Yesterday we looked at three players from Ball State to watch in the game this Saturday, now we’ll look at three players from UAB that will need to be big in order for the Blazers to win.
Tevin Crews – LB
The senior from Centerville, Ala. was huge in the first game of the season with seven total tackles, three tackles for a loss. a sack and a pass break-up. He has another tall task ahead of him this weekend as he’ll be responsible for making sure the Ball State quarterback doesn’t get loose. The Cardinals love to run the football, and the quarterback Riley Neal isn’t afraid to take off. Crews will need to make sure he keeps their running attack in front of him and bottles them up in the backfield when he can. The goal to limiting this Ball State offense is keeping them in third-and-long situations. That starts by shutting down the ground game on first and second down.
Collin Lisa – WR
Really, I could say the whole wide receiver group will be a key in this game, but I’ll pick on the number one guy. Unless the UAB offensive line makes huge strides in pass protection this week, quarterback A.J. Erdely won’t have much time to pass, which means our receivers don’t have much time to get open. I expect us to call some pass plays this weekend that allow A.J. to get rid of the ball quickly. I also think we’ll see more run-pass options, which will allow A.J. to roll out and move the pocket, limiting the Ball State pass rush. Our wide receivers will need to do a good job creating separation early to give A.J. a target. This could lead to a big game for Lisa.
I hope I don’t have to harp on this all year, but the fact remains that we won’t win many games this year unless the offensive line can do a better job of protecting the quarterback. As I said previously, I think the coaching staff will draw up some plays this week that allow A.J. to get rid of the ball quickly and move the pocket, but we’ll still need the offensive line to give our quarterback time to throw the ball downfield. At the same time, they have to be able to help us establish the ground game up front. If that can’t happen, then UAB won’t have any chance to win this Saturday. If you want to pick an individual on the offensive line for UAB in this game, it will be whichever tackle is lined up against Anthony Winbush.
Those are the three players I’ll be keying on for UAB this weekend as they take on Ball State. If those two guys and the offensive line have big days, then the Blazers will come back home 2-0.