Week 7 Press Conference: UAB Travels to Southern Miss

Bill Clark

Football

BIRMINGHAM – The UAB football team looks to remain unbeaten in league play this Saturday as the Blazers travel to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Stadium.
 
THREE THINGS TO KNOW:

  • UAB (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) and Southern Miss (1-5, 0-2 C-USA) are meeting for the 19th time. USM is UAB’s most common opponent, and despite UAB winning seven of the last nine meetings, Southern Miss has an 11-7 advantage in the all-time series.
     
  • Alex Wright is the reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week. He is coming off a dominant performance against Florida Atlantic in which he set career highs in tackles (8), tackles for loss (3), sacks (2) and forced fumbles (2).
     
  • The Blazers are 19-3 against C-USA West Division opponents since returning to action in 2017 and have won three straight West divisional titles. Overall, UAB is 26-7 against league opponents since the return.   

Head Coach Bill Clark:
 
Opening Statement:
“Obviously a little bit of a different morning for us this week compared to last Monday. You know, I am just really proud of our whole team effort. This morning as we were watching our film that we always watch on Monday morning. Just the sideline, the focus, and the effort. It started in practice on Monday of last week. We talked about that on Monday. How do you handle coming off a loss? And our guys handled it. Every week we play for a championship and we’re going to talk about that here in a minute. It’s another championship week for us. Just the effort and the practice for the week. As I said the sideline with the focus we had a good crowd there. A lot of good energy and it sure was great to get that first win at home.
 
“Now turn our attention to Southern Miss. It’s one of those games where records are irrelevant. I have total respect for Coach Hall. I’ve known him for a long time. What a great coach he is. He has done a great job at all his different stops. So, we know they’re going to be prepared. We were looking forward to playing them last year at home and that game got cancelled on us. We really have memories from the last time we were there. We’ve got work to do this week to get ready. In all conference games we say its 0-0. We know it’s going to be a huge game for them. It’s huge for us. We’ve got to have another great week and get ready for them.”
 
On playing Southern Miss and a rivalry game…
“The game a couple years ago was a long time ago, but you know it’s fresh in our mind. I think we talk all the time about being self-motivated and we’re going to try and be motived the same way every week. Conference games are different so there is a history with Southern Miss and UAB. I think proximity, they’ve got guys from Alabama and we’ve got guys from Mississippi. They are on our side of the conference. It’s the next game so it’s all those factors that go into it for us. It’s the next game, it’s a conference game so that makes it a championship game.”
 
On Hayden Pittman’s 31-game reception streak…
“I am proud that he decided to play one more year for us and what a great leader he’s been. We talk a lot about him being a warrior and blocking him. We had two or three clips this morning where he’s given extra effort on some blocks. He had a really big catch down in the end zone that he’s got both hands on the ball. He’s just been a great player for us and I still remember his big touchdown catch he had in Hattiesburg back in 2017. He’s been a great leader for us and of course you have Alex Wright sitting here who had a great game. I’m really proud of both of these guys and the whole team.”
 
On defense…
“It’s a constant effort. Maybe it’s an eye-opening experience when you play a guy like we did a couple weeks ago it wasn’t lack of effort. I think it was maybe being on the field too long and injuries and then give him (Malik Willis) a lot of credit he was a great player. That probably made us better and I think it really tells the defensive line what they have to do and it’s relentless, stay on your feet, get off blocks. We had really good pursuit, good coverage which helped some of those sacks. I’m really proud of our front guys for playing the run first. We stopped the run on first and second down and forced them in some passes. They made some plays on us on third downs and we had some unfortunate penalties.”
 
Defensive End Alex Wright
 
On defense…
“We bring practice into the game. We just get out there and our coaches just tell us what we have to do. We go out there and try to get down to our best abilities in each position. We told ourselves as a group without the coaches this game is going to be on us. We have to get the quarterback uncomfortable and get pressure on him and make him make bad decisions. That’s just what we did.
 
“Our defense, we try to fool the opposite offensive line and get those different looks or different play styles. We may have a big type of defensive line, we may have a quick type of d-line or we may have a four-man. We come in different packages so whatever we could get the opposite o-line on their toes quicker and whatever is going to work. If it is working then we are going to keep pounding.”
 
On dual-threat quarterbacks…
“I wouldn’t say we shifted. I would say we kept that same focus but added a little more to that. We added a little more of the discipline of rushing. We could go out there and we could go against a pocket-passer and know he’s not going to run. We’re going to do whatever we can, but with a dual-threat quarterback we have to make sure we keep him in the pocket and can’t let him out.”
 
On playing Southern Miss…
“Knowing that this is a big rivalry game. For me personally I just go into it as another game but also I don’t forget what happened in 2019 when we went to Southern Miss and they gave it to us. I don’t forget that, but I treat it as another game and another job interview. I have to go out there and just try to give my best abilities. Try to lead my teammates on defense and try to give everyone that effort.”
 
Tight End Hayden Pittman
 
On his 31-game reception streak…
“It takes hands, you’ve got to catch the ball. I couldn’t do it without my quarterback, offensive line and everyone on the whole team. It’s a group effort for sure, it’s not just about me.”
 
On energy on the sideline and his nickname…
“They have a lot of nicknames for me. One of them is sunshine. I just try to keep my team up whenever we’re down. Even when we are up, I just try to keep them up all the time. That’s how I stay positive, stay moving, stay dancing and keep my team up.”
 
On the tight end position…
“That’s Coach Craddock and Coach Vincent really looking at us more and wanting to get us involved more. They’re helping us out and really looking for me and Gerrit Prince to make plays. We just have to go out there and make them.”
 

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