UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the UAB season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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UAB Blazers Preview
Head Coach: Bryant Vincent, 1st year at UAB
2021 Preview: Overall: 9-4, Conference: 6-2
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UAB Top 10 Players | UAB Schedule

UAB Blazers Preview 2022

It could be argued that Bill Clark deserves to be mentioned with the top coaches in college football over the last five seasons.

The UAB football program was sleeping. It wasn’t gone in 2015 and 2016, but it didn’t need time to bounce back once it was able to play again in 2017. Clark had all the pieces together, won 43 games over the last five years with five winning seasons, five bowl bids, two Conference USA titles, and one other conference championship appearance.

It’s not quite right to say that he did the most with the least, but he certainly was able to maximize what he had to work with.

Back issues forced Clark to leave UAB, and now it’s up to offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent to step in as the interim head coach with all the pressure in the world to keep it all going.

Is this the coaching staff to take UAB to another level as it goes into the American Athletic Conference next year? There’s a whole lot of experience, star power, and talent there to figure it out.

The machine doesn’t stop.

UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Offense

The Blazer offense is going to keep on rolling like normal. The coaching staff that handled the attack isn’t going to change up anything, and with seven returning starters and a slew of decent reserves ready to do more, there won’t be a step back if the receivers step up.

The O has to do even more. It did a decent job of moving the chains and not making mistakes, but it only averaged 387 yards and 29.5 points per game. The ground game was good, the downfield passing attack was fantastic, but …

The receiving corps has to find more dangerous playmakers. The Blazers lost their top starters and has to hope for the deep threats to step up … maybe.

Trea Shropshire led the team with 702 yards with seven scores – averaging 26 yards per catch – and he’s still listed on the roster, but he was also in the transfer portal this offseason. He’s the No. 1 target, assuming he’s still in the mix.

Tight end Gerrit Prince led the team with 36 touchdowns and ten scores. He’s gone, but Hayden Pittman is a good receiver making 22 catches for 192 yards and a score. RaJae Johnson-Sanders is off to Troy, putting Ryan Davis and a slew underused parts from last year in the spotlight.

The quarterback situation should be settled. Dylan Hopkins is the main man after hitting 66% of his passes for 2,275 yards and 18 touchdowns with five rushing scores, and longtime playmaker Tyler Johnston is off to Towson. However, Baylor’s Jacob Zeno is an interesting option who’ll start out as the No. 2, but has the talent to take over if Hopkins struggles at all.

The Blazers have one of the best 1-2 rushing combinations in Conference USA. DeWayne McBride ran for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns, Jermaine Brown ran for 631 yards and seven scores, and they’ll both work behind a line that has to replace a few good parts, but gets back a strong left tackle in Kadeem Telford along with fellow all-star Matthew Trehern at guard. Now the pass protection has to be far better, and the tackles for loss allowed have to slow down.

UAB Blazers Preview 2022: Defense

The defense should be able to carry the team for stretches. It was No. 1 in the conference and 16th in the nation allowing 329 yards and 23 points per game, doing a fantastic job against the run and holding up well against the better bombers. It’ll help that …

The secondary will be one of the team’s biggest strengths. Safety Keondre Swoopes and corner Starling Thomas picked off four passes and broke up 14 – they should be in the all-star mix again. Safety Will Boler also earned All-Conference USA honors – tying for second on the team with 62 stops – and there’s decent depth across the board.

The pass rush loses leading sackers Alex Wright and Justin Thomas from their outside linebacker spots, but Kyle Harrell can get behind the line – he made 5.5 tackles for loss – and leading tackler Noah Wilder is back after making 93 stops on the inside. Former Blazer star and 2020 leading tackler Kristopher Moll left for Washington.

The defensive front three has a good veteran defensive tackle in Fish McWilliams to work around, but losing Antonio Moultre to Miami hurts. Overall there’s decent size up front, but Moultre and Tyree Turner were key reasons why the run defense was so strong, and the depth is going to take a while to develop.

Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UAB Top 10 Players | UAB Schedule

UAB Blazers: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

UAB Blazers: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

UAB Blazers: Key To The 2022 Offense

The pass protection has to be stronger.

