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Cutting to the Chase: Quarterback battle already heating up
Like race horses, many football players begin training at an early age, hoping to one day become the next Peyton Manning, RG3 or Roddy White. That’s because they are racing, all vying for a shot to play at the highest level. And when thoroughbreds compete, the physical differences between them are marginal on paper. However, the winners do little things differently each day when they train that equate into tremendous differences in earnings down the road.
UAB’s football program appears to be making some adjustments for the 2013 season. After finishing 3-9 (2-6 Conference USA), some would say that a new strategy or maybe a realignment is in order, but is it happening at the QB position?
When Head Coach Garrick McGee joined the Blazers, he committed to designing a winning program. He proved that he could attract quality players while in Arkansas, and now Coach McGee has brought that winning mentality to UAB. A freshman from Houston, Texas named Jeremiah Briscoe, who ESPN rates as a four-star quarterback, enrolled at UAB and is expected to play both football and baseball.
Briscoe first met McGee during his junior year in high school, and he transferred to a different high school his senior year. When McGee joined UAB, the pair reconnected and Briscoe accepted an offer to join the Blazers even though it meant sitting out as a gray shirt this past fall. Although he was a transfer student still trying to adjust, Briscoe somehow managed to throw for 1,863 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior year with only three interceptions. Briscoe, who graduated from the same high school as the Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, had originally committed to Baylor, but fortunately for the Blazers, that situation didn’t work out.
In addition to Briscoe, the Blazers most recently extended an offer to Spain Park Quarterback Nick Mullen’s who threw for 3,649 yards and 40 touchdowns this season, and won Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year award. Mullen’s will be able to officially sign February 6, giving the Blazers a total of four quarterbacks for 2013, but the question is, which quarterback has the ability to lead us to a winning season? Who has what it takes to take this team to the next level?
Offensively, the Blazers held their own in 2012, scoring an average of 28.6 points per game. The greatest struggle came from the defensive side of the ball as the Green and Gold gave up an average of 36.5 points per game.
The Blazers initially started junior Jonathan Perry as a QB, but after losing to TROY, #8 South Carolina, and #16 Ohio State, back to back to back, the coaching staff decided to give red shirt freshman Austin Brown a try. During the first game of his collegiate career, Brown threw for 337 yards, and three touchdowns in the heartbreaking 49-42 loss against Tulsa.
However, Homecoming weekend Brown came back, and led the Blazers to their first win of the season, a 52-3 assault against Southeastern Louisiana, throwing for 266 yards, and a touchdown before the half. Garrick McGee stayed with Brown throughout the season even though the red shirt freshman went through serious turnover issues.
While stats are great, and they give coaches an idea of the players physical abilities are, the Blazers need a quarterback who can think and act quickly and critically. So in order to have a winning season, what do we need? Well, in addition to a complete overhaul of our defense, the Blazers need a good pocket passer as well as someone who can run the ball when the situation dictates it, but just as importantly, this team needs a guy who can energize and inspire his fellow teammates as well as elevate their level of play on and off the field.
So do we split playing time four ways this next season or will one of these guys prove he has what it takes to be a standout?
Senior Staff Writer