McGee hoping to apply lessons for UAB in Year 2
UAB coach Garrick McGee figures familiarity with both his team
and Conference USA will make for a smoother ride in his second
The Blazers won just three games in McGee’s debut season and
went 2-6 in the league.
”I think if you are a very fast learner, and I pride myself in
being a very fast learner, that if you run around the track once,
you are supposed to know where all the curves are and where the
straightaway is,” McGee said. ”I understand our conference, what
schemes other coaches are running, our program and its positives
and deficiencies, and I know our staff and players better.
”So I am in a better position personally going into the second
year, which is going to force our team to be in a better
UAB returns seven starters on offense, including quarterback
Austin Brown and 1,000-yard rusher Darrin Reaves. However, McGee
dismissed leading receiver Jackie Williams during preseason camp, a
move he later said was part of his efforts to change the program’s
Defensive end Connor Boyett is among eight returning starters on
defense. Boyett returns to his initial position after spending most
of last season at tackle.
The newcomers include Arkansas transfer receiver Maudrecus
Humphrey and former Arkansas Baptist cornerback Jimmy Jean.
UAB has nonconference road games against LSU and Vanderbilt.
Linebacker Patrick Bastien said a big difference has been the
”I think the team enthusiasm is at an all-time high,” Bastien
said. ”I’ve been here for five years and the optimism and how
everybody is feeling great, and we have really bought in. We have
put in the hard work and now we are waiting to see the
Five things to watch during McGee’s second season at UAB:
1. DEFENSE ANYONE? The Blazers allowed 38 points and 427 yards a
game last season, ranking 111th and 84th in the nation,
respectively. The Blazers allowed 39-plus points eight times but
the staff spent the offseason studying up on defending spread and
no-huddle attacks. They’ve got to replace linebacker Marvin
Burdette, who led the nation with 157 tackles. Linebacker Daniel
White, who has 16 career starts, is back after missing last season
with a knee injury.
2. HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE: UAB had one of its best offensive
seasons in McGee’s first year, racking up the third-highest yardage
total in school history (5,029 yards) while moving up 41 spots in
the national rankings in both scoring and passing offense from
2011. Reaves became the first UAB tailback to receive first-team
all-conference honors. Brown took the reins as a redshirt freshman
in the fourth game and didn’t relinquish them. Former starter
Jonathan Perry also returns but they’re in search of more
3. REPLACING WILLIAMS: Williams had the nation’s longest streak
of consecutive games with a catch at 35 before his dismissal. The
second- and third-leading receivers, Nick Adams and Patrick Hearn,
are also gone. The Blazers have moved defensive backs Nyiakki
Height and Darius Powell to receiver, and Jarmarcus Nelson is a
deep threat. Humphrey, son of former Alabama and NFL running back
Bobby Humphrey, spent two seasons at Arkansas.
4. OFFENSIVE LINE: Five blockers return who started at least
five games last season, but the Blazers must replace All-Conference
USA tackle Chris Hubbard, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brian O’Leary takes over at center while Billy Autrey moves from
that position to guard.
5. JUST FOR KICKS: The kicking game figures to be a strength for
the Blazers. Placekicker Ty Long has made 30 of 36 field goals in
the past two seasons and hasn’t missed from inside 43 yards. Punter
Hunter Mullins set a school record and ranked 12th nationally with
an average of 44.8 yards.
Predicted finish in the East Division: Fourth.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/