The UAB Football team will not take the field for another year, but it’s never too early to prepare.
Their first game of the 2017 season will be against Alabama A&M, so to get ready for the big game we’ll preview Alabama A&M’s game this week, which actually comes against another Conference USA team in Middle Tennessee.
The two teams will square off this Saturday, Sept. 3 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
When doing these previews, we will try to focus on players who are a junior or younger – basically those who will be playing against UAB next season.
Matchup: Alabama A&M at Middle Tennessee
Where: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
When: 6 p.m. CT
TV: CUSA.TV/Raider Vision
Alabama A&M Review
Playing in the SWAC, Alabama A&M went just 3-9 last season with all three of those wins coming in conference play.
They played one Division 1 opponent last year in the Cincinnati Bearcats who took down Alabama A&M in the opening week of the 2015 season 52-10.
It’s great that they play Middle Tennessee this year as it will not only give us an idea of how good Alabama A&M is, but we’ll know how well we stack up in Conference USA once we play them next year.
Last year they averaged 20.7 points per game, while giving up 35.2 points to their opponents. They also gave up 482.6 yards per game, while only gaining 339.1 by their offense.
This is not a very good football team, and should be a good way for UAB to ease back into football.
Alabama A&M Offense
They have a senior quarterback returning in De’Angelo Ballard. In 2015 he threw for 1,516 yards and 9 touchdowns, while rushing for 470 (340 net) yards and 4 touchdowns.
That means Alabama A&M will most likely be breaking in a new quarterback when they face UAB to begin next season.
Their top returning receiver in 2016 is also a senior in Tevin McKenzie who grabbed 32 passes for 472 yards in 2015 for 4 touchdowns.
Tight end Jonathan Dorsey will also be a senior this year after leading the team with 5 receiving touchdowns in 2015.
If that’s not enough, the team’s leader running back from 2015 is also a senior in 2016. Harvey Harris rushed for 449 yards and 4 touchdowns last season.
That will be four big losses from the offense after this season that UAB won’t have to deal with.
Running back Byran Brower will be a junior this season after rushing for 298 yards on 81 attempts as a sophomore.
It will be interesting to see if quarterback Damion May emerges as the starter this season. He received a lot of playing time as a freshman throwing for 572 yards and 5 touchdowns in 112 attempts, while rushing for 212 (85 net) yards.
If the sophomore takes over this season and gains confidence, he could be a problem for UAB in 2017.
Alabama A&M’s best offensive lineman, Malcolm Johnson, will be a junior this year.
Overall, this will be a senior-heavy offense in 2016, which bodes well for UAB next season. Players to watch on offense in this game will be the quarterback May and running back Byran Brown.
Alabama A&M Defense
As old as they are on offense, they are just as young on defense.
Alabama A&M returns it’s top tacker from 2015 in Bryan Brower. The linebacker racked up a total of 76 tackles, including 4 tackles for a loss, as a sophomore last season.
He’ll lead the defense as a junior this year, and will be a senior when UAB faces him in 2017.
Defensive tackle Averee Giles returns in 2016 for his junior season after picking up 26 tackles and 5 tackles for a loss last season. He’ll be a major force in the middle of the Alabama A&M defensive line in 2017.
The Alabama A&M secondary should be solid in 2017 as cornerback Devonte Simon and safety Dexter Reese both will play as juniors in 2016.
Simon had a huge sophomore season registering 45 total tackles – 36 solo tackles – to go along with 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 5 pass break ups and 6 passes defended.
Reese was right there with him picking up 41 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 pass break ups and 7 passes defended.
All of Alabama A&M’s key players on defense in 2016 are juniors, which means they should be pretty solid on defense when UAB faces them in 2017.
All of those guys will be key to watch as they take on Middle Tennessee this Saturday and as we go throughout the season.
UAB-Alabama A&M Preview
It’s pretty easy to see that Alabama A&M will be rebuilding on offense in 2017, while they should be dominating on defense.
The key on offense is whether or not Damion May takes over at quarterback. That could give them the offense they need to compete in 2017.
Obviously there will be some underclassman step up this year that could have an impact on this game, but it’s easy to see who the veterans will be for the Sept. 2, 2017 matchup.
We’re still far away from UAB taking the field for an actual game, but you can get started by watching their next opponent play Middle Tennessee this Saturday.
We hope you enjoy our series this fall of previewing UAB football’s 2017 opponents. Please come back to The Daily Dragon for the most UAB athletics coverage.