LSU is set to host UAB on Saturday night. It’ll be the first time the programs have met since 2013.
It’s LSU’s final contest in Tiger Stadium this year, which means it’s Senior Night. It’ll also put a cap on LSU’s 2022 nonconference schedule.
The Tigers return home after narrowly escaping Arkansas. At 8-2 with the west already in hand and playoff hopes alive, LSU is looking to inch closer to double-digit wins and take care of business until it gets its chance in Atlanta.
UAB is slightly better than your average .500 Group of Five teams. They’re led by one of the best running backs in college football and a solid secondary. Here are five things to know about the UAB Blazers.
When longtime head coach Bill Clark resigned in June, UAB promoted Bryant Vincent to interim head coach.
The Blazers are 5-5 on the year and just 3-4 in conference play. If they finish under .500 in conference play, it would be the first time since 2014 that UAB falls short of a .500 conference record.
Vincent won his debut 59-0 against an FCS opponent but fell to 1-1 after losing to Liberty in Week 2.
The Blazers won three of their next four to move to 4-2 on the year, but a three-game losing streak followed that.
UAB got back to .500 last week against North Texas and now sits one win away from bowl eligibility. But Vincent might need more than bowl eligibility to remove that interim tag — and getting a win in Baton Rouge would be an excellent bullet point on his resume.
At 248.1 yards per game, UAB ranks fifth in the country in total rushing offense.
The prolific attack is led by DeWayne McBride, whose 1,407 yards rank second in FBS. McBride also leads the FBS in yards per game.
McBride excels after contact, where his 874 yards also put him second in the FBS. He’s forced 59 missed tackles and 71 of his runs have moved the chains. McBride, a junior, has 3,217 career rushing yards. He broke out in 2021 and has followed it up this fall.
LSU hasn’t been great against the run this year, yet the Tigers have managed to handle some dynamic rushing attacks over the last month.
Some of UAB’s inconsistency might be attributed to quarterback Dylan Hopkins missing some time after a concussion against Western Kentucky. Hopkins’ return against North Texas coincided with the Blazers ending that three-game skid.
Now in his second year as the starter, Hopkins’ 9.8 yards per attempt lead the G5, where he also ranks top 5 in passer rating. He completes 56.3% of his passes under pressure, which ranks top 10 in all of FBS.
According to CFBGraphs, UAB ranks 10th in EPA/pass. If LSU sells out to stop McBride, Hopkins can do some damage. Despite being a G5 team, this offense poses an exciting challenge for Matt House and his defense.
It’s been difficult to get a good read on this UAB defense. The Blazers have allowed 23.7 points per game and 5.2 yards per play, ranking top 40 in FBS.
Defensive backs coach Blake Shrader was just nominated for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach each year. But outside of Shrader’s group, some weak spots begin to emerge.
UAB ranks outside the top 100 in sack rate. Kelle Sanders and Drew Tuazama, UAB’s leaders in pressures, have just 15 each on the year. The group has also struggled to stop the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry and ranking 97th in FBS.
Even against the pass, it isn’t great when you narrow in on some advanced numbers. UAB ranks just 78th in passing success rate allowed. LSU’s offense struggled against Arkansas, but UAB offers an opportunity to work some things about before the trip to College Station.
We’ve discussed what UAB has in its backfield with McBride and Hopkins, but there are some other Blazers you should be familiar with.
CB Devodric Bynum
Bynum has been a key piece of UAB’s strong secondary. He’s coming off a performance against North Texas that earned him defensive player of the week. According to PFF, he’s graded out as one of the 15 best corners in the FBS.
WR Trea Shropshire
The UAB passing game is more efficient than prolific, and the same could be said for its leading receiver. Shropshire ranks 14th in C-USA with 612 yards, but he’s averaging over 20 yards per catch. His 3.56 yards per route run rank second in the G5 and he has a touchdown in each of UAB’s last two games.
CB Starling Thomas V
Thomas is a veteran with over 2,000 snaps under his belt. High expectations were coming into the year and he’s lived up to them. He’s been thrown at a good bit, but only allows a completion percentage of 38.6%, ranking second in C-USA.
Here are some other helpful bits of information to know about the Blazers.
- CB Mac McWilliams, who could be the best of that star-studded secondary, has missed the last three games. It’s not clear if he will be available on Saturday night.
- UAB is 5-1 at home but is yet to pick up a win on the road this fall, going 0-4.
- UAB and LSU have met twice in program history. UAB took the first game in 2000, but UAB’s most recent trip to Baton Rouge resulted in a 56-17 loss in 2013.