UAB Preview 2006
UAB Blazers
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Did the window close for UAB? The Blazers have appeared to be on the verge of big things year after year after year, and last season was supposed to be when everything was going to come together led by quarterback Darrell Hackney and with plenty of experience and talent in most spots. Once again for UAB, it didn't happen.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Maddeningly mediocre, UAB hasn't been awful over the last several years under head coach Watson Brown, but it always comes up just short of doing really big things with brutally painful close losses always creeping up out of the blue for one of college football's least clutch teams.

Last year, UAB needed to beat East Carolina for a second straight winning season, but lost to East Carolina 31-23. Over the last eight seasons, UAB has lost 20 games by a touchdown or less with four coming last year. In other words, a few breaks here and there will be the difference between UAB being good, and being in the Conference USA title game.

Head coach: Watson Brown
12th year: 59-65
22nd year overall: 91-143-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 26., ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best UAB Players
1. DE Larry McSwain, Sr.
2. OT Cornelius Rogers, Sr.
3. OT Julius Wilson, Sr.
4. LB Orlandus King, Sr.
5. WR Norris Drinkard, Sr.
6. RB Corey White, Sr
7. RB Dan Burks, Sr.
8. LB Mastaki Smith, Sr.
9. CB Kevin Sanders, Soph.
10. QB Chris Williams, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: coming

9/2 at Oklahoma
9/9 East Carolina
9/16 at Georgia
9/23 Miss State
9/30 Troy
10/7 Memphis
10/14 at Rice
10/21 Marshall
10/31 at SMU
11/10 UTEP
11/18 at Southern Miss
11/25 at UCF

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Tennessee L 17-10
9/10 at Troy W 27-7
9/17 Jacksonville St W 35-28
10/1 Rice W 45-26
10/8 SMU L 27-22
10/15 at Marshall L 20-19
10/21 Southern Miss L 37-28
11/1 at Memphis W 37-20
11/12 UCF L 27-21
11/19 at UTEP W 35-23
11/26 at East Carolina  L 31-23

In a league where Tulsa and UCF can come from out of the blue to play for the championship, UAB certainly has to have hopes of getting a few big performances when needed and win the East. Only 12 starters return, but there's more than enough experience for the other spots and plenty of decent talent to get the job done if a few key players come through.

There's no replacing Hackney's leadership, but there are decent quarterback prospects in Chris Williams and Sam Hunt fighting it out for the starting spot with redshirt freshman Joseph Webb not all that far behind in the race. None of them are Hackney, but they can all play and in the case of Williams and Hunt, bring more mobility to the position. The rest of the offense is solid with Corey White, Dan Burks, and Marculus Elliott forming, arguably, the league's best running back trio. There might not be a better pair of Conference USA tackles than Quinton Harris and Julius Wilson, and what the receiving corps lacks in experienced production, it makes up for in speed and potential.

The defense has a chance to be much better with five good linebackers to work around, an experienced secondary that doesn't need to do too much to improve on last year, and First Team All-Conference USA end Larry McSwain up front to be the focal point.

In other words, UAB has the pieces in place to be a player in the Conference USA race, but not enough to get over the hump ... again.

The Schedule: It all comes down to the final two weeks playing East rivals Southern Miss and UCF on the road. If UAB wins those two, it'll likely be playing for the Conference USA title. There's a bad break playing UTEP from the West, but it's made up for by missing Houston and Tulsa and getting SMU and Rice. Easters East Carolina, Memphis and Marshall have to come to Birmingham meaning there's a shot at a great start to the league season.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OTs Cornelius Rogers and Julius Wilson. The offensive line was one of the strengths of the team last season and will be a major plus again thanks to the return of the all-star caliber tackles to count on. Rogers and Wilson will be in the mix for All-Conference USA honors and will drafted next season.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Larry McSwain. One of the league's best all-around ends when he gets on a roll, McSwain has to try to generate the pressure he did in 2004. He was a better player last season and earned First Team Conference USA honors for the second straight season, but he didn't get to the quarterback as much.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Chris Williams and junior QB Sam Hunt. Darrell Hackney might have been UAB football for the past four seasons, but he had plenty of off-games to go along with his big performances. Williams and/or Hunt has to be merely competent early on and become great by the end of the season. They have the practice experience to be more than fine.

The season will be a success if ... UAB wins the East. It's dreaming big for a team that's not nearly as complete or as strong as several others in Conference USA, but it should be in the mix for the East title until late November. The sky's the limit if the quarterback situation becomes a positive.

Key game: Nov. 16 at Southern Miss. UAB is 0-6 since 2000 against the Golden Eagles and won't win the East if  it doesn't pull off the road win in mid-November. It's not like they've been blowouts losing the six games by a total of 32 points, but losing close games are what the Blazers are all about.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: UAB 110 - Opponents 56
- Penalties: UAB 75 for 639 yards - Opponents 52 for 490 yards
- Third down conversions: Opponents 71 of 157 (45%) - UAB 58 for 145 (40%)

The Last Time UAB…
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Hawaii Bowl vs. Hawaii)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1999 (UL-Monroe)
…was shutout…2002 (UL-Lafayette)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Tulane)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (Darrell Hackney)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1996 (Carl Sanders)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Roddy White)
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (WR Roddy White)

Related Stories
UAB Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 6, 2006
UAB Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 6, 2006
UAB Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 6, 2006

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