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CFN Take: UAB Unloaded On By USM
Posted Nov 30, 2013

UAB Blazers 2013 ... Head Coach: Garrick McGee

UAB Blazers

2013 Record: 2-10
8/31 at Troy L 34-31 OT
9/7 at LSU L 56-17
9/21 NW State W 52-28
9/28 at Vanderbilt L 53-24
10/5 Florida Atlantic L 37-23
10/12 at FIU W 27-24
10/26 at UTSA L 52-31
11/2 Middle Tenn L 24-21
11/9 at Marshall L 56-14
11/16 at East Carolina L 63-14
11/23 Rice L 37-34 OT
11/30 Southern Miss L 62-27
Southern Miss 62, at UAB 27
Basically … Southern Miss got its first win of the year by capitalizing on a sloppy day from UAB, exploding for 49 second half points with Nick Mullens finishing with five touchdown passes to five different receivers and Kendrick Hardy running for two scores. UAB moved the ball, but it turned the ball over five times with four fumbles. UAB’s Jonathan Perry threw two touchdown passes to Jamarcus Nelson from 48 and 21 yards away.
- UAB turned it over five times and committed 11 penalties for 98 yards
- Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens completed 24-of-39 passes for 370 yards and five scores with a pick
- Southern Miss RB Kendrick Hardy ran 20 times for 106 yards and two scores.
- UAB WR Jamarcus Nelson caught five passes for 117 yards and two scores.

Rice 37, at UAB 34 OT
Basically … UAB got a 43-yard Ty Long field goal in overtime, but Rice answered with a one-yard Luke Turner touchdown run for the win. Long put the game in OT with a 24-yard field goal in the final minute to complete a good fourth quarterback comeback, with Darius Powell catching a 20-yard pass for a score as part of a 10-0 run in the last few minutes. Taylor McHargue threw two touchdown passes for the Owls and Charles Ross added a 14-yard scoring run for the Owls, but the Blazers kept up with two one-yard runs from Darrin Reaves and a 14-yard dash from Jonathan Perry.
- Rice RB Jawon Davis ran 19 times for 130 yards and a score.
- UAB QB Jonathan Perry completed 13-of-26 passes for 195 yards and a score and ran 16 times for a team-leading 60 yards and a touchdown.
- Rice QB Taylor McHargue completed 10-of-19 passes for 139 yards and two scores, and he ran 20 times for 92 yards.
- Rice outgained UAB 467 yards to 333

at Marshall 56, UAB 14
Basically … Rakeem Cato threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and three Herd backs ran for 100 yards with Essray Taliaferro running for two touchdowns and Steward Butler tearing off a 49-yard scoring dash. UAB got on the board early with a two-yard Darrin Reaves run, and Jonathan Perry found Reaves for a 32-yard score, but the Herd scored 28 unanswered points and wasn’t stopped.
- Marshall got 139 yards and a score out of Steward Butler, 118 yards and two touchdowns from Essray Taliaferro and 108 yards and a touchdown from Kevin Grooms. The Herd averaged 11.9 yards per carry.
- UAB RB Darrin Reaves ran 24 times for 98 yards and a score and caught three passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Howard led the Blazers with 22 carries for 123 yards.
- Marshall outgained UAB 657 yards to 464.
- UAB had the ball for over 39 minutes, but was -2 in turnover margin.

Middle Tennessee 24, at UAB 21, Nov. 2
Basically … Middle Tennessee scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including an 18-yard field goal with three seconds left, to knock off UAB. The Blazers scored the first 10 points of the game, but had to score a touchdown and get a two-point conversion with 1:50 remaining in the game to tie it.
- UAB running backs Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves combined for 50 rushes and 265 yards.
- Middle Tennessee receiver Marcus Henry had five catches for 136 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown.
- UAB had only 57 yards passing on nine attempts.
- Middle Tennessee only had the ball for 21:21 compared to 38:39 for UAB.

Middle Tennessee 24, at UAB 21, Nov. 2
Basically … Middle Tennessee scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including an 18-yard field goal with three seconds left, to knock off UAB. The Blazers scored the first 10 points of the game, but had to score a touchdown and get a two-point conversion with 1:50 remaining in the game to tie it.
- UAB running backs Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves combined for 50 rushes and 265 yards.
- Middle Tennessee receiver Marcus Henry had five catches for 136 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown.
- UAB had only 57 yards passing on nine attempts.
- Middle Tennessee only had the ball for 21:21 compared to 38:39 for UAB.

