The UAB football team is set for a rematch Thursday night as the Green faces the Gold once again. In front of an announced crowd of nearly 5,000 people, the Blazers kicked off the 2016 season, August 29 with the Gold Team defeating the Green by a score of 33-10.
The first team offense looked impressive, and starting quarterback AJ Erdely led the way throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Kalin Heath added 74 yards on the ground and Omar Williams had 73 yards with a touchdown.
Safety Jordan Petty had 2 interceptions in the end zone for the Gold team, while Irving Adams had 9 tackles.
Overall the Gold Team dominated the scrimmage.
The rematch between the two teams culminates UAB’s 2016 Homecoming week as students have been participating in events throughout campus all week long.
As the Green Team looks for some revenge on Thursday night, here are four things to expect:
1. Has the Defense Improved?
To put things lightly, the first team defense did not measure up to the first team offense in the first Green and Gold Scrimmage. The first team offense had its way all night and had multiple big plays.
Coming into fall camp there was a good deal of hype about the Blazers defensive line. Clark and staff are looking to Shaq Jones and Garrett Marino to lead the way along with Illinois transfer Teko Powell.
With more time to prepare and learn the system, expect the three – and others – to have much better showings on Thursday night.
There were a few bright spots with the defense as Darez Diggs’ had an interception on the opening drive and Quindarius Thagard had 7 tackles.
Thursday night is another opportunity for the defense to show it’s progress and seek a little revenge as well. It all starts up front, and if the defensive line can generate pressure on the quarterbacks, expect the defense to have a much better showing come Thursday night.
2. What will we see from Tyler Johnston?
Making his collegiate debut in the first green and gold scrimmage, the Spanish Fort native was a modest 14-of-30 for 104 yards.
The stat to stand out? 4 interceptions. Not exactly the numbers you would expect from a a quarterback who went 35-0 at Spanish Fort.
You have to factor in it was his first time ever playing in college, combined with him having elbow surgery earlier in the year.
Since the scrimmage the word is that Johnston has vastly improved in practices and his elbow is strengthening.
Is Johnston capable of pushing Erdely for the first string quarterback job? Look for the two-time state champion to make a push towards that Thursday night.
3. Which wide receivers will stand out?
All summer and through fall camp, many were speculating which receivers would stand out in a group that has tremendous depth. After one open scrimmage that question still remains.
Somewhat surprisingly, Andre Wilson led the way for the Gold team with 5 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Vernon Chatman lead the Green with 4 catches for 55 yards.
Many people expected Brewer Hicklen and Collin Lisa, who transferred back to UAB from Buffalo, to be some of the names to lead the receiving group come next fall.
However, the two combined for just 5 catches and only 92 yards. Look for them to fight for more touches come Thursday night.
Sederian Copeland is a player to continue to keep an eye on as he only had 1 grab for 8 yards, but had been with the team for a very short time going into the scrimmage.
Like Copeland, heralded JUCO wide receivers Will Ulmer and Xavier Ubosi had little practice time before last time out, but both are expected to be significant contributors.
4. Who will be crowned Mr. and Ms. UAB?
One of the many homecoming traditions at UAB is the crowning of Mr. and Ms. UAB. Students have been participating in many events this whole week with building decorations, movies on the green, karaoke in the commons, the Homecoming Parade and Gurney Derby on Friday.
Last year Chirag Patel and Allie David were crowned the winners. In addiction to be crowned, the winners are also granted a $2,500 scholarship.
The runner-ups are also granted a $1,000 scholarship as well.
For not having a football team these past two years, one has to admire UAB for still giving students many activities to do during homecoming week.
Be there early for fan fest at 5 p.m., BlazerWalk at 6:30 p.m., and kick-off at 7 p.m. This is another huge step in #theReturn so make sure you come out Thursday night and see the Blazers in action.