November 19, 2013

McGee Still Optimistic about the Blazers' Future

Coach Garrick McGee acknowledges that UAB fans should be disappointed with the Blazer football team. He's disappointed too, expecting that UAB would have more victories under its belt than the two wins recorded so far. But, McGee is still optimistic about the future.

"If I was talking to UAB fans, I would talk to them about the hidden victories that I see that they don't get to see everyday," McGee said Monday. "Some of the young players are performing at as high of a level as there is in Conference USA.

"I would talk to them about our recruiting class and our ability to recruit players like Jake Ganus, Jamari Staples, Jordan Howard, and Jimmy Jean," he added. "We are going to continue to push forward. Our kids are going to get bigger, faster, and stronger. We are going to add another recruiting class, along with about 17 players that are coming off of injury. The future is bright for us."

McGee knows that most Blazer fans won't recognize the "hidden victories" that he sees, but he expects his players to learn their lessons. "We had a meeting with the team yesterday," the coach said. "We watched the offense and the defense with the whole team. There are a lot of small victories that are hard to see when you are looking at the score, but my responsibility is to evaluate it all and make sure our kids are pushing forward. There are some good things going on."

The challenge, he added, is to keep his team motivated for two more games. "We do have players on this team that don't know what it feels like to have success or know what pressure feels like," he said. "My expectations are to go after a Conference USA championship.

"Expectations bring a certain amount of pressure," he added. "The pressure to perform and live up to those expectations is a process to deal with. It's not going to change. We are in a state with enough high school players, that we can recruit enough players to go after a championship."

The team's next challenge will be facing Rice at Legion Field Thursday night. They have to play a C-USA title contender with a short turnaround to get ready. "They are playing really good football right now," McGee said of the Owls. "They have their minds on getting into the Conference USA championship game. They have momentum. They have confidence."

Senior tight end Bud Pruitt believes the Blazers are ready for the challenge. "All these guys work so hard throughout the summer and in their offseason," he said. "Our love and pride for the game of football definitely keeps us motivated and pushes us."

Defensive back Jake Ganus is also optimistic, but expects a challenging game. "They run the football really well, so we have to stop the run," he said. "That's our main focus right now. They have two good running backs who are big and physical that can run too, so we are going to have to stop the run to be successful on defense."

"I think we play to different strengths and weaknesses," Ganus added. "We are going to have to be more gap sound in our run fits, just keying the quarterback in case he pulls it on those read options. Really just playing sound defense will help us."

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