The 2022 season was utterly close to going substantially better for UAB. The Blazers lost three games straight in the middle of the year all by seven points or less.
Still, they showed resiliency and finished the regular season at .500 before defeating Miami (Ohio) in the Bahamas Bowl before making its move to the American Athletic Conference this year.
With former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer taking over as head coach and with several of its standout players from last year gone, how will UAB fare in 2023?
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UAB Football’s AAC Title Odds
UAB’s odds to win the AAC are +6000, via BetMGM.
UAB Football’s Over/Under Win Total
UAB’s win total Over/Under is 5, with Under 5 at -150 and Over 5 at +125.
UAB Football’s Schedule
8/31 vs North Carolina A&T
9/9 at Georgia Southern
9/16 vs Louisiana
9/23 at Georgia
9/30 at Tulane
10/7 vs USF
10/14 at UTSA
10/21 vs Memphis
11/4 vs FAU
11/11 at Navy
11/18 vs Temple
11/25 at North Texas
Bold indicates AAC contests.
Key UAB Football Returners
2022 All-Conference USA 2nd Team
RB Jermaine Brown Jr.
DT Fish McWilliams
WR Tejhaun Palmer
DB Keondre Swoopes
KR Jermaine Brown Jr.
Jermaine Brown Jr. To Be A Catalyst For UAB’s Offense
Though new to the conference, Jermaine Brown Jr. is arguably the best AAC running back.
Brown was on the All-Conference USA second team after ranking third in the league with 948 rushing yards and sixth with eight touchdowns on the ground. He also recorded 118.7 all-purpose yards per game after adding 475 return yards and 120 receiving yards.
For his career at UAB, he’s totaled 2,077 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and 54 catches and 373 yards through the air. With former UAB star running back DeWayne McBride now playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Brown will take a step up for the Blazers.
With Dylan Hopkins transferring to New Mexico, Jacob Zeno is expected by many to be UAB’s starting quarterback. After playing in nine games and starting two last year, he threw for 721 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions while rushing for 94 yards and a score. Transfer QBs Landry Lyddy (Louisiana Tech), Trace Campbell (Ole Miss), and Carter Putt (Northeast Mississippi Community College) are also new to the team and could see some time behind center.
Trea Shropshire, who led the team with 923 yards, six touchdowns, and 41 catches last season, is gone. But Tejhaun Palmer, an All-Conference USA honorable mention wide receiver last year, is returning. He caught 30 passes for 479 yards and two touchdowns in 2022.
T.J. Jones (29 receptions for 231 yards and one touchdown last season), Samario Rudolph (262 yards and two touchdowns on 14 catches), and Fred Farrier II (123 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions) are also back at wide receiver. Tight end Bryce Damous, who caught 14 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, is also returning. UAB picked up wide receivers Brandon Buckhaulter (Ole Miss), Malachi Holt-Bennett (Indiana), and Dazalin Worsham (Auburn) in the transfer portal as well.
For UAB’s offensive line, left tackle Trey Bedosky and center Brady Wilson return after starting multiple games last season. The Blazers also added former Florida State offensive lineman Antavious Woody and former Tennessee O-lineman Will Parker.
Fish McWilliams And Keondre Swoopes Among Returning Standouts For UAB’s Defense
UAB arguably had the best defense in Conference USA last season. The Blazers allowed 23.2 points per game, which was the lowest in the league, and 360.6 yards per game, which was the second-lowest.
UAB lost nine of its top 12 tacklers from last season, but the team does have some talented players returning.
Fish McWilliams is back after an all-conference second-team season at defensive tackle. He tied for the team lead with 5.5 tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries while adding 32 tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Keondre Swoopes is also returning at safety after making the all-conference honorable mention list. He’s the team’s leading returning tackler after recording 53 tackles while also adding four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries in 2022.
Michael Fairbanks II is one of UAB’s returning outside linebackers. He chalked up 43 tackles and 3.5 TFLs last season.
UAB also added other defenders like former Marshall linebacker James Smyre and former Auburn cornerback A.D. Diamond.
UAB Football Season Prediction
UAB won’t secure the AAC title and won’t win more than five games.
The Blazers are going through plenty of changes this season. And while they might be stronger in 2024 and beyond, I think this season will be tough for them.
Their non-conference slate won’t be easy, for starters, as they face North Carolina A&T, Georgia Southern, Louisiana, and Georgia in the first four weeks. They might be able to win twice among those matchups.
But from there, I only see two wins against AAC teams for UAB. I believe Tulane, UTSA, Navy, and North Texas will be too difficult to beat on the road. I also don’t see the Blazers defeating Memphis or FAU at home.
UAB could potentially beat USF and Temple at home, but that would still only be four wins for the season. Ultimately, I think it’s going to be a difficult year for the Blazers.