After ekeing out a win against Southern Mississippi with the first decent offensive performance of the season, FIU would best be served by getting an opponent that just changed its defensive coordinator, plans to play a defensive scheme its not used to playing, has health issues and is no Kaopectate when it comes to stopping the run.
UAB gets up and down the field. FIU coach Ron Turner's worried about the speed that's gotten the Blazers 4.5 yards per rush and 14.4 yards per completion. Granted, their numbers include a 52-28 win against Northwestern State, but UAB scorched Troy and FAU's defenses in those losses. FIU's defense is better against both the run and the pass with Demarkus Perkins, athletic and physical, at safety. With Sam Miller covering and tackling well lately, expect UAB to target either the linebackers or cornerback Randy Harvey in passing situations.
UAB's problem comes in stopping folks. Neither Jake Medlock nor E.J. Hilliard moves like FAU's Jacquez Johnson, who accounted for 405 yards of total offense last week. Both, however, rank wtih Troy's Corey Robinson and Robinson flambeed the Blazers with a 30-of-32, 319-yard performance. And UAB allows 193.2 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. Reportedly, UAB plans to change their front to deal with FIU's one-back, double-tight-end and basic I-formation sets. I can see Silas Spearman III breaking off chunks of turf, then Medlock or Hilliard working play action and bootleg passes to the tight ends.
Turner felt the team's Wednesday practice included too many errors for this time of the season. A lack of focus, he said, typical of a young team. That's the major worrisome aspect I see from the FIU side -- after playing better and getting a win last week, the team relaxes too much and feels a little too good about itself.
Tough call. The sportsbooks like UAB by 7. I'll say FIU 28, UAB 24.
But that's one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.