The next step for the UAB football program is really just part of the spring practice process for the Blazers.

Trent Dilfer knew this step was coming. He didn't know what things would look like at the time his first UAB football team stepped into the final week of spring practice, but he knew what was coming.

Spring practice started with what he called "building slowly." It began with work in shorts and helmets, moved into work in shoulder pads and continued with full pad practices that included a controlled amount of tackling.

Now it's time to ramp things up.

"Now we have opportunities to get after it," Dilfer said following the UAB Spring Football Game on Thursday night. "We're going to get after it at a high level and see what guys have that championship soul. It will be closed, but next Saturday will be (a scrimmage) about twice as long as this and twice as physical. We'll finish with an understanding of who we are."

Dilfer spent Thursday introducing his team to the UAB fans that gathered at Protective Stadium. He saw some things he liked but also left with plenty of frustrations. He was particularly frustrated with the UAB offense.  

"I hope that's not the product, first of all," Dilfer said with a laugh.

Dilfer said the coaches would spend Friday making what he called "hard evaluations" about where the Blazers are heading into the final week of practice. Those evaluations will result in a depth chart for the first time since Dilfer took over the program in December. He didn't say if those depth charts will be made public, but the players certainly won't question where they stand heading into the next phase.

"When they come back Monday, we're just going to be matter of fact," Dilfer said. "There is a standard that you have to perform to, and if you don't, then you'll be moved down in the depth chart. Guys will be moved up because they competed and played at a high level. We'll see how they handle that. Are there pity parties? Do they feel sorry for themselves or do they use that as an opportunity to get better instead of bitter? That will be part of building the soul of this team."

Then, they will take the work to the practice field with four days of hard work, including the Saturday scrimmage, to finish spring practice.

"It will be very physical next week," Dilfer said. "I warned everybody, and they kind of shook their heads. It's going to be carnage. We need to find out who can play at a high level when their bodies hurt, when they're tired, when they have an academic load, when their girlfriends are mad at them when their moms are mad at them. When life hits you in the face, can you still maintain your technique on 3rd-and-6 and hold up pass protection? Can you still make a tackle in the open field? Can you still punch and shed? Can you still do the things that equal winning football?"

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