We are now four games into #theReturn, so we’ll stop to take a look at where this team currently stands and what the future looks like.
It has litterally been an up-and-down year for UAB football as they won their opener at home against Alabama A&M, then lost on the road to Ball State, and then won at home to Coastal Carolina before losing on the road this past weekend to North Texas.
So basically UAB is 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. I honestly think UAB was good enough to beat both Ball State and North Texas, but it’s not easy playing on the road in college football.
I think at the beginning of the season a lot of people really hoped UAB would go 3-1 through their first four games. But 2-2 was probably more realistic when you consider this team had never played together before, and we really didn’t know what to expect.
Those who were hoping for a bowl game this year had UAB beating North Texas; however, the Mean Green are a much better football team than many people thought at the beginning of the season. With that loss, it now becomes much harder for the Blazers to win six games, but we’ll take a deeper look at that later in the week.
Like I said, coming into the season we really didn’t know what to expect from this team, and even after four games I think they are still trying to find their identity. But let’s take a look at what we have learned about this team through four games.
- The offense can score: While it hasn’t been pretty at times, the offense has found ways to put points on the board. They’ve scored at least 30 points in every game, and they are third in Conference USA averaging 35.5 points per game. UAB is second in the conference with 18 touchdowns. However, they are just ninth in the conference in total yards per game, averaging 399.3 yard per game.
- They are a run-first team: The Blazers have run the ball effectively all year, and they are third in the conference in total rush yards with 838. That’s an average of 209.5 yards per game. Interestingly enough though, UAB has failed to eclipse 200 yards rushing in their past two games as teams have started to load up the box against them.
- Pass protection needs work: I’m going to try to be as positive as I can in this article, but anyone who has read my articles this year knows how frustrated I am with the pass protection for UAB. North Texas had four sacks this past weekend, which means our offensive line has now allowed 12 sacks on the season. That’s an average of three a game; meanwhile, our defense only has five on the season. Not all of those sacks are on the offensive line — A.J. Erdely needs to learn to get rid of the football — but we have to get better at protecting the quarterback and preventing these negative plays.
- The defense is great, but thin: We all knew the UAB defense had a chance to be really good this year, and they have been at times. But something we all knew would be an issue for this team in year one is the depth. It’s just impossible to have the depth you need with a team that hasn’t played in two years. Our offense just isn’t giving our defense enough time to rest, and you can tell a big difference in our first and second units. Plus, the defense has suffered some big injuries — most notably defensive end Stacy Keely who missed two games — that has added to their depth issues.
- This team never gives up: Whether it was against Ball State or North Texas, this team has proven that it never gives up. They’ve played every game until the very end, and that will go a long way as this season progresses. They could have very easily laid down on the road against North Texas, but they fought all the way back to tie that game up. You can tell Coach Clark won’t allow his players to ever quit on him.
- The future is promising: The Blazers only have 17 seniors on the roster, and only five of them are significant contributors — four of them on the defensive side of the football. This team is already competing now, just imagine how much better they’ll be next year and the years to come with so many underclassmen receiving significant playing time. I’m not saying they don’t have potential to be great this year, but it’s hard not to think about how good they’ll be in the future.
There is a lot to be excited about from what we’ve seen from UAB football in 2017. This is a very good team that is capable of winning any game they play. I look forward to seeing what else we learn about this team the rest of the year.