The UAB defense is preparing to face Liberty’s offense. The Blazers are not preparing to play Malik Willis, who is earning NFL money with the Tennessee Titans.
That’s good news.
In a sudden twist, the Blazers are also not preparing to play the quarterback who won the job to start the season as Willis’ replacement. Charlie Brewer, a former starter at Baylor and Utah, broke a bone in his hand early in Saturday’s win at Southern Miss. He had surgery on Monday and is probably out for the bulk of the season.
That bit of news makes for a busy week for David Reeves and the UAB defensive staff. The Blazers now have to make full-time preparations on both quarterbacks left in the rotation. Those two quarterbacks are 6-foot, 220-pound redshirt junior Johnathan Bennett and 6-foot-1, 190-pound redshirt freshman Kaidon Salter.
Both are capable of thriving in Hugh Freeze’s offensive system. The skill sets, however, are different.
“They are different QBs,” said UAB Jack linebacker Kyle Harrell, who had a sack and forced fumble in the season-opening win over Alabama A&M. “They’re both dynamic players, so we’re kind of preparing for them the same way. They can both make plays. Kaidon Salter, he’s got a lot of Malik’s qualities. We’ve seen that before, obviously, and we’re preparing for that the same way we prepared last year. We’re learning from some of the mistakes we made last year and getting ready to contain him.”
UAB head coach Bryant Vincent said his team must prepare to see both of the Liberty quarterbacks.
“Jonathan Bennett was their second-string quarterback going into this game, and he did play when Charlie Brewer got hurt,” Vincent said. “He did some good things and in the second half they brought in Kaidon Salter, who is a five-star quarterback that signed with Tennessee and transferred to Liberty.”
Brewer completed three of his four passes against Southern Miss before getting hurt. Bennett entered next and completed 7 of 18 passes for 37 yards with two interceptions. He had 75 yards gained in the rushing game and scored once on the ground. He was also sacked twice, taking away 29 of those yards. Salter was 8-of-13 passing for 148 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He rushed nine times for 65 yards. Vincent said Salter also extended eight plays with his legs and he was not sacked.
What he did best was help the Flames find a way to pull out a win on the road. Salter entered the game on the Flames’ first possession of the fourth quarter after Bennett threw a pick-6. Liberty trailed, 17-10, at the time and Salter drove them to the tying touchdown. He made play-after-play in the clutch, both with his right arm and his feet, at the end of regulation and in the overtime periods.
“(Salter) made some really crucial accurate throws in the second half that kind of brought them back in the game,” Vincent said. “We’re fully anticipating seeing both and they’re both a little different. Bennett is your more traditional (quarterback) that can run and Salter is kind of an electric guy who can really make things happen with his legs if you don’t contain him.”
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