Sept. 10, 2007
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The UAB football team is gearing up for its 2007 home opener against the Alcorn State Braves on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Legion Field. The Blazers spent Monday's weekly Media Luncheon discussing the upcoming contest with the Braves, along with this past week's close call at Florida State, where the Blazers fell to the Seminoles 34-24.
"Even though we were very disappointed in the outcome, I do think we made a lot of progress, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," said UAB head coach Neil Callaway. "We want to get better every week and as long as we are getting better, we think we are making progress and we are going to be fine. So that was encouraging to see."
The Blazers gave Florida State all they could handle last weekend, and are looking to do the same this week at home versus Alcorn State.
"Looking at them on film, they have multiple offensive and defensive schemes," said Callaway of the outlook for this week's game against the Braves. "They have a very experienced football team coming back with eight starters on both sides of the ball. Even though they haven't won a ballgame, I have been very impressed with the way they play on both sides of the ball and how well they are coached."
Saturday will mark the first home contest of the '07 campaign for UAB. Callaway and company are excited to make their debut at Legion Field and emphasize the importance of protecting their home field.
"It's our first home ballgame," said Callaway. "We talk about it all the time. When we play in our house, we want to come out ready to play. We are looking forward to our game against Alcorn State and hopefully we will be productive.
"I really would hope the fans would come out to see us. I think the fact that our guys are playing hard and want to compete and do what's right, I hope that would be appealing to the people of Birmingham. Hopefully people will want to come out and support us and watch us play."
UAB Head Coach Neil Callaway
On the Florida State game:
"Even though we were very disappointed in the outcome, I do think we made a lot of progress, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Even though Florida State gained a lot of yards and scored 34 points, I really thought our guys played hard and tackled a lot better which is very pleasing to see. One of the things we talked about as a football team is we are not only playing our opponents, we are playing ourselves. We want to get better every week and as long as we are getting better, we think we are making progress and we are going to be fine. So that was encouraging to see."
On Alcorn State:
"Looking at them on film, they have multiple offensive and defensive schemes. It creates problems for you with all the stuff they do on both sides of the ball. They have a very experienced football team coming back with eight starters on both sides of the ball. Even though they haven't won a ballgame, I have been very impressed with the way the play on both sides of the ball and how well they are coached. It's our first home ballgame. We talk about it all the time. When we play in our house, we want to come out ready to play. We are looking forward to our game against Alcorn State and hopefully we will be productive."
On UAB's improvement on defense:
"I think it boils down to three things. If you look back to the first game, we are a young football team. I think Joe (Henderson) was the only one of the front seven who had ever started or played in a college football game. So I am sure they were nervous and a little apprehensive having to play at Michigan State. They have a very physical team who will run it down your throat, so I think that was one factor. Another one is we worked really hard last Tuesday on our tackling. We really worked hard all camp, but we worked harder to make sure they got that corrected. Finally, I think the guys were embarrassed with their performance against Michigan State. I think they were embarrassed that they didn't show up and play well and I think they were determined not to make the same mistake."
On Will Dunbar's 17-tackle performance at Florida State:
"We have always known all along that Will is one of our better players on defense. It was certainly good to have him back. He is a guy who likes to play football and you can tell he has a passion to play the game. He plays hard and exemplifies how we want to play defense around here. We are very happy to have him back. We have got to have leadership on this football team. I have never been on a good football team that didn't have good leaders. For us to excel and win a bunch of ballgames, we have to have good leadership."
On playing a I-AA opponent in Alcorn State:
"We are viewing this game just like we would any other opponent, we are going to prepare the best we can. We want to play as good as we can no matter who we are playing. Everyone knows about the Appalachian State victory over Michigan, so we've got to be ready to play every week. We are a good enough football team that if we play good and do things we are capable of doing, we're going to win football games. But if we don't, then we won't."
On giving UAB fans a reason to come to the home opener after playing the first two games on the road:
"I really would hope the fans will come out to see us. Obviously, we didn't play as well against Michigan State as we would have liked, but I think the fact that we were still trying to score on the last play of the game, by kicking a field goal, shows we don't quit offensively. I think the Florida State game last week, even though we were in the contest and had a chance to win the game, but were down 10 points at the end of the game, they try to throw a pass to score a touchdown and we didn't let them. That shows we don't quit defensively. I think the fact that our guys are playing hard and want to compete and do what's right, I hope that would be appealing to the people of Birmingham. Hopefully people will want to come out and support us and watch us play."
On whether Alcorn State will have any extra motivation playing UAB:
"I'm sure that the Appalachian State win over Michigan is still being talked about all over the country, and rightfully so. I really believe this and talk about it with the team. I believe anybody can beat anybody. We can be beat by anybody and we can beat anybody. We certainly have to be ready and make sure we are playing up to our abilities. As long as you play as good and as hard as you can play, even if you lose, you don't feel as bad as if you go out and don't play hard."
On Joe Webb's performance as a wide receiver:
"We went into the game wanting and planning on using him at the quarterback spot, but the flow of the game just didn't dictate it. We will play Joe at quarterback, but I don't want to get into any specifics because it backfired on us Saturday. We feel very good about Joe being our quarterback, but I also think it is obvious Joe is probably one of the better, if not the best, receivers we have, so I don't think it makes any sense for him or Sam sitting on the bench. We will play Joe at quarterback, but it just depends on the flow of the game and how it's going."
