Football Returns To Conference Play At Houston

Head coach Garrick McGee picked up his first win as head coach last week

Oct. 8, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UAB football team returns to Conference USA action on Saturday, Oct. 13, when the Blazers travel to Houston, Texas to face the Houston Cougars (2-3, 1-0 C-USA). The contest, scheduled for an 11 a.m. CT kickoff at Robertson Stadium, will be aired on Fox Sports.

On Monday, head coach Garrick McGee along with junior offensive lineman Billy Autrey, junior defensive end Diaheem Watkins, freshman safety Jake Ganus and senior wide receiver Nick Adams addressed the media at the weekly luncheon.

McGee and the players discussed a variety of topics, including the recap of last week's win over Southeastern Louisiana and how the team will respond to the success of the first win of the season. Also covered was preparation for the team’s first road C-USA matchup of the year at Houston.

UAB (1-4, 0-1, C-USA) enters the game looking for its first conference victory of the 2012 campaign. The Blazers opened league play two weeks ago by dropping a 49-42 decision at home against Tulsa, while the squad earned their first victory of the season last week against Southeastern Louisiana, 52-3. Houston, meanwhile, has won its last two contests, defeating Rice and North Texas, after an 0-3 start to the year.

Head Coach Garrick McGee

On assessing Southeastern Louisiana game:
“They did a really good job of concentrating and executing the things that we wanted to get done. There are a lot of things that we had to get corrected on Sunday. We definitely didn’t do everything right, but our energy level and our commitment to execution overcame a lot of the mistakes that were made.”



On how to respond to success:
“By doing the same things we do every single day. Concentrating on getting one day better. Focusing on ‘How do I become a better football player today? What can I do in the office? What can I do on the field? What can I do in the training room to make us a better football program and a better team today?’”

On Houston’s progression since first game:
“Offensively, they’re completely different. There’s new leadership with their offense. I know their head coach Tony (Levine) really well. His team is going to continue to develop. We have a lot of the same rules, same philosophy, same mentors, so he’s a really good coach and I have a lot of respect for him.”

On Houston’s running back Charles Sims:
“He’s big. He’s fast. They have multiple running sets. They have some exotic running plays that are really interesting. You have to really trust your rules, trust your technique to be able to slow them down. If you get caught looking in the backfield at all the stuff that’s going on, he’ll run right down the sideline. We have to be really good with our eyes, play our technique, understand where your help is at all times, and just play good team defense. That’s what gives you a chance." 

On Houston’s passing attack:
“They’re balanced. Their quarterback is very good. He’s from Southlake Carroll (High School). That’s one of the dominant high school teams in (Texas). He was a really well coached high school player. They ran the same type of scheme in high school that he’s running now. He knows the ins-and-outs of their style of offense. He’s very accurate underneath throwing the ball. He knows where to go when you’re pressuring him. He knows where the outlets are. He knows where the pass completions are. We’ll have our hands full.”

“The challenge for our defense is if we can slow down one of these spread teams. We’ve shown that if you load up the box against us, then we’ve got big enough athletes to stop it. But a spread-out team that’s going to play fast tempo, run and throw, has given us some problems this season.”

On defensive improvement:
“I have seen a lot of improvement. They definitely have improved. What we have to do is prepare ourselves this week to defend Houston’s offense and the way they go about their business with a fast-paced spread-out style of offense. We have to understand what they do, with the schemes that they run, when they do it on certain down-and-distances, what do they run when the ball’s on the hash mark, what do they run when the ball’s in the middle of the field, and what kind of routes certain receivers run. You have to be in tune with all of what’s going on to play good defense.”

On early kickoff:
“We play the cards we’re dealt. It doesn’t matter what time the game is. We set our schedule to make sure our kids eat the pregame meal and we’ll show up at the stadium two hours before kickoff. We do a lot of work early in the mornings. There’s not a good or a bad side to whatever time the ball is kicked off. We set the schedule and we’ll be there." 

On preference of kickoff time:
“I don’t have a preference on that. If I said I preferred, then next week they showed up and said we’re playing at 6:00, you could hold that against me. We just prepare no matter what time the game is. The game is going to be on TV so we get to showcase our program and our kids.”

