge of the offense with 64 career catches for 655 yards and four touchdowns, and he certainly has the speed and quickness with the ability to be used as a running back and kickoff returner.

- Nick Coon, Sr. - 1 catch, 8 yds
Coon's production has fallen off the map after a promising first season. He has the size at 6-2 and 185 pounds to handle himself well against smaller corners, and he has the speed. Now he has to put is all together and be a factor after only making three catches in the last two years.

- Steven Brown, Soph.
The former quarterback sat out last season after transferring from Auburn. He was one of the stars of spring ball looking like a natural receiver. He's not going to be a blazer, but he's a quick route runner.

- Tight end Jordan Erwin, Sr.
Erwin will get the first shot at replacing Cedric Hampton as the new main man at tight end. Mostly a special teamer so far, the 245-pound senior had a nice spring showing he has the hands to be a reliable receiver.

Top Backups
- Sylvester Mencer, Soph.
Mencer will quickly find a spot in the rotation to get his speed on the field. He's one of the team's fastest players and should be a flash in the open field when he gets the ball on the move at the Z position.
- Willie Edwards
, Jr
The only question is his ability to stay healthy. The 6-3, 215-pound junior has the size and the deep speed to be a dangerous X receiver, but that's only if he can stay on the field. He'll start out behind Norris Drinkard and could quickly find a spot as a third wideout.
- Tight end Zach Lankford, RFr.
All that's missing is playing time. He's an excellent receiver who was good enough to allow David Sigler to move from tight end to fullback. He'll be a solid contributor all year.

Offensive Linemen
Four starters return to a line that was 17th in the nation in sacks allowed and not that bad in the running game. It's a big line averaging well over 300 pounds per man led by certain all-conference tackles Cornelius Rogers and Julius Wilson. Quinton Harris is a solid left guard, while Alan Leon appears ready to be a force at right guard. The center spot will be the biggest test as Jake Steitz and Adam Truitt, who started all last year at right guard, will battle to take over Matt Batusic's old job.

The key to the unit: Be as consistent as last season when the starting lineup didn't change. The interior of the line could do a little more to get a push for the running game.
Offensive Line Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- OT Cornelius Rogers, Sr.

Back for his third straight season, the 320-pound senior is one of the league's better all around blocker and should start to get more attention from the NFL types. He's a tremendous athlete for his size and a superior pass protector.
- OG Quinton Harris, Sr.
The team's biggest lineman at 6-4 and 330 pounds, Harris, a former defensive lineman, became a rock at left guard throughout last season. He was out of the mix this spring due to academic problems, but he's expected to be back this fall.
- C Jake Seitz, RFr.
Seitz will turn into one of the keys to the line. His emergence will allow Adam Truitt to be a key backup at both guard and center, but if he struggles, the line will have to do some juggling. He's a talented 6-2 and 300 pounds, but he's inexperienced.
- OG Alan Leon, Sr.
The 320-pound former JUCO tar got in better shape and dominated this spring at right guard. He's an upgrade over Adam Truitt, who'll move to battle for the starting center job.
- OT Julius Wilson, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer has been a rock on the line for the last two seasons. He's 6-5, 310 pounds and very, very talented with All-Conference USA talent on the right side. He's a physical blocker with great feet.

Top Backups
- C Adam Truitt, Soph.
Thrown to the wolves last year, Truitt started every game at right guard and did a decent job. He'll now be one of the team's top reserves as both a center or guard, and he'll push hard for the starting job in the middle.
- T Willie Thompson, RFr.
While not all that big compared to the rest of the line at 6-6 and 280 pounds, Thompson is a top prospect who'll push for time behind Julius Wilson at right tackle and will be the starter next year.

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