Last Saturday certainly didn’t go as hoped, but UAB football will look to bounce back at home this weekend against Coastal Carolina. 

The Chanticleeers are in a similar spot to UAB as this is their first year in Division 1 football. However, they have been a powerhouse in the FCS for several years with nine or more wins the past four seasons.

Coastal started the season at home with a win over UMASS 38-28. They were off this past weekend with an early season bye week, so they’ll have had extra time to prepare for the Blazers.

UAB also picked up a win in week one, but then took a step back on the road against Ball State. Despite out-gaining the Cardinals 504 to 377 in total yards, the Blazers lost 51-31. UAB really hurt themselves with penalties and mental errors on offense that stalled drives. The defense played great on first and second down, but couldn’t get Ball State off the field on third down.

This should be a pretty even matchup, but initial lines show Coastal Carolina favored by a field goal. Let’s get into the matchups and see who we think will win.

Coastal Carolina Offense vs. UAB Defense 

Coastal Carolina runs an option heavy offense with about 70 percent of their plays being running plays. Last year they rushed for 254 yards per game and averaged 37.3 points per game.

They lose their top two rushers from 2016, including De’Angelo Henderson who rushed for 1,156 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Their top running back against UMASS was senior Osharmar Abercrombie. He rushed for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns in their first game. The 5-foot-9 running back missed four games last year, but he was still third on the team with 396 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 502 yards and seven touchdowns his sophomore year.

Senior quarterback Tyler Keane returns after throwing for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns last year with just two interceptions. He doesn’t run the ball much with just 135 net yards on 46 carries.

Chris Jones is the team’s leading returner at receiver. He caught 22 balls for 323 yards and two touchdowns last year. But it was Ky’Jon Tyler who led the team with five catches for 38 yards in their first game of the season.

The big key for this run-heavy offense if the line, and they lost a ton from last year. They have two freshman and a sophomore starting on the offensive line, which should benefit UAB’s stout front seven.

Even though the UAB defense gave up 51 points to Ball State, they only allowed 160 yards rushing to a good running team. In fact, they only gave up 3.6 yards per carry.

I really think this matchup bodes well for UAB. They’ll have to learn to adjust to the different type of offense that Coastal Carolina runs, but if they can continue to be as effective at stopping the run game as they’ve been the first two weeks, this should be a good day for the Blazers.

The worst part of the UAB defense against Ball State was the secondary and the lack of pressure on the quarterback. We shouldn’t have to worry too much about those aspects against Coastal Carolina.

The only thing that scares me is the pace Coastal Carolina plays at, which could be a problem with the lack of depth on the UAB defense. The Blazers will need to rotate in a lot of players to keep up with the Coastal Carolina offense.

UAB Offense vs. Coastal Carolina Defense 

The UAB offense showed some really good signs against Ball State as they racked up over 500 total yards and scored 31 points. However, they could have scored a lot more points and possibly won the game had they not continually shot themselves in the foot.

Penalties and mental mistakes continue to haunt this offense. We’ve had 17 penalties in the first two games with the majority of those coming against the offense.

If the offense limits those mistakes and keeps everything else the same from the Ball State game, they’ll literally run away with this one.

I say litearally because the rushing attack for UAB has been dynamite. They rushed for a total of 336 yards last weekend, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Spencer Brown looks like the next Jordan Howard going for 151 yards on just 17 carries, while quarterback A.J. Erdely had 77 net yards (113 total) and three rushing touchdowns.

UAB had four players with four or more carries last weekend that averaged 5.5 yards per carry or higher. And the only reason Erdely’s average was 5.5 is because he got sacked three times for 36 yards.

The offensive line still needs to do a better job of protecting Erdely and giving him time to look down field, and Erdely has to do a better job of throwing the football away instead of taking big losses.

As for the Coastal Carolina defense, they gave up just 19.3 points per game last year, and just 332 yards per game.

This defense wasn’t very impressive against a terrible UMASS team giving up 441 total yards, including 362 through the air. UMASS ran 71 plays and averaged 6.2 yards per play, but two fumbles and a missed field goal kept them from winning the game.

Marcus Williamson returns to defensive end for Coastal Carolina this year after recording 5.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks last year.

Middle linebacker Shane Johnson is the team’s top returning tackler after picking up 66 a year ago with 5.5 tackles for a loss. He had seven tackles against UMASS in week one.

This team is much more experienced on defense compared to offense and will be a solid unit, but I don’t think they’re any better than what we faced in Ball State.

If the UAB offense just plays smart and doesn’t commit any costly penalties, I don’t see any reason why they can’t put up 30-plus points against this Coastal Carolina defense.

Game Preview and Prediction

I’m really surprised to see that Coastal Carolina is favored on the road in this game against UAB. I think that just goes to show the disrespect people have for the Blazers in year one.

That’s why I really wanted that win against Ball State to put people on notice, but it didn’t happen — even though I think we win that game six-out-of-10 times.

This week’s matchup is a much better matchup for UAB. Coastal Carolina’s strong suit is running the football, and the one thing we’ve done really well all year is stop the run.

My main concern in this game is getting the offense in a groove. For the most part against Ball State I thought the offense did a great job of moving the football, but they can still be even better. If they can put it all together in this game I think UAB wins easily at home.

Prediction: UAB – 34 Coastal Carolina – 17 

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