The University of Alabama-Birmingham is Tennessee football’s homecoming opponent, and they’re actually a pretty good team.
The UAB Blazers are 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in Conference USA play. Their one loss was to Western Kentucky, where the Hilltoppers won 20-13.
With that little detail, you may think, “Hey, this is a pretty good Group 5 football team.” Don’t think that. They lost to WKU in their one loss.
Western Kentucky is a decent C-USA team, but nothing to write home about. I would group WKU, UAB, and MTSU all in a group as similar teams and the few teams that will likely win the C-USA Championship.
If you have seen MTSU play, you may know they’re a pretty good football team, but they couldn’t hang with the Tennessee team we’ve seen the past few weeks.
We can go back to the WKU-UAB game and look at the stats for the UAB offense to see how good their offense really is. Against a decent defense, the UAB offense was shut down.
Tyler Johnston III was held to 18-of-31 passing, 181 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. You can add a QBR of 32.1 if you’re into that too.
In the past five games, Johnston has thrown nine interceptions and ten touchdowns. He has struggled with interceptions all year, so putting the ball in the air will be something Tennessee will need to do on Saturday.
Johnston has found some success against non-conference opponents. Through three non-conference games, Johnston has thrown for 50-of-81 passing, 794 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions.
If you were curious as to who the non-conference opponents UAB played, well, they’re not some of the teams you may assume a semi-successful Group 5 team would play. The three teams they played were Alabama State, Akron, and South Alabama.
To be clear, UAB has not been tested to the extent they should be tested on Saturday against Tennessee. There has not been a team they have played with half the talent that Tennessee has.
With that being said, surface-level they look pretty good, but when you really look at them, they’re not that impressive.
The UAB passing game is alright, but nothing threatening. If Tennessee can shut down the UAB running game, it will be much more difficult for UAB to move the ball through the air.
Good thing for Tennessee, the UAB running game isn’t very good. The Blazers’ leading rusher, Spencer Brown, has 262 rushing yards on the season. Not in the past game or past two games but all year. That’s 3.3 yards per attempt, and he has three touchdowns on the season.
Their QB, Johnston, is mobile, though. Johnston has 201 rushing yards on the season, and four UAB players have over 200 rushing yards, so at least they have options.
One other player with over 200 rushing yards is Jermaine Brown Jr. with 204 rushing yards. Oh, and he’s a receiver. So, their offense is pretty versatile.
UAB knows how to use their weapons pretty well, but that just shows there are only a few players Tennessee needs to shut down to prevent the offense from being successful.
The UAB Blazers are a pretty good football team. But they should be no match for Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt needs to put this game away early and not let up throughout the game. Give them the beatdown they should be given and move on to the rest of SEC play.