CFN Take: UAB Hangs Tough In Marshall Loss
Posted Nov 22, 2014

UAB Blazers 2014 ... Head Coach: Garrick McGee

UAB Blazers

2014 Schedule
Record: 4-7

Aug. 30 Troy W 48-10
Sep. 6 at Mississippi St L 47-34
Sep. 13 Alabama A&M W 41-14
Sep. 27 FIU  L 34-20
Oct. 4 at WKU W 42-39
Oct. 11 North Texas W 56-21
Oct. 18 at Middle Tenn L 34-22
Oct. 25 at Arkansas L 45-17
Nov. 1 at Florida Atlantic W 31-28
Nov. 8 Louisiana Tech L 40-24
Nov. 22 Marshall L 23-18
Nov. 29 at Southern Miss
Nov. 22 Marshall 23, at UAB 18
And You Care Because … The Marshall offense stalled, but the defense came through with defensive lineman Ra’Shawde Myers recovering a fumble in the end zone for the lead for good midway through the fourth. The Herd had a 17-6 halftime lead helped by two Rakeem Cato touchdown passes, but penalties and turnovers became a problem. UAB got two Ty Long field goals in the first half, and two Jordan Howard touchdown runs in the second on the way to an 18-17 lead.
What Else? Penalties: Marshall 11 for 90 yards – UAB 8 for 70 yards
- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 20-of-38 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran nine times for 41 yards
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 39 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 16 yards
- Marshall RB Devon Johnson ran 20 times for 171 yards, and Tommy Shuler caught ten passes for 132 yards and a score
Game Rating: B

Nov. 8 Louisiana Tech 40, at UAB 24
And You Care Because … Louisiana Tech got three Kenneth Dixon touchdown runs in the first half and pulled away in the second half with two Cody Sokol touchdown passes. UAB came up with a six-yard Jordan Howard touchdown run in the second quarter, but the offense struggled in the second half needing a 56-yard Jake Ganus fumble return for a score and a Jamarcus Nelson kickoff return for a touchdown to keep it interesting.
What Else? Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon ran 15 times for 79 yards and three touchdowns
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 27 times for 148 yards and a score
- Louisiana Tech QB Cody Sokol completed 19-of-33 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns with a pick
- UAB QB Cody Clements completed 22-of-36 passes for 186 and a score
Game Rating: C

Nov. 1 UAB 31, at Florida Atlantic 28
And You Care Because … Ty Long hit a 24-yard field goal with two seconds to play to break the 28-28 tie and give UAB the win. The Blazers appeared to have things in hand with a 28-7 lead in the fourth quarter, helped by two Jordan Howard touchdown runs and a 78-yard Jamarcus Nelson scoring grab. But FAU roared back in the fourth with 21 straight points on three long drives. Jaquez Johnson threw two touchdown passes and Tony Moore ran for a five-yard score, but UAB had the ball with just over four minutes left, and made the most of it going 64 yards in 12 plays leading the Long’s game-winner.
What Else? Penalties: UAB 11 for 90 yards – FAU 3 for 30 yards
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 35 times for 167 yards and two scores
- FAU WR Lucky Whitehead caught eight passes for 83 yards and two scores
- UAB WR Jamarcus Nelson caught six passes for 125 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: A-

