2010 UAB Preview - Offense

Posted Aug 6, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - UAB Blazer Offense

UAB Blazers

Preview 2010 - Offense 

- 2010 UAB Preview | 2010 UAB Offense
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What You Need To Know: What do you do if you lose your two best players and your only two all-stars from a year ago? You rebuild as quickly as possible. UAB begins a new era without do-it-all QB Joe Webb and four-year starting C Jake Seitz. In their place is expected to be David Isabelle and Darion Smith, respectively, who have limited experience between them. Isabelle, assuming he holds off Bryan Ellis, does share a lot of Webb's qualities, such as a knack for beating defenses with his feet. Whoever gets the nod will have a decent supporting cast that includes a mix of backs, a veteran line, and one of the best receiving corps in Conference USA. If the Blazers have any hopes of approaching last year's output, they'll have to leverage the talent and size advantage provided by TE Jeffery Anderson and receivers Frantrell Forrest, Nick Adams, Roddell Carter, and Mario Wright.

Returning Leaders
Passing: David Isabelle
6-14, 39 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: David Isabelle
32 carries, 288 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Frantrell Forrest
34 catches, 558 yds, 9 TDs

Star of the offense: Senior WR Frantrell Forrest
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB David Isabelle
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RT Chris Hubbard
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Jeffery Anderson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Forrest, 2) Junior LT Matt McCants, 3) Anderson
Strength of the offense: Receivers and tight ends, athleticism at quarterback, veteran line
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, center


Projected Starter: Joe Webb is gone. A moment of silence in Birmingham, please. The Blazers have the unenviable task of replacing the greatest player in school history and a multi-dimensional force, who ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing and passing efficiency. Good luck filling those shoes. Though he's getting a challenge, the favorite is 6-3, 185-pound sophomore David Isabelle. He's not Webb, but he does share a lot of similar qualities, such as the athleticism to hurt defenses with his feet. He's also ahead of Webb as a passer at similar stages of their careers and had the luxury of learning behind him the last two seasons. As the backup, he only went 6-of-14 for 39 yards and a touchdown, but was second on the team in rushing with 288 yards and a score on just 32 carries.

Projected Top Reserves: Refusing to go away is 6-2, 205-pound junior Bryan Ellis, who was close enough in the spring to make this a competition in the summer. More of the pocket passer in this equation, he has the more accurate arm, but has limited experience and, unlike Isabelle, can't break down defenses with his scrambling ability outside the pocket.

Watch Out For …Isabelle to be the guy when Florida Atlantic visits Sept. 4. No, it's not a foregone conclusion and Neil Callaway likes to foster competition, but Isabelle has been groomed for this moment and offers the greatest upside among the quarterbacks.
Strength: Athleticism. Even in a post-Webb world, UAB has a dual-threat at its disposal this season. Isabelle already proved in short spurts last year that he can make things happen when he breaks containment and takes off. He provides a certain degree of continuity of style that's going to be appreciated by the linemen and the rest of the offense.
Weakness: A proven passer. It took years before Webb became consistent in the passing game, but with his graduation goes the threat through the air. While it's not as if Isabelle or Ellis can't get there, but it's going to take time and neither has any experience running an offense at this level.
Outlook: UAB knew this day would eventually come and have prepared accordingly. Still, there's no easy way to address the loss of a player of Webb's caliber. He accounted for 73% of the offense in 2009, keeping the Blazers competitive most weeks. Ideally, Isabelle can cast aside any doubts in the summer, preventing a quarterback controversy that bleeds into September. He has plenty of talent, but needs to sharpen his passing skills as quickly as possible.
Unit Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Well, after being virtually unused a year ago, the UAB running backs will be well-rested and poised for larger roles. If the spring is any indication, 5-9, 180-pound junior Pat Shed was not signed out of East Mississippi Community College to watch from the sidelines. The most exciting option among the runners, he showed big-play ability and soft hands as a receiver. If the Blazers can get him in space and get him about 20 touches a game, he could be one of the team's big surprises of 2010.

