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September 17, 2012Forget about the 43-point loss to South Carolina on Saturday. The Blazers are finding positives among the statistics and looking forward to getting better each week. And the optimism starts with head coach Garrick McGee.
:If you really study the film and really study the guys' technique and their understanding of the game plan on offense and defense, the way they communicated, got lined up, recognized formations, they weren't out of control," McGee said Monday at his weekly press conference. "There are a lot of small wins that happened, especially in the first two and a half quarters of the South Carolina football game."
"That's the step for all teams that are going to become good football teams," he added. "You have to understand the ups and the downs of the game."
McGee was particularly impressed with the Blazers in the first half. He noted that, except for a bad call, the Blazers could have gone into halftime behind just 14-6. That would have positioned them with a chance to win the game in the second half.
"Obviously, I thought the pass interference call right before half time was a critical call in the game," he said. "Whatever team you're coaching, if you can go into the locker room at half time down 14-6 on the road against one of the top-10 teams in the country then you are in good shape. That's how those types of games are won and they have been won."
One aspect of the game that disappointed him was the Blazers ground game. Bashr Coles led the Blazers rushers with just 14 yards. "The running game is all about timing," he said. "It's not just about handing the ball to the running back. The blocks have to be set up; the right tracks have to be set. The quarterback has to go from one play to another. If you have a bad play called the running back has to anticipate the defensive movement.
"There is a lot that goes into running the football and I think we are headed in the right path," he added. "I think we are really close. . . I think it will come it just takes awhile to get the timing of the running game down."
Freshman defensive tackle Jontavious Morris sees improvement on the defensive side too. "Assignments are key," he said. "If anyone on the defense misses his assignment, the play can go for big yardage. If everyone puts their mind to it, we will play well."
Freshman linebacker Shaq Jones agreed. "Playing a top ten team was an eye-opener to show us that it's going to be a challenge wherever we go," he said. "It's not going to be a walk through the park. It's not high school football where you run around and make easy tackles. You have to execute your technique properly in order to succeed."
Freshman safety Jake Ganus, who got the first UAB interception of the season against South Carolina, also saw progress. "Against Troy we gave up the run a lot," he said. "Going into halftime with South Carolina, [Marcus] Lattimore had around 20 yards total. In the first half against SC we played great defense and executed the game plan. I would say we have already made huge strides and will continue to take more."
Freshman cornerback Kelton Brackett believes the team is ready to challenge Ohio State this week. "We have gotten our first game and big game jitters out," he said. "Now we can go into Ohio State not being as nervous and anxious and be able to play well. We are calm and ready to go up against Ohio State."