Football Previews East Carolina At Media Luncheon

Head coach Garrick McGee addressed the media at Monday's weekly luncheon.

Oct. 15, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With this weekend kicking off the first of three home games remaining in the 2012 campaign, the UAB football team previewed the upcoming tilt against visiting East Carolina at Monday’s weekly media luncheon. The Blazers welcome the Pirates to Legion Field on Saturday, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. CT.

Head coach Garrick McGee along with redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Brown, sophomore punter Hunter Mullins, sophomore tight end Kennard Backman and sophomore wide receiver Jay Davis addressed the media at the weekly luncheon.

UAB (1-5, 0-2 C-USA) enters the week after dropping a Conference USA road contest at Houston, 39-17. The Blazers trailed just 16-10 at the half, but allowed 23 unanswered points in the second half.

McGee and the players discussed a variety of topics about the Pirates (4-3, 3-1 C-USA), which are coming off a 41-7 victory over Memphis last Saturday.

This Saturday's matchup will mark the 12th time UAB and East Carolina have faced off, with the Pirates holding a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series.

Saturday's game will air on Fox College Sports, with Steve Physioc calling the play-by-play, Ben Leber as analyst and Lesley McCaslin on the call from the sidelines. The contest will also air locally on the Blazer IMG Sports Network on WUHT-FM 107.7. The voice of the Blazers, David Crane will call the game action with John Whitcomb providing analysis and Sam Miller reporting from the sidelines.

Head Coach Garrick McGee

On assessing Houston game after reviewing film:
“Nothing has changed. We’re a football team that gets too many penalties, makes too many mental mistakes. Everything is correctable, which means we need to coach football better.”



On sacks in passing game:
“Austin (Brown) will agree that on a lot of those sacks. He’s got to find passing lanes. He’s got to understand that there’s a clock. I thought our offensive line did a pretty good job. We’ve got to learn that there is a clock running and you have to get the ball out of your hands. You have to know protections, have to know if the running back is not going to get out, there’s a lot that goes into playing (quarterback).”

On reason for sacks:
“I think it has something to do with being young. I was a freshman quarterback when I played. I probably held the ball too long waiting on people to get open instead of trusting the concept (of the play) that they were going to run open. Especially when you’re a freshman, things move fast. But a lot of it is we just have to understand our protections and get the ball out of our hands.”

On Austin Brown’s toughness:
“We don’t question whether he’s tough or not. We know he’s a tough kid. He is a competitor and he can take shots. How quarterbacks show that they’re tough to their team, since they don’t get hit in practice, is when someone is going to run free, you’re going to get hit, and you have the courage to stand in and make the throw. That’s how quarterbacks show that they’re tough and have courage. We don’t have any issue with our quarterbacks being tough or not.”

On similarity between Houston and ECU offenses:
“When I checked the stats, Houston’s stats were a little more high powered. I have a lot of respect for Ruffin (McNeill, East Carolina head coach), I know him really well. They are well coached. They spread the ball around really well. They have one of the top tight ends in the country. Number two, their wide receiver (Justin Hardy), is one of the best players in our conference. They move him around, they put him in the backfield, and they put him in the slot. They find different ways to get that kid the ball. They have two really dynamic players. They do have a young quarterback.”

On Jay Davis:
“He’s been starting all season. He’s been our starting ‘W’ (receiver) since spring ball. He’s been out there a lot. He was able to make a huge play for us. He’s a guy I really like. He’s a young guy, a competitive kid.” 

On Hunter Mullins:
“He’s done a good job. He’s one of my favorite guys. He and the specialists sit in my meeting room and talk about things outside of football in our position meetings. Hunter’s always really good in those conversations. But he does a really good job. Our players trust him. We know he can punt and we found out last week that he can kick field goals also. He’s a really good kid to have on our team. He’s one of the top GPAs on our team also.”

On message to team:
“Things have to change. There’s going to be a lot of change within our team. There’s going to be change within our coaching staff in the way that we do things. I’ve watched us lose five games the same exact way. We compete in the first half. We get the game in the third quarter with an opportunity to win and we end up collapsing. I’ve seen that happen five times in a row. I’m not interested in doing the same exact things and getting the same exact results. We’re going to do some things much differently than we have.”

On whether ECU is a must-win game:
“No, I don’t think so. I think this is a part of the process. Most games that you play, you have to prepare at a really high level to give yourself an opportunity to win. I think that when you’re kids, and you haven’t had the success that you want, you put that extra pressure on yourself. So if the word ‘must-win game’ comes up, I would shoot that down immediately. I want them to prepare one day at a time to become a better player, to concentrate more, and focus more. That way they give themselves a better opportunity, and us as a team, a better opportunity to perform at a high level on game day. It has nothing to do with a must-win game.”