The UAB offensive line was terrific for a running game that average 180 yards per game, and it was solid overall when it absolutely had to be, but it also allowed way too many plays behind the line.

The 86 tackles for loss allowed were way too many – the 6.62 allowed per game were the second-most in Conference USA and the most the team gave up.

That was bad, but the 2.69 tackles for loss given up were worse. Even so, the deep passing game was fine, but give the quarterbacks an extra half-second and look out.

UAB Blazers: Key To The 2022 Defense

Keep on rocking against the run.

UAB was able to pull off the bowl win over a physical BYU team with a great ground game, but that was an outlier. In the regular season, the run defense was phenomenal overall, allowed just over three yards per carry with just 12 touchdowns, and it was able to put the clamps down on some strong ground games.

UAB only allowed 100 yards four times before the win over BYU, and went 1-3. To be fair, Georgia was one of those teams, but UAB got rolled by Liberty and was stunned by Rice in the other two losses.

As long as UAB’s D can keep teams to around three yards per carry, it’ll be doing its job. So …

UAB Blazers: Key Player To The 2022 Season

DT Isaiah Forte, Sr.
Fish McWilliams is a good interior pass rusher and a veteran presence on the nose, but the line needs more productive parts and has to find a reliable front three with Tyree Turner and Antonio Moultrie gone.

The 6-3, 300-pound Forte came up with seven tackles in his first year in from the JUCO ranks, and now he has to play a huge role to keep the great run defense rolling.

UAB Blazers: Key Transfer

LB Jackson Bratton, Soph.
Baylor QB Jacob Zeno might turn into the biggest and most important transfer if there’s any sort of a problem with starter Dylan Hopkins, but Bratton could be the most interesting new guy in the mix.

The linebacking corps is solid as is, but it could use a little depth and a big thumper somewhere in the group. The 6-3, 230-pounder sophomore was a nice recruit from Alabama for the inside, but he could be used as a pass rusher at times if needed. If he can be a presence in the middle, UAB’s coaching staff will have a whole lot of options to play with.

UAB Key Game To The 2022 Season

UTSA, Nov. 5
UAB clunked at home against Rice, but it was still deep in the mix for the Conference USA title chase. It was still a strong nine-win season with a bowl victory, but the tough 34-31 loss to UTSA kept it from possibly being a conference championship campaign.

There are other big games in the newly configured Conference USA slate, but coming off of road games at WKU and Florida Atlantic, there’s likely no real shot at getting to the title game this time around, either, without a win over another loaded Roadrunner team.

UAB Blazers: 2021 Fun Stats

– Penalties: 115 for 1,117 yards – Opponents 76 for 645 yards
– Time of Possession: UAB 31:55 – Opponents 27:05
– Field Goals: UAB 11-of-16 – Opponents 6-of-8

Offense, Defense Breakdown
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UAB Top 10 Players | UAB Schedule

UAB Blazers Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

UAB Blazers Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Are we supposed to assume the greatness will continue without Bill Clark at the helm?

The Blazers have been fantastic since coming back from the time off in 2015 and 2016, going to five straight bowl games with five straight winning seasons.

They’ve got the talent to keep it all going, and there would be no question about whether or not they’d be in the mix for the Conference USA championship – much less another winning campaign and bowl appearance – if Clark was still around.

Bryant Vincent might not be Clark, but he and this staff know what they’re doing.

Set The UAB Blazers Regular Season Win Total At … 8

Without the divisional format now, UAB missed UTEP along with the bad break of not getting FIU on the slate. However, there aren’t any dates against Power Five programs until a trip to LSU late in the year, the UTSA game is at home, and the league is weakened without Marshall, Southern Miss, and Old Dominion.

Assume a loss at LSU, but a split in the road games at Liberty and WKU wouldn’t be asking for the world.

Beware of road games at Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech, and four road games in the final six weeks will be tough, but again, this should still be one of Conference USA’s stars. It’ll win more than its share of 50/50 battles.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
UAB Top 10 Players | UAB Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News