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The University of Alabama at Birmingham will be FIU's opponent on Saturday for the Panthers inaugural Conference USA home game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. from FIU Stadium. You can listen to the game on the FIU Sports Radio Network. I will have the call beginning at 7:25 p.m. CLICK HERE to access the radio broadcast of the game.
UAB is another first time opponent for FIU this season. The Blazers enter the game at 1-4 and with a new defensive coordinator after demoting its previous DC.
For more on UAB, here is Drew Champlin, who is the Blazers beat writer for AL.com. If Drew's name is familiar it's because he used to be the Troy Trojans beat writer and he has contributed to our "5 Questions" segment before with info on Troy. You can follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewChamplin for more news on UAB.
1. What effect do you think the demotion of former defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson will have on the UAB defense? What has been the problem with the Blazers D?
DC: The problem is that they have not been able to stop anybody or make any in-game adjustments. Quite often, the players have been in the wrong position and not doing things right fundamentally. Reggie Johnson is a great guy and very professional with me so I’m happy he’s hanging around. But I think in order to salvage something of the season, McGee had to make some type of change. The defense is young on the back end and has been affected by injuries as well. The problem is, they can’t reinvent the wheel, but they can put something together against FIU, perhaps, and use an off week next week to get ready for the last half of the schedule.
2. UAB has been putting up 30 points per game. Seems like that is the team strength. Who are some of the top playmakers on offense? If you were a defensive coordinator how would you go about stopping the UAB offense?
DC: If I were a defensive coordinator, I’d be bull rushing the offensive line almost all game. That seems to be working as UAB struggled offensively against FAU. However, they were without top playmaker Jamarcus Nelson at receiver. He should play this weekend, but I wonder if he’ll be fully effective. Tight end Kennard Backman is a very good player who needs to be used a lot more downfield. The running backs, Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard, are strong guys as well and good out of the backfield, though FAU shut down UAB’s run last week.
3. UAB has scored with its opponents for the most part through three quarters this season, but the Blazers are being outscored 43-22 in the fourth quarter. Why do you think that's happening?
DC: Opponents are making better adjustments against UAB’s defense in the latter part of the game. Maybe that changes with the switch in coordinator. I don’t know if it’s a depth issue because UAB trains pretty hard in the offseason and they’re not having guys leave with cramps. But the Blazers have yet to figure out how to play a full game.
4. What are the thoughts around the UAB team about FIU?
DC: They probably think they can go down there and win. I doubt they think FIU’s that good. They may have overlooked FAU but they are not in position right now to overlook anyone. Having said that, I do think the chip on their shoulder and burden to win will be that much greater, so perhaps they’ll come down and play with a little more fire than last week.
5. How do you see Saturday's game playing out?
DC: UAB will probably get out to an early lead and let FIU back in it. Then, we’ll get to the third and fourth quarters and see some type of unconventional ending. I stole this line from somebody last week but I believe it to be true this week.
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