Blazers Meet East Carolina In Final Road Game

RB Jordan Howard is the nation's leading rusher among freshmen.

Nov. 15, 2013

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- The UAB football team heads to Greenville, N.C. this weekend as the Blazers play their final road game of the 2013 season Saturday, taking on the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Blazers (2-7, 1-4 Conference USA) will kick off against the Pirates (7-2, 5-1 C-USA) at 2:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. CST with the contest to be televised to the eastern North Carolina market on WITN-TV.

The Blazers are coming off a 56-14 road loss at Marshall last Saturday. The Blazers totaled 464 yards in the game, but the Thundering Herd amassed 657 yards.

UAB and ECU will be meeting for the 13th time with the Pirates leading the series by an 8-4 margin. The Blazers claimed victories in four of the first six matchups, but East Carolina has now won the past six in the series.

UAB (2-7, 1-4 C-USA) at East Carolina (7-2, 5-1 C-USA)
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 | 2:00 p.m. CST
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) | Greenville, N.C.
Television: WITN-TV (Eastern N.C.) (Adam Witten, Kevin Miller, Billy Weaver)
Radio: Blazer IMG Sports Network (David Crane, Steve Irvine)

Quick Hits
• UAB (2-7, 1-4 Conference USA) will play its final road game of the 2013 season and its second in a row against one of the conference frontrunners when the Blazers travel to Greenville, N.C. this week to take on the East Carolina Pirates (7-2, 5-1 C-USA) on Saturday, Nov. 16. Kickoff at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be at 2:00 p.m EST/1:00 p.m. CST.
• The Blazers had 56 rushing plays in the contest against Marshall and 17 pass attempts.
• Junior receiver Jamarcus Nelson had a breakout game vs. Troy to open the 2013 season. Nelson finished the Troy game with 10 receptions for 199 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He had a national-best of the week 367 all-purpose yards which included a 97-yard kick return for a score.
• The Blazers have four new assistant coaches on the staff this season: Eric Evans (Running Backs), Joe Henry (Tight Ends), Kevin Peoples (Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator) and Matt Sanders (Special Teams/Assistant Secondary).
• Junior running back Darrin Reaves, a first-team All-Conference USA performer in 2012, entered 2013 as the only returning back in the nation who eclipsed 1,000 yards and 40 receptions a year ago.
Jordan Howardis the nation's leading rusher among freshman running backs. Howard is averaging 96.6 yards per game and now has 773 yards for the season after rushing for 123 Saturday at Marshall.

All-Time Series Record Vs. East Carolina
• UAB and East Carolina will be meeting for the 13th time when they play Saturday in Greenville, N.C. The Pirates have won the past six games against the Blazers and hold an 8-4 advantage in the series that began in 1998. ECU won a shootout last season at Legion Field, taking a 42-35 win. • The Pirates are 5-1 vs. UAB in games at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Coaches
• UAB: Garrick McGee (Oklahoma, '96) is in his second season as the head coach at UAB and has a record of 5-16 with the Blazers. McGee took the helm of the Blazers' program after four seasons on the staff at Arkansas, his last two campaigns as the offensive coordinator. McGee was a finalist for the 2011 Broyles Award that is presented to the nation's top assistant coach. He also served on the coaching staffs at Northwestern (2004-07), UNLV (2003), Toledo (2002), Jacksonville Jaguars (2000-01), Northern Iowa (1999) and Langston (1996-98).
• East Carolina: Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina, '80) is his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater and has compiled a record of 26-21. He's 27-21 overall as a head coach, having guided Texas Tech to a win in the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl. McNeill was a four-year letterman under Pat Dye at ECU.

Last Game
• UAB had 56 rushing plays for the second game in a row, and had 17 pass attempts in the game.
• The Blazers just missed having a second straight game with a pair of 100-yard rushers. Freshman Howard finished with 123 yards while All-Conference USA back Darrin Reaves had 98 yards on the ground.
• The Blazers yielded a season-high 657 yards in the game to the Thundering Herd.
• Marshall had three players gain more than 100 yards rushing in the game, led by Steward Butler who had 139.

Eighteen Blazers Have Seen First Collegiate Action This Season
• The Blazers had nine players see their first collegiate action in the Aug. 31 season-opening game at Troy. Since then, nine other Blazers have seen their first action of their college careers.

23rd Season Of UAB Football; 18th At I-A Level
• UAB has a young football program compared to most of its opposition. The Blazers went through their first intercollegiate football season in 1991 as a member of NCAA Division III.
• The Blazers moved to Division I-AA two seasons later in 1993, remaining at that level three years before making the transition to Division I-A during 1996 season.
• The 2013 season represents the 23rd season of football for UAB.

Blazers On Preseason Watch Lists
• The Blazers had three players named on Preseason Watch Lists this summer.
• Junior kicker Ty Long was tabbed to the Watch List for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate kicker. Long connected on 14-of-17 field goals last season and was 30-of-36 in his career prior to the 2013 season. His career accuracy mark of 83.3 percent before this season is the highest in UAB history. Long also kicked the two longest field goals in Blazer history -- 54 (vs. Ohio State) and 53 yards (Southeastern Louisiana) in 2012.
• Junior punter Hunter Mullins was one of 25 punters nationally named this summer to the Watch List for the 2013 Ray Guy Award, given each season to the nation's outstanding college punter. Mullins, in his first season as UAB's regular punter, averaged a school record 44.8 yards per kick in 2012. He had 14 punts inside the 20-yard line and had 12 punts that were 50 yards or more.
• Junior running back Darrin Reaveswas tabbed to the preseason list for the 2013 Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate running back. Reaves became the fourth 1,000-yard rusher in Blazer history last season when he ran for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Birmingham native also recorded 41 receptions for 302 yards in 2012. Reaves is the only running back in the country entering the 2013 season who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing and 40 catches last fall.