Oct. 25 at Arkansas 45, UAB 17
And You Care Because … Arkansas rolled to a 35-0 halftime lead as Jonathan Williams ran for a score and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass, but the highlight was a touchdown pass from 6-5, 350-pound offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola to Alan D’Appollonio on a fake field goal. UAB finally got on the board with a field goal in the third, but was down 45-3 before getting in the end zone on a 100-yard kickoff return from Jamarcus Nelson following a 15-yard Jeremy Sprinkle catch for Arkansas’ final score.
What Else? Total yards: Arkansas 484 – UAB 195
- Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams ran 18 times for 153 yards and a score, and caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown
- UAB QB Jeremiah Briscoe completed 6-of-18 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and ran four times for 11 yards
- Arkansas QB Brandon Allen completed 15-of-24 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 18 at Middle Tennessee 34, UAB 22
And You Care Because … UAB couldn’t overcome its big mistakes and had to settle for three Ty Long field goals and a one-yard Jordan Howard touchdown run in the first half. Middle Tennessee got two Jeremiah Bryson touchdown runs and a 65-yard Chris Perkins scoring grab, but it was behind going into the fourth after the Blazers got a 43-yard Jamari Staples touchdown catch. Reggie Whatley ran for a 67-yard score and Marcus Henry caught a 30-yard scoring pass as the Blue Raiders scored 13 unanswered points.
What Else? Middle Tennessee RB Reggie Whatley ran seven times for 100 yards and a score
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 32 times for 121 yards and a score
- Middle Tennessee QB Austin Grammer completed 6-of-19 passes for 141 yards and two scores
- Penalties: UAB 10 for 90 yards – Middle Tennessee 8 for 70 yards
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 11 at UAB 56, North Texas 21
And You Care Because … UAB exploded to a 28-0 lead on a 40-yard Jontavious Morris fumble return for a score and a Lamarcus Farmer interception return for a touchdown as part of five North Texas turnovers that made the game a laugher. The Blazer defense would be at it again in the third on a Darius Williams interception return for a touchdown, but the offense got into the act, too. Cody Clements threw two touchdown passes, including a 74-yarder to Jamarcus Nelson, and he ran for another. North Texas moved the ball, when it wasn’t turning the ball over, getting a 27-yard touchdown run from Antoinne Jimmerson and scoring passes from Dajon Williams and Andrew McNulty.
What Else? Turnovers: North Texas 5 – UAB 0
- UAB QB Cody Clements completed 17-of-22 passes for 316 yards and two scores, and ran nine times for 24 yards and a score
- North Texas RB Antoinne Jimmerson ran 13 times for 104 yards and a touchdown
- North Texas QBs Andrew McNulty and Dajon Williams combined to complete 20-of-35 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns with Williams towing two pick sixes.
Game Rating: D

Oct. 4 UAB 42, at WKU 39
And You Care Because … UAB opened up the fun with Jamarcus Nelson returning the kickoff for a touchdown, and the fireworks didn’t stop. Down 13, the Blazers roared back in the second half with 21 straight points highlighted by a 75-yard touchdown catch from Josh Magee, but WKU answered with Brandon Doughty finding a Antwane Grant for a 24-yard score and Ricardo Singh returned an interception 85 yards for a score and the lead. UAB answered, taking the lead for good on Jordan Howard’s second touchdown run of the day. The offenses stopped over the final 12 minutes with the Blazers hanging on. Anthony Wales scored three times for the Hilltoppers.
What Else? Total yards: UAB 591 – WKU 503
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 34 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns
- WKU RB Anthony Wales ran 14 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns
- WKU QB Brandon Doughty completed 25-of-37 passes for 319 yards and two scores, and UAB QB Cody Clements completed 22-of-25 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
Game Rating: B

Sept. 27 FIU 34, at UAB 20
And You Care Because … Florida International forced six turnovers with Richard Leonard and Demarkus Perkins each returning interceptions for scores, but the offense got into the act, too, with Jonnu Smith taking a pass 75 yards for a score and Glenn Coleman scoring from 85 yards out as part of a 27 point run to put the game away. UAB head a 13-7 run early with a D.J. Vinson touchdown run and a Gerald Everett 29-yard touchdown catch, but the offense couldn’t stop giving the ball away.
What Else? Turnovers: UAB 6 – FIU 0
- FIU QB Alex McGough completed 9-of-24 passes for 204 yards and two scores and ran six time for 13 yards
- UAB RB Jordan Howard ran 21 times for 102 yards
- UAB QBs combined to completed 18-of-35 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown with four picks
Game Rating: C+

