By Steve Irvine
WHAT IT MEANS: A good opening day feeling, which hasn't often been the case for the UAB football program. The Blazers won the season opener for the first time since beating Rice, 44-24, on the opening day of the 2009 season. It's also the first win over Troy since the Bryan Ellis-to-Jackie Williams Hail Mary on the final play lifted the Blazers to a 34-33 win over the Trojans on Sept. 18, 2010. The 48 points are the most for a UAB against Troy in the 12-year history of the series.
WHEN THE GAME TURNED: It actually turned twice. The first came on Troy's second offensive series when UAB linebacker Jake Ganus knocked the ball loose from running back Jordan Chunn with Kalen Jackson getting the recovery. That play settled the defense down after Troy's game-opening touchdown dash down the field. The second turning point came on two defensive series early in the second half. Both followed UAB turnovers and the Blazers' defense responded each time.
WHY UAB WON: This deserves a multi-layered answer. Start with a coaching - and strength and conditioning staff - that pushed all the right buttons since taking over the program. Mix in a wealth of playmakers on offense, playmaking defense and solid special teams and you have one an enjoyable afternoon for the Blazers.
WHAT IS THE KEY STAT: Rushing yards. UAB had 339 yards on 55 carries while the Trojans managed 71 yards on 37 atttempts.
WHO GETS THE GAME BALLS: We're in a generous mood so it's time to cheat a little bit. On offense, the game ball goes to the five guys up front. Center Brian O'Leary, guards Roscoe Byrd and Cameron Blankenship and tackles Victor Salako and Hayden Naumann played every offensive snap until midway through the fourth quarter and played darn well. The defensive game ball goes to everyone who played on the defensive side for the Blazers. It was a team effort for the Blazers.
*UAB held its opponent to under 300 yards for the first time since a win over Southern Miss on Nov. 3, 2012. Troy had 272 yards on 68 plays.
*The 48 points recorded by UAB was the most for the Blazers since a 52-28 win over Northwestern State last November. It was the most points the Blazers scored against a FBS team since a 50-49 overtime win over Southern Miss on Oct. 30, 2010.
*UAB allowed a touchdown on the first drive and then outscored Troy, 48-3, over the final 58 minutes and 30 seconds.
INDIVIDUAL MILESTONES AND RECORDS:
*Jordan Howard rushed for 179 yards and D.J. Vinson gained 106 yards on the ground, marking the first time the Blazers has two 100-yard rushers in the same game since last season's loss to Middle Tennessee.
*D.J. Vinson collected his first rushing touchdown of his career. Vinson was playing for the first time since the 2011 season.
*Tight end Kennard Backman matched his career high with two touchdown receptions in a game. He now has eight career touchdown catches.
WHAT HEAD COACH Bill Clark HAD TO SAY:
"That was not the start that we wanted defensively. We worked on their tempo but sometimes it still gets you a little bit. We didn't get aligned properly on that first drive but after that we played very well, very sound, and tackled well against a good offense. Offensively, we were so proud to be able to just pound the ball. We wanted to take whatever was there and we thought the throwing game would be there, but the run game was so good and so successful that we just stayed with it."
On the state of UAB's football program after one game
"It says who we are. One game is one game, but it was a big game and a rivalry game. This is as good of a group I have had to believe and buy into the things we are doing. We probably have had three or four of the best practices I have been a part of. I hope that this is a statement to where we are heading and I hope it creates some excitement."
WHAT'S NEXT: The Blazers play their first SEC foe of the season, traveling to face Mississippi State on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at in Starkville.