Nov. 23, 2009
We had another big weekend of UAB athletics, and the results were a little too 'mixed' for my liking. Men's basketball picked up a win over an SEC team in the home opener...just a few hours after the women's team dropped a game at Bartow Arena...and football saw its three-game winning streak come to an end in Greenville.
Congrats to Mike Davis and company for knocking off the Georgia Bulldogs. It's great to see a team from the Southeastern Conference inside Bartow Arena, and that was the first of several good, non-conference tilts fans will be able to enjoy here in the Magic City. The Blazers jumped out to a big lead and maintained a nice cushion throughout.
Football had a bizarre time in Greenville. UAB went into the game with East Carolina knowing there was a lot on the line, and Neil Callaway's team played well for a lot of the game. The offense went up and down the field (over 500 yards) against the Pirates, who had the top defense in Conference USA going into the match-up, but the Blazers struggled to punch it in the end zone. Josh Zahn wasn't as reliable as he had been for the majority of the season, though, so even more points were "left on the table." The defense held ECU to just over 300 yards of offense, but the Big Play Bug bit again at a few inopportune times, and the Pirates built a fairly sizeable lead. Special teams, collectively, were a nightmare for the Green and Gold, and the end result of all of that was a 37-21 win by East Carolina. The score doesn't really indicate how competitive the game was, or just how hard the Blazers played. They didn't always play well, but it was obvious they were in it for the full 60 minutes.
The loss ends any hope of winning a division and conference championship here in 2009, but there are still plenty of things to play for this Saturday as the regular season comes to an end. For the first time in 11 years the Blazers will finish a season AT HOME! UCF comes to the Magic City, and UAB would love a repeat of last year's season finale in Orlando, when the Green and Gold recorded their first Conference USA shutout, 15-0. The Knights have one of the best defenses in the league...they force lots of turnovers (setting their offense up in prime position)...and they just held Tulane to a whopping 50 yards of offense last week...yes, 50. George O'Leary's team is playing some of its best football of the season, and the Knights are gunning for their eighth win of the year.
The Blazers also want to send the 17 seniors on the roster out on a high note. It'll be an emotional day for those guys, and it sure would be nice to see them leave Legion Field for the final time with smiles on their faces. I'm starting the petition now to get Joe Webb a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA...I don't know of any medical reasons we could use, but he's a great guy and a phenomenal athlete...I say he deserves another year just because!
One last reason for a big finish this Saturday is the chance to grab that sixth win of the year and be bowl eligible. I don't know if the Blazers would be selected to a post-season game, or not, but finishing at 6-6 would simply FEEL better than 5-7. I think everyone who's watched this program the last few years realizes things are moving in the right direction, but it's nice to have that tangible evidence to prove it...and 6 wins would certainly do that.
It's going to be another full week of broadcasts, and with the Thanksgiving holiday thrown in, we've got a few changes to the routine. Basketball plays host to Troy on Tuesday night, and as a lead-in to the game, we're going to have a special, abbreviated version of "Blazers All-Access" from Bartow Arena. Coach Callaway and I will be there recapping the East Carolina game and looking ahead to Saturday's finale from 6-6:30 PM on the Blazers ISP Sports Network (WJOX-FM 94.5 in Birmingham). We'll slide right in to our pre-game coverage for basketball at 6:30 PM, and the Blazers and Trojans will tip at 7 PM. The game broadcast will be heard in Birmingham on WUHT-FM "Hot" 107.7, our normal location for game broadcasts.
After stuffing myself on Thursday, it's back to work for the rest of the holiday weekend. The UAB women's basketball team will be playing host to a Thanksgiving tournament with two games on Friday and two more on Saturday. Football closes out the season with UCF at Legion Field, and kick-off is slated for 12:30 PM. Pre-game will start, live from Blazer Village, at 11 AM. Then we'll head back to Bartow Arena for men's basketball on Saturday night. Mike Davis and company will welcome the Rattlers of Florida A&M to Birmingham for a 7:30 PM tip. Pre-game on the network starts at 7 PM. All of the Saturday broadcasts will be on WUHT-FM "Hot" 107.7 here in the Magic City.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and you get to spend some quality time with loved ones. It is a crazy time of year for everyone, so take some time to relax and enjoy yourself. It'll be a full weekend of UAB athletics, so make sure you are fat and happy on Thursday!
To recap...Blazers All-Access from 6-6:30 PM on TUESDAY from Bartow Arena...basketball vs. Troy at 7 PM on Tuesday...women's basketball has a tournament with two games on Friday and two more Saturday...football closes the regular season at 12:30 PM on Saturday against UCF at Legion Field...and men's basketball puts a wrap on the busy weekend with a match-up against Florida A&M on Saturday at 7:30 PM at Bartow Arena.
Got all that?
I hope to see you Tuesday night at Bartow and Saturday at Legion Field & Bartow...safe travels for those heading out this holiday week...good luck seniors...don't overcook the turkey...and GO BLAZERS!!!