UAB Home Saturday To Take On SEC Foe Mississippi State

UABSPORTS.COM LB Greg Irvin and the Blazer defense looking for a good performance Saturday.
UABSPORTS.COM
LB Greg Irvin and the Blazer defense looking for a good performance Saturday.
UABSPORTS.COM

Oct. 8, 2011

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UAB (0-4, 0-2 C-USA) will be back in action Saturday as the Blazers are back home to play host to Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State (2-3, 0-3 SEC). Gametime is set for 11:10 a.m. CT at Legion Field as the contest will be televised by SportSouth. The Blazers are coming off a tough 24-23 loss at Troy last Saturday as the Trojans rallied with 10 points in the final 5:18 to claim the victory. UAB had taken a 23-14 lead with 5:22 remaining in the game when CB T.J. Ballou returned a Troy interception 52 yards for a touchdown.

MSU played a conference game for the third time this season Saturday as the Bulldogs dropped a 24-10 decision at Georgia. State has posted wins over Memphis and Louisiana Tech thus far. Mississippi State brings a balanced offensive attack to Legion Field as the Bulldogs are averaging 185.2 yards on the ground and 199.2 through the air in the first five games.

TV: SportSouth - Ron Thulin (pbp), JC Pearson (color) and Jeremy Bloom (sidelines)

RADIO: Blazer IMG Sports Network - David Crane (pbp), John Whitcomb (color) and Sam Miller (sidelines) have the call. The broadcast can be heard on WUHT-FM 107.7 in Birmingham.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF UAB FOOTBALL
UAB is celebrating the first 20 years of Blazer football this weekend as it welcomes back all former players, as well as its first head coach, Jim Hilyer. The inaugural 1991 team will be recognized in a halftime ceremony on the field. The Blazer program began in 1991 at the NCAA Division III level but had moved to Division I by the 1996 season.

 

 

FIRST AND 10
-- UAB returns 16 starters on offense (7) and defense (9) from last season's team that finished 4-8. The Blazers had a pair of performers -- offensive tackle Matt McCants and defensive tackle Elliott Henigan -- named to the 2011 preseason All-Conference USA team by the league's coaches. In addition, UAB returns quarterback Bryan Ellis, who passed for 2,940 yards and 25 touchdowns in only nine starts during the 2010 campaign.

-- UAB has a young football program compared to most of its opposition. The Blazers are in their 21st season of football (and 16th at the Division I-A or FBS level) as they played their first intercollegiate season in 1991 at the NCAA Division III level. UAB moved to Division I-AA two seasons later in 1993 and remained at that level three years before making the transition to Division I-A beginning in 1996.

-- Safety Jamie Bender's 35-yard interception return for a touchdown at East Carolina was the Blazers' first defensive score since Marquis Coleman returned a pick 99 yards at UTEP on Oct. 31, 2009. UAB has now scored defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games after T.J. Ballou returned an interception 52 yards for a score in the Blazers' 24-23 loss Saturday at Troy.

-- Senior Nick Adams' 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Tulane Sept. 17 was the Blazers' first kickoff return for a score since the 2008 season, a span of 37 games.

-- In the Sept. 10th season opener at Florida, there were 19 UAB players who saw first-time action in a Blazer uniform, including seven true freshmen. The seven true freshmen were: TE Kennard Backman, RB Bashr Coles, DL Mickey Jackson, PK Ty Long, DE Tyler Peppers, RB Darrin Reaves and DE Diaheem Watkins.

-- QB Bryan Ellis moved into the No. 4 spot on UAB's career list for passing yards with his performance at Florida in the season opener. Ellis now has 3,417 career passing yards and has reached that number in only 12 starts. Daniel Dixon, who had been fourth on the Blazer all-time list, totaled 3,085 during his career from 1997-2000.

-- The Blazers have registered their two most productive offensive seasons in school history the past two years. UAB posted a school-record total of 5,111 yards in 2009 and followed that up with 5,074 yards a season ago.

SERIES HISTORY: FIFTH MEETING BETWEEN UAB AND MISSISSIPPI STATE
UAB and Mississippi State will be meeting for the fifth time when the teams play Saturday at Legion Field. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series with the Blazers by a 3-1 margin and have won the past three matchups between the schools.

UAB claimed the first-ever meeting, taking a 27-13 victory at Starkville almost seven years ago to the day (10/9/04) of this season's game. MSU has come back to win the past three against the Blazers, including a 29-24 win last season in Starkville.

The Bulldogs edged the Blazers by a 16-10 margin in overtime in 2006 in the only meeting played in Birmingham before Saturday's game. State also took a 30-13 win over UAB at Starkville in the 2007 season.

UAB and Mississippi State are also scheduled to meet in 2013 (at Birmingham) and 2014 (at Starkville).

