Marshall opponent preview: Ala.-Birmingham
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 18th in a series of previews on Marshall and West Virginia football opponents.
Checking them out
Arguably, it wasn't a double-overtime scorefest that doomed Marshall to its 5-7 season; it was a painful loss at Legion Field. Historically, the Blazers have the ability to do that, but they also have the tendency to stink it up. (A 46-9 home loss to Memphis? C'mon, man!)
Austin Brown, who started much of 2012, threw for 2,673 yards with 15 TDs, but he is still being pushed by Jonathan Perry and that battle will continue this fall. There is no battle in the backfield with Darrin Reeves coming off a 1,037-yard, 13-TD season, including 184 yards and two scores against the Herd.
The receiving game begins with Jackie Williams, who has caught 140 passes in three years, at least one in all 35 games played. Herd fans painfully know him as the man who flipped momentum with a 79-yard TD punt return last year.
Four offensive linemen return, but that isn't necessarily good news - they yielded 42 sacks, although a few were Brown's fault.
Defensively, the Blazers were a borderline disaster, giving up 37.5 points per game - and that came despite the presence of middle linebacker Marvin Burdette, who has departed after a 157-tackle season. Many starters are back, but will have to grow up some more - including ends Chris Walton and Chris Rabb (14 tackles for loss, 41/2 sacks between them).
Along with Williams, specialists are a plus. Kicker Ty Long has hit 30 of 36 field goals in his career, including 54- and 53-yarders last year. He is 19 of 19 from 40 yards and in. Punter Hunter Mullins averaged a school-record 44.8 yards.
Ten different players on the spring roster hail from either Birmingham or Hoover, a major suburb. Five more were signed in February. . . . This is the 23rd year of UAB football, 18th in Division I-A/FBS. After Tulane and East Carolina leave, it will be the second-longest member of C-USA . . . UAB won't play "Battle for the Bones" rival Memphis for the first time since 1998, as the Tigers have moved to the American Athletic Conference.
Date Opponent 2012
Aug. 31 at Troy L 29-39
Sept. 7 at LSU DNP
Sept. 21 Northwestern State DNP
Sept. 28 at Vanderbilt DNP
Oct. 5 Florida Atlantic* DNP
Oct. 12 at Fla. International* DNP
Oct. 26 at Texas-San Antonio* DNP
Nov. 2 vs. Middle Tennessee* L 24-59
Nov. 9 at Marshall* W 38-31
Nov. 16 at East Carolina* L 35-42
Nov. 21 (Th.) vs. Rice* DNP
Nov. 30 vs. Southern Miss* W 27-19
* Conference USA games