IRVING, Texas (WIAT) – UAB head coach Garrick McGee has his work cut out for him. Entering his second season as the head coach of the Blazers, McGee is looking to build on last year's 3-9 record.
On Wednesday, he held court with reporters at Conference USA Media Day in Irving, Texas. This year's version of UAB football features 18 returning starters to a team that suffered miserably in 2012.
"We are in a really good place, because not many people know much about us. I think our team is a very good football team," McGee said of his 2013 squad. "I've been fortunate to coach a lot of different places and the skill level and talent level that we have on our team right now is as good as I've seen. We have depth at every position and we are a very fast football team. We have two quarterbacks that are capable of winning games, which not many teams have in the country. I'm really excited and I really love this team."
McGee's returning two quarterbacks, senior Jonathan Perry and sophomore Austin Brown, will likely battle for starting time when fall camp rolls around in mere weeks. Both signal callers saw time leading the Blazers offense in 2012 and will likely benefit from a full year of experience under McGee.
Whoever earns the job, though, will have the opportunity pass to a bevy of dynamic receivers who are poised to greatly help the Blazers offense.
"We have two wide receivers in J.J. Nelson and Maudrecus Humphrey that are running really low 100-meter track times and are really fast kids," said McGee. "Jackie Williams is back who has the longest active consecutive games streak with a catch in the country and Kennard Backman will be at tight end, who I think one day will be a NFL draft pick. So when you add all that up, and you have two quarterbacks, and I call the offensive plays and I am very comfortable with our system, I expect us to be very good on offense."
Defensively, the Blazers return seven starters to a unit that struggled at times in 2012. Taking major strides in 2013 isn't going to be easy with a team that's still developing in a number of areas, but the Blazers have a number of talented returning players who should benefit from a scheme change.
"We have 18 starters returning overall and most are on defense, only losing three on defense and everybody else is back," explained McGee. "We changed our scheme on defense a little bit to give us more speed on the field and defend with these spread offenses, so we are confident and we are really looking forward to season."
Senior linebacker Patrick Bastien returns after recording 33 tackles in 2012. Bastien, who may be asked to play multiple positions throughout the season aside from his primary spot as a middle linebacker, thinks the future of the UAB program is bright.
"(Coach McGee) has it heading in the right direction. We are going to get to where we are real consistent," Bastien commented. "Some of the guys that played last year were freshmen, and a lot of those guys are going to be four-year starters by the time they are seniors.
"He is a players' coach and whatever we do, he is going to make it fun. It could be a hard day of 24 periods of straight hitting, but he is going to find a way to get a positive things out of it and to laugh and enjoy it but at the same time we are going to work hard and we are grinding."
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