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Baton Rouge on Saturday night with an LSU kickoff scheduled for 8:00 at Tiger Stadium.
That’s not exactly a good recipe for a peaceful evening with an opposing team.
“I think the biggest challenge for us, it’s going to be the crowd noise,” said UAB interim head coach Bryant Vincent, whose team plays at LSU on Saturday night. “The noise, the crowd noise at Death Valley, especially at 8 o’clock, we’re just going to have to settle in. It goes back to Texas A&M in 2018, it’s a similar atmosphere. I think, at the end of the day, this team has been in those games. The key for us is to be able to put ourselves in that atmosphere.”
Vincent expects the same type of setting as the 2018 game at Texas A&M, which the Aggies won, 41-20.
“I think the craziest atmosphere I’ve been a part of here, and in my career really, was Texas A&M,” Vincent said. “When you pulled up, there were just thousands and thousands of fans, everywhere. You went into Texas A&M, you go into warmups and there was 50-60,000 people already in the stands, cheering and being extremely loud.”
On the surface, the focus changes at kickoff.
“At the end of the day, it’s football,” Vincent said. “They’ve got 11 guys, we got 11 guys. No matter what the adversity we’re going to face, whether it’s crowd noise, whether it’s speed, we’ve just got to settle in and play football. Our guys are going to be excited about this opportunity. We’re going to prepare and get ready for this opportunity.”
The truth is, UAB has not performed well in this type of game since the return. UAB is 0-4 against SEC teams and lost to an ACC team in the 31-14 setback at Miami in 2020. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Miami game was the only one that didn’t include a noisy crowd. In the other four games, UAB lost by a combined, 138-48.
The Blazers are still excited about the opportunity to play in front of a raucous crowd.
“I enjoy the crowd,” said UAB cornerback Starling Thomas V. “The crowd usually pumps me up and usually gets my teammates going too. Just being in that environment knowing that we can play at the same level as the guys on the other team, really pumps us up and makes us want to play better.”
Vincent was asked what it would take to upset an LSU team that is going to the SEC Championship game.
“Our goal is we want to win the time of possession,” Vincent said. “We need to stay ahead of the sticks. We don’t need to get behind the sticks against these guys, really any football team. We got to establish the running game, we’ve got to be great on third downs and when we get in the red zone, we’ve got to score touchdowns. Without a doubt, we’ve got to have great ball security. As good and as talented as they are, we cannot give these guys extra possessions.”
For UAB running back DeWayne McBride, it’s a chance to show he can perform well against an SEC defense. McBride enters as the country’s leading rusher in yards per game (156.3 ypg) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (17). McBride, who had 1,407 yards rushing in nine games this season, is eight yards short of passing Joe Webb for second place on the single-season rushing yards list at UAB. He is 181 yards short of passing Jordan Howard, who set the record in 2014.
“I take the same approach no matter who it is,” McBride said.
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