Keys to the Game: UAB at North Texas

North Texas, riding a two-game losing streak, returns home to Apogee to take on UAB. The Blazers are in their first season back. It's the CUSA opener for both teams. A few keys for the Mean Green. 

Bounce Back

Iowa gave the Mean Green a physical test last week. Kirk Ferentz' team leaned on North Texas in the second half, and that takes a toll. No rest for the weary as CUSA play kicks off with UAB. North Texas needs to get back up for the Blazers. The concern is especially on the defensive line where Iowa put North Texas in a meat grinder in the second half with drives of 76, 87, and 43 yards and holding the ball for over 40 minutes. 

Offense Coming On

After SMU sold out to shut down Jeffery Wilson, Wilson came back with a great performance at Iowa. He ran for 95 yards on twelve carries and a 7.9-yard average. For the season the senior from Elkhart is averaging 8.3 yards a carry. The other good news is redshirt freshman Nic Smith's jumped into the backup role very effectively, average 5.7 yards a carry. The receiving corps is also looking promising. Jalen Guyton gives North Texas a desperately needed deep threat, and Michael Lawrence is showing the promise that coaches raved about this offseason. True freshman Jaelon Darden, though questionable for Saturday, caught eight passes the past two weeks. 

First Impressions

If North Texas fashions itself as a challenger in CUSA West a 1-0 conference start is the best statement. UAB is well coached under Bill Clark but still a reboot program. Looking ahead the Mean Green take on CUSA West frontrunners Southern Miss and UTSA in the next three weeks. UAB isn't a pushover. The Blazers are a physical running team that can cause North Texas problems. 

Notes and Numbers

  • Saturday marks the third meeting between UAB and North Texas. UAB holds a 2-0 advantage. 
  • 15 members of the 2017 Blazers were members of the 2014 Blazer roster. 
  • UAB leads CUSA and ranks 16th nationally in rushing. 
  • UAB linebacker Tevin Crews is third in CUSA in tackles per game with 9.7.
  • Once again, North Texas' next win would be the 500th in school history. 
  • North Texas committed thirteen penalties in the Iowa game. 

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