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December 1, 2013

Blazers fall to USM but choose to look ahead

When you finish a 2-10 season by losing 62-27 at home to a team that has lost 23 straight games, it is time to look ahead because for UAB the only way to go is up.

If you look at the past, there is not much there to be excited about. But before they could look ahead the UAB coaches and players tried to explain what happened Saturday against Southern Miss. UAB coach Garrick McGeeWhen you finish a 2-10 season by losing 62-27 at home to a team that has lost 23 straight games, it is time to look ahead because for UAB the only way to go is up.

If you look at the past, there is not much there to be excited about. But before they could look ahead the UAB coaches and players tried to explain what happened Saturday against Southern Miss. UAB coach Garrick McGee explained it best.

"It was amazing because we went into halftime and everyone was fired up," he said. "Then we came out of halftime and the pressure just built on us. We had our top guys fumble balls. I think the pressure just built. We just ended up collapsing.

"I saw a look that I have seen before in their eyes. We have to just understand pressure more and embrace what pressure really is. That is when you have to perform at your best. Our top guys, they are really good ball handlers and have carried the ball really well for us; they don't fumble the ball like that. Darrin Reaves has done a good job handling the ball for us, he doesn't fumble like that. For it to happen back-to-back with two of our top guys, our team is not quite mature enough to handle that," McGee said.

He was referring to UAB losing consecutive fumbles that opened the second half and ultimately a scoring barrage by Southern Miss.

"I feel like we are cursed. I don't know," said junior defensive end
Diaheem Watkins. "We have great players. Coming out of high school, I had a lot of places to go to. I'm not getting on UAB. I love UAB. I love Birmingham. I love my teammates. I don't want to move. I just want to stay here, play, and win for this city.

"It's got to get better. We have to clean up some spots. We had a lot of injuries, so we have to hope everyone comes back and comes back strong, people step up. A lot of good freshmen redshirted. We have a lot of people that redshirted. We have to hope everybody steps up and is good."

For the seniors, however, they will leave behind a disappointing legacy.

"It's a hard pill to swallow," said senior quarterback Johnathan Perry. "We just wanted to win, finish out; especially with the legacy we had started beating Southern Miss. We were just trying to get the younger guys something to pick up on next season. We couldn't give them much.

"It definitely is emotional. It is tough because we have been playing this game for so long. After a season like this and not knowing if you are able to play again, it's tough. This game has meant so much to me. It's all I've ever had, honestly."

Perry is one who can see better days coming for the Blazers.

"Next year, they are going to have a great receiving corps with Jamari Staples and Jamarcus Nelson coming back. We get Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard back. Two offensive linemen are leaving. You get two guys who haven't played in Maudrecus Humphrey and D.J. Vinson, who I think has the capability to be one of the best receivers in the conference. You get those guys back on offense. I think Austin Brown will finish out great here.

"Defensively, you've got young guys all over the place who have been making plays, Jordan Petty, Jake Ganus, Chris Rabb. I think the future gets brighter. We just have to look some things in the mirror, in the face, everybody here," Perry said.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Perry said, "I just want to be remembered as a guy that put this university first, cherishes this university, cherishes the city of Birmingham and its people, and played like every play was his last.

"I just played with so much heart and passion. That's how I played, that's how I always played this game. I love this place. It changed me. I actually think it saved my life. I am just a guy that loves this place and did whatever he could to win. I gave it all for this place," he said.

But at this time it was hard to think of the future because of the reality of the final numbers on the Legion Field scoreboard and on the 2013 season as a whole.

"I think the only thing you can grade yourself on is wins and losses. I think that's really the only way college football coaches are graded," McGee said.
explained it best.

"It was amazing because we went into halftime and everyone was fired up," he said. "Then we came out of halftime and the pressure just built on us. We had our top guys fumble balls. I think the pressure just built. We just ended up collapsing.

"I saw a look that I have seen before in their eyes. We have to just understand pressure more and embrace what pressure really is. That is when you have to perform at your best. Our top guys, they are really good ball handlers and have carried the ball really well for us; they don't fumble the ball like that. Darrin Reaves has done a good job handling the ball for us, he doesn't fumble like that. For it to happen back-to-back with two of our top guys, our team is not quite mature enough to handle that," McGee said.

He was referring to UAB losing consecutive fumbles that opened the second half and ultimately a scoring barrage by Southern Miss.

"I feel like we are cursed. I don't know," said junior defensive end Diaheem Watkins. "We have great players. Coming out of high school, I had a lot of places to go to. I'm not getting on UAB. I love UAB. I love Birmingham. I love my teammates. I don't want to move. I just want to stay here, play, and win for this city.

"It's got to get better. We have to clean up some spots. We had a lot of injuries, so we have to hope everyone comes back and comes back strong, people step up. A lot of good freshmen redshirted. We have a lot of people that redshirted. We have to hope everybody steps up and is good."

For the seniors, however, they will leave behind a disappointing legacy.

"It's a hard pill to swallow," said senior quarterback Johnathan Perry. "We just wanted to win, finish out; especially with the legacy we had started beating Southern Miss. We were just trying to get the younger guys something to pick up on next season. We couldn't give them much.

"It definitely is emotional. It is tough because we have been playing this game for so long. After a season like this and not knowing if you are able to play again, it's tough. This game has meant so much to me. It's all I've ever had, honestly."

Perry is one who can see better days coming for the Blazers.

"Next year, they are going to have a great receiving corps with Jamari Staples and Jamarcus Nelson coming back. We get Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard back. Two offensive linemen are leaving. You get two guys who haven't played in Maudrecus Humphrey and D.J. Vinson, who I think has the capability to be one of the best receivers in the conference. You get those guys back on offense. I think Austin Brown will finish out great here.

"Defensively, you've got young guys all over the place who have been making plays, Jordan Petty, Jake Ganus, Chris Rabb. I think the future gets brighter. We just have to look some things in the mirror, in the face, everybody here," Perry said.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Perry said, "I just want to be remembered as a guy that put this university first, cherishes this university, cherishes the city of Birmingham and its people, and played like every play was his last.

"I just played with so much heart and passion. That's how I played, that's how I always played this game. I love this place. It changed me. I actually think it saved my life. I am just a guy that loves this place and did whatever he could to win. I gave it all for this place," he said.

But at this time it was hard to think of the future because of the reality of the final numbers on the Legion Field scoreboard and on the 2013 season as a whole.

"I think the only thing you can grade yourself on is wins and losses. I think that's really the only way college football coaches are graded," McGee said.


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