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UAB loses to USC 49-6, game much closer than score indicates; Blazers start out 0-2 for 3rd straight season
Two weeks ago, Garrick McGee said that he “was not interested in moral victories” yet on a clear Saturday night in Columbia, South Carolina, against the eighth ranked team in the nation, his squad won itself another moral victory.
It was a game in which the Blazers were picked to lose by over 33 points. Since the opening kickoff, which was returned over 50 yards down to the 35 yard line of South Carolina, it was apparent that the first year head coach of UAB’s team came uninterested in just keeping it close.
The Gamecock crowd of almost 79 thousand people was uneasy throughout the first half, as the winless Blazer team kept the home team’s high powered offense at bay; giving up just 29 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
The fumble return slipped off of Junior QB Jonathan Perry’s hand while the Blazers where in scoring position, and was caught before it even hit the ground by D.J. Swearinger. Swearinger returned the ball to give South Carolina its first points in the ball game to put them on top, 7-3.
UAB then drove the ball again before the drive ended on a turnover of downs. This is not the first time McGee has opted to go for it on the fourth-down. After the game McGee said “Well we are going to play to win, we are going to be aggressive and go after the win that is just the way I do things.”
“Reading the stat sheet, one would think that the Green and Gold would be leading at half”, freshman-safety Jake Ganus said at half-time, “I came into the locker room I felt like we were winning. We gave them the fumble return for a touchdown and the other was the pass interference and a blown coverage. I knew we were in it and I felt like we could win the game.” However due to one or two mistakes and a blown pass interference call—giving the ball back to USC after an incomplete pass on fourth down, which the Gamecocks capitalized on by scoring a couple plays later—the Birmingham squad went into half-time down 21-6.
The second half was all South Carolina, as Steve Spurrier and his team scored 35 unanswered. Ending the game at 49-6 and claimed his two-hundredth collegiate win.
Whether or not McGee is interested, there were some moral victories. When asked about the game, Ganus said, “I learned we can play, we can play with anybody. We had a great first half defensive wise. Offensively we controlled the ball. I learned the team can battle with anybody.” McGee also showed signs of acceptance towards the moral victories, and after the game stated, “I’m really proud of our team, I think our team really hung in there and played with a great attitude for a long time. I thought that they did a good job on that running back that is one of the dominant players in the country. I think at half time they had 29 yards rushing. So I am really proud of our kids the way they hung in there and competed against one of the top teams in the country for a long time in the game.”
A phrase that was frequented in both locker rooms was, “the score didn’t show it”. This was an epitome of a game where the score does not accurately account for how close of a game it was. Steve Spurrier even talked about how the game was much closer than the score board showed saying, “This was one of the closest 49-6 games I have ever been around.”
UAB looked much better this week than in their loss against Troy. McGee said it’s a process, adding “We are a young program. We are a team that is learning constantly; learning how to compete how to think and how to do thing the way winners do. There may not be evidence of us pounding the rock and that rock loosening up, but the rock is loosening up… We just got to keep getting better one at a time; concentrate on being the best we can be.”
There is no doubting this is a tough stretch for the Blazers, as next week will mark the first time UAB has ever played two consecutive games against ranked opponents in program history. Tough road or not, players like linebacker Chris Rabb are just focused on being the best they can be, “We just got to keep grinding, we just working hard every week. The scoreboard doesn’t show it but we played pretty good. We’ll keep grinding every week we will get better, the scoreboard doesn’t show it but we got a good team, a young team but really coming along.”
The Blazers currently stand at 0-2 and look to be starting off the season in familiar fashion, but things look to be turning around. The team and Coach McGee are not ready to give up on this season yet, “That is what I am talking about, we are a developing football team. We are a better football team than two weeks ago. I know the score doesn’t show it but we are a much better football team. We are going to be much better next weekend. Also we are going to continue to get one day better to get ourselves in a position to go after a conference USA championship.”
With dreams as big as a conference championship, UAB will have to put together more than moral victories. UAB will be taking on Ohio State on Saturday in the Horseshoe, looking to pick up their first win of the season at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network.