Prepayment on UAB on BYU

Large studs to fill in

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall had a tough act to follow. Zach Wilson led the Cougars to an 11-1 record in 2020 before being selected second overall in the NFL Draft. Hall was up to the task, however.

The second double-threat threw for 2,583 yards while adding 307 rushing. He also had 23 touchdowns (three on the ground) with just three interceptions.

Hall deserves a lot of credit for his role in maintaining the lineage of successful Cougars quarterbacks. But much of the responsibility falls on head coach Kalani Sitake to keep the program locked. According to Hall, Sitake does an efficient job of doing just that.

“He’s real to us,” said the quarterback. “If we’ve just had a bad game, he’ll tell us not to be too hard on ourselves, you’re human, and it’s okay if we mess around looking inside you.” Or if you’ve had a really good game he’s really good at humbling us and bringing us down quickly and helping us figure out where all of our strength comes from and how to be humble.

Running back Tyler Allgeier and wide receiver Puka Nacua share the offensive star. Allgeier gained 1,601 scrum yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Nacua, meanwhile, caught 42 passes for 796 yards and six touchdowns. The trio has featured prominently in two of the Cougars’ biggest wins – then-Nos. 21 Utah and 19 State of Arizona.

Don’t call it a comeback

UAB narrowly missed a trip to the Conference USA title game, which was certainly a tough pill to swallow. However, the Blazers still won their fifth straight bowl offer, which is no small feat considering they didn’t have a schedule for 2015-16.

Despite the disappointment, head coach Bill Clark and Co. excited about the opportunity play in the Independence Bowl.

“It’s a bowl that is known. It’s a historic bowl, ”said Clark. “There were a lot of good games. I’ve seen a lot of great games, a bunch of great teams playing there.

The Blazers rely on a backfield that includes three runners who have averaged over 5.0 yards per carry this season.

Sophomore DeWayne McBride leads the way with 1,188 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Jermaine Brown Jr. and Lucious Stanley combined 179 touches and 1,035 total yards in backup roles.

UAB does not ask quarterback Dylan Hopkins to be prolific as a passer (2,085 yards, 15-6 TD / INT). When Hopkins throws wide receiver Trea Shropshire and tight end Gerrit Prince are his favorite targets. Shropshire and Prince combined for 57 receptions at 23.5 yards per catch. These two will be heavily involved if and when the Blazers are successful in the explosive games department.

BYU-UAB betting considerations

With hopes of a New Year’s Bowl offering dashed, there is naturally some disappointment as part of the BYU program.

Offensive lineman Blake Freeland: “I had high hopes, but I knew it would be overkill for (NY6). … I know UAB is a good, strong team. I know they will be a great opponent for us to play. I’m excited about it.

The players are saying the right things and their head coach will keep a positive attitude. However, inherent disappointment is not always so easy to dismiss. It’s reasonable to wonder if this is a place the Cougars could come out a bit flat. That doesn’t mean it will cost the Cougars the game. However, it could cost a bettor a bet.

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