This is definitely a challenge to watch in general, when the team you love gets up by two scores and then immediately downshifts into “protect the ball and the lead” mode by going ultraconservative and worrying more about not turning the ball over than gaining first downs. Especially when that plan already failed earlier this season against Charlotte.
Yet here we are, talking about a seven-win UAB Blazers football team, because the defensive line, and especially Garrett Marino, gradually figured out how to start getting to Dalton Sturm before he could break contain and kept the Roadrunners from coming all the way back. Sure they gave up one last touchdown, but it took long enough that UTSA had to execute an onside kick, which went directly into Collin Lisa’s reliable hands.
The Blazers leaned even harder on running and defense today; initially because they were gashing the UTSA defense, then later because they were trying to sit on a lead, then later maybe a bit more because AJ Erdely wasn’t quite at 100%. But despite the occasional successes of the Roadrunner defense, Spencer Brown still finished the game with 27 carries for 128 yards. and Erdely, Andre Wilson and Donnie Lee added another `18 carries for 75 yards, with Erdely setting a new single-season rushing touchdown record for a UAB quarterback in the process.
If you’re not sure if that’s impressive, remember that Joe Webb was the previous record-holder.
The passing game never found a lot of traction, but did just enough to move the chains just enough times late in the game to keep the Blazers ahead. Fortunately for them, they won’t face anyone nearly as nightmare-inducing as Marcus Davenport in their last two games. Now they’ve got another win and a good shot at at least eight wins with a game against UTEP left on the schedule.
That matters, because no matter what else you might think, there are more bowl games interested in welcoming an eight or nine-win bowl team then there are interested in a six or seven-win team.
UTSA has struggled to pass the ball for weeks, and Sturm had numerous occasions today where he spend an eon scrambling because nobody could get open. He finished the night completing only 17 of 37 pass attempts, plus 14 carries, most of which were not on purpose. Take away Greg Campbell’s 37 yard run early on, and the Roadrunners only mustered 100 yards rushing on 35 carries. UAB’s defense is good, but UTSA is looking more and more anemic by the week.
UAB will now hit the road for a paycheck game against a Florida team that has now lost five in a row and has been equally struggling on offense, while UTSA will stay at home and take another crack at bowl eligibility against Marshall