UAB Football Ready To Kick Off Season At Troy

Garrick McGee begins his second season as UAB's head coach.

Aug 30, 2013

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- Nearly four weeks since reporting for and opening preseason practice, the UAB Blazers will kick off the 2013 season Saturday when they go on the road to take on the Troy Trojans.

Kickoff at Troy's Veterans Memorial Stadium is set for 6 p.m. The matchup will be carried on while the Blazer IMG Sports Network will also broadcast the game. David Crane (play-by-play), Steve Irvine (analyst) and Sam Miller (sideline reporter) will provide the call on the network. The contest will air locally in Birmingham on WUHT-FM 107.7.

The new season will mark the second at the helm of the Blazers' program for head coach Garrick McGee. UAB finished 3-9 in 2012 in McGee's first year in Birmingham.

Saturday's game will represent the 11th meeting between the schools on the gridiron. The Trojans currently hold a 6-4 advantage in the series after taking a 39-29 win at Legion Field in the 2012 season opener.

The Blazers return seven starters on offense and eight on the defensive side from last season.

UAB at Troy
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
6:04 p.m. CT • ESPN3
Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000)

• UAB is beginning its 23rd season of intercollegiate football this season and is opening on the road for the 13th time.
• The Blazers return seven starters on offense and eight on defense. In addition, UAB returns its starting kicker (Ty Long) and punter (Hunter Mullins) from last season.
• UAB won't play its first home game of the 2013 season until week four. After opening the campaign at Troy, the Blazers travel to LSU next Saturday before an open date on Sept. 14. UAB plays host to Northwestern (La.) State on Sept. 21 at Legion Field in its first home contest of the year.
• UAB head coach Garrick McGee is entering his second season at the helm of the Blazers' program.
• The Blazers have four new assistant coaches on the staff this season: Eric Evans (Running Backs), Joe Henry (Tight Ends), Kevin Peoples (Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator) and Matt Sanders (Special Teams/Assistant Secondary).
• Junior running back Darrin Reaves, a first-team All-Conference USA performer in 2012, enters the new season as the only returning back in the nation who eclipsed 1,000 yards and 40 receptions a year ago.
• The Blazers have a void to fill on the defensive side with the departure of linebacker Marvin Burdette, who graduated. Burdette led the nation in tackles last season as he averaged 13.1 per game.

SERIES INFORMATION• UAB and Troy will be meeting for the 11th time when they kick off the 2013 season Saturday night. • The Trojans hold a 6-4 lead in the series after winning last season's matchup at Legion Field, 39-29. • UAB trails 3-1 against Troy in games played at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Trojans edged the Blazers, 24-23, two years ago in the last meeting at Troy. UAB's lone win on the Trojans' field was a 27-7 victory during the 2005 season.

• UAB: Garrick McGee (Oklahoma, '96) is in his second season as the head coach at UAB. McGee took the helm of the Blazers' program after four seasons on the staff at Arkansas, his last two campaigns as the offensive coordinator. McGee was a finalist for the 2011 Broyles Award that is presented to the nation's top assistant coach. He also served on the coaching staffs at Northwestern (2004-07), UNLV (2003), Toledo (2002), Jacksonville Jaguars (2000-01), Northern Iowa (1999) and Langston (1996-98).
• TROY: Larry Blakeney (Auburn, '70) is entering his 23rd season as the head coach at Troy. He has a record of 169-98 with the Trojans. Blakeney spent 14 years as an assistant coach at Auburn before becoming the head coach at Troy. He has helped Troy to five bowl appearances in the past nine years.

• The 2013 UAB coaching staff has four new faces, two on offense and two on defense. Eric Evans is the Blazers' new running backs coach after spending five years at the University of Albany. Joe Henry, a former tight end at Arkansas who was a graduate assistant on the Razorbacks' staff last season, is the tight ends coach.
Kevin Peoples joins the staff as UAB's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Peoples most recently has been on the staff at Arkansas but spent eight seasons as the defensive line coach at Arkansas State prior to going to Fayetteville. Matt Sandersis also a new member of the Blazers' staff and will serve as UAB's special teams coach, as well as assist in the secondary, working with the cornerbacks.

• UAB has a young football program compared to most of its opposition. The Blazers went through their first intercollegiate football season in 1991 as a member of NCAA Division III.
• The Blazers moved to Division I-AA two seasons later in 1993, remaining at that level three years before making the transition to Division I-A during 1996 season.
• The 2013 season represents the 23rd season of football for UAB.

