Courtesy of UAB Athletics
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UABâ€™s first scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday at Legion Field featured a few big plays in the passing game, but more than anything, gave indications that the Blazersâ€™ defense will be much improved this season.
â€œOverall, I was pretty pleased (with the defense),â€ said head coach Neil Callaway. â€œWe are way, way ahead of where we were last year. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s any question about that. I think three of the big plays we gave up today were with the second defense. With the first defense, we gave up a long pass to (TE) Jeff (Anderson) and I think that may have been it.â€
As with any scrimmage, especially the first one in fall camp, there was good and bad that Callaway could point to as he assessed the workout afterwards.
â€œI thought the overall effort and the competition was good,â€ he said. â€œIt seemed like a pretty-evenly matched scrimmage. What I was disappointed in, though, were offensively, I thought we were sloppy with the ball and I thought we had a couple turnovers that we donâ€™t need to have. We had a couple of â€˜foolishâ€™ penalties, as we call them.
â€œDefensively, we left some people uncovered at times which is disappointing. We could sit here and say, weâ€™ve got some new people, or weâ€™ve got some people out, but that doesnâ€™t matter. Weâ€™ve been doing this long enough that people should know what to do.
â€œWeâ€™ll look at the film tonight and in the morning and then weâ€™ll meet as a staff tomorrow afternoon to come up with a pecking order that wonâ€™t be final by any means.â€
Quarterbacks David Isabelle and Bryan Ellis each had their bright moments. Isabelle passed for 127 yards as he connected on 9-of-16 with one touchdown (19-yarder) to Anderson. Ellis hit 11-of-20 for 275 yards with a pair of 70-yard touchdown throws (one to sophomore Patrick Hearn and one to true freshman Jamarcus Nelson).
Nelson was the top receiver in the scrimmage as he caught four balls for 146 yards. He also had a 46-yard reception but had the ball stripped out of his hands by CB Ugonna Amarikwa and recovered by safety Jay Davis.
Hearn finished with two catches for 78 yards while Frantrell Forrest caught three passes for 48 yards.
The Blazer running game was limited for much of the scrimmage and that left Callaway concerned after the scrimmage.
True freshman Greg Franklin of Marietta, Ga. led all rushers with 48 yards on six carries. He broke loose for a nifty 42-yard touchdown run late in the scrimmage.
Justin Brooks had five rushes for 19 yards while Pat Shed carried four times for 11 yards. QB Emmanuel Taylor had eight rushes for 25 yards with one touchdown.
â€œI did not see the production out of the running backs that I thought we would have seen,â€ Callaway said. â€œIâ€™m concerned about that. I have to look at the film and see if that was more of the line, or just what the reason was.â€
The Blazers, who open the season on Thursday, Sept. 2 with a home game against Florida Atlantic (7:00 p.m. kickoff at Legion Field), wonâ€™t practice Sunday but will return to the field on Monday as they move closer to the start of the 2010 campaign.
The Blazers will hold their annual Fan Day on Saturday, Aug. 21 with â€œBreakfast with the Blazersâ€, scheduled for 9 a.m. in Bartow Arena.