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August 11, 2011The UAB football team broke out the shoulder pads for the first time Wednesday afternoon in its third practice of fall camp.
Head coach Neil Callaway was impressed with senior running back Pat Shed and the junior linebacking duo of Marvin Burdette and D.A. Autry but thought the overall quality of Wednesday's practice dropped off from a pair of high-energy sessions to start the week.
"I thought it was kind of a ho-hum day," Callaway said. "I bragged on them the past couple days, but we don't need to forget that this game is played in pads and it's a collision sport. It was the first day (in shoulder pads), and I understand that. We were sloppy, which is to be expected with some things, but at the same time, we have to show more energy and be ready to go when we have the pads on."
Burdette and Autry are part of a UAB linebacking corps that features nothing but juniors and seniors at the top six spots on the depth chart. Burdette, a Butkus Award nominee, led the Blazers with 114 tackles a season ago. Autry, who is in his second year with the program, turned heads in spring practice and is continuing to impress early in fall camp.
On the other side of the ball, the Blazers are working to identify a backup to starting quarterback Bryan Ellis. Jonathan Perry and Joe Bento were the top candidates coming out of the spring, and Callaway also has also seen good signs early in camp from freshman Austin Brown.
"I've been impressed with Bento and Austin Brown and J.P.," he said. "All of them have done some good things. It's too early to make any kind of declaration at this point, but I think they all have stepped up somewhat and we'll see how it goes."
UAB will have a chance to improve upon Wednesday's workout when it takes the practice field Thursday afternoon, again in helmets and shoulder pads. The team will practice in full pads for the first time on Friday.
The Blazers are working toward their season opener, slated for Sept. 10 at Florida at 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Net). The team plays its first home game the next weekend on Sept. 17 against Tulane at Legion Field.