On the offensive line:
"I thought our offensive line did an outstanding job. I was scared to death, to be honest with you, coming into the Florida State game because I thought, and still do think, their front four is as good as you will see in college football this year. I thought our guys did a great job of competing. We had one sack and Sam (Hunt) got hit some, which was due to either a missed assignment or our guy just getting beat. Will Friend coaches our O-Line and does an outstanding job, but we have got to keep maturing and growing. Individually, coming out of Saturday's game, you would have to say that Jake Seitz had the best game. As far as improvement, if you would have told me or anybody in the state of Alabama this time last year that Matt McCants is doing what he's doing, I don't think they would have believed you. He is still young and still getting better at a lot of things, but I think he is going to be a fine football player."
On the running game:
"We would like to be more productive when we run the football. I think a lot of it has to do with the inexperience of the offensive line, plus the fact that we played two pretty good, physical defensive fronts. We need to get better running the ball and we need to work on that throughout the entire year."
Safety Will Dunbar
On being named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week:
"It's a great honor to be named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week. It just shows what you can do when you play hard."
On what he had to prove after missing the first game of the season:
"I had a lot of things to get out of me playing against Florida State. I was eager to play and I was just moving fast."
On his interception return for a touchdown that gave the Blazers an early 10-0 lead:
"It felt good. I felt it changed the game for my team and it just got everyone in a nice mood after what I said before the game and was able to back up."
On what he expects when UAB plays Alcorn State:
"I really haven't looked at Alcorn State, but I know they play 11 guys just like we play 11 guys. And this is college football and anybody can win so we're to going to take it like any other team and play hard."
On what it will take for the team's first win of the season:
"If we handle our business we can come out successful. If we make the corrections from last week, when we could have won last week but made some mistakes, if we can get everything right we should be fine."
Linebacker Joe Henderson
On the type of challenge Alcorn State will bring to the table:
"I haven't watched a lot of film on Alcorn State yet, but we'll be watching film tomorrow morning. I do know they are the type of players who are well coached and disciplined. And they're going to come ready to play because we're the bigger dog, and we have to be ready. We just can't go out and practice and not work hard."
On the adjustments the defense made before the game against Florida State:
"Two weeks ago at Michigan State we just got embarrassed so we went back to practice and me and Will (Dunbar), the two leaders of the defense, came out last Tuesday and let everyone know we were coming to work. To have the Spartans score 55 points on us was embarrassing and we took it personally. So we made everyone work, by running to the ball and did a lot of tackling drills and it paid off."
On what he has heard following the close loss to Florida State:
"I heard a lot of good jobs and you played hard. But we're just tired of hearing good job. We want to win the big games. We're going to have our opportunities though with 10 games left and hopefully a conference championship and bowl game. To want to hear more then good job, we want to win a game."
On whether the game against Alcorn State will be more mental or physical:
"It's mental and physical. They're going to come fired up. And if you're not fired up physically and mentally, by focusing and working hard, because you think you may not have to because they're 0-2 and a Division I-AA school, is not how we are approaching it. But it's going to be a mental and physical game."
On playing in front of the Blazers' home crowd for the first time this season:
"We're going to be real excited. We're hungry for a win and want our first win to be at home. We want to give our home crowd something to watch, look forward, and that will bring them back."
H-Back David Sigler
On the amount of passes thrown his way at Florida State:
"It feels good going out there and making good plays for your team and doing whatever you can to help the team."
On playing the home opener this week:
"I think it's going to be exciting getting to play in front of our home crowd. My parents and fiancé get to come to the game so it will be fun to get to play in front of them."
On going for the program's fourth straight home-opener victory:
"I think it matters a lot. Like coach said, we're going to Legion Field and that's our house and we're going to do whatever to takes to protect our house."
On playing Alcorn State:
"Everybody saw what happened between Appalachian State and Michigan. Coach Steve Martin told us that this week, we're Michigan. We don't want to let someone come into our house and run over us. Every week you have to prepare like you're playing Florida State. You've got to prepare well for anyone you play."
On improvements at Florida State from Michigan State:
"We moved the ball a whole lot better on offense and that's a huge improvement. Both Michigan State and Florida State are two really good teams, so to move the ball on them is an accomplishment. I think we did a lot of the little things better."
Running Back Rashaud Slaughter
On playing at home for the first time this season:
"It's going to be exciting. Everybody will be working hard this week because we want to show the fans that they should come support us, so we're going to work as hard as we ever have."
On the response from fans after Florida State game:
"A lot of them said they were surprised at halftime when we were winning and they said that we did good and are really proud of us."
On getting increased production running the ball:
"We just have to work together. We're going to get better as the season moves along and we'll learn what each other can do. We don't want to put too much on one particular person."
On getting a breakout rushing performance this week:
"It would be nice. I wish I would've had a breakout rushing game in the first two games, but there isn't anything I can do about that now. If it comes this game I'll be happy."
On playing Alcorn State:
"I expect them to come in here and play hard just like we played hard at Michigan State and Florida State. It's not about what school you are at, it's about how hard you play, so we're going to play just as hard against them as we did against the first two teams. Any team can beat any other team on any given day."