RB Reaves Named Preseason All-Conference USA By Coaches
• UAB running back Darrin Reaveswas named to the 2013 Preseason All-Conference USA first team in a vote by the league's head coaches. Reaves ran for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. His 13 rushing touchdowns in a season is a Blazer single-season record. Nine of his touchdowns came in the final six games of the season. He also was adept as a pass-catching back as he recorded 41 receptions during the year.

Ganus Pacing Blazers In Tackles Through Nine Games
• UAB sophomore Jake Ganuscurrently leads the Blazers in tackles with 74 stops through the first nine contests, including 47 solo hits. Ganus also has a team-high 6.0 tackles for loss. Ganus has either led the team, or tied for the team lead, in tackles in six of the Blazers' first nine games.

Reaves Has 100 Rushing Yards Or More In Six Career Games
• RB Darrin Reaves has three 100-yard rushing games in 2013. Most recently, he rushed for 111 yards vs. Middle Tennessee. He ran for 178 yards on 17 carries and two rushing touchdowns in the 52-28 win over Northwestern State. Reaves opened the 2013 season with 104 rushing yards at Troy.
• Reaves also has now increased his career rushing touchdown total to 23 after scoring on a 2-yard run last Saturday at Marshall. His 23 rushing TDs rank No. 4 on UAB's all-time list.

UAB With Two Of C-USA'S Top Seven Rushers
• Freshman Jordan Howard and junior Darrin Reavesrank No. 3 and 6, respectively, in rushing average among the Conference USA leaders. Howard currently averages 96.6 yards per game while Reaves, a 2012 first-team All-Conference USA performer, is rushing at a clip of 86.6 per contest.

Last Meeting Vs. East Carolina
Shane Carden threw for 386 yards and East Carolina pulled out a 42-35 victory over UAB in a see-saw, Conference USA contest Saturday night.

The lead changed hands four times after the Pirates drew first blood, with Carden tossing the winning score to Justin Hardy early in the final quarter.

East Carolina held leads of 10-0 and 13-7, but trailed 21-13 when Austin Brown found Sam Accursiofor a 4-yard passing touchdown midway through the third. Brown finished the game with 319 passing yards and three touchdown passes as he hit 22-of-37.

It was UAB that took a lead (14-13) into the lockerroom at halftime.

Vintavious Cooper cut the lead to 21-20 with a 1-yard touchdown run, and then Carden hit Cooper for a 30-yard touchdown pass to vault the Pirates ahead.

The Blazers regained the lead when Brown found Kennard Backmanfor a 9-yard score, but then yielded consecutive Pirates' touchdowns - including Carden's pass to Hardy - and couldn't overtake the lead again.

Down 42-28 with 6:53 to play, the Blazers marched 71 yards on 10 plays with running back Darrin Reavesculminating the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. Reaves finished with 69 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Reaves has six touchdowns this season with all of them coming in the past four games.

UAB wide receiver Nick Adamsfinished with a career-best 114 receiving yards on four catches. Adams also had 251 all-purpose yards in the game, the fourth-highest total in UAB history.

On the defensive side, UAB linebacker Marvin Burdettefinished with 17 tackles for the second consecutive game. Burdette also moved into the No. 2 spot on the Blazers' all-time tackles list.

Carden finished 23-of-35 passing with two scores.

Long Has Three 50-Yarders This Season, Five In Career
• UAB kicker Ty Long is putting together another outstanding season for the Blazers as the junior from Roswell, Ga. has now made 14-of-20 attempts this season, including successful kicks in his last five tries.
• Long's only misses this season have come from 49, 47, 59, 49, 59 and 37 yards.
• He has connected on three field goals of 50 yards this season and now has five of 50 yards or more in his Blazer career.

New Faces
• The 2013 UAB coaching staff has four new faces, two on offense and two on defense. Eric Evans is the Blazers' new running backs coach after spending five years at the University of Albany. Joe Henry, a former tight end at Arkansas who was a graduate assistant on the Razorbacks' staff last season, is the tight ends coach.
Kevin Peoples joins the staff as UAB's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Peoples most recently has been on the staff at Arkansas but spent eight seasons as the defensive line coach at Arkansas State prior to going to Fayetteville. Matt Sandersis also a new member of the Blazers' staff and will serve as UAB's special teams coach, as well as assist in the secondary, working with the cornerbacks.

Reaves One Of Top Receiving RBs
• Junior Darrin Reaves continues to climb up UAB's all-time charts for most receptions by a running back.
• Reaves currently has 68 career receptions to rank No. 6 on the Blazers' all-time list. He is just one from breaking into the top five.

Howard Making Rushing Impact
• True freshman running back Jordan Howard continues to have a positive impact on the Blazers' ground game. In his eight games thus far at UAB, Howard has rushed for 773 yards and averaged a team-best 6.6 yards per attempt.
• He broke loose for a 52-yard run at Vanderbilt for the longest rush of the season. Howard averaged 10.2 yards per rush vs. the Commodores.
• Howard rushed for a season-best 159-yard performance at FIU last month and had a 154-yard performance in UAB's game No. 2 vs. Middle Tennessee. He had a 41-yard run in the contest against the Blue Raiders.