Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama

September 15, 2009 2:05 PM

Must-win looms for UAB, Troy

The college football season is heading into just its third full weekend, but already the UAB Blazers and Troy Trojans face a must-win situation when they kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Troy.

UAB (1-1) desperately needs a win after its clunker last week at home against SMU when the Blazers fell behind 28-7 at halftime and lost 35-33 in a Conference USA game. Junior quarterback Joseph Webb, after his sensational 415-yard, four-touchdown performance in UAB’s season-opening 44-24 victory against Rice, was less so against the Mustangs. Webb passed for 226 yards, ran for 97 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, but he threw four interceptions, lost a fumble and was stopped short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt with 13 seconds remaining that would have tied the game and forced overtime.

What a come down for a program in search of some attention.

Troy desperately needs a win because the Trojans don’t have one. Their 56-6 thumping at Florida was expected, but blowing a 14-0 lead and losing 31-14 at Bowling Green in their season-opener was a total surprise, especially after the Trojans’ defense was touted as one of the team’s strength. It’s one thing to get run over by quarterback Tim Tebow and the Gators, but quite another to get stomped by the Falcons (Bowling Green, not Atlanta) and their quarterback Tyler Sheehan. Troy’s defense (what defense?) has allowed more than 1,000 yards in two games.

Now, the Trojans get set to play their home opener at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium against an in-state rival, trying to avoid a 0-3 start. Talk about a blockbuster.

The significance of game is not lost on the coaches and the players. Just listen to some of their comments.

  • Troy head coach Larry Blakeney: “It’s an opportunity for us to play in a game where we have a chance to win, and certainly a chance to lose. It’s the next game for us. It’s our home opener, and we need to put our best effort out there in all facets of the game to get a win.”

  • UAB head coach Neil Callaway: “It'll be interesting to watch us play in someone else's house. I'm just anxious to see this team play again Saturday after what we did last Saturday. We better have a chip on our shoulder because Troy is the most talented team we've played to this point. They've won three (Sun Belt) conference championships in a row, and we're going to their house, so we better be ready to play.”

  • Troy linebacker Boris Lee: “I wouldn’t say I’m mad (about being 0-2) … well, yeah I am mad. I’m more disappointed. We had a lot of expectations coming in to this season. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and believing in one another.”

  • Troy receiver Cornelius Williams: “Everybody wants to win. We’ve lost two games in a row, and it’s just a bad feeling. Everybody is anxious for a win. You can tell by how we started workouts (Monday) that there is a sense of urgency there.”

  • UAB defensive end Derek Slaughter: "This is a big game because Troy is 0-2 and they're hungry for a win. We are coming off a loss too, so we're both going to go at it and it's going to be hard. They don't want to be 0-3 and we sure don't want to be 1-2, so everybody's going to want to win."

So, although there’s still a lot of football to be played, it’s must-win time indeed.

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