It was hard NOT to have a Happy Homecoming last weekend. The weather was absolutely magnificent. The offense was almost that good. A two-game winning streak is reason enough to be smiling...and now the Green and Gold have a chance to make it a three-game winning streak this weekend AND bring back some hardware in the process.
I don't recall seeing an offense be as productive/efficient/explosive/GOOD as the UAB offense was last Saturday. The Blazers scored touchdowns on their first eight possessions of the game. Poor Trey Ragland had to handle a couple of kickoffs so his leg wouldn't get stiff while he waited for his opportunity to punt! Joe Webb and company rolled up 622 yards of offense, and honestly, made it look very easy against Florida Atlantic. The Owls won't be going bowling this year, but Howard Schnellenberger's team is still loaded with athletes, so it was an impressive display, to say the least. While the defense gave up some yards and points (and another frustrating TD on the final play of the first half) in the first 30 minutes, the halftime talk and/or adjustments worked nicely in the final two periods. The Green and Gold gave up less than 170 yards and only one, late touchdown.
It was great to see the passing game look very sharp, and it was also nice to see someone other than Joe Webb rush for over a hundred yards. Joe got his 100, of course...actually, he got his 120 yards, but Rashaud Slaughter was nothing short of explosive on his FOUR carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. The 104 yards was a career best for Slaughter, and the game marked the first time since 2006 that UAB had two, 100-yard rushers in the same game (Oct. 7 vs. Memphis).
There were numerous offensive highlights from the win over FAU, and the defense's second-half performance was notable, as well, but the bottom line us UAB is enjoying its first two-game win streak since Neil Callaway took over. There is nothing like some late-season momentum, and I think it is safe to say the Blazers have a little 'mo' going for them right now. If they can keep it going, not only is a post-season bowl a distinct possibility, there's still an outside shot at a league championship. That possibility is way down the road, and the Green and Gold need to stay in the present. And at present, the Blazers are gearing up for Saturday's showdown with the Memphis Tigers.
The "Battle for the Bones" will be staged at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis at high noon on Saturday. The Tigers have won two straight in the series after UAB won seven in a row. Tommy West's team won't be Tommy West's team next year. The 9th-year head coach was relieved of his duties on Monday of this week, although he will coach the final three games of the season. Memphis won't be going to a bowl, but it is Senior Day on Saturday, and it is a rivalry game. The U of M has lost three straight games...let's hope we can make it a four-game skid after this weekend. The Tigers are a little hard to figure out...the offense still has plenty of weapons, but it looks like the quarterback position has been a little inconsistent. They've used three different starters under center, and none has set the world on fire. I trust the UAB defensive line will do its best to keep the Memphis signal-callers out of rhythm. Now, if we can find someone to cover those GIGANTIC receivers of theirs...the DBs will have their hands full, but they've done a nice job of forcing turnovers all year long...look for that to continue. I certainly hope to see the Blazers toting that 100-pound bronzed rack of ribs trophy to the team buses on Saturday afternoon. It sure looked good sitting in the football office...I've missed seeing it where it belongs!
The weekend will be a wild one for all of us at the Blazers ISP Sports Network. Basketball season tips off this weekend, and there's nothing better than four broadcasts...over three days...in two different cities. The good news is you'll be able to hear all the action this weekend...but you may need a scorecard to keep up with WHERE you'll be able to tune in. Mike Davis takes his new-look Blazers to Kent, Ohio, for a season-opening tournament. UAB will face Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday, Kent State on Saturday and Samford on Sunday. Here's a look at the broadcast slate:
Basketball vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay (on WSPZ-AM 690 in Birmingham) - 3:30 PM air time - 4 PM tip-off
Football vs. Memphis (on WUHT-FM 107.7 in Birmingham) - 10:30 AM air time - 12 PM kick-off
Basketball vs. Kent State (on WWMM-FM 100.5 in Birmingham) - 5:30 PM air time - 6 PM tip-off
Basketball vs. Samford (on WUHT-FM 107.7 in Birmingham) - 12:30 PM air time - 1 PM tip-off
I appreciate J.D. Byars and Steve Mitchell handling the broadcast duties this weekend, and I look forward to listening in for three big victories over the weekend.
Speaking of tipping things off, the UAB women will be the first basketball team to get the season going. Audra Smith's bunch will be at home on Friday for a 12 PM tip against Alcorn State. I hope you can sneak away from work and come cheer the Blazers on. If not, make sure to tune in the the "All Access" feed here at www.uabsports.com with Vince Ferrara calling the action for the home games this year.
Next week promises to be just as 'exciting' for all of us. The men will be back in action on Tuesday in Jacksonville. The Blazers and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks will tip at 7:45 PM, and pre-game on the network will begin at 7:15 PM. Then we go to North Carolina for football...and basketball plays at home...and on...and on...and on it goes!
Well, that's about it for this week. I hope to see lots of green and gold in Memphis this Saturday, along with lots of points by the Blazers. Join us in person when you can, and be sure to tune in for the broadcasts this weekend. I can't tell you how appreciative I am of the ISP staff. Pulling off multiple broadcasts over a weekend at this time of year is truly a monumental feat...just hope we're all smiling when they wrap up.
Have a wonderful weekend, and GO BLAZERS!!!