Garrick McGee's first UAB team featured an explosive offense, both through the air and on the ground. The Blazers finished with 5,029 offensive yards, their third-highest total in school history. UAB averaged 308.8 yards through the air to rank No. 19 nationally in the final NCAA statistics. The passing yards total (3,706) were the most ever by a Blazer team.
• UAB averaged 28.2 points per game, the Blazers' third-best average in school history.
• Running back Darrin Reavesregistered just the fourth 1,000-yard rushing season in UAB history as he finished with 1,037 yards.

• UAB will be on the road for the second week in a row as the Blazers travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers on Saturday, Sept. 7. The contest will kick off at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN U. Troy will play host to Savannah State next Saturday.

• The Blazers will play a trio of schools for the first time during the 2013 season while they take on a pair of opponents from the Southeastern Conference. UAB plays road games against LSU and Vanderbilt this fall, representing the 12th consecutive year that UAB has played at least one opponent from the SEC.
• UAB meets Northwestern (La.) State and FIU and UTSA -- the latter two new Conference USA foes ­-- for first meetings.
• The Blazers will be playing both LSU and Vanderbilt for the second time in history. UAB defeated the Tigers (13-10) during the 2000 season when LSU was coached by current Alabama head coach Nick Saban. The Commodores beat the Blazers by a 31-15 score in 1996 in the only previous meeting between the two schools.

• UAB had nine different freshmen make a combined 52 starts during the 2012 season. Lamarcus Farmer (11 starts) and Jake Ganus (10 starts) led the way in starts on the defensive side. QB Austin Brown and OL Cameron Blankenshipstarted eight games to lead the way on offense.

• One luxury for UAB heading into the 2013 season is having a pair of quarterbacks who possess significant experience. Redshirt sophomore Austin Brown and senior Jonathan Perry accounted for 3,706 passing yards last season with 21 touchdown passes.
• Brown started seven of the final eight games of the 2012 season and finished with 2,673 passing yards and 15 touchdown throws. Perry started the first three contests last fall and had 1,033 passing yards and six touchdown passes. Brown had three games with more than 300 yards passing, including a season-high 409 against Tulane. Perry's best game may have been the final game of the season when he came off the bench and hit for 307 yards and a pair of scoring passes.

• The Blazers had three players named on Preseason Watch Lists this summer.
• Junior kicker Ty Long was tabbed to the Watch List for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate kicker. Long connected on 14-of-17 field goals last season and is now 30-of-36 in his career. His career accuracy mark of 83.3 percent is the highest in UAB history. Long also kicked the two longest field goals in Blazer history -- 54 (vs. Ohio State) and 53 yards (Southeastern Louisiana) in 2012.
• Junior punter Hunter Mullins was one of 25 punters nationally named this summer to the Watch List for the 2013 Ray Guy Award, given each season to the nation's outstanding college punter. Mullins, in his first season as UAB's regular punter, averaged a school record 44.8 yards per kick in 2012. He had 14 punts inside the 20-yard line and had 12 punts that were 50 yards or more.
• Junior running back Darrin Reaveswas tabbed to the preseason list for the 2013 Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate running back. Reaves became the fourth 1,000-yard rusher in Blazer history last season when he ran for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Birmingham native also recorded 41 receptions for 302 yards in 2012. Reaves is the only running back in the country entering the 2013 season who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing and 40 catches last fall.

• UAB running back Darrin Reaveswas named to the 2013 Preseason All-Conference USA first team in a vote by the league's head coaches. Reaves ran for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. His 13 rushing touchdowns in a season is a Blazer single-season record. Nine of his touchdowns came in the final six games of the season. He also was adept as a pass-catching back as he recorded 41 receptions during the year.

• Running back Darrin Reaves emerged last season as one of the top running backs in the Conference USA. The product of nearby Clay-Chalkville High School ran for 1,037 yards and became only the fourth UAB player -- and third running back -- to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground in a season.
• Reaves also had 41 receptions last season and was one of only six running backs in the country with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 40-plus catches for the season. He enters 2013 as the only returning back in the country who can make that claim.
• Reaves averaged 125.2 yards rushing in the final six games of the season. He had a three-game stretch (Tulane, Southern Miss and Marshall) when he rushed for 573 yards (191 yards avg.). His 223-yard performance against the Golden Eagles is the second-most in UAB history and was the top performance in Conference USA last season.

• The Blazers were also represented by two players on the conference's All-Freshman Team as redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Brown was named to the unit as was true freshman offensive guard Cameron Blankenship.
• Brown passed for 2,673 yards and 15 touchdowns in eight starts last season. He ranked No. 6 overall among Conference USA quarterbacks in passing yards per game at 222.8. His season yardage total is the sixth-highest in UAB history. He also passed for 300-plus yards in four contests, including a season-best 409 against Tulane for the eighth-best single-game total on the Blazer all-time charts.
• Blankenship made a strong impact in his first season at UAB, starting the final nine games of the season at offensive guard.