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October 3, 2013

Long's kicking is a UAB silver lining

It is not easy to find many silver linings in the black cloud that was UAB's 52-24 loss to SEC foes Vanderbilt. But believe it or not, there were some.

There was the Blazers' defensive play in the first quarter that saw Vanderbilt only holding a 7-3 advantage after the first 1t5 minutes.

Jonathan Perry came off of the bench and finished with 0-of-16 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

True freshman running back Jordan Howard had 92 yards on nine carries.

Cornerback Jimmy Jean led UAB with 10 tackles and linebacker D.J. White had seven tackles and an interception.

And then there was Ty Long. Long, the Blazers' 6-foot-2, 188-pound placekicker from Roswell, Ga., was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts from 33, 20 and 37 yards against the Commodores. Despite the outcome Long said playing at Vanderbilt was fun.

"It's fun and I am just trying to do all that I can to help my team win," said Long. "It was a good experience tonight and it was fun playing here."

Playing at Vanderbilt and at LSU is a good experience for the Blazers. They get to go up against SEC teams in massive SEC stadiums. The problem is that playing out of their league has yet to produce any wins.

"I mean I think we started off good, I think we had a good game plan but there were a lot of little things we struggled on that we really need to get fixed fast," said Long. "This team is headed in a good direction but we came into this game thinking something else was going to happen. I mean I think the score was similar to the LSU game, I'm not going to get deep into that, but I really think we had a different direction of where we think this game was going to go at the end of it."

The loss to Vanderbilt came two weeks after LSU downed the Blazers 56-17 and it is not easy to put those scores behind them.

"For me, I always want to win everything," said Long. "I mean I trust my teammates, I trust our coaches and everyone in the facilities that we can get this fixed and get headed in the right direction."

Long is not having trouble finding the right direction on his kicks. He is now 36-of-45 on field goal attempts during his two-year career with the Blazers. That's an accuracy rate of 80.0 percent. That is the best FG accuracy mark in UAB history, a record previously held by Swayze Waters, who was 50-of-64 (.781) from 2006-08.

The Blazers have finished the non-conference portion of the schedule that included two SEC teams. Now, it is Conference USA opponents starting this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in Legion Field against the Florida Atlantic Owls.

"I thought we fought hard (at Vanderbilt)," said linebacker Jake Ganus. "No one quit and everyone was still getting after it on the last play. I think our conference is still wide open and it's pretty even-keeled. Most of us played SEC teams so I'm ready to go play and beat FAU next weekend."

Long's streak will be on the line against FAU, although UAB coach Garrick McGee would just as soon it stays at 24 in a row.

"Touchdowns are a lot better than field goals," said McGee. "You have to score touchdowns to win games. You can stay in games with field goals and good defense, but to win games you have to score touchdowns. We couldn't catch a rhythm on offense and made a lot of mistakes. I think we will be better this weekend. I don't worry about our offense."

He certainly doesn't worry about Long.

"Ty is a competitor. Sometimes early in the season you need a setback or two to get your focus back and go back to your details. We never at all worry about his emotional state because he's not the average kicker. He's a real football player. I expect him to continue to do well going forward."



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