On mentality before Saturday:
“We have a lot of work to do before Saturday. Our kids had workouts this morning, each group comes in until 9:30 a.m. Then, between classes, they get to come over and see their coaches and get brushed up on what is going on with the game plan. This evening, they’ll get the opportunity to watch more film and get in tune to what Tuesday’s practice is going to be about. It is not about having a different team on Saturday. Tuesday’s practice is more important than Saturday. We need to come out and have better practice sessions and make sure that our concentration is at a really high level on Tuesday, then carry over to Wednesday, Thursday, have a really good mental day Friday and refresh our bodies, and then ultimately go out on Saturday when the lights come on and execute at a high level. That’s how you win football games.”

On UAB defense in the red-zone against Houston:
“We game planned that Houston was the type of team that was very explosive. They like to get big plays with 30 and 40-yard gains. Their running back was really good. Their scheme was really good at misdirection and getting him out in the open field. What we wanted to do was stay back and keep everything in front of us and see if they were able to make 12 play drives and see if we got them in the red zone and eliminated the 40-yard gain factor and see if they were still able to drop the ball in the end zone. I think our defense did a really good job of holding them out of the end zone, forcing field goals and that’s what kept us in the game for a long time.”

Redshirt Freshman QB Austin Brown

On the overall play last weekend:
“We had a good game plan going into it, and like coach said, I made some big mental mistakes going into it. I held onto the ball too long and it really hurt us in the long run.” 

On whether or not he feels he has made progress coming into this week:
“I am doing the best I can. It’s not really for me to judge, it’s more for coach to tell me whether or not I am making progress. What really matters is if we win and we didn’t win. That’s really what progress is judged off of.”

On the number one mindset going into ECU being winning the game:
“That’s always our number one mindset, to just win. It doesn’t matter how we do it, we just have to get the job done.”

On what changes the team needs to make this week:
“We just have to focus in and make sure we execute, do what we’re coached and we will be fine.”

On his take of ECU:
“They are athletic. They have a great front four, but it’s nothing we haven’t played against all year.”

On whether he is getting a good feel for C-USA and Division I football:
“I feel like I have played against the best this country has to offer so far, so there is nothing they can throw at me that I’m not prepared for.”

Sophomore P Hunter Mullins 

On how this team has progressed:
“We all worked really hard in the off-season and obviously it’s a little frustrating that we have started off the way we have. I think it’s just a true test of our team to start off this way, and I think that we are going to have to make some changes so that we can win.”

“I think it’s going to show a lot about the character of our team starting off the way we are. Like Coach McGee mentioned yesterday, we have the potential to win every game on the schedule. I know I believe it, I think the rest of the team does also."

On what the mindset is of the players:
“I think their mindset right now is that they are disappointed. I think that the players are really looking forward to this week, coming home. I think they want to come in this week and work hard and try to execute and do what their coaches tell them to do, so we can get a win, and have a better start to the second half of the season.”

On the changes coming up for ECU:
“That’s what I’m hoping. I know a lot of guys on this team want it but I think we just need to look deeper into what our coaches are telling us to do. It’s the little things on and off the field that are going to really make this team successful.” 

Sophomore TE Kennard Backman

On mentality of the team at this point in the season:
“It is not the start we were looking for, we are disappointed, but we still have faith and are going to work hard. We are looking for a win this Saturday against ECU.”

On the changes Coach McGee hopes for the team:
“We need to focus and have the right mentality on and off the field. It is important how we handle ourselves off the field; taking care of our bodies and studying the playbooks is key to our success on game day.”

On the UAB offense:
“We are an explosive offense. We have some of the best players in the conference, and when we play to our full potential, we can do amazing things. We are capable of putting on an incredible show for those coming out to the game and watching at home. Against Houston, we made some errors with multiple penalties and we will look to correct those going forward with ECU and other teams we play.”

Sophomore WR Jay Davis

On the mentality of the team going into ECU:
We need to come back ready to win against ECU and practice well leading up to the game.”

On what needs to happen as far as change going into ECU this week:
“We will be changing the mistakes that were made in the previous game against Houston, focusing on the little things will be the changes made before Saturday. We say that every game there is nowhere to go but up. This keeps us from doubting ourselves, and the team, of what we are capable of.”

On the UAB offense:
“When we execute properly, we can put up a lot of points against any team. We need to focus and concentrate on what the coaches teach us and execute that on the field. The penalties are something we will address from the previous game against Houston as well. Going into ECU, we will not be making little, costly mistakes like those.”