The Other Huddle: UAB

Columnist Solomon Crenshaw Jr. covers the Blazers of UAB for AL.com. Crenshaw was kind enough to share some of his thoughts about the Blazers upcoming visit to Starkville. Mississippi State and UAB enter this weekend's contest coming in off of an impressive win in the season opener. Crenshaw reports that under new head man, Bill Clark, UAB is ready to go.

"Somebody cue Patti LaBelle because these Blazers have a new attitude," reported Crenshaw. "Yeah, it’s corny but it’s true.

"There wasn’t the immediate “woe is me” demeanor when the opening play of the game went for 41 yards en route to an 80-yard TD drive to put them behind before fans had gotten comfortable in their seats.

"This team didn’t lose heart and more than one observer was certain that would have happened last season. "

The Blazers struggled through a 2-10 win season and then underwent a coaching change.

Crenshaw notes that a new regime had brought a new mentality and as a result, the team appears to be making some strides in all facets of the game.

"Beyond the aforementioned attitude adjustment, which cannot be overstated, it’s tempting to make it a toss up between the offense and the defense," said Crenshaw of where the biggest change has taken place. "Between those two, I’d lean a bit more to the defense as it was destroyed on several occasions in 2013.

"But the biggest change was getting some talent in from the (junior colleges), as well as getting/keeping players healthy with weights and nutrition. Injuries decimated them last year."

Blazer fans are eager to see just how far their team has come in a short time and an SEC bowl team should prove to be a solid measuring stick.

"A blowout victory over Troy certainly felt good and no doubt some number of fans are crowing now, but Clark and company haven’t taken leave of their senses," said Crenshaw. "While he makes a point of not straining too hard to see what happened under the old regime, he is well aware of who the Blazers are, and who they are not.

"That said, he isn’t marching into Starkville ready to wave a white flag. No doubt they’ll do what they can do."

The Blazer coaching staff found some success on the ground last weekend against Troy, but that was more about going with what worked rather than a ground and pound game plan.

"The plan going into the Troy game was the throw more than they did but the running game really took off," explained Crenshaw. "(Coach Jody) Wright spoke of Jordan Howard and D.J. Vinson as a one-two punch and the players agreed.

"Each brings a little something different to the equation. They delivered against the Trojans as each topped 100 yards. The task will be tougher against State."

With a strong showing in week one, some observers believe UAB may make a charge towards bowl eligibility this season.

The Blazers' bowl hopes will go as far as their overall team depth takes them.

"As cliché as it is, the Blazers must stay healthy," said Crenshaw. "They have developed depth both by bringing in JC players and practicing with an eye of going deeper into the bench in situations dictate.

"But they are not so deep that they would not feel the loss of a starter or reserve wouldn’t be felt as a third- or fourth-stringer’s rose to fill a void. "


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