BIRMINGHAM - They’ve dried off after a rainy Saturday night in Lynchburg, Virginia. But does the disappointment still linger for a UAB football team that lost for the first time this season?

UAB head coach Bryant Vincent, along with center Will Rykard and safety Jalen Key, met with the media on Monday morning. Vincent stressed in his opening statement that the positive things from Saturday night weren’t washed away by the final result – a 21-14 Liberty victory.

The running game, when the Blazers held on to the ball, clicked. The defense, when put in bad situations, largely found a way to respond. The four turnovers resulted in no points by the Flames. The special teams, other than one return, didn’t make mistakes.

But there’s still that final result.

“It definitely was a tough one,” said Rykard. “It eats at you. It is still eating at me a little bit. But we have to turn the page. That's the great thing about football – you get another chance. It is a big one this week. Starting Monday morning, I always like turning that page to start focusing on the next one."

The next one comes on Saturday against a Georgia Southern team that is fresh off a win at Nebraska and brings the No. 2 offense into Protective Stadium. Cleaning up problems from last Saturday is one of the first steps to getting ready for this Saturday.

It begins with ball security. The Blazers lost four fumbles in last week’s loss, including two by DeWayne McBride and one by Jermaine Brown. Those fumbles took some luster off a night when those two combined for 268 rushing yards on 37 carries. It’s the second season in a row that McBride lost two fumbles in his first game.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in Jermaine Brown and DeWayne McBride,” Vincent said. “I know we’ll clean these things up and be better this week.”

Vincent was asked how the two running backs reacted to the mistakes following the game.

“Debo [McBride] and Skull [Brown] are two of the hardest working, most committed football players we've got on this team,” Vincent said. “They come to work every single day with a team mentality and just a great attitude. For them, they take it to heart because they felt like they hurt the team. Turnovers do hurt the team, it hurts our chances of winning. They take it personal because they care about this program and they care about this football team. I fully expect to see their best Saturday.”

UAB also needs to get better production from the passing game. Dylan Hopkins was 10 of 15 for 114 yards with 56 of those yards coming on one play. Part of that was a game plan to run the football, which UAB did well in the first half. Vincent said Hopkins incompletions came on “throws he normally makes.”

When the season began, Vincent said the plan was for backup quarterback Jacob Zeno to get snaps in every game. On Saturday, though, with the passing game struggling for consistency, he chose to keep Hopkins in the game.

“The plan was to play Jacob Zeno,” Vincent said. “The flow of the game and the situations of the game, we turned the ball over on the first possession of the game and then driving down and getting stopped. Just the flow of the game and the weather, I felt like it was Dylan's time to stay in the game. He is our starter, and being in adverse situations, at that time, I felt like we needed to go with our starter.”

The Blazers are focused on putting the game in the rearview mirror, which is something they’ve done well in the past after a difficult loss.

“I think it comes down to the foundation of your program, it comes down to the core of your football program,” Vincent said. “We understand there’s going to adversity, there’s going to be tough times, there’s going to be setbacks, there’s going to be injuries, there’s going to be adverse conditions in the weather. Whatever it is, we’ve got to stick together as a football team. And we’ve got to continue to self-evaluate ourselves to continue to take that next step.”

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