BIRMINGHAM, AL — One of the most pressing questions among sports fans during the COVID-19 pandemic has been, “Will there be a college football season?” For now, the answer is “yes,” as UAB kicks off its 2020 season Thursday night against Central Arkansas.
The Blazers open the season at Legion Field for what is expected to be the last time, with the team moving its home games in the 2021 season to Protective Stadium, which is still under construction in downtown Birmingham.
Central Arkansas is 1-0 after defeating Austin Peay 24-17 on Saturday night in Montgomery.
“Central Arkansas is a really quality opponent. Coach Brown and that group, you got to see them Saturday night, they’re what we thought,” UAB coach Bill Clark said in Monday’s news conference. “They are talented across the board. Their special teams was outstanding. They have good specialists, probably some of the top in the FCS. They cover well.”
Clark said preparations for the season, which most experts thought would never happen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a challenge.
“With everything going on, you never really know if it could be your last game or if you could miss a few games, especially with COVID-19 and everything else going on in the world,” Clark said. “It is easy to lose focus of being on the football team and the goal of going out there and winning a championship. Our coaches do a great job of letting us know what they know about what is going on. They let us know that we are not alone and that we can talk to them if we ever feel overwhelmed or just want to get some things off our chest. I am thankful for them. I am glad that we have that. It kind of eases it a little bit and makes it feel normal.”
Since returning to action in 2017, the Blazers have won the most games of any team in Conference USA (28) and look to add to that total in 2020. UAB is 18-0 at Legion Field since its football team was restored, and have the nation’s fourth longest active home winning streak.
Spencer Brown – The senior running back became the all-time leading rusher in UAB history last year, and is a Doak Walker Award candidate coming into the season. An ankle injury kept him down for a stretch last season, but Brown still has a career average of 4.6 yards per carry with 3,122 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Tyler Johnston – The junior signal-caller threw for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns, and rushed for 247 yards and one additional touchdown in 2019.
Sidney Wells – The senior offensive lineman is the anchor to what should be an improve O-line. The Blazers rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, and Wells was a big reason why.
Myron Mitchell – The sure-handed wide receiver enters his senior season on the Paul Hornung Award Watch List. Mitchell had 34 catches for 554 yards and four touchdowns last season, and was the dangerous return man, adding 19 kickoff returns for 403 yards and one touchdown.
UAB kicks off Thursday night at 7 p.m.