Blazer's Coach Sees the Gamecock Offense as Inept

The film of the Georgia game has convinced the UAB coaches that the Gamecocks are inept offensively. UAB's Head Man Watson Brown also observed that the only reason the Gamecock offense has had any success earlier this season is because it was given easy points ...

"I believe that we can win every game."

This was the September 15 statement of Watson Brown, the Head Coach of the University Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (1-2). Last week, the UAB lost to Troy State, a team which has been a Division I-A member for less than two years. Troy State came into their game against UAB 0-2, after being outscored 89-12 in losses to Kansas State and Minnesota. UAB wasn't successful in containing the Troy State offense, which racked up 256 yards on the ground. So how does one square these Troy State facts with Brown's claim, "we can win every game," an assertion made just five days before his team tackles the Gamecocks.

Despite the loss to Troy State, there may be some sound reasons why UAB's coach, the brother of Texas' Mack Brown, is confident his team can beat the Gamecocks, an SEC team that UAB probably regards as merely bottom tier. Let's look at some of the reasons why this out of conference opponent is so confident of a victory.

First, UAB has been there and done that. In 2000, UAB stunned LSU, beating the Bengal Tigers in the Death Valley. The Gamecocks' affiliation with the SEC is not going to intimidate these guys.

Moreover, UAB obviously watched Georgia's quarterback David Green torch the Gamecock defense for 31 points. That display would give any opponent confidence. Yeah, Green is a special talent, but UAB has its own special quarterback in Darrell Hackney, one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation. In fact, a good argument can be made that Hackney is better than Georgia's Green. Both were named to the preseason watch list for the prestigious Davey O'Brien award, a prize awarded annually to the top college quarterback. And, Hackney achieved the honor playing football for a much lower profile program than Georgia, and while only a sophmore. . . . Yes, I typed that correctly. UAB's Hackney, already on the list for the nations best quarterback, is only a sophomore.

In Hackney, UAB has a very, very good quarterback. He is big, 6-2, 235-pounds, and is just outstanding as a leader and football field general. He finished last season with 1,977 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, this despite the fact that he did not become UAB's starter until the fifth game of the season. So, with Hackney in their plans, the UAB coaches rub their big hands together gleefully, moaning oos and aahs, watching film of Green demolishing the Gamecock secondary. You can feel it. Those guys are salivating for a chance to turn their hero loose on the Gamecock defense.

Incidentally, the Gamecock defense better get used to playing against Davy O'Brien list quarterbacks because they are going to face a bunch of them this year, including Casey Clausen (Tennessee), Jared Lorenzen (Kentucky), and Eli Manning, (Ole Miss).

But let's get back to the main point. Why are the UAB coaches gloating over the opportunity to challenge the Gamecock defense? By most early season reports, it was a pretty solid unit? One factor is the coaching experience and offensive genius on the UAB sideline. Brown has been coaching for 29 years, and the UAB Athletic Department web site states that he "is known as one of the best offensive minds in football." He's matching wits in this game against the Gamecocks' brand new Defensive Coordinator, Chris Cosh. UAB's Brown probably sees a mismatch in the gray matter department.

Sure, the UAB coaches pay some lip service to the Gamecock defense. On September 15, Brown even said, "South Carolina's strength is their defense." But does that comment mean he thinks the defense is good, or maybe he thinks its relatively good when compared to the Gamecock offense, which as we will see below, Brown thinks pretty much stinks. It appears to us that Brown's gratuitous remarks about the defense are designed to reduce their potential force as bulletin board material. Reallly, what has the Gamecock defense really done this year? They played pretty well against University of Louisiana Lafayette and Virginia. But Virginia was playing without its starting quarterback and ULL got slaughtered by Louisiana Tech the week after playing the Gamecocks. The NCAA statistics don't lie; UAB has the better offense of the two teams, averaging 372 yards per game.

Secondly, UAB coaches contend that UAB is actually good enough and by all accounts ought to be undefeated. The two losses they have suffered are the result of turnovers, a series of mistakes that they intend to correct this week. Brown explained, "We've had nine turnovers in two games and nobody wins games when they turn the ball over like that."

Also, in his September 15 press conference, Brown noted that the only reason that the Gamecocks beat Virginia was because they won the turnover battle. "They forced a lot of turnovers in the Virginia game and that's what set up the win." UAB's Wide Receiver Jhun Cook agreed with his Head Coach. In fact, Cook predicted that the outcome of the game this Saturday will boil down to turnovers. "The team with the least amount of turnovers is going to win the game," said Cook.

Turnovers are a problem for UAB. In a losing effort, UAB gained 248 passing against Troy State, but they turned the ball over 5 times--three lost fumbles and two interceptions. UAB is currently tied for last in Division 1A in the statistical category "fumbles lost," with 10 on the season so far. In addition, against Baylor, UAB fumbled four times, but fortunately for UAB only lost one of the fumbles. Somewhat offsetting their ten turnovers in three games is UAB's ability to generate turnovers on defense. They have recovered 3 fumbles and made 3 interceptions. Thus, despite having ten turnovers in three games, their turn over margin is only -4. Not good, but not as bad as it could be. UAB coaches, who return 19 starters this year, think that the young Gamecock defense is just the bandage their offense needs to stop the turnover hemorhage.

Finally, the film of the Georgia game has convinced the UAB coaches that the Gamecocks are inept offensively. "They've struggled a little bit on offense lately and they are not passing the ball really well now," said Brown. Brown also observed that the only reason the Gamecock offense had any success earlier this year was because it was given easy points. Brown stated, "Last week, Georgia took care of the ball better and that's what made it tougher for South Carolina to get the easy points."

Clearly, UAB is itching to strap on the pads and get after the Gamecocks in Williams Brice. The victory would reverse their ill fortunes and get UAB rolling as it enters its tough Conference USA schedule. Linebacker Zac Woodfin stated, "We're very excited to be playing at South Carolina. We're going to go to South Carolina with the intention of winning that football game."

Well, Mr. Woodfin bring your lunch pail because the Gamecocks will meet you at the fifty.

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