Blazers’ unit has chance to be C-USA’s best ever
When it comes to playing defense this college football season, the UAB Blazers are doing it about as well as anybody in the country. In fact, the Blazers’ unit, led by defensive coordinator David Reeves, is on such a roll it could finish as one of the nation’s best and rewrite Conference USA history in the process.
With a 19-0 blanking of University of Texas-El Paso last Saturday, the Blazers pitched their third shutout of the season and became the country’s only college team with multiple shutout victories this year. UAB throttled Savannah State 52-0 in its season opener and cooked Rice easily 42-0 on October 13.
It is the first time in Conference USA history a team has posted three shutouts in a single season, but a closer inspection of the numbers is a further testament to the Blazers’ dominance. In five C-USA games this season, UAB has allowed 35 points—that’s one touchdown per game. The defense has held C-USA opponents scoreless in 16 of 20 quarters in league play and has gone six straight quarters without allowing a conference opponent to score.
UAB’s defense ranks high nationally as well. The Blazers are tied for the national lead in sacks per game with 3.88, have recorded 31 total sacks, and need just four more to break the school single-season record. They also rank second in third-down defense, third in scoring defense (13.3 ppg), fifth in passing yards allowed (155.8), fifth in fourth-down defense, fifth in total defense (277.9) and eighth in tackles for loss (TFL).
UAB has allowed a total of 106 points in compiling its 7-1 record and 47 of those came in its only loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2. Since then, the Blazers have allowed just 59 points in six games (an average of 9.83 per game). In addition to the two shutouts they recorded in that span, the Blazers also held Louisiana Tech and Charlotte to seven points each in recording wins over those C-USA opponents.
This amazing run has truly been a team effort for the Blazers. Redshirt senior linebacker Chris Woolbright leads the team with 41 tackles (5.1 per game) and 10 TFL. Senior defensive lineman Jamell Garcia-Williams leads the team with 6.5 sacks, one of nine Blazers with multiple sacks this season.
In all, 14 Blazers have recorded at least one sack and 19 have a TFL.
With stiff tests still to come—University of Texas-San Antonio and Southern Miss at home and Texas A&M and Middle Tennessee State on the road—it will be interesting to see where the Blazers’ unit stands at the end of this already historic year.
All history-making aside, however, the only record the Blazers say they are truly focused on is going 11-1—which would be the first double-digit win total in a single season in school history—and earning an invite to the school’s third bowl game.
“To us, the biggest stat that matters is the final score,” redshirt junior linebacker Fitzgerald Mofor said. “The stats are really cool and something to work off of, but at the end of the day the stat that matters most is the scoreboard.” H&A