#89 UAB Football Preview

UAB Blazers

Overall Rank: #89
#8 Conference USA

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2010 Record: (4-8, 3-5)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Neil Callaway (15-33 at UAB, 15-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kim Helton
Defensive Coordinator: Tommy West

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Pat Shed, RB, 847 yards
Passing: Bryan Ellis, QB, 2,940 yards
Receiving: Patrick Hearn, WR, 536 yards
Tackles: Marvin Burdette, LB, 114
Sacks: Marvin Burdette, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: T.J. Ballou, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: S Jamie Bender, DE Connor Boyett, OT Greg Calhoun, CB Marquis Coleman, S Chase Daniel, G Terence Edge, DT Elliott Henigan, OT Matt McCants, C Darion Smith, LB Lamanski Ware, LB Daniel White

Key Losses: TE Jeffery Anderson, G Greg Bulls, WR Roddell Carter, WR Frantrell Forrest, WR Mike Jones, S Elliott McGaskin, DT D.J. Reese, DE Bryant Turner

It took a while, but it appears that UAB has found their quarterback. Bryan Ellis had a great season once he stepped into the starting role and threw for nearly 3,000 yards. His 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions were also pretty impressive for a first year starter. Ellis is now a senior and this is his team to lead. He has the talent on offense to have a great year and if he can win some shootouts, the Blazers will have a surprisingly decent 2011 season.

Ellis was sacked just seven times in 11 games last year and the offensive line as a whole allowed a mere dozen sacks on the season. With four starters back on the line, including offensive tackle Matt McCants, guard Terence Edge and center Darion Smith, the Blazers should have one of the best lines in the conference. Those three could very easily find themselves on an all-Conference USA team by the end of the year and even Greg Calhoun and Caleb Thomas are experienced linemen who deserve some accolades. The experienced line should lead to a dynamic rushing attack as well. Pat Shed has emerged as one of the best all-around players in the league. He led UAB with 793 rushing yards, caught 47 passes for 471 yards and is the team’s top kick and punt returner. In order to do all of that Shed may have to reduce his amount of carries a little bit, but that is not a problem now that Dontavious Jackson, a transfer from Georgia, is eligible.

The big questions are on defense. Former Memphis head man Tommy West takes over a unit that allowed nearly 400 yards per game last year. The front line has one very good player in tackle Elliott Henigan, but the rest of the unit is full of inexperienced players. Departed end Bryant Turner was the only player on the team who could somewhat consistently get into the backfield and UAB better find a new end who can make things easier for the rest of the defense. The linebackers return leading tackler Marvin Burdette and a couple more experienced players in Lamanski Ware and Daniel White. Experience is nice, but Ware and White need be more productive. The secondary may prove to be the best unit on defense. T.J. Ballou is one of the best in the conference and Marquis Coleman and Terrell Springs are experienced seniors who have been productive. The safety duo of Chase Daniel and Jamie Bender is underrated and even they will be pushed by some of the junior college transfers Coach Neil Callaway has brought in to provide more depth. However, the secondary will again be tested if the front line cannot get any pressure in the backfield.

The Bottom Line:
Ellis does lose some of his top targets, most notably Frantrell Forrest, Mike Jones and Jeffery Anderson, but Patrick Hearn is ready to be UAB’s go-to-receiver and Jackie Williams had a fine freshman campaign. Yet, there are plenty of other intriguing options. Jamarcus Nelson is a speedster who can stretch out the defense and D.J. Vinson might just be the best all-around receiver on the team. Add Nick Adams, who missed last season with injury, to the mix and the receivers will be just fine. The offense as a whole will be very good, but that may not be enough since UAB will likely give up about 32 points per game again this season.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 155.83 (59th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 267.00 (24, 5)
Total Offense: 422.83 (30, 5)
Scoring Offense: 26.33 (66, 7)
Rushing Defense: 150.58 (59, 7)
Pass Defense: 248.25 (105, 8)
Total Defense: 398.83 (80, 6)
Scoring Defense: 31.58 (95, 7)
Turnover Margin: -.50 (88, 6)
Sacks: 1.92 (67, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (15, 1)

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