Not much is expected on offense from the UAB football team in 2017 with so many unknowns and so little experience playing together.

And for that very reason, the most important player on offense for UAB football in 2017 will be the quarterback. I know that’s very traditional and an easy answer, but it’s especially true in #theReturn.

This UAB offense will need someone who is a leader and who is confident.

Redshirt junior A.J. Erdely is expected to be the signal caller for UAB football in 2017. And in my honest opinion, UAB needs him to be the starting quarterback.

No offense to the other candidates, but Erdely has all the qualities you want in a quarterback for a team that is facing extreme odds.

Erdely is a winner having won 29 games in high school. He has experience, having played at Middle Tennessee and Mississippi Gulf Coast during his college career. And while it’s still kind of unknown, it seems like he gives you the leadership that will be needed on this offense.

In 2014 he played in five games for Middle Tennessee. He was 0-1 passing the football, but ran for 29 yards on 7 carries and scored a touchdown. He knows what it takes to play at the division 1 level, and even in Conference USA.

At Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2015 he was 163-of-253 passing for 1,881 yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for another 91 yards and a touchdown. So he has the experience at the college level.

And most notably, and maybe most importantly, he has looked like the best quarterback in every scrimmage that I’ve watched.

The UAB offense in 2014 averaged 33.2 points per game, which was much improved from the 26.2 points per game in 2013.

I don’t expect this year’s offense to be anywhere close to 33.2 points per game, but hopefully they’re somewhere in the middle from the 2014 and 2013 seasons.

That will all depend on the quarterback, and how well he leads the offense.

I believe the Blazers have enough weapons around him to get the job done. Kalin Heath has looked really good at running back, as have backups Donnie Lee and James Noble. Collin Lisa should be a play-maker at wide receiver, and recently added Brock McCoin should help give some more experience at wideout.

It’s really hard to know what the offensive line will look like and how they’ll play together, but that will obviously play a huge part in how effective Erdely can be. One thing is for sure, the offensive line will need to be deep. I know they’ve been getting into shape, but nothing can prepare them for in-game speed. I think there will be a lot of tired offensive lineman early in the year.

The UAB defense should be good enough to keep the Blazers in games this year, but whether or not UAB football actually wins some games depends on Erdely and the offense.

If Erdely can run the offense effectively out of the gate, then UAB football could get out to a really good start with some winnable games early. That could help he and the team build some confidence going into Conference USA play.

It’s always easy to say that the most important player on offense is the quarterback, but I don’t think it will ever be truer than it will be in 2017 for UAB football.