2004 - UAB won 27-13 at Starkville
2006 - MSU won 16-10 (OT) at Birmingham
2007 - MSU won 30-13 at Starkville
2010 - MSU won 29-24 at Starkville

SHED SETS UAB MARK FOR RB WITH 11 CATCHES AGAINST PIRATES
Senior running back Pat Shed set a career-high and a UAB running back record with 11 catches (62 yards) two weeks ago vs. East Carolina. His previous career-high came last year against ECU (Nov. 11, 2010) when he had nine grabs. In two career games against the Pirates, Shed has 20 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown to go along with 140 rushing yards and a score. His rushing touchdown came in the fourth quarter against the Pirates.

SHED NEARS 1,000-YARD RUSHING MARK FOR CAREER
Running back Pat Shed has played in just 15 games for the Blazers but he is closing in on the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Shed enters this week's game vs. Mississippi State with 975 career rushing yards at UAB. Shed missed the 2011 season opener at Florida due to injury. After breaking into action Sept. 17 against Tulane, Shed has shown signs the last two weeks of returning to his previous form.

He had 59 rushing at East Carolina and 48 last week at Troy.

PERRY SEES MOST SIGNIFICANT ACTION OF CAREER Quarterback Jonathan Perry made his first career start last Saturday at Troy, a week after he saw what had been his most extensive action at East Carolina.

Perry, who had not played for the Blazers until the 2011 season, has seen action in all four games, but he saw considerable playing in the fourth quarter Sept. 24 at ECU after starting QB Bryan Ellis left the game due to an injury.

Perry finished with 106 passing yards as he hit 9-of-16 passes against the Pirates and led the Blazers on two long, late-game drives. He was 19-of-39 for 196 yards in the loss at Troy on Saturday.

TRIO OF NEW COACHES JOINS STAFF
For the first time in Neil Callaway's five-year tenure at UAB, the football coaching staff has a few new faces on the sidelines. Tommy West, who has 30 years of coaching experience, including head coaching stints at Memphis, Clemson and UT-Chattanooga, is the Blazers' new defensive coordinator this season.

Rick Mallory, another veteran collegiate coach and former NFL offensive lineman, will coach the UAB offensive line, while John Wozniak joins the staff as running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator. West, Mallory and Wozniak all were on the same coaching staff at Memphis.

SHED MAKES IMPACT IN FIRST SEASON
Running back Pat Shed enjoyed an outstanding season in his debut campaign as a Blazer last fall and demonstrated his versatility along the way. Shed finished with 847 rushing yards, the sixth-highest total in UAB history and most by a Blazer running back since the 2004 season. He also pulled down a team-best 47 receptions to establish a new school record for catches by a running back.

Shed totaled 2,125 all-purpose yards to average 177.1 per contest and rank No. 3 nationally in the final 2010 NCAA statistics.

Shed also turned in a season-best 176-yard rushing performance against a Southern Miss defense that had been allowing only 83 yards per contest.

PERRY-TO-HEARN PASS PLAY LONGEST OF SEASON THUS FAR UAB quarterback Jonathan Perry's 51-yard hookup with junior Patrick Hearn in the fourth quarter of the Sept. 24 game at East Carolina marked the longest pass play for UAB through its first four games. Perry hit 9-of-16 passes in the game for 106 yards.

BLAZERS CAUSED SEVEN TURNOVERS SEPT. 24 AT EAST CAROLINA
UAB forced seven East Carolina turnovers in the Sept. 24 loss at East Carolina, causing four fumbles and recording three interceptions. The four opponent fumbles recovered tied the Blazer school record. The last time UAB recovered four opponent fumbles was the Morehead State game in 1993.

WILLIAMS EXTENDS RECEPTION STREAK TO 16 GAMES
UAB sophomore wide receiver Jackie Williams has posted 15 catches in his last two games against East Carolina and Troy combined to extend his reception streak to 16 consecutive games. He has caught at least one pass in every game he has played with the Blazers, going back to the start of the 2010 season. Through four games this season, Williams already is only seven catches short of the number of receptions he totalled in all of 2010 when he led all Conference USA freshman receivers in receptions with 30. He has recorded a team-best 23 catches for 215 yards thus far this fall.

FRESHMAN KICKER Ty Long HAS CONNECTED ON 5-OF-6
UAB freshman placekicker Ty Long has connected on five of his first six field goal attempts this season. Long, from Roswell, Ga., made his first five attempts before missing a 43-yarder at Troy last Saturday. His longest kick of the season thus far is a 41-yarder against the Trojans.

BLAZERS LOOKING FOR MORE OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS
Last season, UAB registered an impressive 42 touchdowns on offense. After four games in 2011, the Blazers have posted just three offensive TDs (15-yard Jackie Williams run, 7-yard Pat Shed run and 1-yard Jonathan Perry run). UAB's other three touchdowns this season have come on a 92-yard kickoff return by WR Nick Adams vs. Tulane, a 35-yard interception return score by safety Jamie Bender at East Carolina and 52-yard interception return by T.J. Ballou at Troy.

