UAB heads to Arkansas Saturday for their second game of the year against an SEC opponent. The Blazers performance against Mississippi State in week two left many impressed with where this team was headed. UAB's 34 points are still the most given by Dan Mullen's team despite Mississippi State's games against Texas A&M, Auburn, & LSU. Now the undefeated Bulldogs stand on top of the football rankings.
This Saturday the Blazers will try to channel another impressive effort against the Razorbacks. It appears that the Blazers future may be on display as redshirt freshman quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe is scheduled to make his first career start. Junior Cody Clements could still get the start but it appears coach Bill Clark is going to hold him out to rest lingering injuries. No matter who starts, it's hard to see a scenario with Briscoe not seeing any action with Clements banged up.
Briscoe was one of the highest ranking quarterback recruits to ever sign with UAB and was considered a strong grab in the 2013 recruiting class. Briscoe would struggle in his first spring game after enrolling early and was red shirted last season as he was behind Austin Brown and Jonathan Perry on the depth chart. He would impress more this spring and during fall camp under new coach Bill Clark. The two quarterbacks would trade first team reps until Clements created separation when Briscoe missed time with an injury. With over 1,500 passing yards, 9 TD tosses to go along with 167 yards rushing & 4 TD's on the ground, Clements has certainly earned the starting job when healthy.
Add in a nearly 70% completion percentage and you see why the job is his. Briscoe will have a chance Saturday to not only give UAB a glimpse of its possible future at the quarterback position but also get back in the playing rotation as well. Against Mississippi State Briscoe fired his first career completion to JJ Nelson on an 88 yard TD bomb to silence the crowd in Starkville. Later on Briscoe threw a 75 yard TD strike to Quincy Perdue and finished with 231 yards passing on only 5 completions.
The next two games against Alabama A&M and FIU saw the freshman struggle as he completed only 6 of13 passes for 68 yards and 3 interceptions. When UAB routed North Texas, Briscoe didn't get any garbage time reps, leaving Blazer fans wondering where he stood on the depth chart. Bill Clark still seems very confident in the young quarterback's abilities and that Briscoe appears to have found his rhythm in practice again saying, "We were talking about it last week. He looks like his old self again."
With all this in mind, Briscoe's performance this Saturday means more to the Blazers than just the outcome of the Arkansas game. Is Briscoe the guy who torched Mississippi State, or struggled mightily against FIU and Alabama A&M? Can Briscoe find more consistency on his throws? While his arm is clearly stronger than Clements, he needs to be more effective in his overall game. Otherwise teams will just play the deep ball when Briscoe is running the offense.
If Briscoe can be more effective and make better decisions this week, it could have immediate ramifications on the rest of UAB's season. If teams had to prepare for a possible series every game that Briscoe ran the team, it would greatly help to open up the Blazers play book. It would give UAB another element offensively as it did in Starkville. A wild card like Briscoe might be the difference in UAB gaining bowl eligibility this season or being home for the holidays. Jeremiah Briscoe can not only help the Blazers pull off a upset this Saturday, but he can also reestablish himself in the rotation and solidify his status as the starter of the future.