UAB 27, at FIU 24
Basically … Ty Long nailed a 28-yard field goal in the final seconds to break a 24-24 tie and give UAB the win. FIU fought back from a 21-7 deficit with a Silas Spearman III one-yard touchdown run, and tied it on a 13-yard Lamarq Caldwell 13-yard scoring catch, but the defense couldn’t hold on as the Blazers went 70 yards in under three minutes to get the win. Darrin Reaves ran for two short scores for UAB.
- Austin Brown wasn’t perfect, but he came up with the drive the team needed in the final minutes to get the very, very big win. Darrin Reaves might have run for two scores, but he was bottled up while freshman Jordan Howard ran for 159 yards on 20 carries. The run defense was fantastic, but the secondary had problems coming up with stops as FIU kept pushing passes down the field. The D held firm in the second half, outside of one scoring drive, but the offense had to settle for field goals, and Ty Long came through with shots from 48 and 28 yards out.
- Just when it looked like FIU was going to make a big statement with a second straight win, it couldn’t come up with a late stop. Jake Medlock only completed 17-of-34 passes, but he threw for 302 yards with two touchdowns averaging 17.2 yards per completion. Fortunately, the next two games are at home, but the offense has to control the ball and the clock more to keep the defense off the field.

Florida Atlantic 37, at UAB 23
Basically … Jaquez Johnson ran for a score and threw two touchdown passes including a five-yarder to William Dukes in the final minutes to get FAU the road win. UAB kept pace with two Austin Brown touchdown passes and three Ty Long field goals, but the Owls scored 11 unanswered points in the second half starting with a three-yard Jay Warren scoring run.
- Jaquez Johnson continues to be a do-it-all star for FAU, proving he can carry the team by himself at times. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 299 yards and two scores, and he ran 19 times for 105 yards and a score. UAB couldn’t contain him.
- The chances were there for UAB to come up with some big plays late to take control of the game, and it couldn’t do it. The offense came out strong after halftime, but too many drives stalled while the UAB defense couldn’t stop Johnson – the D couldn’t get off the field.

at Vanderbilt 52, UAB 24
Basically … Jerry Seymour ran for two first half touchdowns and Austyn Carta-Samuels added a one-yard dash on the way to a 24-6 Vanderbilt lead in the first half, and then came the second half pop with two touchdown passes along with eight-yard touchdown runs from Wesley Tate and Patton Robinette. UAB kept it interesting with three Ty Long field goals in the first half and a 29-yard Darius Powell touchdown catch in the second, but Vanderbilt took control early and was never threatened.
- The Vanderbilt offensive line did whatever it wanted. Austyn Carta-Samuels had plenty of time to work, and he made things happen completing 23-of-29 passes for 334 yards and two scores with a pick to go along with his rushing score. Whatever the Commodores wanted to do, it did.
- UAB couldn’t turn drives into touchdowns early. The chances were there, but Ty Long field goals needed to be touchdowns. There were chances, but the Vandy defense stiffened when needed.
- The biggest difference was the downfield passing game. Vanderbilt had one, UAB didn’t. The short-to-midrange throws from the Blazers were swallowed up quickly.
- Will America realize that Jordan Matthews deserves All-America consideration at the midseason? He’s unstoppable, with yet another 100-yard day catching eight passes for 115 yards.

at UAB 52, Northwestern State 28
Basically … Darrin Reaves ran for 178 yards and two scores, getting in from eight and 50 yards out, and Jamarcus Nelson returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown to go along with a 41-yard touchdown grab. Northwestern State kept it interesting with two Garrett Atzenweiler touchdown runs and a 34-yard Louis Hollier scoring grab, but UAB stayed comfortably ahead.
- The defense might have allowed 344 yards and didn’t come up with a stop to make it a total breather, but the offense did whatever it wanted. It was explosive, efficient and effective, with the running game cranking out big play after big play because of Darrin Reaves.
- The Blazer quarterbacks weren’t accurate enough Jonathan Perry threw a touchdown pass, but he only completed three of seven throws, while Austin Brown completed 10-of-20 throws for 159 yards. Brown might not have been perfect, but he kept the offense moving early to get the team up.

at LSU 56, UAB 17, Sept. 7
Basically … Zach Mettenberger became the first LSU quarterback to ever throw five touchdown passes in a game, spearheading a lopsided victory. WR Odell Beckham was on the receiving end of Mettenberger's first two scoring strikes, and he'd go on to make a third touchdown catch and score on a missed field goal return to close out the scoring.
- Beckham and fellow WR Jarvis Landry were unstoppable on the night, combining for 10 catches, 207 yards and five scores.
- After being suspended in the opener, Tiger RB Jeremy Hill made his 2013 debut. He turned his six carries into 50 yards and a touchdown.
- The ground game was the lone bright spot for the Blazers. Led by backs Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard, UAB piled up 180 yards, when sacks are removed from the equation.
- Regardless of the opponent, LSU is thrilled whenever it can go an entire game without allowing a sack. The more comfortable Mettenberger feels in the pocket, the more likely it is that his production will continue.

