Year one of the Trend Dilfer era at UAB is off to a good start, with the first-year head coach picking up his first collegiate win in week one. Now that his first win is under his belt against an FCS opponent, Dilfer in the Blazers now find themselves on the road to take on another FBS opponent in the Georgia Southern Eagles.
UAB wasn’t the only team in this matchup to take care of business in week one, as the Georgia Southern Eagles shut out the Citadel in a 34-0 victory. The Eagles picked up one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the transfer portal this offseason in, Davis Brin, and he opened the season with a strong performance, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
Brin’s performance in his debut with the team was overshadowed by the Eagles running game led by Jalen White. Georgia Southern finished the game with 200 rushing yards, and White picked up 125 on his own while adding a touchdown. In 2022, the Eagles finished 26th in EPA per rush play, and it looks like they will have another staunch run game this season.
While their rushing offense looks as strong as last season, the Eagles rushing defense took a step in the right direction over the weekend by holding the Citadel to 198 yards on a whopping 43 attempts. This is a good sign after they finished 126th in EPA per rush play in 2022. However, Georgia Southern will be tested much more through this air this weekend against the UAB offense.
The Blazers quarterback Jacob Zeno attempted 41 passes in week one and completed 38 for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Zeno’s performance led his team to a 35-6 win over North Carolina A&T while running back Jermaine Brown Jr. added two touchdowns himself in the Blazers' first game without their former star running back DeWayne McBride.
Defensively, the Blazers just needed to focus on stopping the run since the Aggies only dropped back to pass eight times. UAB’s front seven did a strong job stopping the run, holding A&T to 147 yards on 41 attempts, and they also picked up six sacks as well.
The total for this game can be found at 61, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. Both teams were in complete control of the game in week one, but now they will play in more of a back-and-forth style game requiring them to push the ball downfield for all four quarters. Since they both faced run-heavy offenses, this will also be the first real test for both secondary’s since neither side is afraid to drop back consistently.
Trent Dilfer is a notable quarterback developer, and his QB Jacob Zeno looked fantastic in week one. Now Dilfer and Zeno get to take on a Georgia Southern defense that was 97th in EPA per pass play last season and also allowed UAB to score 35 points on them in their 2022 meeting. The Eagles allowed eight opponents to score more than 30 points last year, and if that is the case this weekend, then they’ll have to throw it even more on offense.
Georgia Southern averaged 329.9 passing yards per game last season, and Davis Brin has the ability to keep that number around the same this season. Brin should be able to find success against the UAB pass defense, especially since they lost their starting safety from last season, Jaylen Key, to Alabama in the transfer portal.