Sept. 13 UAB 41, Alabama A&M 14
And You Care Because … UAB spotted A&M the first 14 points on big plays with a 77-yard Rashad Anderson punt return for a touchdown and a 57-yard Octayvius Miles scoring grab, and then it was all Blazers with 41 unanswered points. D.J. Vinson ran for 106 yards and five touchdowns, scoring from one, 24, one, 12 and 13 yards away, and Ja’Won Arrington added a 14-yard touchdown dash as UAB rolled at will after the early defensive miscues. UAB QB Cody Clements completed 18-of-23 passes for 228 yards.
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 6 at Mississippi State 47, UAB 34
And You Care Because … It wasn’t pretty, but there was lots and lots of offense with UAB coming up with 548 yards and Mississippi State 516, but a Bulldog 21-point run help take the game over in the third quarter. UAB wouldn’t go away, with Josh Magee catching an 81-yard touchdown pass and Quincy Perdue coming up with a 75-yard scoring play.
What Else? MSU’s Dak Prescott completed 12-of-25 passes for 211 yards and four scores, and ran 18 times for 111 yards and a score. Josh Robinson added 20 carries for 124 yards and a score.
- UAB quarterbacks completed just 16-of-34 passes, but they went for 435 yards and three scores with a pick.
- UAB’s Jamarcus Nelson caught five passes for 144 yards and a score, and Josh Magee caught two passes for 199 yards and a touchdown.
- Mississippi State had major problems in the secondary and with poor tackling, and the kicking game was an issue with two missed extra points.
Game Rating: B

Aug. 30 at UAB 48, Troy 10
And You Care Because … Troy scored on its opening drive, getting a one-yard Jordan Chunn touchdown run, and then it was all UAB with 24 straight points and a 48-3 run as the offense opened it up. Jordan Howard was unstoppable, running 19 times for 179 yards and two scores and D.J. Vinson added 196 yards and a touchdown to help the Blazers control the game. The normally high-octane Trojan offense couldn’t find the passing range – Brandon Silva completed just 16-of-23 passes for 153 yards.
Game Rating: D+

2014 Preview 

How bad has the situation become in Birmingham? The former coach voluntarily left to take a coordinator’s job.

Garrick McGee bolted to Bobby Petrino’s Louisville staff on Jan. 13 following two seasons and just five wins with the Blazers. McGee had no confidence in the future of UAB football, one more emotional hurdle for the current players to overcome. Enter Bill Clark, the former Jacksonville State head man who knows his way around the state of Alabama from his days as a high school coach. He inherits a sagging program that plays in a dilapidated building and hasn’t had a winning season in a decade.

Clark is clearly staring at an uphill climb, by every possible measurement. But early returns indicate he’s the right man to take on the challenge. And it doesn’t hurt the new regime that McGee was not a popular individual, inside or outside the locker room. If the spring is an accurate barometer, Clark’s first UAB team will be more prepared, better conditioned and as enthusiastic as either of McGee’s two teams.

At a very basic level, Clark will need more talent, and then he and his assistants must coach those kids up. Firmly located in SEC country, the Blazers have long understood the need to transform overlooked and underrated high school recruits into productive D-I players.

UAB has a better shot of being competitive on offense than on defense this season. The line returns three starters, and last year’s top two receivers and second-leading rusher are back as well. The biggest unknown is at quarterback, where junior-college transfer Cody Clements has the upper hand to replace Austin Brown.

The D, on the other hand, has a much longer way to go after yielding almost 44 points per game. It’s light on proven players, most of whom were out of position—and generally lost—throughout the 2013 season. Since the two-deep will be littered with try-hard kids, none of whom qualify as next-level playmakers, the staff is hoping that tinkering with schemes and paying more attention to detail will result in modest progress on this side of the ball.