Projected Top Reserves: In a dead heat with Shed following spring was 5-11, 215-pound senior Justin Brooks. A completely different runner, he's a physical north-south type back, who can work between the tackles and drag defenders in short yardage. He also has the most experience in the backfield, ranking fourth on the 2009 team and taking 98 career carries for 429 yards and four scores into his final year.

Fighting for what's left of the carries will be 5-11, 205-pound senior Daniel Borne . A former transfer from Jones County (Miss.) Junior College, he contributed in his first season, rushing 50 times for 188 yards and a touchdown, and adding seven receptions for 91 yards and another score.

Watch Out For …much more involvement from the backs now that QB Joe Webb has graduated. Webb was a workhorse, logging 227 carries, but now that he's a Minnesota Viking, UAB will need to spread out the touches among Shed, Brooks, and Borne.
Strength: Diversity. Shed provides the wiggle and the burst in the open field. Brooks and Borne are no-nonsense pluggers capable of moving a pile. Put the three together, and UAB has a nice mix of options when it keeps it on the ground or looks to involve the backs in the passing game.
Weakness: A bona fide feature back. It's a new year with the same issue. The Blazers simply don't know if they harbor a back who can shoulder the load if needed because no one on the roster has ever carried more than 11 times in a game at this level.
Outlook: Underutilized the last two seasons, it'll be interesting to see how the running backs respond to a greater role in the offense. Even if athletic David Isabelle is under center, the opportunity for carries will be there. Shed was one of the spring stars, but needs to continue making plays in the summer and fall.
Unit Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters: The bulk of the Blazer receiving corps is back, comforting news for whoever gets the ball at quarterback. Senior Frantrell Forrest might finally be on the brink of All-Conference-USA recognition after catching a team-high 34 passes for 558 yards and nine touchdowns. The program's leading receiver over the last three seasons, he combines a long, 6-2, 195-pound frame with the stride to get behind the secondary. Still, he needs to work on his hands and concentration, especially with a young hurler about to become his battery mate.

At "X" receiver, 6-3, 220-pound senior Roddell Carter is trying to hold off stiff competition and maintain the starting assignment. Three years removed from Georgia Military College, he's been a steady performer, but has yet to deliver the production to match his impressive triangle numbers. He's yet to have more than 16 receptions in Birmingham, pulling down 14 balls a year ago for 225 yards and a score.

One player who has to become more involved with the offense is 6-2, 195-pound junior Nick Adams, the starter at "Z" receiver. A potential long-ball threat on the outside, he has one of the best blends of good size and blazing speed on the roster. In his debut out of Fort Scott (Kans.) Community College, he flashed potential by turning just 15 catches into 277 yards and a touchdown.

Not to be forgotten among the pass-catchers is 6-3, 255-pound senior Jeffrey Anderson , UAB's oft-used tight end. One of the most underrated players in the country at the position, he was second on the team with 26 catches for 398 yards and five touchdowns, giving him nine career scores on 64 receptions. With good hands and the gait to stretch the seam, he could have a career in the NFL.

Projected Top Reserves: At "X" receiver, 6-5, 210-pound senior Mario Wright is basically 1A to Carter. The two are interchangeable and both will get chances to make plays. While physically imposing and a nightmare on jump balls, he has steadily digressed in production since his freshman season, making just eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown in 2009.

Behind Adams at "Z" is 6-1, 180-pound senior Mike Jones, a seasoned veteran of three letters with the program. Mostly used on special teams, he's a steady performer, bringing 31 career receptions for 316 yards and a touchdown into his final year of eligibility.

