Blazers Riding Win Over UCF Into Marshall Week

Elliott Henigan had two tackles for loss last week against UCF.

Oct. 24, 2011

Press Conference Audio

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Bolstered by last Thursday's win over UCF and a few extra days of rest, the UAB football team continues Conference USA action this week with a trip to Huntington, W. Va., for a Saturday contest with Marshall.

On Monday, head coach Neil Callaway -- along with senior defensive tackle Elliott Henigan, senior safeties Jamie Bender and Chase Daniel, junior linebacker Greg Irvin and freshman running back Darrin Reaves -- met with the media at the football program's weekly press conference.

UAB (1-6, 1-3 C-USA) is coming off its most complete performance of the season, rolling up 501 yards against the league's top defense and holding UCF to 331 yards. Ty Long's field goal in the closing minute sealed UAB's 26-24 victory.

Marshall (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) is coming off a 63-28 road loss against an explosive Houston team that was ranked 19th in the country.

Saturday's kickoff is scheduled for Noon ET (11 a.m. CT) at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. The game will be televised by CSS and will air on the radio in Birmingham on WJOX 94.5 FM with David Crane (play-by-play), John Whitcomb (color) and Sam Miller (sidelines) on the call. The pre-game show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Here are some highlights from Monday's press conference:

UAB Head Coach Neil Callaway



On the status of injured quarterback Bryan Ellis
"Bryan Ellis will miss the remainder of the year with an injury that he suffered during the Tulsa game."

On the reinstatement of linebacker Daniel White
"I'm going reinstate Daniel White to the football team. We've monitored Daniel closely since his dismissal. He came to see me three weeks ago, wanting to get back on the team. I gave him some things he had to do before that happened and he's taken care of business. It's not like he's back in the lineup. He's on the team trying to earn his spot like everybody else."

On the win over UCF
"It was good to win a football game, and we did some good things against UCF last week. Ty Long's kick to win the game was nice. I thought Trey Ragland and the punt team did well punting the ball. Offensively, I thought all three running backs ran the ball well. We had over 500 yards of offense on the best defensive team in the league.

"Defensively, I thought it was huge to keep UCF out of the end zone on the second-to-last drive even though they kicked a field goal. (Defensive tackle) Elliott Henigan had his best game, which was good to see. The interception on the last play of the game by (safety) Chase Daniel was good, too. (Safety) Jamie Bender and (running back) Greg Franklin continue to play well like they have all year. It's a game that we are excited about winning, but we put that behind us and move onto the next one."

On Marshall
"They have very physical offensive and defensive lines. They are very athletic at quarterback, running back and receiver. They do a good job on special teams. Our punt team, which has been good, will have its hands full this week. We are excited about the opportunity to go up there and play again."

On the play of quarterback Jonathan Perry
"Jonathan played well and did a lot of good things. He really had the opportunity to have three more touchdowns, but two were dropped and one was intercepted. If he makes a quicker decision and throws it earlier, that would be a touchdown. All in all, I think he played well and handled things well. I was very pleased with him. He continues to make good plays running the football, dropping back and making plays."

On Perry's progression
"When he first got here, I was watching him run the scout team and I could tell he had something. I knew he had learned the system and that he had something to him. You can see that in a normal game now. He's still learning. He could make some better and quicker decisions. But I think all in all he has done well."

On controlling the UCF game
"Well I think we were able to run the ball well. That helped controlling the ball game. Time of possession was about even, and if you think back to the first two drives, UCF went down the field and scored in no time. We got settled in defensively and started to make some plays offensively, and that was huge.

On the punt team preparing for Marshall's punt block
"That has been the bright spot of the special teams. There have been some good things overall, but the punt team has been most consistent. I don't think we'll change a lot when playing Marshall. We just have to make sure we do a good job of blocking.

On Thursday night's game allowing the team to rest
"It really did. We came in Friday morning and wrapped up the UCF game. The players had the rest of Friday and all day Saturday off. We came back in on Sunday and did more than we normally do. The Thursday game really helped us and came at a good time."

Senior DT Elliott Henigan

On what thoughts come to mind after beating UCF
"I'm thinking about winning five more in a row. One win isn't good enough. I'm glad we got one win out of the way, and hopefully we can get five more rolling. Like Coach (Callaway) said, we can't be happy with just one win. We have to get over it and get ready for the next five we have coming up. We won, but we don't think about that too much when we're 1-6. We are thinking about the next five we have to win."

On the defense not being on the field for as many plays in the UCF game
"It felt good. The (offense) did a great job, and we didn't play that many plays on defense this past game. It was good to see them control the ball and move the ball up and down the field. It gave me some energy back and some rest. It's good to see the offense clicking and moving the ball."

On playing his best game versus UCF
"I'm hoping that I finally have it all back together and that the injuries are starting to fade. Hopefully I can keep it up. These two surgeries had me out of football for almost a year, and it's hard getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully I'm playing like I did last year, or hopefully better."

Senior SAF Jamie Bender

On moving on after the victory over UCF
"It's easy I guess. When you're 1-6, you hardly think about it so much. You think about the next game as much as possible because we want to get to 6-6 so we can finally be a bowl team. We have to take it one game at a time."

On watching the offense find its stride against UCF
"We were very happy from a defensive standpoint of not being on the field for a lot of plays. The offense took good control of the game, and they did a great job of managing the clock. It was really good to see the running backs moving the ball like they are capable of and seeing the receivers make a lot of great catches."

Senior SAF Chase Daniel

On fellow safety Jamie Bender
"He's a great athlete. When he came to UAB a year ago, he played next to me at safety and picked up the defense really well and contributed a lot to the team, and he definitely is a big part of this team. Safeties normally have a lot of injuries, and he has just pushed through all of those and turned out be a great leader for this team. In my opinion, I think that Jamie is one of the best leaders on this team."

On dealing with injuries throughout his career
"I started off in camp with an ankle sprain which hurt me at the beginning of the season. Hopefully that will be my one injury of the season and I will be able to stay healthy and help my team out the remainder of the season.

"Injuries are just something that have always been a part of me. But hopefully I will be full speed for these last games and we can finish strong."

On making the interception to seal the win over UCF
"It felt great just to close up the game. Once Ty Long made that kick, there were 21 seconds left and we had to go out there and stop them. I think as a whole the defense played great. The D-line put good pressure on the quarterback, making him roll out and waste the time so we could make that last play and win the game."

Junior LB Greg Irvin

On the upcoming game with Marshall
"It's a big challenge in the running game. They are very similar to Mississippi State. They might do some of the same things that (MSU) did over the course of the game."

On watching the offensive success against UCF
"It was amazing to see the offense get it going and manage the game the way they did. It gave us as a defense more confidence knowing that our offense was playing well."