The UAB Blazers have managed to be a relatively new program, have football disbanded, resurrect the program, and overcome COVID-19 to play football in 2020. That’s a lot of obstacles on the way to success. UAB, located in beautiful Birmingham, AL, has started off the season 1-0 after knocking off Central Arkansas.
CAU, an FCS program, kicked off their season with a victory over fellow FCS program Austin Peay on August 29th, and then with a close 35-45 loss to UAB on September 3rd. UAB looked sharp on offense with quarterback Tyler Johnston III throwing for 143 yards and two scores (with one interception), and QB Bryson Lucero going 7-for-9 with a touchdown, too.
Running backs Spencer Brown and Jermaine Brown Jr lead the way on the ground. They combined for just over 200 yards on 40+ carries and two scores. On defense, The Blazers brought the heat against the Bears resulting in only two sacks but five hurries and an interception.
A pause for the cause for ‘Canes fans is the fact that CAU gashed UAB’s defense for 7.7 yards per carry on the ground and give overall touchdowns (three passing, two rushing). The Bears defense came away with not a single sack against UAB but did pick up eight tackles for loss.
Above, you can see the Blazers score on what looks like a sprint out snag type concept. The outside receiver ran a “sit” route (slant and settle down) while the tight end who was inside of him ran a 5-yard out. The far outside WR ran a post and this is a tough “switch” call for the defensive back seven to handle. Miami’s DB’s and LB’s need to be on the same page.
Later in the game UAB lined up ready to work. I want you to watch the insert block by the H-back. He absolutely blows a defensive end five plus yards off the football and his block results in also blowing up a guy he wasn’t even engaged with.
I hope that Quincy Roche and Jalean Phillips are ready because this is the type of player that Bill Belichick finds in the 4th round and makes a Pro Bowl tight end out of him.
Why do I have high hopes for multiple turnovers? Because the UAB quarterback threw one directly into a defender’s chest here while having a receiver wide open. The Miami defensive backs are highly touted and need to live up to the hype. I’m calling out their position coaches Rumph and Banda more than even the players. Get your guys prepared, play the BEST not the most talented, and have some attention to detail.
The UAB defense didn’t get much of a pass rush against Central Arkansas, only two sacks and five hurries, but their 4-2-5 defense likes to bring pressure. Pressure leaves holes in the defensive backfield, and D’Eriq King should fit the ball nicely into said space.
Here, the Blazers are “two high” (two safeties above the hard deck or the 7-yard window from the line of scrimmage). I’m personally not a fan of the stand-up defensive ends but in the era of blitz and blitz peel (where the end chases a swinging running back instead of pressuring the QB), it makes sense.
I would love to see Rhett Lashlee break out some old school Auburn motion with speed option wrinkled in with King and Jaylan Knighton. Imagine the speed of those two there together, inside the 10-yard line, with UAB defenders who struggled to stop CAU’s speed option play.
I need Lashlee to go full Phil Longo (UNC offensive coordinator) and work play-action to a deep fade ball to one of Miami’s up and coming WR’s. I have faith in lining Will Mallory out there at six-foot-five, and keeping Jordan in at the H so defenses have so much length to worry about inside the 20-yard line.
I absolutely hate making predictions. Especially amidst the start-stop pandemic world we’re in, with Miami having a new OC and QB, and UAB having a game under their belts while Miami has only had a shortened spring and camp scrimmages. BUT, I will get to the prediction.
Back in my Summer Scheming piece on UAB, I told you that the Canyonero keys to victory were keeping King upright, stopping Austin Watkins, and playing motivated. I still believe those to be true. UAB’s pass rush wasn’t that deadly against CAU, and the Bears held Watkins to seven catches for 72 yards and no touchdowns. The last part, the one about the players caring about wearing the U on the side of their helmets, that’s up to Manny Diaz and staff.
Prediction: Miami by 20