Now that we have outlined the most important player from both offense and defense for the 2017 season, lets take a look at the three players that should be the keys to UAB having an effective offensive attack.
- The obvious number one is also the most important player on offense. A.J. Erdely is potentially going to be the starting quarterback for the 2017 Blazers. He has college playing experience and is a proven winner with 29 wins in high school. He is capable of scrambling for yards when needed and will have plenty of potential targets to throw to. During the UAB spring game, Erdely completed 7 of his 10 passes for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. Yes, he didn’t match Johnston’s numbers (8-12, 161 yards, 1 TD), but Johnston was sacked once while Erdely was not. Erdely also had 8 rushes for 69 yards, while Johnston had 6 for 33 (after a 10 yard sack).
- I am actually going to cheat with this one. All of the running backs could potentially have break-out seasons, so I am choosing the position as a whole. The biggest surprise, to me, was how well Kalin Heath played at running back in the spring game. He rushed 13 times for 79 yards. He has both size and speed and looked very good. Donnie Lee also had a very strong spring game performance rushing 9 times for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. Finally, James Noble rushed 7 times for 62 yards and 1 touchdown. Noble also had a run of 35 yards. Coach Clark has plenty of talent and depth at the running back position and should be able to call on any one of them to step up on any given day.
- The third player that should be integral to the offense is returning wide receiver Colin Lisa. He had a fantastic showing at the spring game with 5 catches for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. (It is worth noting that he had more yards than any three other receivers combined). Lisa is also one of the few players that are returning from the 2014 squad, and while he may have been ‘overshadowed’ by J.J. Nelson or Jamari Staples in 2014, he will be the go-to guy for the majority of passing plays.
- * I’m cheating again. This player(s) is the keystone to the offense (and every offense really). The offensive line is the biggest question mark, in my opinion, of the entire team. Most of the guys up front are JUCO players that have never played a real game together with each other before. Depth could be a major issue here as well if there are any major injuries to this group of guys. If the worst happens, the offense will be basically a rush only attack that will go nowhere fast (A La Florida under Will Muschamp). But, if this group stays healthy, the offense could be set for a very surprising showing come September 2 and beyond.
Coach Clark and Offensive Coordinator Les Koenning have the pieces for a good-to-great offense (especially at running back), but it may take a few games for the pieces to fit together and play to their potential.
Forty-Six days until kickoff! Ever Faithful, Ever Loyal.