Watch Out For …Adams. With Forrest getting so much attention on one side and Anderson commanding respect in the middle, Adams is liable to capitalize on the extra space. His speed, size, and elusiveness are certain to catch the attention of the new quarterback.
Strength: Measurables. On size and speed alone, there aren't many defensive backfields in the conference that are going to slow these guys down. From top to bottom, all of the receivers are long, strong, and able to get down the sidelines in an instant. If they can ever hone the little things, UAB will have a dynamite set of pass-catchers.
Weakness: Consistency. Sure, the receivers are all 6-2 and run like the wind, but it matters little if they continue to drop passes and run questionable routes. Collectively, these guys have to polish up their act and give the young quarterbacks better targets, bigger plays, and greater consistency.
Outlook: The potential is in place for the receivers to be the strongest unit on either side of the ball for UAB. Forrest and Anderson have all-star ceilings at wide receiver and tight end, respectively, and their supporting cast is brimming with athletic ability. If they can develop chemistry with a new quarterback, the sky is the limit in 2010.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The bad news is that all-star and four-year starting C Jake Seitz must be replaced. The good news? Everyone else is back. The favorite to take over in the middle is 6-2, 280-pound junior Darion Smith, a transfer from Copiah-Lincoln (Kans.) Junior College. He drew praise from the staff in March and April, making clean snaps and flashing the athletic ability to keep the momentum going in the summer.

At left tackle, 6-7, 295-pound junior Matt McCants is headed toward becoming the program's best all-around blocker and a serious contender for more than just honorable mention all-conference honors. Ideally built to protect the quarterback's backside, he has the long arms and good feet needed to seal off some of the league's faster edge rushers. If he continues to work at his craft, he could be attracting scouts to Birmingham in 2011.

Holding down the right tackle opening is expected to be 6-4, 270-pound sophomore Chris Hubbard , who's used a terrific offseason to move into this position. A strong and agile blocker, he lettered in his first season and has continued to add weight and muscle. While still not ideally sized, he compensates by playing with ideal leverage, effort, and technique.

At left guard, 6-3, 300-pound junior Greg Calhoun has made the move from tackle and risen to the top of the depth chart. He's entering his third season as a starter, which has dramatically helped his technique, and is one of the strongest players on the line, especially when driving straight ahead on running downs.

Rounding out the front wall at right guard is 6-3, 290-pound junior Caleb Thomas , a returning starter with the versatility to also spell Smith at center if needed. He has good feet and is quick to the second level, getting out of his stance in a hurry and creating daylight for the running backs.

Projected Top Reserves: Once considered a safe bet to land a starting assignment, 6-3, 295-pound Terence Edge is being forced to break a sweat just to remain on the two-deep. After sitting out 2009 to focus on academics, the two-year starter is now backing up Hubbard at right tackle. Probably better suited to play guard, he has tremendous strength and surprising agility, but just needs to pay attention to the small details.

Caddying for Calhoun at left guard will be 6-4, 300-pound senior Greg Bulls, a two-time letterman and pleasant surprise since transferring from Blinn (Tex.) College. An ideal player to have on the second unit, he's a steady and reliable blocker, with considerable starting experience with the Blazers.

Watch Out For …the performance of Smith at center. He's not going to be Seitz, but he has to be competent, especially when getting the ball back to the quarterback cleanly. With the rest of the line in pretty good shape, Smith could hold the key to just how well the unit performs in 2010.
Strength: The tackles. With McCants on the left side and Hubbard on the right, the Blazers have a pair of outstanding athletes, whose best football is clearly ahead of them. Light on their feet and quick out of their stance, they'll excel at keeping the periphery of the pocket clean.
Weakness: Center. Although Smith might go on to surprise a lot of people in his first season, the drop-off from Seitz is inevitable. More than just a talented blocker, he was the heady line leader and the quarterback of this group. Naturally, he'll be missed on a multitude of different levels.
Outlook: UAB has planned this position well over the last few seasons. After using a slew of underclassmen in the early going, the Blazers now have quality depth through the two-deep and a couple of potential all-stars in the starting lineup. If the new center isn't an issue, this can quietly be one of the better blocking units in Conference USA.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2010 UAB Preview | 2010 UAB Offense
- 2010 UAB Defense | 2010 UAB Depth Chart
- UAB Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006