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September 25, 2013

Matthews presents a big problem for Blazer defensive backs

Jimmy Jean has a big task on his hands this Saturday when the UAB Blazers face the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville.

You see, Jordan Matthews will be front and center in Jean's mind. Matthews is Vanderbilt's 6-foot-3, 206-pound wide receiver who leads the team with 32 catches for 471 yards and three touchdowns.

Jean, who had an interception last week against Northwestern State, is looking forward to the challenge.

"I love guarding big receivers," said Jean after Wednesday's practice. "He is 6-3 so I can't fall asleep on any plays. Wherever he is lined up, if I am there I have to go hard, take every snap and be physical with him. "

"Obviously [Matthews] is a top-caliber athlete," UAB defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson continued. "He is their go-to guy and he makes plays when they need them made so we have to do a good job of knowing where he is at all times, understand the situations of the game and try to limit the number of times he touches the ball."

It will not be an easy assignment for the Blazers' defense. Safeties Jordan Petty and Greg Macklin are both freshman and that has not gone unnoticed in Nashville.

"They have some inexperience at safety and you try to take advantage of that if you can," said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. But the Vandy coach is impressed with six-foot-three Jean and fellow cornerback six-foot-two Cortez Webb.

"There's no doubt about the size at corner; six-two and six-three that's as good as anywhere in the country and they do a good job pressing and getting their hands on and mixing up coverages," Franklin said.

Johnson knows it will be a tough assignment for his deense but with a win under their belts and having already played in huge SEC venues he isn't expecting the Blazers to be intimidated.

"I think that the guys won't be shocked having already played in a large venue," said Johnson. "It is good that they have that under their belt. We look forward to watching them compete. It was a great experience in Baton Rouge and a great experience here (Birmingham) and now we just have to take what we have picked up the last couple of weeks up to Vanderbilt."



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