Blazers Take On Rice In Thursday Night Game

UAB and Rice will meet Thursday night at Legion Field.

Nov. 20, 2013

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- UAB's football team is back in action Thursday night when the Blazers play host to the Rice Owls at Legion Field.

Gametime is set for 6:35 p.m. CST with the contest to be televised by Fox Sports 1.

UAB (2-8, 1-5 Conference USA) has two games remaining this season, both at home. The Blazers will wrap up their 2013 campaign on Saturday, Nov. 30 with a contest in Birmingham against Southern Miss.

The Blazers will be going against their third consecutive C-USA team that possesses a potent offense. UAB, which has faced Marshall and East Carolina in back-to-back weeks, will face an Owl team coming off a 52-14 win over Louisiana Tech.

UAB and Rice (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) feature two of the most successful running offenses in Conference USA. The Blazers possess the No. 3 (Jordan Howard) and No. 6 (Darrin Reaves) rushers in the league while the Owls come into the game leading the conference in rushing at 243.2 yards per game. Rice is coming off a 415-yard rushing performance last week against Louisiana Tech.

The Blazers and Owls will be meeting for the fifth time with the series tied at 2-2. The home team has won each of the previous four contests in the series, including a 28-23 win by Rice in 2010 at Houston in the most recent matchup.

Game Facts
Rice (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) at UAB (2-8, 1-5 C-USA)
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 • 6:30 p.m. CST
Legion Field (72,000) • Birmingham, Ala.
Television: Fox Sports 1 (Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis, Joel Klatt, Kristina Pink)
Radio: Blazer IMG Sports Network (David Crane, Steve Irvine, Sam Miller)

Quick Hits
• UAB (2-8, 1-5 Conference USA) will play its first of two remaining games -- both at home -- Thursday night when the Blazers play host to the Rice Owls (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) at Legion Field. The contest will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CST and will be televised nationally by Fox Sports 1.
• The Blazers are coming off a 63-14 road loss at East Carolina last Saturday. The Blazers allowed the Pirates 625 yards in the game, including 329 on the ground. UAB amassed 354 yards of offense.
• 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 Howard is the nation's No. 3 rusher among freshman running backs (91.8 avg.).
• Running back Darrin Reaves moved into a third place tie for rushing touchdowns (24) on the UAB career list with former Blazer quarterback Joe Webb with his rushing score at East Carolina.
• 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).

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).
• Rice: David Bailiff (Texas State, '81) is in his seventh season as head coach at Rice and has posted a record of 37-47 during that time. Since taking the helm at Rice, Bailiff has guided the Owls to their first bowl win in over 50 years as well as becoming only the second Rice coach to take the Owls to multiple bowl games. Bailiff spent three seasons as the head coach at Texas State, his alma mater, before becoming the Owls' head coach.

All-Time Series Record Vs. Rice
• UAB and Rice will be meeting for the fifth time when the play Thursday night at Legion Field. The series is currently tied at 2-2.
• The home team has won each of the previous four matchups between the two schools.
• The Owls claimed the last meeting, a 28-23 victory at Rice Stadium in Houston in 2010.
• UAB claimed the first meeting, winning 45-26, at Legion Field in 2005.

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 Reaves was 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. Nelson = Explosion Plays
• There's no doubt when UAB wide receiver Jamarcus "JJ" Nelson is on the field, he's a threat to break a big play.
• Nelson has averaged 19.4 yards per reception in his career with 1,374 yards on 71 catches.
• Nelson has 17 touchdowns (14 receiving, 1 rush, 2 on returns) in his three-year career and 11 of those have covered distances of 40 yards or more.

Ganus Pacing Blazers In Tackles Through 10 Games
• UAB sophomore Jake Ganuscurrently leads the Blazers in tackles with 87 stops through the first 10 contests, including 52 solo hits. Ganus also has a team-high 7.0 tackles for loss. Ganus has either led the team, or tied for the team lead, in tackles in seven of the Blazers' first10 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 24after scoring on a 4-yard run last Saturday at East Carolina. His 24 rushing TDs tie for No. 3 (with Joe Webb) on UAB's all-time list.

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.

Last Meeting With Rice
Jeremy Eddington rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 22-yard score with 44 seconds remaining, to give Rice a 28-23 win over UAB at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

After Eddington's score, the Blazers had one more chance to win it, but Rice forced UAB into a turnover on downs and ran out the clock.

Taylor McHargue finished with 62 yards on 14 carries and threw for 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 of 22 passing to lead the Owls. Sam McGuffie finished with 56 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

Bryan Ellis threw for 248 yards and three scores on 21 of 39 passing while Pat Shedcaught seven passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Blazers.

McGuffie put the Owls on top 7-0 on a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:14 left in the first quarter, but UAB responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to Jackie Williamstwo minutes later to tie the score.

The Owls regained the lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Eddington with 8:29 left in the second quarter, but the Blazers responded four minutes later with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to Shed to tie it again at 14.

UAB took its first lead on a 27-yard field goal by Josh Zahnwith 9:54 remaining in the third quarter.

Rice, however, strung together a 19-play, 83-yard drive that was capped by a Taylor McHargue to Vance McDonald 2-yard touchdown pass with 6:54 remaining in the game to make it 21-17.

The Blazers retook the lead on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Ellis to Shed with five minutes left in the game, but the extra point missed, so UAB led 23-21.

One week after scoring 62 points and totaling 639 yards of offense, Rice finished with 354 yards of offense to UAB's 350.

Blazers Currently Sixth In Scoring In C-USA
• UAB currently ranks No. 7 in Conference USA in scoring offense at 25.4 points per game.
• The Blazers are No. 7 in C-USA in passing offense with an average of 209.7 yards per game and are No. 5 in the league in rushing offense at 185.4.

Staples' Blazer Debut A Success
• UAB wide receiver Jamari Staples, a 6-4, 190-pound product of Lineville, Ala., had a successful collegiate debut at Troy Aug. 31 as he posted six receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown. Staples' touchdown catch came on a 42-yard pass from quarterback Austin Brown midway through the first quarter.

Long Almost Perfect At UAB From 40 Yards And In
• UAB junior kicker Ty Long is now 44-56 (14-of-17 in 2012) on field goals during his three-year career with the Blazers. That's an accuracy rate of 78.6 percent. That is the best FG accuracy mark in UAB history, a record previously held by Swayze Waters, who hit 50-of-64 (.781) three-pointers from 2006-08.
• Long is almost perfect on field goals from 40 yards and in. He missed his first of his career inside 40 (a 37-yarder) in last Saturday's loss at Marshall, after hitting 29 attempts previously in his UAB career.
• Long was 14-of-17 on field goals last season with five of those coming from 46 yards or longer (46, 47, 48, 53 and a school record 54 yards).
49, 56, 52, 49, 47, 59, 49, 59 and 37 yards.
• Long now has five field goals of 50 yards or more in his career after booting three 50-yarders this season, including three weeks ago vs. Middle Tennessee.