UAB Blazers 2023 College Football Preview
June 25, 2023
Record – 7-6
ATS – 4-9
It definitely wasn’t the season that fans were hoping for as the Blazers needed to scratch and claw the entire season in order to slither into bowl season with a mark of 6-6. UAB came close to beating WKU on the road (lost by 3) and UTSA (lost in 2OT) but they just didn’t have the closing ability displayed in previous seasons. The Blazers ended the year on a high note by defeating Miami Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl.
Your boy Trent Dilfer comes to town as the new HC. What can we expect in 2023?
UAB Blazers 2023 Outlook
The Blazers were extremely effective on the ground LY (235 YPG, #8 FBS) and they averaged a whopping 5.8 YPC (#2 FBS). They’re definitely gonna miss All-Universe RB DeWayne McBride who rushed for 1,713 yards and 19 TDs LY but it’s good to know that they’ve still got Jermaine Brown Jr who almost hit the 1,000-yard plateau as the backup (948, 8 TD). Jacob Zeno will take over the reins at QB and he was mediocre in limited action in 2022 (57%, 5-3 TD to INT). The WR group is deep but it’s unclear if they have a devastating #1 option like the departed Trea Shropshire (923, 22.5, 6 TD LY). The biggest concern on offense is in regards to the offensive line that must be completely rebuilt. They return less than a dozen career starts (!) up front and will rely on transfers and previous backups to mold into an adequate unit. This feels like an average AAC offense with the potential to be a bit better if Zeno surprises to the upside.
UAB has been consistently rock solid on defense for a number of years but they were a notch below their own high standards in 2022. They yielded an unseemly 166 YPG on the ground (#5 CUSA) after averaging 121 YPG during the previous four campaigns. They were deadly vs the THROW GAME (#1 CUSA pass efficiency D) but a little light in the sack department (25, #5 CUSA). It’s hard to know what to expect this year as they only return four starters and will be without their top-four (!) tacklers from a season ago. The DL doesn’t look like a brick wall on paper but they can certainly do good things by building around the talented FISH McWilliams (5.5 TFL LY) and 2022 sack leader Drew Tuazama (5). Their LB group is very inexperienced and the secondary looks weaker than the 2022 version. We expect average AAC-level performance in 2023.
Things look ok with the return of PK Matt Quinn (14-19 FG LY) and KR Jermaine Brown Jr (25.0). Losing punter Kyle Greenwell stings a bit.
Overall – It’ll definitely help to start with three winnable games before they get POLEAXED at Georgia in week four. The AAC assignments are tough as they must go ON THE HIGHWAY to face both Tulane and UTSA.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Navy (Nov 11)
This could be a letdown spot as they’ll roll into town off of games vs UTSA, Memphis, and Florida Atlantic.
Season Win Total
Market consensus June 25
Over 5 -120
Under 5 +100
There are changes all over the place and the conference schedule is one of the toughest in the AAC. There are several ‘5.5’s out there with added juice and we’d play under that number vs the flat ‘5’.
TRIVIA BOMB INCOMING…………….
UAB is known as the ‘Blazers’ as a result of an athletic department contest held in 1977. It was chosen in part to represent the fire and energy of a new program, and to give a connection to the Alabama steel industry. “Blazer” refers to a flame or source of heat that’s used in the forging process in metal working. Their mascot Blaze the Dragon is meant to symbolize the fiery spirit of UAB.
This is one of the most interesting coaching situations to watch in all of college football. Can Dilfer get these guys to a competitive level in year one? Will he be able to go one press conference without saying ‘SCORE the FOOTBALL’ or ‘THROW GAME’? We have a pessimistic outlook for year one simply because it’s like they’re starting from scratch in many respects. The coaching staff is extremely inexperienced compared to their competitors in the AAC and that’s not ideal.
We’ll call for them to miss out on bowl action for the first time in a while but hope we’re wrong. Go Blazers!