PLAYING SEC OPPONENT NOTHING NEW FOR UAB
For the 10th consecutive season, UAB's non-conference football schedule will include a school from the Southeastern Conference and for the fifth time in that span, there will be a pair of SEC foes on the slate.

Overall, the Blazers have played 18 games against SEC competition in their history. UAB is 2-16 against SEC foes. The wins have come against LSU (13-10 in 2000) and Mississippi State (27-13 in 2004).

The Blazers opened their 2011 season with a road contest at Florida on Sept. 10, falling to the Gators by a 39-0 score. This Saturday, UAB will play host to the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Legion Field, representing just the second time that the Blazers have played a home game against an SEC team. Mississippi State was the opponent the only other time (2006) that UAB hosted an SEC school in football.

UAB also has games against SEC teams listed on its schedule for the next five seasons: 2012 - at South Carolina; 2013 - Mississippi State at home, at LSU; 2014 - at Mississippi State; 2015 - at Tennessee; and 2016 - Ole Miss at home.

BLAZERS WITH DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS IN BACK-TO-BACK GAMES
UAB has registered a defensive touchdown -- both on interceptions -- in each of the past two games. The Blazers got a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback T.J. Ballou against Troy Saturday and a week earlier safety Jamie Bender ran back a "pick six" from 35 yards out.

The Blazers have scored six touchdowns this season and three of those have come via either special teams or defense. Wide receiver Nick Adams returned a kickoff 92 yards against Tulane last month. Jackie Williams nearly provided the Blazers with another special teams score Saturday against the Trojans as he returned a punt 91 yards before being knocked out of bounds at the Troy 1-yard line.

UAB POSTS HIGHEST RUSHING MARK SINCE 2010 USM GAME
UAB finished with a season-high 160 yards rushing as a team in last Saturday's game at Troy, the most for the Blazers since a 223-yard output on the ground last season at Southern Miss (Oct. 30, 2010). Sophomore running back Greg Franklin led UAB with 60 yards on just three carries.

PERRY MAKES FIRST CAREER START LAST SATURDAY VS. TROY
Sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry made his starting debut in place of an injured Bryan Ellis last Saturday vs. Troy and finished the contest 19-of-39 passing for 196 yards, the fourth-most yards for a Blazer QB in his first start. Perry also added 19 rushing yards and a score. Perry scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard rush in the first quarter.

FRANKLIN REGISTERS 57-YARD RUN AGAINST TROY
Sophomore running back Greg Franklin scampered 57 yards on his first carry at Troy for the longest run of his career, the longest by a Blazer this season and the longest by any UAB player since Mark Ferrell's 80-yard touchdown run against SMU on Sept. 12, 2009. For Franklin, a native of Marietta, Ga., the run was the fifth-longest non-scoring run in school history, matching Sam Hunt's 57-yard rush against UCF in 2007.

BENDER HITS TACKLE AVERAGE, RANKS NO. 11 IN NATION
Senior safety Jamie Bender, who entered last weekend ranked 11th in the nation with an average of 11 tackles per game, finished right on his average with 11 stops against Troy. The Blazers' leader with 44 tackles on the season has recorded double-digit stops in three of UAB's four games.

Bender was named the Conference USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week following his performance against East Carolina Sept. 24.

BACKMAN, DAVIS NOTCH FIRST CAREER RECEPTIONS
True freshman tight end Kennard Backman and redshirt freshman receiver Jay Davis each caught their first career pass last Saturday at Troy. Backman notched his catch on the first play from scrimmage for five yards, while Davis had his in the fourth quarter for 12 yards.

Backman is from Austell, Ga. while Davis is a product of Snellville, Ga.

ADAMS NAMED C-USA SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER-OF-THE-WEEK
UAB senior wide receiver Nick Adams was named the Conference USA Special Teams Player-of-the-Week three weeks ago, two days after a record-setting kick return performance against Tulane at Legion Field.

The Walterboro, S.C. native broke the UAB single-game record for kick return yards and returned a Tulane kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Adams finished with 194 kickoff return yards (on five returns) in the loss to the Green Wave.

The 6-2, 195-pound Adams broke the UAB mark previously held by former Blazer Frantrell Forrest who had 190 kickoff return yards against Tulsa in the 2008 season opener.

BENDER TABBED C-USA DEFENSIVE PLAYER-OF-THE-WEEK
Senior safety Jamie Bender was named the Conference USA Defensive Player-of-the-Week following his performance against East Carolina on Sept. 24.

He registered a team-high 11 tackles in the contest and one tackle for loss, while causing two fumbles and returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Bender, currently tied for 11th in the country in tackles per game (11.0), had eight solo hits against the Pirates.

Bender led a UAB defense that caused seven turnovers by the Pirates. Linebacker Greg Irvin recovered four ECU fumbles in the game. He is the first Blazers' defensive player to earn C-USA Player of the Week honors since Hiram Atwater on Oct. 5, 2009.

 
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