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The UAB football season still comes complete with goals. Those goals, however, have changed with four road losses, including three in Conference USA play.

Gone is the chance for a berth in the C-USA championship game.

“Talked to the team yesterday and the biggest message is, we’re together,” said UAB head coach Bryant Vincent. “Our goal and our focus is to get this senior class and to get this football team to a bowl game. This class has done a lot for this program; they’ve done a lot for this city. There’s no quit and there’s no negativity. Our goal and our mission is to fight until the very end and get this senior class and get this football team to a bowl game.”

So much more was expected of a UAB team that has talent, depth and experience at nearly every position. For some reason, though, the Blazers have found ways to lose on the road. In the first three road games, turnovers were a common thread. This past Saturday, the Blazers played clean, at least when it comes to turnovers, but still came away with a loss.

It’s hard to explain.

“We set the standard high at UAB,” Vincent said. “We embrace those standards. We do not back down from those standards. Our goal and our mission is to play for a championship year in and year out at UAB. That’s something that we're proud of, it’s something that we fight for. Right now, we’ve got to kind of adjust our goals for the rest of this season. This senior class and this football team has done a lot for this program. Our goal is, like I said, to get these guys to a bowl game.”

The problem is, the toughest three teams on UAB’s schedule could very well be the next three, beginning with a Conference USA visit from UTSA.

“In my opinion, we’ve got the best football team (we’ve faced), up to this date, coming to Birmingham, to Protective Stadium this Saturday in UTSA,” Vincent said. “They’re defending league champion, they’ve got a lot of guys back, they’ve won five football games in a row. We know it’s going to be a tremendous challenge, but it’s a challenge this team is going to prepare for and is going to be ready for Saturday.”

UAB is still not sure whether it will be Dylan Hopkins or Jacob Zeno taking the snaps. Hopkins started the first six games before suffering a concussion early in the loss to Western Kentucky on the road. He missed last week’s game and his availability this week is still in question.

“It’s still up to our team doctors,” Vincent said. “It’s still day-to-day right now, so I don’t have a clear answer for that.”

Zeno performed well in his first start.

“I was very impressed with Jacob Zeno,” Vincent said. “I thought he prepared well throughout the week.  He’s been the same guy every day but I thought he really elevated it last week, took control and really did a great job of preparing and leading.”

Zeno was 18-of-32 for 192 yards with a 4-yard touchdown pass to TJ Jones. He also had 49 rushing yards.

“When you get into the game, I thought Jacob played very well,” Vincent said. “He made great run decisions, he extended plays with his legs, he executed a lot of big third downs to keep things going. I thought he made great decisions in the passing game. He was accurate and he gave us an opportunity to win. I thought he held his composure through the ups and down and lead changes and adversity throughout the game. I thought he gave us a chance to win. I was extremely proud of him.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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