After another dramatic win at home for UAB, the Blazers hit the road to play a struggling Charlotte team. We’ll break down the matchups here.
UAB is definitely in the race for the Conference USA championship game as they are 2-1 in the conference with wins against La Tech and Middle Tennessee.
That is not the case for Charlotte who has yet to win a game in 2017 and is 0-3 in conference play.
Still, this will not be an easy game for UAB who has yet to win a game on the road this year. They open up as 4.5 point favorites against Charlotte, which should put the Blazers on notice.
Let’s look at the matchups:
Charlotte Offense vs. UAB Defense
Charlotte was without starting quarterback Hasaan Klugh (illness) and running back Benny LeMay (concussion) against Western Kentucky this past weekend.
Klugh has completed 75-of-159 (47 percent) passes this year for 788 yards and 5 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. But his real strength is running the football. He’s second on the team in rushing with 301 net yeards (420 gross) on 75 carries with 5 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 192 pound redshirt junior will most likely be back at quarterback this Saturday. The UAB defense will need to have a dedicated spy to stop him from running the football.
It’s a little unclear if LeMay will be back this weekend. He leads Charlotte with 488 yards rushing on 77 attempts (6.3 average), but has yet to score a touchdown all year.
Aaron McAllister got the bulk of the carries against Western Kentucky rushing for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. On the season he has 287 yards on 49 attempts (5.9 average).
One thing is clear, Charlotte wants to run the football. They average 187.6 yards per game on the ground, which is sixth best in Conference USA.
I think that plays into UAB’s strength as they are sixth in the conference giving up just 167.4 rushing yards per game, and they played a lot of good running teams early in the year.
If UAB can force Charlotte to pass the football, then I think we’ll have a lot of success on Saturday. Charlotte is dead last in the conference averaging just 124.9 passing yards per game.
UAB Offense vs. Charlotte Defense
The UAB offense has gone up against a couple of good defenses the past two weeks and held to 25 points or less, so hopefully they get a chance to break back out against Charlotte this weekend.
Despite the lower point totals, I’ve really liked the game plans on offense after the bye week. They totaled 434 yards against Middle Tennessee, but were unable to finish some drives — specifically one inside the 10 when an A.J. Erdely pass was intercepted at the goalline.
UAB is sixth in the conference in total yards per game with 399.5, with the majority of those coming on the ground. The Blazers are second in the conference averaging 212.7 rushing yards per game.
Spencer Brown has become the lead running back for UAB as he now leads the team with 629 rushing yards on 114 attempts with 6 touchdowns. He’s fourth in the conference averaging 104.8 yards per game and 629 yards on the season.
Erdely also did a great job running the football against MTSU and is second on the team in rushing yards and is first with 7 rushing touchdowns. He’s also done a good job throwing the football with 1,105 yards passing on 157 attempts and 87 completions with 7 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions.
Andre Wilson continues to get a lot of passes thrown his way. He leads the team with 402 yards receiving and 24 catches with 4 touchdowns.
The Charlotte defense has been good at times, but overall they are giving up 33 points per game and 454.4 total yards per game. It didn’t help that they were missing four defensive starters against Western Kentucky.
Linebacker Karrington King leads the Charlotte defense with 62 tackles. Defensive lineman Zach Duncan leads the team with 5 tackles for a loss and has three of the team’s six sacks on the season.
Ben DeLuca is the team’s best player in the secondary with 58 tackles and 5 pass break-ups.
The limited pass rush will be a welcome to our offensive line, and should give Erdely plenty of time to pass the football down field. Charlotte is last in the conference giving up 272 passing yards per game. I think Erdely and Wilson could have a huge game this Saturday.
Game Preview and Prediction
UAB football is at a point now where games like this can’t become questionable. However, after back-to-back emotional wins at home, this is the type of game where you normally see a letdown.
As I mentioned earlier, the Blazers are 0-2 in road games this year, which is why I think the spread on this game is so low.
Coach Clark will have to get the guys prepared mentally for this trip, and not let them overlook the 49ers with a trip to Southern Miss looming the following weekend.
As far as the matchups go, this game favors UAB in almost every way. Charlotte wants to run the football, and the UAB defense has shown that it can stop the run. The only problem with that is if the defense has to stay on the field too long and gets tired like it did in the second half against Coastal Caroline. Charlotte is not just going to abandon the running game because UAB stops it early, they’re going to keep pounding away and try to wear down our defense.
Where I think UAB can overcome that in this game is if the offense puts up some big numbers. Despite an interception at the goalline against MTSU that nearly cost us the game, Erdely has proven that he can be an efficient passer. I think we see him have his best game of the season this Saturday.
And then of coarse I think Spencer Brown has another big day running the football, but I’d be surprised if he gets 30-plus carries again unless we just have to have it.
In all honesty, UAB only losses this game if they beat themselves. Penalties and special teams continue to be issues, and you can’t have those kind of mistakes on the road.
Prediction: UAB – 34 Charlotte – 17