BIRMINGHAM — UAB football coach Trent Dilfer will challenge his team during the first full-scale scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Protective Stadium.

“The theme of this spring ball is try to find the soul of this team,” Dilfer said. “I mean that, I’m not trying to be esoteric. What are we made of? Part of this scrimmage is what we’re made of. It’s going to be a lot of plays, highly physical, a lot of reps. Part of this is going to be the resilience and the grit and how they respond late in the scrimmage in situational stuff.”

Focusing on what’s happening up front – on both sides of the ball – will be a big part of the scrimmage, which is closed to the public. Dilfer said they are trying to identify the top interior players as well as depth, particularly on the offensive front. They’ve spent the first three weeks of spring practice moving players around, trying to find the right mix.

“We don’t have a ton of depth, rotational guys (need to) come in and play at a high level,” Dilfer said of the offensive line. “(We’re) figuring out the offensive line rotation, what the best five are, what five play best together. We have some young guys that are showing signs, but we are young. We’re making young people mistakes. It’s on us to make sure we speed that learning curve up.”

This will be the first time UAB will have full-speed tackling this spring. The next time will be Thursday during the UAB spring game at Protective Stadium.   

“You’re only allowed three scrimmages, and you’re only allowed to tackle so many times in spring ball,” Dilfer said. “I actually called a lot of people on this topic. Many old-school coaches, still some of the best coaches in the country, actually like it. They were like, you’re only going to get five opportunities to tackle before the season starts, so you’ve got to maximize it.”

Dilfer said the approach helps minimize injuries.

“The other thing is you don’t want to be tackling and get guys hurt,” Dilfer said. “On the flip side, I’ve been pretty impressed. We’ve had a stay-up, wrap-up, punch-out type of thing. It’s basically a tackle without going to the ground. We’re getting really good at how we’re practicing.”

UAB is also hosting Junior Day on Saturday, with more than 100 recruits expected on campus.