After another impressive road win from the Blazers, UAB football hits the road again to face a disgraced SEC football team in the Florida Gators.
After going to back-to-back SEC Championship games, Florida is just 3-6 on the season and looking at having one of their worst seasons in a long time.
Still, UAB opens this week as a 10.5 point underdog in the Swamp.
At the beginning of the year this looked like it would just be a fun road trip for UAB fans and its players, but now this is a serious business trip.
The Blazers have a very real chance of knocking off an SEC team.
Let’s get into the matchups and see how they can get the job done.
Florida Offense vs. UAB Defense
To be quite honest, the Florida offense has been hard to watch. They’re averaging just 20.6 points per game, and 334 total yards per game with 151.9 of that coming on the ground.
They continue to struggle to find a good quarterback that can stay healthy. This past weekend Malik Zaire started the game at quarterback, but Feleipe Franks took over after Zaire was injured.
Neither has been great this year, but I personally think Franks is their best option. He’s 92-of-160 (57.5 percent) for 1,102 yards, 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Zaire has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 56 passing attempts this year.
Lamical Perine got the start at running back against South Carolina, but recieved just six carries in that game. On the season he’s second on the team with 455 yards rushing on a team-high 104 attempts and with a team-high 7 rushing touchdowns.
Their offensive line has given up 30 sacks this year, so that’s something UAB will hope to exploit.
The Blazers defensive line was in the backfield all game against UTSA. Stacy Keely is such a difference maker on that line, and I wish he would have been healthy all season.
Garrett Marino had a huge day against UTSA as well and seems to be getting even better.
Meanwhile, Shaq Jones and Tevin Crews continue to do what they do at linebacker.
The one spot that scares me right now is our secondary. Not because of a lack of ability, but because of some injuries.
D.A. Williams did not make the trip to UTSA, and his status is uncertain for this Saturday. Also, Broderick Thomas left the game against UTSA late, but I think he’ll be OK for Saturday.
I don’t think Florida has anything that will shock this UAB defense. The only difference will be the speed. Our linebackers will have to run side-to-side to keep up with the speed that Florida possesses.
UAB Offense vs. Florida Defense
The UAB offense came out and punched the best defense in Conference USA in the mouth this past Saturday putting up 21 points in the blink of an eye.
However, they only scored three points in the second half. Had they continued that effort into the second half I would feel much better about this weekend’s matchup.
As great as Spencer Brown is, I don’t expect UAB to be able to lineup and dominate the line-of-scrimmage against an SEC defense.
They’ll need to find ways to get other play makers involved, including Donnie Lee who has really stepped up lately.
The Florida defense has carried them the past couple of seasons, but even that side of the football hasn’t been great in 2017. They’re giving up 28.3 points per game and 382.9 total yards per game.
The Gators are giving up 178 rushing yards per game, so that’s a plus for the Blazers who would love to be able to establish the run game early.
A couple of players to watch on the Florida defense are linebacker David Reese, defense end CeCe Jefferson and defensive back Duke Dawson.
Reese leads the team with 83 total tackles to go along with 4 tackles for a loss. Jefferson leads the team with 9 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks. Dawson has 3 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups.
Much like I said against UTSA, which didn’t really happen, I hope the UAB offense opens things up a bit. The last thing I want to see in this game is an offense playing scared.
I think we can have some success offensively as long as we don’t play scared, and don’t make any turnovers.
Game Preview and Prediction
Coming into the season I never would have thought this game would even be close. But now a lot of people are even thinking the Blazers win this game straight up.
The fact that a lot of people are jumping on the UAB bandwagon worries me a little bit. Florida will be on notice, and so will the referees.
If you watched another Conference USA team, Southern Miss, play another struggling SEC team, Tennessee, a few weeks ago you know how important the referees can be in this game.
I’m not calling for a conspiracy theory, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. The Gators have had a bad enough season, they can’t have a Conference USA school come in there and embarrass them even more.
UAB is better coached, and is a better team, but Florida has the talent. The only way Florida wins this game is if their talent wins it for them.
I don’t think this will be a very high-scoring game. In fact, I think the first one to get to 20 points could win.
Florida hasn’t scored more than 20 points in their past five games. And they’re giving up 38.3 points per game in their last three games.
With their head coach now gone, you have to wonder if these players have given up.
You know the UAB players haven’t, and I think they come into this game fully motivated to pull off the upset in the Swamp.
Prediction: Florida – 24 UAB – 20