at Troy 34, UAB 31 OT
Basically … Will Scott nailed a 30-yard field goal in overtime to give Troy the win after UAB fumbled the snap on its field goal attempt. Troy QB Corey Robinson set the NCAA record for completion percentage in a game with a minimum of 30 attempts, hitting 30-of-32 passes, but UAB was able to keep pace with Austin Brown throwing three touchdown passes and Jamarcus Nelson returning a kickoff for a touchdown. Down 31-17 in the fourth, Troy scored 17 unanswered points with a one-yard Deon Anthony touchdown run forcing overtime.
- Corey Robinson’s record-setting day: 30-of-32 for 319 yards and one score. He had one more incompletion than running back Deon Anthony, who missed on his one halfback option attempt.
- Lost in Robinson’s amazing day was a fantastic performance from UAB receiver Jamarcus Nelson who caught ten passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and returned a kickoff for a score.
- UAB got picked apart by Robinson and still had a shot to pull off the win. The Blazers were awful on third downs and committed 13 penalties, but again, it was right there to get out alive if it could’ve come up with one key stop or executed in overtime.
- The Troy defensive backs were active and effective. They broke up several passes and came up with a nice fourth quarter to help get the team back into the game.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … the backfield returns intact for second-year head coach Garrick McGee. In 2012, the Blazers employed a rookie quarterback, Austin Brown, who responded with a foundation-building 15 touchdown passes and 2,673 yards through the air. RB Darrin Reaves bloomed into an unlikely feature back, rushing for more than 100 yards in three of the final five games to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. He’s working to be even more effective between the tackles than he was last fall.

Why To Be Grouchy … there’s serious cause for concern about both UAB lines. Just how bad was the situation last season? The Blazers stood 82nd nationally in sacks and 116th in sacks allowed. That leaky offensive line, by the way, needs to replace First Team All-Conference USA T Chris Hubbard. While it’s not easy for this second-tier program to attract quality linemen in SEC country, the staff has to uncover new ways to transform two-star recruits into steady blockers.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … making more plays in pass defense. When you’re UAB, you have to dominate turnover margin in order to compensate for a gap in talent versus most opponents. However, a year ago, the Blazers picked off only six passes, despite being thrown on 356 times. CB Lamarcus Farmer and safeties Calvin Jones and Jake Ganus earned playing time in 2012. This fall, they need to earn the respect of opposing receivers.

Non-Conference Games: at Troy, at LSU, Northwestern State, at Vanderbilt
Games Against the West: Rice, at UTSA
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 3-9
Likely Finish: 6-6

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Florida Atlantic, Northwestern State, at UTSA, Middle Tennessee, Rice, Southern Miss

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Troy, at LSU, at Vanderbilt, at FIU, at Marshall, at East Carolina, Rice

Schedule Analysis: Just get through the first half. Five of the first seven games are on the road, and while there’s no chance to hang around with LSU and beating Vanderbilt would be a major upset, Troy, FIU and UTSA are all going to be winnable and getting Northwestern State and Florida Atlantic at home will pad the win total. It’ll take something special to beat either Marshall or East Carolina in the back-to-back November road games, but the Blazers might come up with a winning record if they can win two out of three home games against Middle Tennessee, Rice and Southern Miss.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Blazers have to be better on the offensive front and the defense has to be far tougher against the run. The O line was last in the league in sacks allowed and did nearly nothing for the running game, while the defense gave up way too many big plays getting torched time and again while finishing last in the league in pass efficiency defense. The punt coverage team wasn't a prize netting a mere 33.5 yards per try, even though Hunter Mullins ranked 12th in the nation averaging 44.8 yards a boot.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Wide receiver. After working on the skill positions a few years ago, UAB needs more firepower for down the road. However, JUCO transfer DeVante Scott is being brought in to be a No. 1 target right away, but J.J. Green, Greg Maclin and Adrian Kirkland are bodies to develop. Tight end Korey Cunningham has excellent size and the upside to be a safety-valve receiver.

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 87. That Class Was Heavy On ... Kickers. After two big classes and working on the skill positions last year, UAB got a little bit of everything without loading up on any one spot. JUCO transfers Lamar Johnson and Calvin Jones will be used right away in the secondary, and some big prospects, led by the 6-3, 343-pound Uneik Crumbley, are brought in for the line. Apparently, though, one of the big concerns is Josh Zahn, the team’s placekicker who followed up a 14-of-21 2009 with a 7-of-17 field goal 2010 season. Kickers Colin Anderson and Ty Long were brought into provide a challenge. Considering six games last year were decided by five points or fewer, a good kicker is a must.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 108. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. The offense was Joe Webb, Joe Webb, and Joe Webb last year, and now there's an immediate infusion of talent to try to change that with seven wide receivers, four of them from the JUCO ranks, led by big Darnell Williams; the team's instant No. 1 target. Five running backs, including two JUCO transfers, were brought in, while the star should be Greg Franklin.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 96. That Class Was Heavy On ... safeties. Of the 24 new Blazers signed by Neil Callaway, a big portion is projected as safeties once they arrive in Birmingham. That’s not such a bad thing, considering last year’s starters, Will Dunbar and Matt Taylor, were seniors. The two junior-college transfers, Hiram Atwater and Elliott McGaskin, should be ready to compete right away, and David Conner was good enough to get mail from Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.

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