Kickoff: Saturday, September 2nd at 2:30 PM CT
Location: Birmingham, Alabama, Legion Field
TV: Stadium Network
Betting odds: UAB -17.5 O/U 61
The UAB Blazers will finish “The Return” to the gridiron this Saturday against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. In their return to the field, the Blazers are expecting to break UAB’s football attendance record of 44,669 which was set in 2003. The opponent may look easy to some, but the Blazers cannot afford to overlook anyone this season.
UAB released its depth chart earlier this week and there weren’t many surprises. Quarterback A.J. Erdely will lead the Blazers after being the projected starter since he came to UAB. Running back James Noble III will get the starting nod over Donnie Lee, a former linebacker for the Blazers who moved to running back in the spring. One important note for the offense is the receiving corps. Four of UAB’s top seven wide receivers are 6’0 or shorter, which could pose a problem against a taller secondary. The strongest defensive unit for the Blazers seems to be the defensive line. Graduate transfer Teko Powell and Anthony Rush look to anchor the Blazers, while 6’7 defensive end Stacy Keely will look to contain the Bulldogs on the outside. UAB’s linebackers will be led by senior Shaq Jones who played for the Blazers in 2014.
Alabama A&M went 4-7 in 2016 and are no strangers to UAB (lost to the Blazers 41-14 in 2014). The Bulldogs will be strongest on defense. A&M returns an experienced linebacking unit led by Bryant Brower and Kenneth Davis (2nd leading tackler in the SWAC in 2016). The Bulldogs also return three players in the secondary with four years of starting experience. On offense, running back Jordan Bentley returns this year as the starter after rushing for 851 yards last season. Bentley may be the offensive bright spot for A&M as the Bulldogs return a fairly inexperienced group of receivers. Alabama A&M will also have to replace two-year starting quarterback De’Angelo Ballard. The Bulldogs have three players (Aqeel Glass, Damion May, or Dylan Smith) who could potentially take the vacant quarterback spot on Saturday, but the Bulldogs have yet to announce a starter.
The Blazers may have to shake the cobwebs off on the first couple of drives this Saturday. Ultimately, the question marks for Alabama A&M’s offense will be an advantage for UAB. A loud and rocking crowd at Legion Field will give UAB a home crowd advantage like they have never seen before.
Final: UAB 38-Alabama A&M 14