UAB Blazers Season Preview
Neil Callaway is entering his fifth season with a 15-33 record and let us not forget that he has taken over for Watson Brown, who coached from ’95-’06. UAB has only been a division one program since 1991!
They are arguably the worst program in C-USA, as far as facilities are concerned. It is tough to get any players to play for the program, with Alabama and Auburn getting all the top dogs out there.
UAB is the alma-mater of Atlanta Falcons superstar Roddy White and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb. The only other current NFL player is Bryan Thomas, OLB/DE of the New York Jets.
That is correct. There are only three current NFL players who went to UAB. UAB had better change that if they expect to reach a bowl game anytime soon.
Improvement Needed on Both Sides
The past four seasons have been unbearable to watch, with records of 2-10, 4-8, 5-7 and 4-8 over that time. There are seven starters returning and QB Bryan Ellis is the senior leader. He threw for 2,940 yards and 25 TDs last season, with only 12 picks. If he can improve upon those numbers and get more protection from a line that returns four starters, this offense will start to become rock solid.
The defense, on the other hand, was far from solid. They were among the worst defensive teams in C-USA and in the entire nation, as a matter of fact.
They finished 80th in total defense, allowing 398 yards per game and were 105th against the pass, allowing 248 yards per game. They have Jamie Bender and TJ Ballou, who are both seniors. Bender was second on the team in tackles with 94, which is not a good stat to have when it belongs to your starting safety.
Great Teams Are Built from the Inside Out
The run defense was not much better. They allowed 150 yards per game, which ranked 59th. The front four has five coming back, which should help improve these numbers. But with a terrible defense last season they lost several games at the line of scrimmage alone.
The Blazers go-to-guy is Patrick Hearn, who led the team with four TDs. That needs to improve if they have any chance of becoming an contending program.
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The schedule is atrocious from a non-conference perspective. They open the season in Gainesville at “The Swamp,” where Gator Bait will be grinding their teeth against UAB. Then a month later the Blazers get to host a legit top 20 team, Mississippi State.
Did I mention their tough conference schedule yet? Well, they get Houston, Tulsa, Southern Miss and UCF, which may all be double digit losses.
Despite the rest of the schedule being fairly soft (Marshall, FAU and Tulane), I feel that UAB is not quite good enough to just show up and defeat even those mediocre teams. This is a program that cannot do much worse, but unfortunately they will continue to struggle in 2011.
Predicted Finish: 2-10, 1-7
Predicted Bowl: None
Predicted order of finish in C-USA: Sixth in East, 10th in C-USA