As we continue our coverage of this weekend’s game against La Tech, we’ll take a look at three players from each team who will have a major impact.
A.J. Erdely – QB
If you read my preview for this weekend’s game, you know how important I think Erdely is for this game. If the Blazers want to have any chance at winning they have to be able to throw the ball downfield. Erdely is 50-of-94 passing on the season for 743 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s averaging just 185.8 passing yards per game, but he’s also only averaging 23.5 passing attempts per game. When you compare that with La Tech’s quarterback, J’Mar Smith, he’s averaging 264 passing yards per game and 33.8 attempts. It’s time to take the training wheels off Erdely and see if he has what it takes to win a game with his arm.
Stacy Keely – DE
Keely’s presence on the defensive line was greatly missed against Ball State and Coastal Carolina. He was back against North Texas and finished the game with 3 tackles, including a sack. Despite missing nearly two games, he still leads UAB with two of the team’s five sacks on the year. Hopefully the bye week gave him even more time to heal up, and I expect him to be a huge force in this game. Our pass rush is significantly better when he’s in the lineup. That should help generate some added pressure on third down to get La Tech’s offense off the field.
I’m kind of cheating here by calling out an entire unit, but the UAB secondary will be tested on Saturday. As I already mentioned, La Tech throws the ball around 34 times a game and averages around 264 passing yards a game. Our defense has held teams to 179 passing yards per game, 6.2 yards per pass, while facing 29 pass attempts per game. North Texas threw the ball 29 times against us for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. Our secondary will need to do much better against La Tech if we’re going to win this game.
Teddy Veal – WR/PR
Veal is probably the most dangerous playmaker on La Tech. He has 30 catches for 331 yards and 2 touchdowns, while averaging 66.2 receiving yards per game. UAB has just 12 more completions on the year than Veal has catches — granted La Tech has played one more game. Not only is he dangerous as a wide receiver, but he’s a great punt returner as well. He has seven returns on the season for 91 yards — a 13 yard average — and he’s taken one to the house. In comparison, UAB’s Andrew Wilson is averaging 2.1 yards per punt return on eight returns. UAB will need to keep an eye on Veal all afternoon.
Boston Scott – RB/WR/KR
While Veal is second on the team in all-purpose yards, Boston Scott is first. He has 273 rush yards, 101 receiving yards and 143 kick return yards for a total of 517 all-purpose yards — an average of 103.4 yards per game. The speedster is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this year on 44 attempts. Scott does it all for La Tech, and UAB will need to put a hat on him as well and know where he’s lined up when he’s in the game.
Jaylon Ferguson – DE
I’ve already mentioned how UAB will need to throw the football downfield in this game, and the only way that will happen is if Erdely is given the time he needs to throw downfield. Ferguson has been La Tech’s best pass rusher this year with a team-high 3 sacks. On the season, the La Tech defense has a total of 10 sacks, so they’re averaging about two sacks a game. UAB is giving up 3 sacks a game, so they’ll need to make sure Ferguson is blocked and keep him from reaching the quarterback.
If UAB can limit those three players for La Tech, then I think we have a successful day. But that’s a tall task for the Blazers. We’ll see if they can get the job done on Saturday.