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UAB aims to continue their war path through C-USA West as they host UTSA

The Blazers’ defense is chewing up and spitting out opposing offenses. UTSA is next on the buffet.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Alabama-Birmingham Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. CT

Location: Birmingham, AL

Stadium: Legion Field

TV: BeIN Sports

Streaming: BeIN Connect

Audio: UAB Sports or 92.5 The Bull

Series Record: 1-1

Last Meeting: UAB won last year’s meeting 24-19.

Betting Line: UAB -22

Over/Under: 43.5 points


UTSA Roadrunners Outlook

The bye week typically seems to roll around when a team needs it the most, and that certainly held true for UTSA last week. After getting outgained in yardage 487 to 179 by Southern Miss, the Roadrunners found yet another low point in a season rich with offensive failure.

True freshman quarterback Jordan “Jojo” Weeks made his first start for UTSA. Weeks struggled mightily in the first half before starting to show his ability in the third and fourth quarter. The 6’4” late bloomer seemed nervous in the early going, often sailing passes over the helmets of open receivers. Once he settled down, Weeks showed a strong arm and an ability to find open receivers. If he manages to evade pressure against UAB’s top-ranked pass rush then Weeks could create some big plays on offense.

Defensively, the Roadrunners showed a rare sense of disinterest against Southern Miss. Perhaps a byproduct of watching their offense fail them week in and week out, UTSA’s defense didn’t look very fired up to be on the field two weeks ago.

UTSA showed poor pursuit angles, disappointing tackling effort, and very little tenacity against the Golden Eagles. Perhaps a week off will have the Roadrunners’ defense refocused and ready to hop back in the saddle.

UAB Blazers Outlook

The front-runners for the C-USA West title (this still feels weird to type), UAB took care of business last week against the UTEP Miners. An injury to starting quarterback AJ Erdley slowed down the Blazers’ offense, but the defense stepped up to pick up the slack by pitching their third shutout of the season.

UAB’s defense was downright stifling. The Blazers held UTEP to a miserable 2.5 yards per play and a 0.7 yards per rush average. This performance was no aberration for UAB as they’ve been among the best defenses in the country all season long.

The Blazers’ defense boasts a 13% sack rate, the highest in the nation, and is stuffing 24.8% of all rushing attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage, good for 17th in the nation. UAB is getting stops on 84.3% of their opponents drives, which ranks 1st in the nation ahead of Clemson, Kentucky, Alabama, and Michigan.

All in all, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that UAB’s defense will hold the Roadrunners’ offense in check.

More interesting, however, will be to track how redshirt freshman Tyler Johnston III performs in his first start for the Blazers. It’s hard to fathom, but the former prep standout won every single game that he started in his high school career. Johnston hasn’t played a whole lot at UAB yet but you’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt when you look at his prolific career under center. Conference USA could be getting a look at one of its next great athletes this weekend while Erdley heals up for the conference championship battle to come.

What a great time to be a Blazer.

Prediction

It’s so hard to dish out predictions when two freshmen quarterbacks square off, but the dominance of UAB’s defense should quell any worries of the Roadrunners springing an upset. I think we’ll continue to see slight improvement from Jojo Weeks, while Tyler Johnston flashes both greatness and youthful mistakes throughout the contest.

UTSA 16 UAB 31