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Looking Ahead: UAB Blazers
Remember Georgia linebacker, Jake Ganus? He led the Dawgs in tackles in 2015 after transferring away from UAB after the Blazers decided to shut down their football program for two years.
Since that shutdown, the Blazers have revitalized their program and have won two Conference USA Championships in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Here is what to expect from the UAB Blazers this week:
Head Coach: Bill Clark left Jacksonville State for UAB in 2014. In his first year as head coach, the Blazers went 6-6, becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2004. He remained the head coach even though the program’s hiatus. In recent years, Clark has led the Blazers to a lot of success with three straight division championships and winning two of three trips to the Conference USA Championship. Last year, the Blazers bested Marshall to win the CUSA title before losing to Appalachian State in 1-17 in the New Orleans Bowl. His overall record as the head coach at UAB is 40-22.
2021 Season: UAB faced Coach Clark’s former team in week one of this season, thumping the Gamecocks, 31-0. The Blazers pulled away in the second half, scoring 21 points. They totaled 518 yards of offense, mostly through the air. UAB had three receivers average over 20 yards per catch, and as a team, it averaged over eight yards per play. UAB was able to find plenty of success, despite going 3-for-9 on third downs and losing two fumbles in the game.
Fifth-year quarterback Tyler Johnston III leads the Blazer’s offensive attack. He missed a lot of the 2020 season with a shoulder injury, but his experience in this offense will make a big difference this season. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns last with a QBR of 88.3.
Last season’s leading tackler returns for UAB. Safety Kristopher Moll is another fifth-year senior who notched 103 tackles in 2019. While the Blazers didn’t play a full slate of games in 2020, Moll still recorded 59 tackles and two sacks. He’ll look to add to his two career interceptions this season.
The Blazers will pose an interesting matchup against the Dawgs for a variety of reasons.
UAB has considerable size on both the offensive and defensive lines. On the offensive side of the ball, all five starters return while averaging a stature of 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds. Their left tackle, Kadeem Telfort, is a Florida transfer. This unit only allowed 4 sacks last season. On the defensive side of the ball, the Blazers recently switched to a 4-2-5 formation. They return two of their three starting linemen from last season as well as a host of experience in the secondary.
Bottom line: UAB is experienced in all key positions, and they have the size to not get physically dominated.
UGA is coming off of a dominant defensive performance against Clemson but may struggle to get to the quarterback a little more against UAB. With the Dawgs losing Tate Ratledge on the offensive line, which likely will push redshirt freshman Broderick Jones in at left tackle. Georgia’s offensive line will once again experience a shuffle. On top of that, quarterback JT Daniels is dealing with an oblique injury, although it is unclear how much it is affecting him.
While Georgia has more talent and depth across the board, don’t expect it to be a cakewalk against the Blazers, who are coming off of an extra two days rest compared to the Dawgs. However, if the Dawgs can execute better on offense, and maintain their same defensive intensity, they should be fine. Connection and composure should see them through this week two matchup.