Thursday, October 30, 1997

Notes About the Upcoming UAB Game

The University of Alabama-Birmingham, known more for its basketball team than its football team, is doing a pretty good job in just their second year as a Division 1-A football team. The Blazers will join the ranks of Conference USA football in 1999, but until then, they're suffering through life as an independent.

Part of that "suffering" includes a strange schedule that has provided two open weeks in a row. That's right - the Blazers haven't played since October 11th. UAB lost to a solid 6-2 Cincinnati team in their last outing, 33-29, when the Blazer quarterback threw into quadruple coverage in the end zone late in the game and was intercepted.

Probably the most interesting thing about the Blazers is that even though they're in just their second season of Division 1-A, nobody has blown them out. And they've played some quality teams. Here's how their season has gone thus far:

Aug. 28 - Lost at Kansas, 24-0
Sept. 6 - Lost at Memphis, 28-7
Sept. 13 - Lost at Arizona, 24-10
Sept. 20 - Defeated Jacksonville State, 34-16
Sept. 27 - Defeated Southwestern Louisiana, 42-7
Oct. 4 - Defeated Western Kentucky, 20-16
Oct. 11 - Lost at Cincinnati, 33-29

I dug up the UAB stats on their official football web site, and there was some interesting information there. It's information that will give you some insight as to how this weekend's game is going to go.

I told you to expect the Hokie coaching staff to play smash-mouth, running football, as we did against Boston College, and the UAB defensive statistics indicate that running the ball against them is indeed the thing to do.

In pass efficiency defense, the UAB Blazers are ranked an eye-opening eleventh in the country. And make no mistake about it, teams do try to pass the ball against them. In seven games, the UAB opponents haven't fared well passing, completing 91 of 191 passes (47.6%) for just 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. That's 27 passing attempts a game by the opposition, so they're throwing the ball, they're just not having much success, gaining only 159 yards passing a game.

When opponents run the ball, they're more successful, averaging 4.1 yards per attempt and 187 yards per game. The total yardage given up by the Blazers is 345 yards per game, good enough to rank them 48th in total defense in the country, which isn't bad for a team that is only playing its second year of 1-A ball.

So look for the Hokies to run, run, run. No surprise there.

On the offensive side of the ball, UAB has played two quarterbacks throughout the season: Lee Jolly and Daniel Dixon. Jolly has attempted 118 passes to Dixon's 44 and has a much better completion percentage at 47%. Dixon only completes 32% of his passes. Together, they average 166 yards passing per game, with 9 TD's and 9 INT's on the season. Dixon doubles as the punter, averaging 38.1 yards per kick, which isn't bad for a redshirt freshman who wasn't even asked to be the punter until two weeks before the season started.

UAB averages 152 yards rushing per game. Their rushing leader is tailback Lucious Foster, who has toted the ball 102 times for 534 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 76.3 yards per game.

The game will be at 1:00 on Saturday and will not be televised (of course). The weather forecast is not good - temperatures around 60 degrees, cloudy, with periods of rain.

Rumors Are Flying About Hokies/Huskers

Ever since the University of Houston recently backed out of a home-and-home series scheduled with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1998 and 1999, rumors have been swirling that Tech and Nebraska are trying to work something out. Now the rumors are gaining speed and are starting to show up in newspapers everywhere.

Boston Globe columnist Mark Bladschun (or something like that) recently wrote that Nebraska and Tech were close to announcing a deal, but don't get too hyper about anything he says, because he's never been one to let facts get in the way of his, uh, reporting. He recently wrote a column about possible future conference realignments, and it included some wacky stuff that I haven't seen anywhere else before or since, like "Texas to the ACC."

But back to the Huskers and Hokies. Two scenarios have been rumored:

  1. Tech and Nebraska may schedule a home-and-home to replace the series the Huskers had with Houston. To accommodate this, Tech would probably jettison an upcoming home-and-home with Cincinnati. That's almost a disappointment, because it means we wouldn't get to body-slam Cincy for tagging us with that 1995 home loss. But I'd gladly trade a shot at revenge against Cincinnati for a series with Nebraska.
  2. Tech and Nebraska may be part of a game played in the Toronto SkyDome that a group of Canadian investors is trying to put together. The Canadian group supposedly wants Nebraska, and Tech is most often mentioned as the likely opponent.

