UCA takes on the UAB Blazers this Thursday on ESPN3 at 7 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- UAB looks to extend the nation's fourth longest active home winning streak to 19 straight games when they host the Bears on Thursday. The Blazers are a perfect 18-0 at Legion Field since returning to action in 2017.
- The Blazers return nine starters on defense and have finished Top 10 nationally each of the last two years in total defense. Linebacker Kristopher Moll and edge rusher Jordan Smith lead the charge as the two combined for 33.5 TFL and 19.0 sacks last season.
- UAB looks to continue dominating up front as the Blazers have compiled 92 sacks and 217 TFL combined over the last two years.
- The secondary boasts four All-Conference USA performers in cornerbacks Brontae Harris and TD Marshall, and safeties Will Boler and Dy'jonn Turner. Harris is back after missing all of the 2019 season with an injury, yet this unit was still able to rank eighth nationally in passing yards allowed in 2019.
- Offensively, UAB's career leading rusher Spencer Brown and standout wide receiver Austin Watkins Jr. lead the Blazers into the season opener. Brown is one of just two players in the nation to enter the season with 3,000+ career rushing yards, while Watkins Jr. became the third player in program history to have over 1,000 single season receiving yards last year, finishing with 57 catches for 1,092 yards and six touchdowns.
- Tyler Johnston III enters his redshirt junior year and his second full year as the starter, despite missing time last season due to injury. Johnston III is 10-4 as a starter and already ranks fourth in career touchdown passes (28) and eighth in passing yards (3,586) at UAB.
- Brown and Johnston III have the luxury of playing behind a veteran offensive line that returns four starters. Headlining that unit is a pair of All-Conference tackles in RT Sidney Wells and LT Colby Ragland.
- UCA scored the game-winning touchdown against Austin Peay with :34 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Breylin Smith to Lujuan Winningham. Smith finished the game 283 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Kierre Crossley led the ground attack with 12 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown (9.2 YPC).