Sept. 1, 2010
COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS
September 1, 2010
We're now down to a matter of hours before the 2010 football season gets underway, and it's great that the Blazers are one of the first teams in the country to kick it off. I hope you enjoyed your summer as much as I did mine. Golf...family time...recharging the batteries...all helped get me ready for Thursday night. UAB opens its 20th season of football in less than a day, and the Green and Gold are ready, I think, to have a memorable campaign.
The pre-season workouts have been good, due in part to a solid group of returning players...in part to talented newcomers...and in part to plain ol' numbers. One key number has increased while another has remained the same. At long last the Blazers are right at the magical '85'...the maximum number of scholarship players allowed. Neil Callaway and company started their tenure in 2007, and UAB's scholarship total was in the low 60s. The number has gone up each season, and now, for the first time, the head coach and his staff are fighting on a more level playing field.
The number that hasn't changed is the number of full-time assistants who are back for their fourth year on the Southside...that would be ALL of them. Continuity on a coaching staff is a wonderful thing, especially when they get along well, as these guys do. More players + experienced players + the same coaches = a more productive pre-season camp...and I think that's exactly what UAB has enjoyed thus far.
What will we see on Thursday when the Owls of Florida Atlantic descend upon Legion Field? Well, I think you will see an improved, more talented defense. I think you'll see a more balanced offense, and by more balanced I mean one that spreads the ball around. Joe Webb isn't around to account for over 70% of the offense this season, so the Blazers will have to share the work load this year. David Isabelle is going to be fun to watch at quarterback, and he's got plenty of weapons to use. There's a talented stable of running backs and a solid group of wide receivers who can all make plays. The offensive line will have a bit of a different look, but I think they are an athletic group that will create some running lanes and give "Izzy" a chance to be successful throwing.
I can promise you there is a genuine sense of excitement surrounding this team. Yes, it's the first game, and everyone is always excited for the first game, but this isn't just about starting the season. This is confidence, belief in one another, belief in the coaches, and a belief that this will be a breakthrough year for the Green and Gold.
Florida Atlantic is a dangerous team...with so many Floridians on the roster you know the Owls will have talent. On paper it looks like a good match-up for the Blazers...on paper. FAU has a totally rebuilt offensive line with virtually no experience in the starting line-up. They have a solid quarterback, a Doak Walker Candidate at running back, and a big target at tight end. On defense, Howard Schnellenberger's team returns nine starters, so you would expect that group to be better. You may recall UAB lit up the Owl defense for 56 points and over 600 yards a season ago...a torching that rivaled coach Schnellenberger's handywork on a dragon head earlier this week at an FAU pep rally.
Thank goodness the time for reading, writing and analyzing is almost over. Blazer Village will fire up at 5 PM on Thursday. UAB Facebook fans are invited to a special party featuring free food, free drinks and music from Ryan Kinder. The Blazers ISP Sports Network will sign on at 5:30 PM from Blazer Village with the pre-game show. I'm thrilled to welcome former UAB quarterback John Whitcomb to the crew this season. He'll be in the booth with me during the game along with our producer/engineer Jon Gentile, and Otis Leverette is back for his second season of patrolling the UAB sideline.
The weather forecast looks great...the team looks ready...Legion Field has a been touched up (the new video board is a great addition)...so I hope to see you on Thursday night for the 7 PM kick-off.