Location: Legion Field – Birmingham, AL
Date: Saturday, September 15
Time: 12 pm CT
Stream: https://watchstadium.com/ or the Stadium app
Records: Tulane 1-1, UAB 1-1
Betting Line: Tulane -4, O/U 55
All-Time Series: Tulane leads 5-4
Last Meeting: Tulane 55, UAB 45 (Oct. 27, 2012)
Quick Hits: I’ll make this fast. Both the Wave and the Blazers look to be in tip-top shape as far as injuries are concerned. Tulane is coming in fresh off a thumping of Nicholls and UAB is playing “bounce back” back after dropping one to Coastal Carolina last week. Moving on...
From UAB’s Perspective: The Blazers will definitely not be wanting to pick up where they left off last week. The second half of Saturday’s game against the Chanticleers was dreadful for UAB as they gave up 27 unanswered points. So where do they go from there?
The first inclination might be to scream defense and rightfully so. Surrendering 47 points isn’t good at all, but let’s keep in mind their offense also did zilch down the stretch. UAB’s average drive length in the second half was 22.4 yards; those drives featured a punt, missed field goal, interception, turnover on downs and a merciful time expiration on the game. Needless to say, the offense needs to be better.
One way it can do that will be if the ground game can duplicate its showing from last week. Against Coastal, UAB ran for 286 yards and all three of their touchdowns despite no back reaching 100 yards. The Blazers will want to deliver a heavy dose of running back Spencer Brown who led the team with 94 yards on 20 carries a week ago.
Brown might find some difficulty against a Tulane defense that surrendered under 200 yards on the ground last week but the key will be to keep after it. If UAB abandons the ground game early out of frustration then they’ll make things easy for the Green Wave D. Brown will be helped out by teammates Kevin Davis, Kendall Parham and A.J. Erdely, all of which rushed for a score last week.
The crazy thing is none of those three guys are running backs and they have combined for 195 rush yards so far in this young season. This group can spread it out on the ground and will most likely do so this weekend.
UAB’s passing attack, though, leaves something to be desired. Against the Chants, quarterback A.J. Erdely completed just 46.2% of his passes for 149 yards and no scores. He’ll try to up those numbers this Saturday but it won’t be easy against Tulane’s defense that already has four picks this year.
Despite how well the Wave has generated turnovers, they’ve struggled in yards allowed. The Green Wave defense has averaged over 300 yards allowed per game by opposing passers and this is where the Blazers could find success. It’ll just be a matter of avoiding interceptions. Erdely has two so far this season.
Defensively there have been two completely different Blazers units that have taken the field this year. The first one blanked Savannah State and the second one gave up almost 50 to Coastal. I really don’t know which one we’re going to see against Tulane but UAB better hope it’s the former because the Green Wave put up 42 last week and don’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down.
Linebackers Chris Woolbright and Fitzgerald Mofor will play a big role on defense. Woolbright has recorded one of the team’s two picks this year and took it 34 yards to the house while Mofor leads the team in tackles with 14. The defense may very well go as these two do. Big games from them would be just what the doctor ordered for UAB.
The Blazers will want to shore up their kicking game. Junior Nick Vogel, despite being a perfect 10 for 10 on PATs, has missed two of his four field goal tries this year. I’m not sure how confident UAB will be with 50% efficiency if this thing comes down to a kick.
From Tulane’s Perspective: Corey Dauphine. Yeah, all I have to do is say his name and you Green Wave fans know what I’m getting at. Tulane’s game plan should be feed it to him early and often. After his three-touchdown performance a week ago that featured 152 yards why wouldn’t you? Especially seeing as the UAB defense has already allowed 451 rushing yards this season.
The Wave won’t just rely on Dauphine though. Quarterback Jonathan Banks may very well break off one or two sizable runs of his own. Banks has carried it 24 times over the first two games. Then there’s Darius Bradwell and Stephon Huderson who combined for 114 yards last week against Nicholls State. The Wave offense has options aplenty on the ground and they will more than likely call on all of them. That is, after all, what a Willie Fritz offense does.
If there’s one thing the Wave will want to improve after last week, it’s getting the dynamic Terren Encalade involved more. Sure, Darnell Mooney carried the load for the receiving corps on Saturday but they can’t be a one-man team through the air again because, simply put, UAB is not Nicholls. The Blazers have a secondary that features lockdown corner Brontae Harris who already has an interception and two defended passes this year. Encalade won’t have it easy but he’ll need to play a bigger role if the unit can keep living up to its explosive potential.
The Wave offense will also want to replicate what Coastal Carolina did a week ago in terms of clock management. In the second half the Chanticleers held the ball for 18:53 of those final 30 minutes and, by doing so, gave UAB little opportunity to do much of anything. If the Green Wave can have a similarly dominant performance with time of possession then they could easily walk out of Birmingham with a win.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tulane will want Roderic Teamer and Donnie Lewis Jr. to shut down UAB’s receivers who have proven to be dangerous on the outside. Senior receiver Collin Lisa has racked up 108 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches this season while teammate Kendall Parham is averaging a whopping 18.2 yards per reception. Teamer and Lewis have proven that they can handle tall orders like this, though, as each has already recorded a pick this year and have combined for five defended passes.
On special teams, Tulane’s coverage will have to be second to none as the Blazers boast dynamic playmaker Andre Wilson. Wilson comes into this game with an average of 31 yards per kick return (four returns) and 12 yards per punt return (two). He can be deadly on any given runback so the Green Wave coverage team will need to bring their A game.
Final Thoughts: I think we should all expect a close one in Alabama this weekend. Yes Tulane is coming off an impressive 25-point win but that was against an FCS school in the comfortable confines of Yulman Stadium. This time they’re squaring up with a Blazers team that is displeased about their performance last week and is trying to rebound in a big way at home. I don’t see the Wave dropping another 40 burger this week and I don’t see UAB being the second-half catastrophe they were in Conway. I know I originally called this game a UAB victory by three but in light of the last games for these two I feel compelled to flip flop here.
Prediction: Tulane 24 – UAB 21