On UAB’s offensive lineman Billy Autrey:
“He’s big. He’s really strong. He’s an upper-classman so he understands how to battle. Ever since he started playing center, we’ve had a little more pop in the middle of our formation. As he continues to develop in the position and starts making all the calls, being aggressive in the way he’s setting the offensive line protections and in the run game, he’s only going to get better. We’re really happy that he’s back.”

On availability of injured players:
“We could get Aaron Green back this week but I don’t think (Brian) O’Leary will be ready to play.”

Junior C Billy Autrey

On what the approach is going into Houston:
“We’re definitely not satisfied, we had some mistakes up front in the offensive line. Coach had a good game plan. We executed as well as we could, but we need to do better; I need to do better with calls. You know, we’ve had so many injuries this year and changes in positions. They started me off as guard this year and moved me to center and John Hix moved to guard. I think we need to make some improvements for Houston. Houston is definitely a bigger, better team. I actually haven’t seen them play, but there are some improvements that need to be made.”

On the win Saturday:
“We can’t relax at all. Southeastern Louisiana came in and played hard, but Houston is definitely going to be a tougher game. There is a little bit of weight lifted off, we finally got the first win and we just need to keep moving forward.”

On the routine that was developed against Southeastern Louisiana:
“There’s about eight offensive linemen that really play and we all really know what to do. We get a lot of practice time and a lot of playing time too. With the quarterback situation, both J.P. and Austin know what they are doing and they are very good about calling out the plays and telling us what to do. I think we will be fine.”

On the readiness of the team going into the Houston game:
“Coach Chandler got us ready all summer. He was killing us out on the track with running, so I don’t think conditioning will be any problem. We have been doing no-huddle a lot this year and I don’t think it will affect us too much.”

On how important it is to get a win in conference play:
“It’s huge. We have to get that first conference win. The first win is always going to be the hardest but after that we keep coming together and learning the offense better.”

Junior DE Diaheem Watkins

On how you build off of the first win:
“We like the feel of the win, and you are going to want more wins. You aren’t going to be satisfied with just one. We want to win again and get that same feeling, so we are going to build off that by working hard and seeing what we have to do to beat Houston.” 

On fast pace of Houston and how important it is to stay on task on the defensive side:
“It’s going to be real important. You have to prepare and get the calls faster and just know the scheme of the defense and communicate. Sometimes it’s all about communication. I think our coaches are going to make it real simple so we can just go out there and play because Houston is going to be coming so fast that you have to be ready, you can’t wait on them.”

On how important it is to pressure the quarterback:
“We have to get sacks. That has to be a big thing for us. We have to pressure them and make them move around in a pocket. We have to get in his face and make him move around. I just got through watching film and their quarterback is a pretty good thrower, so we have to move. We have to get him out of the pocket and make him move.” 

Freshman SAF Jake Ganus

On building off of the first win and getting the second win of the season:
“We have to continue to practice hard, lift hard, and focus on the little things like Coach McGee says will help us get that second win.” 

On Houston’s offense:
“We will have to watch more film than we ever have so we can know what they are doing, know what the receivers like to do, and pick up on tendencies. They have a really good passing attack. They had a lot of yards on offense these past couple weeks, so we will have to be on top of our game.”

“They like screens, it’s a big part of their game. We did a pretty good job covering that this past week, but in previous games like South Carolina and Ohio State we needed to make some improvements, so that will be something to work on in preparation for Houston’s offense.”

Senior WR Nick Adams

On determination after the first win:
“We’re definitely determined to get another win. We lost to Tulsa, which was our first conference game, and we are getting back into conference play against Houston. It is crucial we get this win. Getting our first win is definitely going to contribute to our continued success. None of us want the (winning) feeling to go away.”

On difference in a non-conference and conference game:
“We don’t look at them any differently. Our goal is to play to the best of our ability, not just in the conference, but against any opponent. We cannot allow ourselves to take any steps back from here on.”

On using Southeastern Louisiana as a motivation in playing Houston Saturday:
“We got the running game working efficiently, so now we are able to mix it up with rushing and passing to change it up on the defense. It helped with us (receivers) being able to make blocks and allow the running game to produce.”