In 2014, Bill Clark took over UAB and led the Blazers to a 6-6 year, their best mark in a decade, but soon after, things turned south as the program was shut down under what were suspicious circumstances at the very least.
After two years of the program being dead, it was finally revived and Bill Clark scraped together whoever he could find for the return season in 2017, and led the Blazers to an incredible 8-5 record and just their second bowl game in school history. Last year, he took another step forward, and UAB went 11-3 with their first bowl win ever and a Conference USA championship.
Things are tough though, in 2017 Clark (predictably) leaned heavily on JUCO transfers, generally juniors, and that was awesome last year when the Blazers got 17 starters back, but this year they return just eight. I’m warning you now though, don’t doubt Bill Clark.
Tyler Johnston III returns at quarterback after taking over midway last year, a 57% completion rate and an 11-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio aren’t pretty, but 9.5 YPA thru the air is absurdly efficient.
On the flip side, the receiving corps is decimated, with just one guy that caught more than eight passes returning: Kendall Parham (14.1 YPC), who caught 14. Star JUCO transfer Markus Grossman, who took an injury redshirt last year, should step into a starting role as well, but we will likely see a big step back from last year’s incredibly productive group.
Johnston is a good runner, and he also brings back junior RB Spencer Brown (1,277 yards, 16 touchdowns, 4.5 YPA). Brown isn’t incredibly explosive but took a lot of carries last year and was able to wear defenses down. Arizona transfer Jonathan Haden returns as a speed back after missing last year with an injury.
The offensive line is shaky at best, only one starter remains, C Lee Defour, who was on the team all the way back in 2014. JUCO Sidney Wells could fill one of the holes, and a couple of guys who redshirted last year (Colby Ragland, Andrew Smith) will need to step up.
Getting Johnston and Brown back is huge, but the receiving corps and o-line are so decimated that it’d be hard to see any way that the offense doesn’t take at least a little bit of a step back.
The senior-led defense was great last year, but, being a senior-led defense, they will have to replace a lot. CB Brontae Harris (11 PBUs, two interceptions) and do-it-all MLB/NB Kris Moll are the top two returners. The rest of the secondary is so sketchy that UAB had to convert two running backs to DBs.
In the front, there isn’t a heck of a lot to speak of either. LB Fitzgerald Mofor is the top returning tackler (6 TFL as well) and Garrett Marino returns on the line (3.5 sacks) but behind them, there is almost nobody, and not only are a lot of the starters gone but a lot of the backups are too. Depth will be a huge concern and this defense will likely take a big step back.
The Blazers will be favored in every game until November as part of the #1 easiest schedule in the nation for 2019.
The offense is a mixed bag and the defense feels like one giant question mark, but Bill Clark always over-delivers on expectations and my computer is still expecting an 8-4 record despite all the holes (probably due to the whole “easiest schedule in the country” thing).
|Date||Opponent||OPP. RANK||Proj. Margin|
|28-Sep||at Western Kentucky||105||0.5|
|9-Nov||at Southern Miss||82||-4.4|
|30-Nov||at North Texas||80||-4.8|
Average Projected Record: 7.8 wins, 4.2 losses (5.0 wins, 3.0 losses)