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Coach Herman UAB Presser Notes - October 30th, 2023

Bouncing back with a convincing 38-16 win on the road against Charlotte, the Florida Atlantic football team will continue their trip away from home when they head to Birmingham to face the UAB Blazers on November 4th.

Head coach Tom Herman spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against the Blazers.

Below are some of the highlights from the session.

Opening statement on how the team performed against Charlotte

"The ability to have the awful taste that we had in our mouth based upon our performance against UTSA, I would be lying if I didn't say I was a bit worried. I was worried how our team would react. I was worried about the effect of a short week and the status of our health. We weren't very healthy going into that week and making it a short week certainly didn't help. Playing on the road, it was a short week for them, but it was business as usual for them in terms of travel. Then once the game kicked off for our guys to start the way they did, I've never been around a game like that where a team runs 83 plays to your only 53 plays. Let's say an average drive for a good team is six plays, seven plays, you're talking about five extra possessions. Basically they had five extra drives worth of plays that they had and we won the game 38-16."

"It was a really weird funky game that we played discipline. We had five penalties to their 12. You like that number to be zero obviously. Then I think the biggest thing going into the game, it's very similar to playing the service academies or any triple option offense, like you have to make your offensive possessions count. And we were prepared to go for it multiple times on fourth down if need be early in the game just because we knew if we didn't, we may not see the ball for a long time. That was probably the thing I was proudest of. Did we give up too many yards and first downs on defense, yeah. But we bowed our back in the red zone. We held them to 16 points and our offense was very efficient with their point production in terms of the limited amount of possessions."

Herman on the team's confidence level heading into UAB

"They are confident. I reminded them yesterday that just four weeks ago, we started this conference season journey with 14 teams. And we're down to five after just four weeks that have a legitimate chance at this thing and we're one of them. But because of the egg we laid against UTSA, we have put ourselves in the position to where every week is a championship game and that can be exciting and invigorating and it should, but it can also be exhausting."

"And there are no gimmes and this is a team in UAB that's very talented. They're going to challenge you on both sides of the ball, especially offensively, to defend the width and depth of the field. They've got a very veteran quarterback in Jacob Zeno and they're coming off a bye week. They're fresh, they'll have been preparing for us for two weeks and they're playing at home. So we've got a lot of odds stacked against us with just this week alone. But we also feel confident that if we prepare our best and then play our best, then we've got an excellent opportunity to go 1-0 and one more step closer to playing in December."

Status Updates on LB Jackson Ambush, S Darius McClendon, and other players

"Jackson Ambush is walking around with a lateral ankle sprain. I call it a basketball ankle sprain when your basketball guy steps on somebody's foot and kind of roll this way versus a high ankle sprain is a medial and it looks like your leg is buckling. His was more of a basketball lateral sprain, which is obviously the better of the two to have so he's walking around. It'll be a little ginger throughout the week, but we think as the week goes on, he'll be as close to full strength as probably anybody on defense."

"Yes, Darius McClendon will be healthy. He got a stinger or something in the shoulder but he returned during the Charlotte game."

"Jayden Williams, our nickel, we were hoping ECU, no more towards the end of this week on him for that game. He's definitely out this game so no chance of you seeing him. You'll see Jacob Merrifield play a little bit more than just the punt team. I think he had like eight snaps on defense, and I think he'll kind of find his role in that regular rotation of defensive lineman. But other than that, we got what we got, especially on that side of the football. Offensively, I don't think we really have anybody in question. Zuberi is going to be out until spring ball, Armani Eli-Adams is gonna be out until the bowl game, Marlon's out till next year with an ACL. We'll get Jaylen Wester back on defense but other than that, we got to play with the hand that we're dealt."

Preparations against UAB

"They're still finding themselves a little bit identity-wise on defense. We know with that quarterback and that running back, they've got a big receiver when they do decide to throw the ball down the field, we've got to pressure the quarterback. He's too good if you give them time and like most guys, he's not the same player when under duress. But their scheme is such that it makes it difficult because the ball does come out pretty dang fast. And so what that means then to is on the perimeter, we've got to tackle in space a lot better than we have."

"Probably the biggest thing is for our piece-mealed defensive squad, we've got to stay on the field offensively. I didn't say we got to score every time we touch it but three-and-outs will be killers. It's no secret that when we played well offensively, we've run the ball and we blocked them well. So I think for us to have success maybe a better way to say that is we've got to run the football like we have in games that we won and played well offensively. Then defensively, we've got to tackle in space and when they allow us the opportunity to get after the quarterback, we've got to make him uncomfortable back there."

Stopping RB Jermaine Brown Jr. and UAB's Run Game

"The big thing is you got to bottle him up. We played all sorts of different tailbacks and we've got a unique style with our two guys as well. This guy will make you miss and we've got to tackle well initially, but then we've got to make sure that we're getting 11 hats around too because the first guy is going to take a shot but I've never met a defensive player that's not missed the tackle in his life and we're going to have 11 hats around this guy to bottle him up."

The Owls will be heading to the Schmidt Complex practice field on Tuesday morning to gear up their preparation against the Blazers.

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