I asked about the possibilities on a Husker message board, and I received the following reply via email from a Husker fan:

"Will - NU Coach Tom Osborne is quoted in Wednesday's Omaha World-Herald as saying a home-and-home series with Tech is one possibility to fill openings in Nebraska's 1998 and 1999 schedules. Another possibility he mentioned is playing a game at the SkyDome in Toronto against Tech or possibly another team in 1998. He didn't say how they would fill the 1999 opening if they went to that option. Folks up in Toronto are apparently trying to arrange a game between two major college teams and Nebraska is high on their list if it goes through."

I then found the following information on the Huskers' USA Today web page:

VIRGINIA TECH TO THE RESCUE?: Osborne said the Huskers are looking at Virginia Tech as a possible opponent to fill holes on their 1998 and 1999 football schedules. Nebraska was left with an open date in each of the two seasons after University of Houston officials informed the Huskers last month that they would be unable to fulfill an agreement to play a home-and-home series. Nebraska had been scheduled to play at Houston next September, they play host to the Cougars in 1999. The loss of Houston has left Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Byrne scrambling to fill the openings. Osborne said Virginia Tech is one of the schools the Huskers have contacted about a possible home-and-home series.

GOOD GAME, EH?: Nebraska also has discussed the possibility of playing a game next season in Toronto, against an undetermined opponent, with SkyDome officials. "There's been talk about it,'' Osborne said, referring to the possibility of playing Virginia Tech. "It's possible. We're also looking at going up to Toronto and play. There hasn't been anything finalized. We have three or four possibilities.''

DIFFICULT CHOICE: Nebraska filled two holes in this season's schedule by bringing Akron and Central Florida to Lincoln for September home games. Akron received $450,000 to make the trip, while Central Florida earned $475,000 for its game at Memorial Stadium. "We can get someone to come to Lincoln next year, but the fans aren't going to be happy and the people (reporters) in this room aren't going to be happy,'' Osborne said. "You counterbalance it and say what are you going to do? If you're looking at the bank balance, you get someone to come in here and play for $400,000. If you're looking to make everyone happy, you go play Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech.''

(end USA Today material)

So as you can see, there is definitely something brewing. This would obviously be a great coup for the Hokie program, and I'll predict that if we're able to line up the home-and-home, season ticket sales will hit at least 22,000 for the year that Nebraska is scheduled to come to Blacksburg. The current record for season ticket sales is this year's total of just under 17,000.

Go Paul, Go Paul!

A message board poster said earlier this week that prior to the WVU game, Tech President Paul Torgersen and AD Jim Weaver met with Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. It was supposed to be a Weaver-meets-Tranghese affair, but apparently, Dr. Torgersen did most of the talking. Among other things, he informed Tranghese that if Tech gets a chance, we are gone from the Big East, and that Tech fans despise the Big East because we've been treated like the conference's red-headed stepchild (he's right on that one).

Supposedly, Tranghese's response was words to the effect of, "Hang in there, you're pretty much in." Yeah, right, I'll believe that when I see it, and I'm not so sure I want full conference membership in the most poorly run conference in the country, anyway.

It must have been quite a conversation. The story was reported in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot this past Sunday, and the message board poster who recounted it was going from memory. I was unable to find the story on-line, so anyone with a paper copy, please dig it up and email me the details.

Turkey Bites

The Monday-night Hokie Hotline radio show has finally returned to AudioNet. Click on the AudioNet link on the left-hand side of HokieCentral's home page to access AudioNet and listen to the show, which airs at 7:00 p.m. on Mondays. You should check it out next Monday, because new Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver will be on.

The Miami (FL) game, the second toughest Miami game we'll play this year, has been picked up by ESPN2. So you can watch the game with that annoying, omnipresent scoreboard on the bottom of the screen, and years from now, when you watch the tape, you can refresh your memory of the NHL games that will be played that night. Game time (for the Hokies and Canes, that is) is 6:00 p.m.


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home