The Blazers have had trouble against the pass. In late October, they allowed 386 yards passing to East Carolina's Shane Carden and 466 to Tulane's Ryan Griffin. Linebacker Marvin Burdette had 24 tackles against Tulane, in part because he was the one Blazer capable of chasing receivers down.
Marshall's defense could get paid back today for all their frustration in chasing quarterbacks. UAB freshman QB Austin Brown, for all his ability and achievement, has suffered the majority of the team's 31 sacks and has a net rushing total of minus-168 yards.
But when Brown gets his feet set and fires he is as good as there is in Conference USA. His TD-to-interception ratio is 12-7 and he owns four 300-yard games, second in C-USA only to Cato's seven. Darrin Reaves, who has rushed for 389 yards in the last two games, provides the Blazers a run-pass balance Marshall has struggled to defend.
The Blazers' special teams are perhaps among their best since realignment, with excellent specialists in place-kicker Ty Long and punter Hunter Mullins. The Blazers also have two blocked punts, one for a TD.
Coming off a big second half in 27-19 win over Southern Miss, the Blazers appear to be playing hard under first-year coach Garrick McGee. Much like Memphis did last week, expect the Blazers to go for it on fourth down a little more often - they have done so 20 times, second only to the Tigers' 22. But UAB has succeeded on just seven of those tries.
The Herd yielded six fourth downs in a row to Memphis last week, a big factor in Marshall escaping with a 38-28 win instead of a rout. That alone should have the Herd focused for today's bout.
That, and the pursuit of another bowl bid, which will be easier if the Herd exits today's game 5-5 and not 4-6.
"It's difficult, but the reason we're not panicking is because we've been there before," said defensive end Jeremiah Taylor.
Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.