UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the UAB season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
UAB Blazers Preview 2022
It could be argued that Bill Clark deserves to be mentioned with the top coaches in college football over the last five seasons.
The UAB football program was sleeping. It wasn’t gone in 2015 and 2016, but it didn’t need time to bounce back once it was able to play again in 2017. Clark had all the pieces together, won 43 games over the last five years with five winning seasons, five bowl bids, two Conference USA titles, and one other conference championship appearance.
It’s not quite right to say that he did the most with the least, but he certainly was able to maximize what he had to work with.
Back issues forced Clark to leave UAB, and now it’s up to offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent to step in as the interim head coach with all the pressure in the world to keep it all going.
Is this the coaching staff to take UAB to another level as it goes into the American Athletic Conference next year? There’s a whole lot of experience, star power, and talent there to figure it out.
The machine doesn’t stop.
UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Offense
The Blazer offense is going to keep on rolling like normal. The coaching staff that handled the attack isn’t going to change up anything, and with seven returning starters and a slew of decent reserves ready to do more, there won’t be a step back if the receivers step up.
The O has to do even more. It did a decent job of moving the chains and not making mistakes, but it only averaged 387 yards and 29.5 points per game. The ground game was good, the downfield passing attack was fantastic, but …
The receiving corps has to find more dangerous playmakers. The Blazers lost their top starters and has to hope for the deep threats to step up … maybe.
Trea Shropshire led the team with 702 yards with seven scores – averaging 26 yards per catch – and he’s still listed on the roster, but he was also in the transfer portal this offseason. He’s the No. 1 target, assuming he’s still in the mix.
Tight end Gerrit Prince led the team with 36 touchdowns and ten scores. He’s gone, but Hayden Pittman is a good receiver making 22 catches for 192 yards and a score. RaJae Johnson-Sanders is off to Troy, putting Ryan Davis and a slew underused parts from last year in the spotlight.
The quarterback situation should be settled. Dylan Hopkins is the main man after hitting 66% of his passes for 2,275 yards and 18 touchdowns with five rushing scores, and longtime playmaker Tyler Johnston is off to Towson. However, Baylor’s Jacob Zeno is an interesting option who’ll start out as the No. 2, but has the talent to take over if Hopkins struggles at all.
The Blazers have one of the best 1-2 rushing combinations in Conference USA. DeWayne McBride ran for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns, Jermaine Brown ran for 631 yards and seven scores, and they’ll both work behind a line that has to replace a few good parts, but gets back a strong left tackle in Kadeem Telford along with fellow all-star Matthew Trehern at guard. Now the pass protection has to be far better, and the tackles for loss allowed have to slow down.
UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Defense
The defense should be able to carry the team for stretches. It was No. 1 in the conference and 16th in the nation allowing 329 yards and 23 points per game, doing a fantastic job against the run and holding up well against the better bombers. It’ll help that …
The secondary will be one of the team’s biggest strengths. Safety Keondre Swoopes and corner Starling Thomas picked off four passes and broke up 14 – they should be in the all-star mix again. Safety Will Boler also earned All-Conference USA honors – tying for second on the team with 62 stops – and there’s decent depth across the board.
The pass rush loses leading sackers Alex Wright and Justin Thomas from their outside linebacker spots, but Kyle Harrell can get behind the line – he made 5.5 tackles for loss – and leading tackler Noah Wilder is back after making 93 stops on the inside. Former Blazer star and 2020 leading tackler Kristopher Moll left for Washington.
The defensive front three has a good veteran defensive tackle in Fish McWilliams to work around, but losing Antonio Moultre to Miami hurts. Overall there’s decent size up front, but Moultre and Tyree Turner were key reasons why the run defense was so strong, and the depth is going to take a while to develop.