Football Sets Sights On Southern Miss

RB Darrin Reaves rushed for a career-high 166 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday

Oct. 29, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB football team is slated to play its second Conference USA road game in as many weeks, as the Blazers will head to Hattiesburg, Miss., to play Southern Miss on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT at Roberts Stadium.

On Monday, head coach Garrick McGee was accompanied by senior linebacker Marvin Burdette, junior wide receiver Jackie Williams and redshirt-freshman safety Lamarcus Farmer to speak to the media at the weekly luncheon.

UAB (1-7, 0-4 C-USA) is coming off a 55-45 loss at Tulane last Saturday.  The Blazers racked up 622 yards of total offense, tying for the third most in school history, as quarterback Austin Brown threw for a career-best 409 yards and three scores.  Running back Darrin Reaves also showcased a career day, rushing for three touchdowns and career-high 166 yards on the ground.

In addition to the offensive shootout, Burdette recorded a school record 24 tackles, featuring 16 solo stops.  The senior now tops all of Division I in tackles per game, averaging 13.0 per contest.

Southern Miss (0-8, 0-4 C-USA) is coming off a 44-17 loss on the road against the Rice Owls in Houston, Texas.  The Golden Eagles have started four different quarterbacks in 2012, the most amongst all teams at the FBS level.

Head Coach Garrick McGee
On the defensive issues and how to move forward:

“We had a meeting with myself and our defensive players yesterday, and we just watched what’s happening on the field. I think the issues can be fixed. When you’re coaching football at this level, when there are technique flaws, or scheme flaws, they’re supposed to get fixed. When you’re coaching at the Division I-A level, you should be able to fix them, and I think they can be fixed.”



On overcoming momentum changes in game:
“The question is how do we become mentally tough enough to overcome the ups and downs of a 60-minute football game. That’s something you have to train and develop by the way that you practice, by the way that you meet their intensity, by understanding and putting your kids in situations on the practice field where they’re going to fail or where they’re going to succeed and to understand how they respond to it.”

“I don’t think, when Darrin (Reaves) fumbled, that it was that big of a momentum changer, but I think we were driving the ball, we crossed the 50-yard line, they had a blitz coming off the edge that we should have checked and ran the ball back the other way. The blitzer came and hit him. I don’t know if that really affected the game because there was so much happening, that I don’t think that one moment really affected them. Still, developing mental toughness is extremely important when you’re developing a program.”

On Lamarcus Farmer:
“He’s done fantastic, he really came out of nowhere. When I first got here, before I had the first meeting with the players, he wasn’t doing everything right, and I saw that in the reports that I got from the previous staff and administration. He’s one of the guys that I immediately eliminated from the team, just because we are headed in a different direction. He came back to me after spring ball was over, I saw him a lot out there when we were practicing, just standing out there. Once it was over, he came back to me, his grades were really good, he had reports from all over campus that he was doing a really good job, and he showed me that he really wanted to be a part of the program. (Defensive line coach) Jimmy Williams, his son and Lamarcus’ little brother play on the same eighth grade football team, so we got to know his parents, and understood that he has a really good support system. Since we started practicing again in August, he’s been a breath of fresh air. He’s explosive, really competitive, he can really move, and when he’s concentrating, he’s a really good player for us. We’re really fortunate to have him on our team as a young kid, because he’s only a redshirt freshman.”

On the emphasis in practice this week, and if it changes:
“We’re not going to win six games and go to a bowl game, but the approach we take won’t change, and it never will. Our approach is that we want to develop one day at a time, and become a better individual first, better unit second, better football team, better football program. We do everything we can possibly do on a daily basis to move closer toward that, and that’s not going to change. We have some seniors here that are leaving legacies at this point. Marvin (Burdette) is in position now to do something special. He went from breaking the UAB record in tackles to being the No. 1 in the nation in tackles, and that’s important. That’s a special deal. I don’t worry about our guys folding their tent or not showing up tomorrow with a great attitude, they’ll show up with a great attitude and keep pushing forward.”

On players who didn’t play last week:
“Diaheem (Watkins) was here yesterday, he was in our meeting and he looked great. He’s feeling much better, had a smile on his face. He did spend a lot of days in the hospital, so he’s drained, that’s hard for a college kid, but it was good to see him back with his teammates. I’m not going to press Diaheem to play any football this year at all. If it gets to a point where he feels like he wants to play, then we’ll rethink it, but he had a very serious injury. I think we’re going to get something out of Calvin (Jones) this weekend; he’ll be able to play at some point. Jamarcus (Nelson) has about another week to go. We’re going to really treat it really closely this weekend and then see where we are.”

On preparing when Southern Miss hasn’t settled on a quarterback:
“You have to see what they do when a certain quarterback is in the game. The kid who was playing last week against Rice is very explosive, and I bet that he’s going to get more reps. He can run, he can throw, and it seems like the schemes that they want to run, the zone reads, he’s very good at. Running quarterbacks are always hard to defend because he can convert third downs on third and five or six. If you cover everybody, or play man coverage, he can just run for it. I would guess that we’d see more of that kid.”

More on Marvin Burdette:
“It’s different because it’s not that he’s getting recognition. He has earned this. To be the top tackler in the country, you have to go out and you have to play at a certain level consistently, with a certain level of effort. You have to understand what’s going on so you put yourself in the right position to make tackles, and then at the moment of truth, when it’s you and the ball carrier, you have to get him on the ground. This is an honor that he has earned. No one has voted on this. I told our team yesterday that we have a person sitting in the room with us who is doing something at the highest level. He’s making more tackles than anyone else in the entire nation. We have an example of what it looks like to play football at a really high level.”

On the seniors and the legacy they leave:
“They know that they’re a huge part of what’s going to happen. They do know that this is going to turn, that we’re going to have success as a football program around here, and they know that, regardless of what our record is right now, they standards that have been set, the way that we are going to approach football, the way that we’re going to see football has been changed, and it’s because of the seniors, because that’s who our guys look up to. They’re always going to have a special place with me, so that when we do turn it, they’re going to be back on the sideline with us, celebrating. They can always say that when our football program turns around, that we were the ones that started the different mindset about our program. We may not have won enough games, but the mindset changed our senior year.”

Senior LB Marvin Burdette
On setting UAB single game tackles record:
“I had no clue I had that many (tackles). I have a lot of teammates that tell me how I’m doing. But for me, it’s all about the wins and losses. I go out there and play hard and I play for the man beside me.”

On practice this week:
“We still have a lot to play for. There are guys on our team that have yet to become fully mature. We have to show them that, regardless of how life works out, you have to keep going. I’m still going to give the same effort in practice. I want to leave this place knowing that I helped some young guys change their mindset about this program.”

Junior WR Jackie Williams
On team’s approach:
“We are going to (work) harder than we did last week. We’re going to keep fighting because there are still games to be played. We are going to continue to correct our mistakes from the previous week so we can get a win.”

On what the team is playing for:
“Pride. You never want to go into a game just going through the motions. That’s how people get hurt and that’s not the type of football that we play. Coach McGee and his staff have done a great job of changing the attitude and culture around (the program).”

R-Freshman CB Lamarcus Farmer
On being able to play despite injury:
“You should play every play like it’s your last. I want to be on the field and contribute for my team to the best of my ability. That’s very important to me."

On importance of getting a win:
“The goal is to win every game. Just because we are not bowl eligible doesn’t mean that we should take things lightly. We are very hungry for a win. We are playing for pride and we’re still trying to change the culture at this school. We can also still have a better record than last year so there is still plenty to play for.”