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September 22, 2013The UAB Blazers got just what they needed Saturday at Legion Field - a win.
This is a team that needed to know it can win. Not having that knowledge contributed to the opening game loss in overtime to Troy. Okay, so LSU blasted Garrick McGee's team but the Tigers are going to wind up blasting a lot of teams this season and there is no disgrace in losing at Baton Rouge.
This weekend they will venture into the Southeastern Conference again with a trip to Nashville for a date with the Vanderbilt Commodores.
But this weekend the Blazers will have something going for them they haven't had in a really long time-knowing what it feels like to win. Sure, it was Northwestern State, which is hardly SEC or even Conference USA caliber competition, but it was still a win and that had to feel good to McGee.
"The number one positive is the win. I've been starving for it since we got started," McGee said. "We expect to do well this season. We think we've got the talent. We think we've got the team chemistry and I think we have the want-to to go out and score a bunch of points and win in our home stadium.
"I do have the belief that the way you become a really good program is to win in your home stadium in front of your home fans. This is the first step toward that.
"We are a very talented team. When we are playing against a team that doesn't have the talent that we have, we do have enough high-quality athletes to expose them. It's good to get out there and make plays. But there is a lot that we have to get cleaned up to get to where we want to go," McGee said.
It also had to feel good for the players, like Darrin Reaves who rushed 17 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was good for us," Reaves said. "Going into the game we knew that we were going to have to control the run game. When we come out and do that our chances of winning are always good."
Cornerback Jimmy Jean, who had a big interception and a sack in the game, believes the Blazers will build off this win.
"After the LSU game, we really tightened up our pass coverage. We said we need to stop the pass, so we started playing man defense more," he said.
"It means a lot. Starting off 0-2, we came in with the mindset that we are not going to lose the game. After the first two losses we had to come back, especially for a home game in front of our crowd, we had to put on a show.
"The first win means a lot to us. We can celebrate tonight but then it is back to practice to prepare for Vanderbilt."