This Thursday evening, UAB fans will be able to get their first look at the 2023 football team under new head coach Trent Dilfer. There will be plenty of new faces on the field as UAB replaces 21 seniors from last season and also brings in new coaches. Head coach Trent Dilfer spoke before practice Tuesday evening about what he is looking forward to seeing at the spring game: “You know, just continuing to get better. I think the operation, we scrimmaged on Saturday…we felt pretty good about some things. We just got to get cleaner and more detailed. I think the players with their investment and their work ethic we couldn’t be more pleased but there’s still a transition of learning to play faster. I guess the easiest word to use is cleaner. We just got to play clean football and use every opportunity to practice to get better.”
Dilfer also spoke about the overall health of the team heading into the spring game: “Outside of Zaire (Flournoy) we’re pretty darn healthy. We’ve got some guys banged up, some nicks which is typical. I thought the team has done a really nice job of playing with a great deal of physicality in practice but protecting each other. And really if you talk to a lot of veteran coaches and my football life has shown me this..that the quality of how you practice will carry over into games. That’s just not always run-fast and high energy. That’s are we fitting things right? Is it physical and are we using our hands? And then are we protecting each other? Because if we can get really good practicing at thud tempo I’ll take the pads off for the season. I’m actually kind of a softie in-season. I’m a hard butt in the spring but in the season I want them to be fresh…I want them to be prime for game day. Now you can’t do that if you don’t know how to practice in a thud environment.”
Even though this is just a spring game there are three things that Blazer fans will need to pay attention to come Thursday evening:
1. Offensive/Defensive Philosophies
The first thing that UAB fans will need to watch for this Thursday is what kind of offensive and defensive philosophies will Trent Dilfer bring here to UAB? Blazer fans have been accustomed to a style of offense under the previous coaching staff but things could look a little different this season under the direction of new offensive coordinator Alex Mortensen. Listen to the interview that I had with Alex Mortensen during spring practice discussing his offensive philosophy and more:
Not only will there be a new offensive coordinator this season but Trent Dilfer also brought in Sione Ta’ufo’ou to be the defensive coordinator who worked with him at Lipscomb. UAB fans can expect to see a defense that is fundamentally sound, works hard, and flies to the ball. Sione spoke with me after practice one day during the spring about what kind of defense he expects to have and more:
2. Offensive Line
What will the new offensive line look like for the 2023 season? UAB’s offensive line will look almost completely different this season as all 5 starters from last season are gone. The Blazers do have two players returning with some starting experience. Brady Wilson started in seven games last season and three of those starts came at center when Will Rykard was injured. Trey Bedosky has also been able to start two games in his career at UAB. Other guys like: Tater Reid, Quez Yates, and Eli Richey all have playing experience so expect them to contribute. Blazer fans can also expect to see some new faces play up front such as Jalen Nettles, Will Parker, and Christian Jackson.
Who will be UAB’s starting quarterback this season? With Dylan Hopkins transferring to New Mexico the Blazers will have to find another option. Jacob Zeno, the 6’4″ redshirt senior from San Antonio, could possibly be that guy going forward and is the only returning quarterback with playing experience at UAB. Zeno played in nine games last season and threw for 721 yards and 5 touchdowns. I spoke with Jacob Zeno earlier on the first day of spring practice:
Louisiana Tech transfer quarterback, Landry Lyddy, could also be that guy. Lyddy threw for 767 yards and 3 touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs and was also Louisiana Mr. Football in 2021 coming out of high school. Lyddy transferred to UAB from Tech in January. Other quarterbacks to watch this Thursday include: Damon Stewart, Harrison Barker, Trace Campbell, and Carter Putt.
UAB’s spring game will be at Protective Stadium this Thursday, April 6th at 6 pm and tickets for the game can be purchased HERE.