The Blazers’ quest for competitiveness is the proverbial marathon, and everyone in Birmingham knows it. Locally, McGee’s abrupt departure was greeted with a sigh of relief, especially after Clark was named the successor. Clark is genuinely excited to be at UAB. The program hopes the coach still feels that way two years from now.

What to watch for on offense: Yo, D.J. pump this party. Yes, Jordan Howard will be the feature back for the Blazers this year. But keep an eye on D.J. Vinson, who fits the new offense well, and will bring a dose of explosiveness to the attack. The senior has had a quiet career to this point. In fact, he’s sat out the last two seasons. During the offseason, though, the converted inside receiver brought some much-needed dash and elusiveness to the UAB ground game.

What to watch for on defense: Back to the basics. There’s no magic formula for first-year coordinator Duwan Walker to turn around a unit that ranked among the easiest to navigate in the FBS last year. Walker and his assistants have dived into film from the moment they arrived in January, and fundamentals are being stressed to veterans and rookies alike. The defense is also benefitting from the presence of strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin, a former star UAB linebacker from the Class of ’05.

The team will be far better if … it forces more field goals. There are so many areas for improvement at UAB, but tightening up in the red zone is as good a place to start as anywhere. Of the 60 times that opponents reached the 20-yard line, 48 resulted in touchdowns, a dreadful 80% rate that ranked 120th in the FBS. If the Blazers can stiffen once in a while, not only will games be inevitably tighter, but the momentum generated will impact the defense as well as the offense.

The Schedule: Can the Blazers get by Troy to start the season? They might need to with Mississippi State coming up next. It's not a horrible schedule with three of the first four games and four of the first six games at home. However, the second half comes down like a hammer with three straight road games at Middle Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida Atlantic. It's a bad break to get Marshall from the East, but at least it's at home with two weeks to prepare for it.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Jamarcus Nelson. In Nelson, UAB has its own version of DeSean Jackson, an explosive playmaker capable of changing the tenor of a game from anywhere on the field. Nelson is a diminutive field-stretcher, both as the “X” receiver and as the Blazers’ primary kickoff and punt returner. He has legitimate track speed, sub-4.4 jets to go along with the soft hips to render defenders helpless in the open field. Nelson is only limited by the arm strength of his quarterback.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Jake Ganus. Ganus is the embodiment of what the Blazer defense wants to be. The two-year starter is a try-hard defender, who’s already had a major impact at UAB as a safety and as a linebacker. He led the team in tackles in 2013, lining up wherever he was needed most. Ganus is one of the best competitors in Birmingham, with the flexibility to press up into the box to stop the run as easily as he drifts back into coverage to neutralize the tight end. Wherever the ball is, No. 4 won’t be far away.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Cody Clements. The Blazers could be decent on offense this season. But only if Clements builds on a spring session that earned him the top spot on the depth chart. The 6-2, 210-pound transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) College began his career at Washington State before moving on in the pursuit of more reps. Clements has stood out above the rest from the moment he arrived from the West Coast, in terms of his leadership and his ability to move the offense.

The season will be a success if ... the Blazers double their win total to four, while generally playing at a more competitive level. Bowling for the first time since 2004 is a longshot. Realistically, UAB is building toward a postseason run … in 2015. For now, progress will be achieved if the team can find four wins on the schedule, as it assimilates to the expectations and the new systems on both sides of the ball. Conference USA isn’t so scary that this team can’t be in the hunt before too long.

Key game: Aug. 30 vs. Troy. These two Alabama programs, separated by a short two-hour car drive, have played some entertaining games over the last five years. Unfortunately for the Blazers, they’ve fallen short in the last three meetings by an average of five points, including last August’s overtime defeat. UAB would love to set the tone for the Bill Clark era by snapping the losing streak to an in-state rival with which it competes for local high school talent.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Yards per play: UAB 5.8 – Opponents 7.2
- Red-zone touchdowns: UAB 53% – Opponents 80%
- Sacks: UAB 18 - Opponents 26

- 2014 UAB Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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