1st and 10: Scouting the UAB Blazers


Sometimes, the best team doesn’t win — especially when it turns the ball over six times. Just ask WKU’s next opponent, the Blazers of UAB, who lost to the FIU Golden Panthers (Yes, the team that lost to Bethune-Cookman earlier in the season) on Saturday 34-20.

It was a game the UAB Blazers would love to soon forget. Despite losing, UAB had more total yards, rushing yards, and first downs, as well as fewer penalties. It’s amazing how four interceptions and two lost fumbles will change the outcome of the game (Remember that Tennessee game last year?).

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So, can WKU learn anything from the game to prepare for UAB? To be honest, no, there’s not much to take away from a game where the Blazers played so poorly. The Toppers would be better off looking at the previous body of work from UAB’s first three games; a 48-10 demolishing of our old pals Troy, losing to Mississippi State 47-34, and beating Alabama A&M 41-14.

However, if there was one thing to take away, it’s this – the UAB secondary is susceptible to big plays, which bodes well for WKU’s high-powered passing attack. Freshman FIU quarterback Alex McGough completed only 9 of his 24 passes, but still managed 204 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. How did he do it? Of McGough’s two touchdowns, one was an 85-yarder to wide receiver Glenn Coleman, and another was a 75-yarder to tight end Jonnu Smith.

You can see Coleman’s touchdown (and Wonderful Terry‘s game-clinching interception against Navy) here, in this week’s rendition of Conference USA’s top plays. Notice how lost the secondary looks as Coleman slips behind them for the score.

Following week five of the college football season, WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty ranks second nationally in passing yards, passing yards per game and completions per game, and is fifth in passing touchdowns. If a freshman quarterback at FIU can have success against the Blazers’ secondary, Doughty should be in for yet another big day throwing the football. UAB’s other games back up this theory, especially when you take into consideration the Blazers played a Troy team in a down year (some might even argue the Trojans are the worst team in college football) and the FCS Alabama A&M. The Blazers are ranked 51st nationally in passing defense as well as 74th in points allowed.

Defensively, the Tops must contain UAB’s Jamarcus Nelson. Nelson was selected as a member of the Preseason Conference USA All-Conference Team, and has not disappointed so far this season, with 13 receptions for 296 yards on the year (good for an average of 22.8 yards per catch). Like UAB, the Topper defense has allowed some big plays this season, so Nelson’s playmaking ability must be a priority in the defensive gameplan. He’s the one Blazer that can hurt you with the big play, and it will be a tall order for Cam Thomas and the WKU secondary to keep him in check.

So what will should the Tops focus on for Saturday? WKU’s gameplan should be simple. Come out, throw the ball, and don’t give up home run plays on defense. The Toppers are the better team, and should prevail as long as they are prepared and focused. Oh, and don’t turn the ball over — just ask the Blazers.

What are you thoughts headed into the game Saturday? Have any early-week predictions? If so, comment below, or tweet us at @WaveTheRedTowel!